OCALA, Fla. — An elderly Christian woman that was kidnapped, beaten and robbed by a homeless man this past week says that she won’t let the incident deter her from feeding the hungry on the streets.
“This is God’s work,” Tara Barnes, a 69-year-old volunteer with First Love Church told the NY Daily News. “We’re not going to let this one nut stop us.”
Barnes began working with her church’s homeless ministry two years ago out of a desire to give people a second chance, just as she believes that God gave her a second chance at life. Before she began working with the ministry, she was fighting emphysema and was told that her chances of survival were small.
But after having hands laid on her by the elders of the church, Barnes was healed of her condition, and in turn, wanted to reach out to others in need. She began cooking meals for the homeless and went out into the streets with other members of her church twice each week.
However, this past Monday, as Barnes had loaded up her car and was about to drive away after finishing an outreach on the streets of Ocala, a masked man suddenly appeared in her backseat. He put a knife to her throat and ordered her to drive toward the Ocala National Forest.
But before she arrived there, the man had Barnes pull over at an intersection, where he wrapped a rope around her neck and drug her out of the car. He then began to bear her with a club, while allegedly yelling out, “You rich [expletive] think we need your help?”
The man then shoved Barnes back into the car and covered her mouth with his hand. When she bit his hand, he pulled out her dentures and threw them outside of the vehicle. He directed Barnes to drive to the Kmart parking lot, where he beat her again until she was unconscious.
When Barnes regained consciousness, her attacker was gone—and so was her wallet and her watch. She called 911, and was transported to Monroe Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for contusions and bruises, and released the following day.
“I thought I’d never see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren again,” Barnes told reporters. “God says to turn the other cheek, but this may be my last cheek.”
Police are still on the lookout for the man who robbed and beat Barnes. He is described as being approximately 5 feet, 9 and wearing a dark shirt, as well as gloves and a mask.
“I think everyone should be cautious,” Barnes stated, speaking of lessons learned. “You should look into your car before you get in. But you also just gotta have a little faith.”