“I wanted to reach out with gratitude on behalf of our family. We lost touch with our cousin many years ago, and I recently learned that he passed away.”
That was how the note began that came into the MDS office e-mail this month. It went on to say the family usually only learned about their cousin—his name was Kent, and he lived in Grand Forks, B.C.—from his public court dates due to drug offences. But she did a Google search and discovered how MDS touched his life in 2019 following the flood in that community.
MDS, she noted, was criticized by some people in Grand Forks for helping him because of his past, which included dealing drugs out of his home. But MDS volunteers believed Kent needed their help as much as anyone else whose house was damaged by the flood.
Due to that act of kindness, Kent went from someone frequently in trouble with the law to a changed person who, as one MDS volunteer put it at the time, “has purpose and is trying to improve his life.”
The writer of the note went on to say: “I want to thank you for supporting our cousin, and for sharing kind words about a soul who may have lost his way but was very much loved and is missed. Please share this message of thanks with your volunteers as their work has ripples that reach farther than you know.
We have made a small donation in his name as we are grateful for the work you do.”
Reading that, all I could say was: Wow—God’s grace at work through our volunteers again.
We also shared the note with Gabe Warriner, pastor of the River of Life Church in Grand Forks. After MDS left that community, Gabe and the church picked up the responsibility for caring for and supporting Kent.
“MDS changed the lives of many people in Grand Forks,” Gabe wrote back. “One of them was Kent.”
While the events surrounding his passing are unknown, “one thing is sure,” Gabe said. “MDS left an imprint on his life.”
Gabe met with Kent weekly in his home after MDS finished in Grand Forks. “We talked about God, about the dreams that God put on Kent’s heart, about the new ideas that he was getting for business and life,” he said. “Kent seemed to be a brand-new person. He cleaned up his yard. He built a fence. He started engaging in ministry to folks that were less fortunate than himself.”
Ken also worked with Gabe on a firewood program, supported by the Spirit of MDS Fund, that provided wood to low-income people for heating in winter. “He put in lots of volunteer hours helping folks stay warm over the winter,” Gabe said, adding Kent would also “look out for folks with disabilities and help them in many ways. He had a very warm, very soft heart for lots of people, especially those who were down and out . . . Kent had a big heart to help folks that were in a rough place in their lives.”
After MDS left Grand Forks, Gabe was curious to see who would leave the MDS signs outside the front of their house. “I'm not sure Kent’s ever came down,” he said. “The last time I drove by his house, it was still proudly displayed.”
“Thank you for what you did in Kent's life,” Gabe added. “I hope today that Kent is living in the home Jesus prepared for him in heaven. And if he is, know that MDS prepared the way of the Lord, just like Elijah. That is my hope. That is my prayer. And the rest I leave in the hands of Jesus.”
At MDS, we say we don’t only restore homes—we want to restore hope. I’m glad we were able to do that for Kent.