Abandoned church provides life-changing experience for Minn. man

By Boyd Huppert, NBC News | Posted - Nov 21st, 2012 @ 11:19am


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Montgomery, MINNESOTA — A Minnesota man searching for answers after being diagnosed with cancer came upon an abandoned church that changed his life. It was as much in need of help as he was.

"When I found out that I had cancer, they told my family to go ahead and start planning my funeral," Greg Thomas told KARE.

Diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer three years ago at the age of 57, then let go from his propane delivery job, Thomas began passing the hours on long walks from his home, alone with his dog and his thoughts.

"It's a nightmare you can't wake up out of," he recalled.

Then the daily walks down a gravel road led him to a wood-framed country church which Czech settlers had built in 1868. It had not hosted a congregation in more than a century and was tightly locked up, so Thomas sat on the steps to pray.

He noticed the foundation was crumbling and the paint peeling, so he decided he wanted to repaint the church. He found the treasurer of the foundation that keeps up the church cemetery, who called Thomas "a Godsend."

Radiation and chemotherapy had robbed Thomas of his energy, his saliva glands and even his teeth, but still he worked diligently, peeling away 150 years and 15 layers of paint from the old church.

Now the building is newly painted in white, with plans for more repairs to the roof and interior.

Thomas not only found purpose in refreshing the decaying building, he found what he regards as a miracle as well. When he was done painting the exterior of the church, Thomas discovered that his cancer was in remission.

"This is my way of saying thank you," he tearfully told KARE. Read more here.

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