The Short But Significant Life of Brenden Foster

By Eugene Cho 11-25-2008

This entry is dedicated to Brenden Foster and to all -- in ways seen or unseen -- who seek to live their lives with grace, compassion, and generosity. Brenden is the 11-year-old boy from Seattle diagnosed with leukemia three years ago who recently 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. On Friday, November 21, Brenden passed away.

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 draw attention to our small church community in Seattle 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. The dialogue here on Sojo can be so intense. We scrutinize, analyze, and critcize, but I'd love to hear from others the GOOD that is being done through the Sojo Community -- your lives, family, and faith communities. 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.

  • A 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 packed house and nearly $3000 raised. Q Cafe also donates 10 percent of our profits to a new profit/cause each month.
  • 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.
  • Over our Giving Sundays at Quest on November 9 and 16, we raised over $47,000. Half of this will go toward local food banks and recent immigrants to the Seattle area. The other half will go toward 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, 'til 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:

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.

Eugene ChoEugene Cho, a second-generation Korean-American, is the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and the executive director of Q Cafe, an innovative nonprofit neighborhood café and music venue. He and his wife are also launching a grassroots humanitarian organization to fight global poverty. You can stalk him at his blog,

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