Refining Fire

A career in hands-on learning and hard work

Growing up, Reese wished someone had told him a person could work with their hands and make a living. Most voices said a four-year degree was the only way to make it, but he knew there were other good opportunities for an occupation. 

Change of Heart
After graduating high school, Reese characterized his life as a rebellious pursuit of happiness and chasing something good. After looking at five colleges, everything came down to the wrestling program. 

“Looking back, I can totally see how the Lord played a role in my decision and the circumstances of how I chose Grand View,” Reese said. “Grand View was pumped I was coming even though I was walking on. It’s crazy because no one has ever heard of Grand View where I live, and I just kept getting things in the mail.”

After moving down to Des Moines from Minnesota to purse a degree in business and a career in wrestling, Reese continued his rebellious pursuit. However, the Lord was pursuing him as well. 

“Meeting Christians, knowing they love each other and seeing the difference in the way they interacted and spoke, impacted my life,” Reese said.  “I was blown away. I couldn’t see what was so different.”

Reese quickly became friends with a lot of men in Campus Fellowship. By doing life with them, he heard the Gospel. “I’m really thankful for those dudes because looking back, they had to have so much patience with me to continue to labor for me,” Reese said. “Hearing what Jesus did for me and understanding the scope of what my sin was changed my outlook.”  

“Hearing what Jesus did for me and understanding the scope of what my sin was changed my outlook.”  

Reese was scared to realize he deserved hell for his sin. He remembers staying up many nights weighing the cost and what it would look like if he decided to follow Christ.  “I thought about what I would need to give up and how my life would look different,” Reese said.  “It was a process through the way people loved and served me.”

Back Up Plan
One year into his time at Grand View, Reese found himself at a crossroads: keep striving or change course.   

“It was a blessing because I was not going to make it though four years of bookwork, and I wasn’t doing well in classes,” Reese said.  

Although welding was his triple back up plan, Reese sought counsel on the decision to stop his path midcourse to earn a business degree and open a mechanics shop. 

“I evaluated a lot of careers you can do with your hands, and my uncle advised me not to be a welder because it is dirty and not the best for your health,” Reese said.  “The whole list of reasons all sounded super tough and appealed to me.”  

Reese liked the example his uncle set for over 40 years as a welder. His uncle didn't have a four-year degree but knew how to work hard and do his job with excellence.  “It seemed like he had a good life, including a steady paycheck and was able to provide for his whole family,” Reese said.  

God used Reese's triple back up plan to change the course of his heart and lay a foundation of faith. His college time wasn't wasted. "I’m thankful for the way that it went, for school and the friendships I have from there and for the fact that I came to know the Lord at Grand View," Reese said. 


Hands-On Work
Reese enrolled in the year-long welding program at Des Moines Area Community College.  Students learn four different kinds of welding processes and attend hands-on classes five days a week.  As the end of the program neared, Reese struggled to trust the Lord with job placement.  

“It was definitely a hard thing to trust the Lord on that decision; there was a lot of prayer through that,” Reese said.  “The company I work at now, I had been calling for months and they weren’t hiring for a long time.”  

Reese decided to try one more time and left an enthusiastic message letting them know he was ready to work.  “They ended up calling back with interest in getting me started,” Reese said.  “It is a great place to work and also have time for community.” 

Reese gets his workday started early at 5 a.m. He uses MIG welding to make semi-truck guards for over six hours a day. In this type of production, Reese and the team go as fast as they can. Their team is small, with twelve regular welders. 

“It has been sweet to reach out to those who have already heard the Gospel and talk about reasons they were offended by it,” Reese said.  “I have worked with these dudes everyday for over two years. I know those guys, they know my life, and I know a lot about theirs. Twelve super worldly dudes, the roughest of the toughest. I love and care about them a lot."