Andrea and Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, as an American foreigner, the son of American missionaries who worked and taught at The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. Arriving in Lebanon at the age of three, Lebanon became his home.

For preschool and kindergarten, Steve attended the Beirut Baptist School, which was in Arabic, and where he first learned the Arabic alphabet and numerals. First through twelfth grades were (mostly) at the American Community School (ACS) in Beirut, an American school affiliated with the New York school system. His high-school years took place during the Lebanese Civil War and required traveling back and forth across the “green line” to ACS in West Beirut from the Seminary in East Beirut. Many people used to cross back and forth daily, depending on where there was not fighting. The people of Lebanon always treated Steve as a special guest, even giving him preferential treatment as an American, which allowed him to travel to more areas of Lebanon than most Lebanese during the civil war. In this unlikely setting, Steve was surrounded by a supportive and loving community and adoptive extended family.

Steve returned to the U.S. for university at 17, and got a degree in Philosophy before pursuing further study in software development. In college he met his wife, Andrea, who really grew up in a different world. She grew up in a severely abusive and incestuous family, which used the psychiatric system to silence and discredit her. As traumatic as the abuse by her family was, the more traumatic experience was at the hands of the psychiatric system, who served her father, rather than her.

After getting married, and over 12 years, they achieved a stable and loving family, with children 3 and 5 years old. Then one “bad day,” with a series of unfortunate incidents, the local mental health system pulled Andrea back in. The ensuing years caused severe damage to their family. It was only after her psychiatrist lost her license, that Andrea became free again, and has been able to start healing from her ‘treatment.’ Their children who are now adults were deeply affected as well, and their family is still trying to heal.

There are many things Steve wishes he and Andrea knew when they were going through those dark times that would have helped them find their way and heal. He is very enthusiastic about the S.A.F.E project, and has high hopes that it may reach and help other individuals and families enduring their own dark times.

Steve finds this quote to be true in his experience of the process of healing.

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi