For a 75-year-old senior living ministry associated with Churches of Christ, COVID-19 problems accelerated financial difficulties.
By Bobby Ross Jr. and Natalie Walters | The Christian Chronicle
MESQUITE, Texas — In telling her life story, Sabrina Porter starts with her troubled childhood.
She recounts the sexual abuse she endured from age 4 until she turned 11.
“I didn’t know God,” she said. “I grew up in a Catholic church with the man sitting right next to me who was my perpetrator. So I didn’t believe that God was there.”
Porter, now 59, relates her personal trauma as she reflects on why her latest challenge — leading Texas-based Christian Care Centers Inc. through bankruptcy and a sale to new owners — does not faze her.
She’s focused, she said, on helping the 75-year-old ministry, which has been associated with Churches of Christ since its start in 1947, make a smooth transition.
Related: Faith and COVID-19
The faith-based nonprofit filed for bankruptcy protection in the Northern District of Texas earlier this year. By the time of the May 23 filing, the situation was dire for the operator of three Christian senior living campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
At the end of March, Christian Care Centers had about $61 million in assets and $65 million in liabilities, including about $50 million of municipal bond debt, according to a bankruptcy filing.
“My whole being from the time I was 4 years old was to protect other people,” said Porter, who joined Christian Care Centers as its president and CEO in August 2018 — unaware at the time, she noted, of the depth of the financial problems or the drastic role the COVID-19 pandemic would play.
“So it’s a natural, it’s an innate thing for me,” she said of devoting her attention to the organization’s more than 1,000 residents and employees. “And I’ll go back to when I was 11 years old, and my (abuser) moved from me to my little sister. That’s when I stood up, and a voice told me, ‘Run, grab your little sister, and go out that window.’
“Back then I didn’t know it was God,” she added. “But after many, many years of counseling and helping other people get out of battered situations, it was God. I didn’t know him. He knew me.”
This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.
Photo provided by Lacy Stanley