Kay Wood always had a heart for special needs individuals. One day she saw a property east of Rockford for sale and her heart came alive with the potential of building a living community for special needs adults, however, the time wasn’t right, and after some inquiring and investigating, she let the idea rest. Then in the fall of 2019, Kay was invited by a former student of hers to visit Benjamin’s Hope in Holland. To her surprise, not only did she visit Lisa, but also encountered another former student and had the heartwarming privilege of sitting in their praise service with one former student on each side. Her heart was deeply stirred. Benjamin’s Hope embodied everything she had envisioned years ago. Her dream was re-awakened.
Brian and Sara felt God calling them to purchase this home with 23 acres and a little white church, located in the heart of the Rockford community. The home they purchased was owned by a family with a Downs Syndrome son. Marty lived there most of his life and was loved well by his parents and his brothers/sisters. This home fostered a special place in Brian’s heart, and he knew it had a greater purpose.
Brian formerly worked with men rehabilitating and adjusting to life after a prison term, and with men who faced the battle of addiction. Although he closed down that mission, his missional heart was still alive and searching for God’s purpose. One day he was driving, and a 30-minute commute turned into 2 hours, and he knew God was telling him to purchase the property. In faith, he and his wife Sara obeyed and purchased the property that is now Homes Giving Hope.
Kay started praying about if God would allow her the opportunity to do something similar to Benjamin’s Hope in the Rockford area. Over the next few months, Kay decided to start visiting communities that have been successful in creating a Christ-centered living community. She re-visited Benjamin’s Hope and then several other Christ-centered communities (Harbor House Ministries, David’s House Ministries, Gracious Grounds, Rainbow Farms, Olivia’s Gift, and Georgetown Harmony Homes). All were so welcoming and each so uniquely beautiful. The two things that Kay came away with as starting points was that each community operated debt-free and they started with donated land.
In faith, Kay started praying for 40 acres (smiling at her bold prayer, knowing humanly it wasn’t really possible, but with God all things are possible). Shortly after she started praying, Sara Boven came up to her at their local gym and told her that she and her husband had just purchased 23 acres in Rockford and wanted to create a living community for special needs adults. Sara thought Kay might be interested. Smiling Kay turned to God in gratitude and said, “Twenty-three acres will do!”
With hearts totally amazed at God’s calling and purposes, all three, Brian, Sara, and Kay, knew they had just experienced a divine appointment, a calling on their lives. On December 20, 2019, the three met at what is now called Homes Giving Hope and were united in spirit and purpose from the start, which was no doubt a gift from God. And that is where this adventure began!
With hearts full of faith and expectation, the three continued meeting formed a board, and are moving forward with humbly stunned hearts at God’s amazing gift and calling. They have a dream for 5 homes being built on the 23 acres, along with a retreat/worship center and a boardwalk around the property. They hold onto the confidence that ‘with God all things are possible.’