We got the opportunity to sit down with Mel Toran, Lifework Leadership Class 2016/2017 to hear more of his story.
When did you surrender your life to Jesus?
As a young boy born in Portland OR and raised in Erie, PA., I was baptized Methodist and attended Catholic School. This meant that I went to Mass on Tuesdays for 45-min, but Church on Sundays for what seemed to be all day. I also recall attending Vacation Bible School every Summer in Buffalo, NY with my Grandmother, Brother, and Cousins. The influence of my Mother and Grandmother were quite powerful as a youngster and I am so thankful that they trained me up as a child in the way that I should go, and although I strayed along the way, I have not departed from it.
My wife Donna and I surrendered our lives to Jesus in January 2008. We relocated back to Gainesville, FL. in September 2007. Donna’s hairdresser invited us to attend her church (Passage Family Church), where we became actively engaged in the Ministry. It began with me attending meetings on Saturday’s with the Men’s Ministry, continued with a display for helping children (boys aged 9-12) as a mentor, included work in the Audio Visual Dept. of the church where I would video the service while keeping my eye upon Donna who sang in the choir, and concluded with life changing opportunities where I choose to go to the Dominican Republic and Haiti on two separate occasions as a member of our Global Missions Ministry. It was here that I saw a love for Christ in the midst of nothing that caused me to be forever changed. It was also here that I gained an understanding of the importance of Tithing, the power of prayer, and where I learned my 7 Faith Confessions, which I recite daily. Each confession is critically important, but I love #4, which states: “In the Name of Jesus I confess that I am on my way to Godly Greatness, My life is ordained by God and my Destiny is secure, I am gifted to succeed and anointed to be a Blessing, it is so be it unto me.”
How is your job a calling and how do you find purpose in it?
I am the Senior Director of Community Engagement for the American Cancer Society. I just celebrated 13-years on staff on March 1st. Prior to the Society, I had jobs/career that paid our bills and helped sustain our lifestyle, but I neither found them rewarding or fulfilling. I lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer in June 1998 and he did not tell us of his diagnosis. We learned later that he had been traveling to Canada for experimental treatment. I initially joined the Society as a volunteer not because of my day, but instead because someone asked me to join the local cancer society board. Since joining the Society, I have realized that I have a level of compassion for others that I did not know existed within me. My work allows me to utilize the unique gifts that God has blessed me to possess. They include compassion and genuine empathy for others, along with a level of tenacity to accomplish all that is placed in front of me. I am charged with educating members of the community on the importance of screening and early detection, overseeing free programs and services for those diagnosed with cancer, raising funds to further our mission, and advocating for cancer related appropriations and policy in Tallahassee and Washington, DC.
My personal calling is to educate men, specifically men that look like me on the importance of understanding your family health history, speaking about it, and ensuring that we take active control of our health through screening and early detection.
Has anything significant happened in your life lately to impact how you view the world?
I lost my mom to lung cancer in July 2015 and my only sibling (brother) in February 2016. As a result, I have relied upon the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to carry me through a difficult period in my life. I am also blessed to have a loving wife who has been at my side for the last 16-years.
My relationship, trust, and faith in God have only grown stronger. My relationship with my wife and our family members also continues to grow stronger. My relationships with friends who have had an impact upon my life have grown stronger. My relationship with those who seek to harm me has grown stronger, as I have adopted a “love everyone” mentality. My interest in “living for today” and enjoying all that life has to offer has grown stronger. Most importantly, I choose to be a better CHRISTian, better husband, better uncle, better family member, and a better friend to everyone that I encounter.