It started when Sam was seven, living at Westwood apartments in central Arlington. He remembers Martha and Earl gathering all the people to study the Bible. For Sam, it started as a place to get juice and cookies, but became so much more. He started learning about the Word. He remembers accepting Christ at that apartment church when he was eight years old.
He remembers his sister coming home with canned food and clothes during his childhood. At Christmas, Sam remembers the thrill of getting presents. He says, “I didn’t know where the gifts had come from, I was just happy to get a gift.”
Fast forward to high school: Sam found himself in some trouble and completed a few hours of community service at Mission Arlington®, still not knowing that his old apartment Bible Study was affiliated with the Mission. He enjoyed the work so much that, like many others, he kept coming back even after his assigned hours were complete until he left for college at UNT.
A few years later, Sam was back in Arlington and started attending church with his sister at South Street church. He loved the Bible-based teaching and comfortable fellowship he found there. “You come as you are. It’s a community of people here to learn about the Lord.” He was glad to learn that South Street Church began as an apartment Bible Study through Mission Arlington®.
Then, one day, his sister filled in the holes of his early memories. That’s when he realized that Martha and Earl were Mission Arlington volunteers and that they had been the people facilitating Christmas gifts, school supplies, clothes, and meeting other needs for their family. This made him want to give back even more. Sam came to deliver furniture, hang up clothes, whatever needed to be done. But at Christmas time, passing out presents to the kids was particularly special. He says “It really came full circle when I was the one doing the giving. It brought me back to when that very same kid was me.”
In August, Sam completed his PhD in Industrial Engineering and recently accepted a position at Dallas Baptist University as assistant professor. At the beginning of each class, he shares scripture. They talk about embracing struggles and new life in Christ. He’s shaping these college students to be excellent engineers and to live out their faith.
Sam says, “God orders our steps. He’s the author and finisher of our faith. Though we may not know the end of the story. It’s important to stay connected, to trust in the Lord.”
Last month, Sam attended a meeting at Mission Arlington® to share his story. When he was done, a familiar voice came from the group. “Apartment 106.” Martha was at the meeting, too, and remembered Sam, his sisters, his dad, and even his apartment number.
What a blessing. We are truly thankful.