Barren Heights was founded in 2004 by Joe and Toni Rose. After being involved in a serious car accident, the couple began to re-evaluate life and their priorities. While attending a Bible Study focused on “A Purpose Driven Life,” the Roses agreed that they were good at throwing parties at the lake and wondered if they could do that in a manner that would show love for God and for others. Through a strange set of circumstances they were able to purchase 30 acres of Allen County farmland adjacent to their lake house. One morning, as Joe was hunting on this farmland, he realized that the beauty of that setting should be shared with others. Thus the vision was born. After working with a builder, it was agreed that the facilities would be ADA compliant and that the outreach would focus on families dealing with the unique struggles associated with children who have disabilities. The Rose’s 10-year development plan quickly gave way to God’s 10-month plan, and, about a year later, the Barren Heights Community was established.
In 2015, we expanded our reach by opening a Community Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and by hiring four part-time staff members to assist in the growing day-to-day operations. The Community Center has given us the chance to pour into special needs families through family fun events and by launching men’s, women’s, and couples’ ministries that also provide Bible studies, family fun social events, and date nights with free childcare.
At first glance, this story may seem to be about a changed family. Really, it is a story about how God used one family to positively change the lives of thousands of families. It is a story about many people giving of themselves, their time, and their resources. It is a story about big kids and little kids. It is a story about family and friends. It is a story about enjoying time together. It is a story about laughter and love. Mostly, it is a story about our incredible God – we are all just along for the ride!
Visitors to Barren Heights are often surprised to learn that the Roses had no close friends or relatives dealing with disability. They are left to ask, “then why?” Their answer is, “We saw a need and wanted to do what we could to fill it. Which opens the door to share our faith. We love others because we are loved by Christ.”
Their greatest desire can be summed up below (emphasis in bold added):
“I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia,
the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”