Brent was not just a shelter resident who died of cancer this year. He was part of the Refuge of Hope family. While staying at Refuge of Hope, Brent reconnected with Jesus. When his illness finally took his life he was at peace with his Lord and Savior.
“I am so thankful to have found Refuge of Hope where I received so much more than just a bed,” Brent was quoted in our 2014 Newsletter (www.refugeofhope.org). “I found people who genuinely cared about me and helped me overcome so many of my problems. Not only am I loved by the Refuge of Hope family, I know my Heavenly Father has a plan for my life now.”
Many staff and volunteers attended the memorial service for Brent and had a wonderful time sharing stories about this man who touched all of our lives. Brent had reconnected with his family. His brother Bruce gave his blessing for this article praying that Bent would continue to touch lives by his story.
The men who stay in our shelter are battling many different issues in their lives. What a blessing it is to see them overcome addictions, depression, and give their lives to God. Brent lived the final years of his life knowing that he was loved and forgiven. He found peace because he knew Jesus.
Here is Brent’s story …
He was living alone in the woods and suddenly, in the middle of the night, he awoke and realized that the noise of the water was louder than normal. Trees were floating by his make shift tent. Before he could grab a few of his precious belongings the water was almost chest deep as he plodded to dry ground with only his book bag. Brent just survived a flash flood.
Brent Bernard kneels beside the creek that almost swept him away in a flash flood last fall.
Brent first came to stay in the Men’s Shelter at Refuge of Hope in the fall of 2012. He became homeless because the business where he was employed closed and he could not find work. His money was soon gone and he lost almost everything he ever owned.
Brent struggled with depression and living in a shelter was emotionally challenging. He soon found himself living in the woods. He was successful and found employment, but also was sick spending time in the emergency room for sore throats and complaining of his ears hurting. He thought most of these nagging ailments were attributed to allergies from living outdoors.
After the flash flood Brent returned to Refuge of Hope. Scott Schnyders, Shelter Director, connected Brent to a local clinic which immediately referred him to the Cleveland Clinic. Brent received the disturbing news when doctors explained that he had throat cancer. Surgery was scheduled and, after months of treatment, Brent survived a couple more years.
“Most of us who have stayed here have experienced hard times with financial, health, addictions, and other serious issues,” Brent said. “I have survived it all, homelessness, flash floods, addiction, depression, and cancer. I am so thankful to have found Refuge of Hope where I received so much more than just a bed. I found people who genuinely cared about me and helped me overcome so many of my problems. Not only am I loved by the Refuge of Hope family, I know my Heavenly Father has a plan for my life now.”
Both Scott and several of our volunteers played a big role in not only taking Brent to appointments but by visiting him and bringing friends along to help Brent pass the time while recovering. That assistance continued after Brent moved back to his apartment when they would bring him food and his medication.
“When I felt like I wanted to end my life I asked God what He wanted me to do,” Brent emotionally explained. “I have the time now so please show me how to be useful. Shortly after that prayer Scott asked me if I would consider being a volunteer in the kitchen. I believe that is how God answered my prayer and now I have a chance to give back and help others.”
In memory of Brent Bernard
April 14, 1957 – October 4, 2016