During the last week of March, five students from Victory Trade School’s PREP Department participated in a service trip to Joplin.

VTS provides post-secondary education in culinary arts and discipleship for students who primarily come from backgrounds of homelessness or addiction. Many students in PREP – the Biblical studies department of VTS that stands for prayer, reading scripture, education, praise – are in a time of self-evaluation and seeking a new beginning.

The trip to Joplin gave PREP students an opportunity to serve others who are also in the process of rebuilding their lives. Nearly a year after the deadly tornado struck, the city is still recovering from the disaster. The team of students worked with Joplin Family Worship Center, which has functioned as a disaster resource center since the tornado.

The students’ primary project was building a chain link fence around a rebuilt home – the only house on its block that has been rebuilt. The team also assisted with moving rocks and building a makeshift bridge at Joplin Family Worship Center. While helping with manual labor, the students had opportunities to interact with and pray for Joplin residents.

PREP student Tony Miller described his time in Joplin as eye-opening and as an accomplishment. “Even though there’s a lot of devastation, there’s a lot of hope,” he said. “I loved meeting the people down there. They were so grateful, and they are all full of hope.”

As chairman of the department and team leader, I witnessed the students also looking inward, not just outward, at the residents of Joplin. They recognized that these people did not become destitute, impoverished and literally homeless because of their past choices or behavior, as are the stories of many VTS students. This observation made the students realize much more the blessedness of hope in one’s life. I believe this was the greatest impact of our Joplin trip. This trip has encouraged me and VTS to continue finding future service trips for students, specifically in our own communities and backyards.

—Kyle Kearbey, Victory Trade School Chairman of PREP