JOPLIN, Mo. —
For many years, The Bridge focused on a youth ministry that carried a big impact not only in Joplin but also throughout the area. That same impact is being felt today but in a different and more encompassing capacity.
Along with the new emphasis that reached out to the entire family instead of just youths, The Bridge underwent a name change last year. Welcome the Victory Ministry and Sports Complex.
"The Bridge mission statement was to connect all youths to Christ, but our mission now is a Christ-centered community center for all ages, for the expanded family," said Clifford Wert, a volunteer who serves as the treasurer, as well as a board member for the non-profit ministry.
Victory's roots stem from 1999 when it opened as The Bridge next to Connie's Antiques. It moved to its present location at 3405 S. Hammons Blvd. in 2006.
Wert has been on board with the ministry from the start and said it has nearly quadrupled in attendance since going to the whole-family format. The skate park, with ramps for skateboards and sport bikes, was a big attraction for youngsters at The Bridge. However, they have been replaced by basketball courts with money also being raised for volleyball courts.
Now the multipurpose court space can be used for hosting leagues, practices and tournaments for teams of all ages. In addition to basketball and volleyball, space is available for indoor soccer, youth wrestling and boxing, as well as other activities such as a batting cage and fitness center.
The Bridge has mushroomed from the 17,000-square foot building next to Connie's to 62,000 square feet today, with 20,000 square feet of that used for the gym.
Misty Frost, a Victory volunteer who is the director of Mission Joplin at Forest Park Baptist Church, said she is glad the building is being used to the maximum for the kingdom of God.
She added that one of the most unforgettable sights she has seen has been a father walking into the gymnasium and his sons following behind with all their gear for boxing or wrestling. The gym and fitness center are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Just as with The Bridge, the ministry aspect plays a big part. A praise and worship session open to the public is held from 7 to 9 a.m. every weekday. Musicians and singers from area churches provide the music. It can also be a time to read from the Bible and pray. All are welcome to come and go as they wish.
The open Christian family environment is stressed even more with "Friday Night Out at Victory."
That is when anyone may come from 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and listen to live Christian music while using any of the facilities available.
Victory emphasizes that its ministry can also be a central hub for local churches to connect and come together much like a family life center.
The first name of the ministry itself reveals its heartfelt intent through 1 Corinthians 15:57, which states "Thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
Victory Ministry and Sports Complex is located at 3405 S.Hammons Blvd. It is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Memberships: individual $27; family $40; non-member day pass $5
Praise and worship is held 7 to 9 a.m. on weekdays.