Samantha Starts Fresh After Years of Abuse
On her wedding day, Samantha didn’t know that her new husband would soon become her abuser. They met while serving in the United States Air Force and he initially stood out from any other man she had ever met. But his charming words were replaced over time by mental and physical abuse.
For the sake of their two children she stayed with him, that his apologies and false promises of it never happening again would one day be reality. But in 1997, Samantha heard a promise that she knew she could believe.
“I had just become a Christian and didn’t know much of the Bible. But one day I read Matthew 6:26 where Jesus says, ‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’ I took that verse as a promise from God that He would always take care of me and my children.”
It was this promise that gave her the strength to take her children, along with a few possessions, and flee for her life. She drove from Virginia to Central Florida, thinking she would be able to stay with family and quickly find a job. But the job hunt was coming up dry.
“I’ve always been someone who could find work, but I could not find anything!” Samantha recalled. As her savings dwindled, she was left wondering how she would provide basic necessities for her children. She remembers buying one meal and giving it to her son, only allowing herself a few bites to take the edge off her own hunger. She sold the only piece of jewelry she owned – her wedding band – for $15 to buy diapers for her youngest.
Desperate, Samantha started calling around for help. A staff member at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission invited her to come apply for a room. Since none were available that night, the staff only had the floor left to offer her, but at least Samantha’s family was safe.
“As soon as my kids were fast asleep, I finally allowed myself to cry,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do next or what to expect. I was just relieved we weren’t sleeping in my car.”
Once Samantha was able to move into a private room, her heart began to settle. She saw how much the Mission cared for her family’s well-being and that they were safe.
“People knew me, knew my hurts and knew my mistakes, but they loved me through it,” Samantha said. “They taught me what the love of God looks like and I grew tremendously in my faith. There was no judgment – only encouragement to help you get to the place you need to be.”
It was that safety and guidance that set Samantha free to become independent and self-sufficient. Within six months, she applied and was awarded a military scholarship from the Soldiers to Scholars Program. The scholarship paid for tuition, books, and provided a stipend for room and board – and it was enough for her family to live on while she completed her degree. She graduated with her Bachelor’s in Christian Leadership from Florida Christian College. And while on a community service assignment for school, Samantha met a godly man who later became her husband.
The newlyweds both had a passion for family and for Christian ministry. Samantha’s new husband embraced her kids as his own and they went on to grow their family with four more children. Three years after leaving the Mission, they planted a church in Kissimmee and pastored there for 10 years. Samantha felt called to write a book about her experiences with abuse and published it in 2011. She also was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the same school because of her extensive service in the community.
“I’m passionate for helping others find a purpose and a place in life. Making an impact on the world starts with a relationship with Jesus,” Samantha said.
Today, Samantha and her husband serve as leaders of Kingdom Life, a church ministry located in Orlando. Samantha returns regularly to the Mission to teach and encourage the women living here. She knows firsthand the desperation and brokenness they face and is eager to share with them the hope and strength that comes from believing the promises of God. Her story hits close to home with so many of them, giving them inspiration to continue their own journeys of becoming self-sufficient once again.
“The Mission is a beacon of hope in the community – it was a light upon a hill for me when I was lost and hurting. And to think it’s been that light for 65 years – that’s three generations of hope! I celebrate what God is doing here and I’m honored that I get a chance to say thank you.”
Samantha found a safe place for her and her children at the Mission so they could start a life free from abuse. Each day, O.U.R. Mission Home offers life-changing care to nearly 33 families, like Samantha’s. Help create more stories of life transformation through your support today. Each gift of $26.82 provides a hot meal and life-changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida!