When Trace Embry finished Bible college, he envisioned becoming a pastor.
"We got the tap on the shoulder about midway through Bible college experience that you're not going to be a pastor in the traditional sense," Embry said in an interview with CBN News.
That word combined with a passion to help troubled teenagers led Embry and his wife to look for land. They purchased 200 acres and turned it into Shepherd's Hill Academy, a Christian boarding school for kids in crisis.
Embry says the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the school's mission of helping teens in need.
"Kids are enrolling at Shepherd's Hill," said Embry. "We've never stopped enrolling kids. I was positive, we had a few kids that were positive, no kids that were sick. We had four staff members who did get sick and so we've gone through the proper protocols."
Endorsed by top Christian leaders such as Wall Builders' David Barton and the late Ravi Zacharias, youth from across America and 19 countries attend the school, which boasts a strong academic and spiritual environment.
"From 8 to 3 the kids are in school like any other school," Embry explained. "They conduct their affairs in school, STEM education, good education, quality education."
Trained medical professionals also help kids go through a time of "Digital Detox."
"These kids they can hardly escape pornography," said Embry. "We're giving these kids these addictive adult toys called smart phones 24-7, unencumbered access. That's like giving your kid a key to the liquor cabinet and then just expecting them to exercise wise protocol."
Another therapy component includes a nature-based program which requires students to survive and thrive in cabins without internet access or electricity.
Those who are enrolled work on outdoor projects, bond with each other, and connect with God.
Embry says, "There's never a better opportunity for a kid to get to know Jesus than in a year in an unplugged environment where they have real relationships, face to face relationships. There's the teamwork of keeping those cabins warm in the winter and maintained and dry in the summer and no running water, no electricity. They live there for an entire year."
Learning to defend their Christian faith is also part of the school's curriculum.
"They're getting a tremendous amount of apologetic training," Embry said. "They're leaving here and they're able to go toe to toe with a 50-year-old college professor and not be talked out of their faith."
That faith, says Embry, is turning these young lives around.
"We've seen transformed from the craziest things including homosexuality, transgender issues," testified Embry. "We got kids working for NASA. I just got a call from a parent whose kid got a doctorate in nursing. This is a kid who told me when he first saw me that before he leaves here, he's raping my daughter."
"He was the first and only Shepherd's Hill Alumni to ever come back and work as a counselor," continued Embry.
Meanwhile, Embry, who also hosts the syndicated program, "Licensed to Parent," says helping kids heal and reconnect with family is his mission in life.
"Nothing has thrilled my heart more than a Shepherd's Hill Academy graduation service and you hear these kids and you get the emails and the letters back and I can't describe it."