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Greg Thomas: Minnesota Man's Stage 4 Cancer Disappears While Restoring Old Church (VIDEO)

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A Minnesota man in need of a miracle found it in the most unlikely form -- at a rundown and abandoned old church that was as much in need of repair as he was.

Three years ago, Greg Thomas of Montgomery, Minn., was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in both his head and neck, reported KARE 11 News.

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

Thomas -- who was 57 at the time of diagnosis -- was soon let go from his job delivering propane, and starting taking long walks though the rural Minnesota countryside with his dog.

It was during one of these long walks that Thomas came across the decaying old church that would save his life.

Thomas attempted to go inside the small chapel when he first came across it, but it was locked. Instead he merely sat on the steps for a while, reported the Lonsdale Area News-Review.

The small church had a crumbling foundation and peeling paint, but still, Thomas found himself on the concrete church steps almost everyday, praying.

"I tried [to get in] more than once," Thomas said; but the church was always locked.

Built in 1868 by Czech settlers who later moved to a bigger parish, the Budejovice Church had not been home to a congregation in more than a century.

One day, Thomas decided to reach out to the small neighborhood surrounding the church. He was out of work, and thought fixing up the church would give him a sort of sanctuary.

"He went to a neighbor and said he wanted to paint the church, and who does he talk to, so the neighbor sent him to talk to me," Don Rynda, treasurer of the foundation that keeps up the church cemetery, remembered about his first meeting with Thomas.

Rynda could barely believe it. Before Thomas approached him, he was afraid that the church was on it's last leg.

"It was a godsend, yes," says Rynda.

Thomas offered the association a deal: He would completely restore the church, if they supplied the materials, with one condition -- he wanted his own key to the establishment.

Despite the fact that radiation and chemotherapy thad robbed him of his energy, his saliva glands and even his teeth, Thomas went to work peeling away 150 years and 15 layers of paint from the old church.

Thomas has been on a feeding tube for the past three years, but he was determined to see the church restored, reported the Lonsdale Area News-Review.

Armed with his own key to the small chapel, Thomas found a 1860s interior still intact, complete with wooden pews and Christian statuary.,

"It's going to be beautiful," he exclaimed.

The neighbors were almost as excited as Thomas.

"One of the beads on my rosary is reserved for him," Blanche Zellmer, who has lived near the church for more than 90 years, told KARE.

But the restoration of the church wasn't the only miracle occurring in the rural Minnesota town. When he was done painting the exterior of the church, Thomas discovered that his cancer was in remission.

"It's what he's done for me," he says in the video, glancing toward a statue of Jesus, "and this is my way of saying thank you."

According to the Lonsdale Area News-Review, Thomas' dog, Jenny, a German shorthair pointer, wasn't as fortunate. She fought cancer right by her owner’s side -- a veterinarian removed a tumor -- but at the age of 11 died of complications from a heartworm about a year ago.

Thomas plans to continue his work on the church, moving on to the roof and the interior of the church next.

And even though he now has his own key, he still sits outside on the concrete steps to pray.

"There's been a lot of tears shed on these steps and they've been tears of joy, tears of pain, but tears of blessings too," says Thomas, as he wipes away new tears.

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Dying man finds miracle in abandoned church

Filed by Sarah Medina