Two years ago, Joyce knew she needed to change her life. She was trapped in an endless cycle of prison sentences, probation, and drug addiction. From a young age, this was all she knew. But two years ago, after her last release from prison, she knew it had to end.
This is the story of our Winter Graduation valedictorian, Joyce Yorba. Her story is one that brings an emotional response and a sense of awe God’s work in her life every time someone hears it. It is truly a testament to the power and grace of Jesus Christ.
Joyce had always been opposed to programs but her probation officer encouraged her to come visit the Village of Hope. Joyce bargained with God, “agreeing” to one year of a program. Upon finding out the Rescue Mission is typically a two-year program, Joyce still thought to herself that she would complete the one year she had promised and then leave. She was still guarded and unsure of ‘programs’.
Joyce’s journey was hard and she admits that she had thoughts of leaving, but each time God gave her the strength to continue on. For eight months she worked on the janitorial crew, a volunteer assignment that tested her humility and her patience as she learned how to serve others and work with people of different personalities. She joked about her experience working with one of her coworkers who once frustrated her, who is now her close friend. The joy of community was evident in the room as the residents resonated with her experience and laughed along.
One of Joyce’s major accomplishments while here at the Rescue Mission was completing her high school diploma even despite having zero high school credits to start. Our Success Center Manager, Joey, recalls that it is the most credits he has ever seen someone need to make up. Joyce met that challenge head-on and made up every single credit! As her one year mark at the Rescue Mission hit, Joyce knew there was still more work to be done. And so she stayed.
Two years later, Joyce is standing on our stage, clad in cap and gown, receiving her Rescue Mission diploma and encouraging her fellow graduates and Village of Hope residents that they too can stand where she stands, because we can “do everything through Christ who gives us strength”, (Philippians 4:13). She never thought she would be where she is today, but by the grace of God, here she stands. She even waved out in the audience to her employer, who gladly attended to celebrate this special moment.
Joyce is an inspiring woman who has found restoration, peace, and joy through the love and hope of Jesus Christ. When you talk to her today, she radiates the love of Jesus and is quick to point to Him as the reason she is even alive today. She is resolved to never return to the life of darkness and hopelessness she once was trapped in. She now has an unshakeable hope in God and the confidence that she can live a self-sufficient and productive life.
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