In the fall of 2020, a rockslide derailed Pastor Luke Barnett’s 800-mile hike for charity. But thanks to physical healing and “a little grit,” the leader of Phoenix-based Dream City Church is expected to complete the fundraising journey this week.
The detour has raised more awareness—and money—for Barnett’s cause: a Dream Center in Colorado City, Arizona, which assists survivors of polygamy-cult leader Warren Jeffs.
Luke Barnett Hit by 4-Ton Boulder
Two years ago, Pastor Luke Barnett and his daughter Annalee Matchett set out to hike the 800-mile Arizona Trail. Just after 500 miles, the pair spotted a boulder leaning toward them. Barnett pushed his daughter out of the way but didn’t have time to escape himself.
The boulder, estimated to weigh about four tons, landed in a teetering way that turned out to be “a godsend,” according to Matchett. She was able to pull out her dad, who suffered numerous broken bones and other injuries from the resulting rockslide.
After Matchett hiked to get a phone signal, Barnett was airlifted to a hospital. The pair’s mission wasn’t derailed, however. Matchett finished the hike while her dad recovered. Their story went viral, and Barnett returned to preaching duties on Christmas 2020.
Determined to complete the hike himself, Barnett, 53, set out to tackle the remaining 300 miles three weeks ago. He is likely to complete them today (November 21). Barnett, the son and grandson of pastors, says, “My dad didn’t raise me to be a quitter. We have a little grit in us to finish what we start.”
During interviews after the accident, Barnett was asked about the boulder as a stumbling block. “I’m not that type of a person who looks for a demon behind every rock,” he said with a chuckle. “I know that sometimes life happens, but I do also believe that we were in a spiritual battle. We’re battling for a whole city…trying to bring refuge and jobs and hope for a city. I do know the enemy would like nothing more than to sideline us and keep us from doing that.”
Dream City Church Ministers to Trafficking Victims
Barnett’s megachurch is a leader in rescuing and ministering to victims of human trafficking. The congregation’s Dream Centers also serve unhoused people, veterans, recovering addicts, and young adults who age out of foster care. According to the church website, Dream Centers “impact over 45,000 people weekly.”
A few months before Barnett’s hiking injury, Dream City Church made headlines for its safety claims about a COVID-19 filtration system. In June 2020, the church hosted a (mostly mask-less) Students for Trump rally during the height of the pandemic.