Sitting in the room in which he once detoxed, Samuel smiles and said, “Its only because of God that I am here today.”
Stephanie Mitchem, the director of Water Angels, said the first time she met Samuel he told her, “I tried that Jesus character once. He did nothing for me.”
Samuel Burgin is a current student at Johnson University who struggled with homelessness and drug addiction.
“Water Angels has the power to change lives,” he said. It changed mine and without it I don’t want to think where I would be.”
Mitchem is the founder and current director of Water Angels ministry and has witnessed the change Christ has made in Samuel’s life first hand.
“The best thing about this ministry is getting to see God work, to see life change right there in front of you and even if this ministry was only for Samuel, it would be worth it,” She said.
Stephanie met Samuel one day under the bridge , the usual homeless hangout in downtown Knoxville. When Stephanie first met Samuel and asked if she could pray for him he said no. Samuel at that time, was only under the bridge to buy drugs in between buses from Atlanta to North Carolina, where he is from.
“Its amazing to see how God works, His timing is flawless,” Stephanie said.
“We exchanged emails and I continued to pray for him. In one of those emails I had told him about the rehabilitation house we have here at Water Angels,” she said. “I wanted to let him know that if he ever wanted to find out who Christ is that he always has a place here.”
Sure enough, Samuel responded and wanted to give up drugs to find Christ.
“This room we’re in was once my home,” Samuel said. “It had four of us packed into this little area.”
“The first thing I did when I got clean was tell Stephanie that a change is needed here,” He said.
Samuel professed Christ as his personal Lord and savior shortly after his move into the house and was baptized in the mountains not to long after.
“Samuel immediately dove into scripture. I mean really, unlike I have ever seen,” Stephanie said. “He loves to study and the change in his life was noticeable immediately.”
While at Water angels, Samuel worked well with the kids in the 180 Gang, a gang for troubled youth who are either homeless or at risk in the Knoxville area.
Stephanie noticed this and recommended to Samuel that he think about becoming a youth minister.
After Samuel applied to Johnson University, Stephanie had her doubts.
“I thought to myself, there is just no way, I mean he got his GED in prison, there is just no way he will get in,” she said.
But Samuel was soon accepted to the school.
“After four nerve racking months, I got an email with the subject line ‘Congratulations!’, and I just could not believe it.” Samuel said.
“I was surprised that he got in, but then the issue became how is he going to pay for this?” Stephanie said.
Samuel never lost faith.
“I had to encourage Stephanie, I told her that if this truly is God’s will, He will provide a way for me to finance this tuition,” Samuel said.
Before starting the Fall semester, Samuel had obtained more than $14,000 in scholarships.
“Sure enough, he’s there,” Stephanie said. “ He is hoping to get into student ministry and he still comes to Water Angels on Sundays to volunteer here for our kids.”