While being away in the East Coast last weekend, I did not receive the news of Brenden Foster’s passing last Friday, November 21, 2008 until this morning. Brenden is the 11 year old boy from Seattle diagnosed with leukemia three years ago who stirred a movement of compassion and genersosity. On a recent trip from his doctor, he passed the homeless community called Nickelsville and his last wish was to help feed the homeless. It’s an amazing and beautiful story.
Like many others, I’m moved, compelled, and deeply encouraged by the short but significant life of Brenden. His life is an encouragement – simply – as a reminder that one person really can make a difference. And even more so, he isn’t alone. We are not alone. There are many people seeking to be agents of hope, compassion, and generosity.
The stuff below didn’t make the news and we don’t do it for the purposes of making news but I share these recent things not to be boastful but to remind folks that despite what seems to be a regular barrage of “bad news,” there are GOOD things going on here, there, and everywhere. And while we certainly need to be reminded of the depravity of the human condition and fallen world, we need to also be reminded of the beauty that is all around us and Brenden’s short life is a reminder of one such beauty. Our faith in Jesus transforms us in such ways that we become agents of Hope, Grace, Mercy, and Love. So, what are some of your stories?
Here a few of the stories from our community?
- Couple Fridays ago, we partnered with the good folks at Nickelsville for a benefit show at Q Cafe. I was so encouraged to see a pack house and nearly $3000 raised. Q Cafe also donates 10% of our profits to a new profit/cause each month. Over the months of November/December, we are giving to local food banks because of the dire need.
- This past Saturday night, Quest Church welcomed 136 men, women, and children that are homeless for our annual Thanksgiving Meal. We had so many people this year that we planned two separate meals. I was very encouraged to hear from DeAnza, our pastor of Compassion & Justice, that we had many volunteers come out not only to serve but simply to sit and eat with our guests. I hope the many volunteers will join DeAnza, Sam, Chelsea, and others for the monthly To the Streets Homeless Care and Distribution.
- Over our Giving Sundays at Quest on November 9 and 16, we raised over $47,000. Half of this will go towards local food banks and recent immigrants to the Seattle area. The other half will go towards people within our church who are also facing crisis during this economic downturn.
Brenden: You are not alone. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of compassion and generosity. We need to be regularly reminded and inspired and you certainly did that for so many people around the world. I never got to meet you but have heard from friends what a delightful young man you are. Rest in peace and we all look forward to a time when there will be no more disease or hunger. You will not be forgotten and like you, I have many questions for God but till then, will do my best to Love God and Love People:
His mother recalled that one day Foster said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God why it had to be so soon, because I had so much more I wanted to do.”
And for those who are not familiar with Brenden’s story, here’s an article from KOMO News:
BOTHELL, Wash. — The day I met Brenden Foster, I met an old soul in an 11 year old’s body.
“I should be gone in a week or so,” he said calmly.
When I asked him what he thought were the best things in life, Brenden said, “Just having one.”
I didn’t understand how this child, who was a year younger than my own son, could be so courageous facing death.
“It happens. It’s natural,” Brenden told me.
Three years ago, doctors diagnosed Brenden with leukemia. The boy who once rushed through homework so he could play outside found himself confined to a bed. But there was no confining his spirit.
“I had a great time. And until my time comes, I’m going to keep having a great time,” he said.
Brenden’s selfless dying wish was to help the homeless.
“They’re probably starving, so give’em a chance,” he said, “food and water.”
But Brenden was too ill to feed them on his own. So volunteers from Emerald City Lights Bike Ride passed out some 200 sandwiches to the homeless in Seattle.
Then Brenden’s last wish took on a life of its own.
A TV station in Los Angeles held a food drive. School kids in Ohio collected cans. People in Pensacola, Florida gathered goods.
And here in Western Washington, KOMO viewers from all over took part in the Stuff the Truck food drive in Brenden’s honor. Hundreds with generous hearts donated six and a half huge truck loads of groceries and more than $60,000 in cash to benefit Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.
Brenden touched hearts all over the world. His wish came true, and he lived to see it.
“He had the joy of seeing all of the beautiful response to his last wish,” said his grandmother, Patricia McMorrow. “It gives him great peace and he knows that his life has meaning.”
“He’s left a legacy and he’s only 11,” said his mother, Wendy Foster. “He’s done more than most people dream of doing just by making a wish.”
Days before dying, Brenden surprised us with a sudden burst of energy. He wanted to get off the oxygen, hop out of bed and go buy a video game. Wise beyond his years, but still a kid.
“I have been so blessed to have this child. A mother couldn’t ask for a better son,” Wendy said.
The B-Man, as his family called him, had one more wish before going: sprinkle wildflower seeds to save the bees. He had heard bees were in trouble.
Someone answered B-Man’s wish. A retired pilot asked his pilot and flight attendant friends to sprinkle wild flowers around the world, from Bali to Brazil, on Brenden’s behalf.
When asked what made him sad, Brenden said, “When someone gives up.”
Brenden Foster never gave up. Even as he clung to his last hours of life, Brenden kept giving.
“Follow your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you,” he said.