"Lighthouse Gospel Mission is a place of transformation": 70-year Riverview rehab program

For 70 years, the Lighthouse Gospel Mission has been helping men and women leave lives of drug addiction. 

Pastors Anthony and Jeannette Samuels have full schedules at the Lighthouse Gospel Mission in Riverview.

"We have the Faith Home Program, which is an 18-month discipleship rehabilitation program. We have Operation Hall, which is our food distribution ministry," said Pastor Anthony. " And we have the remnant thrift store that's a thrift store that received donations." 

Lighthouse Gospel Mission thrift store

The goal of the faith-based mission is to help people who became addicted to drugs. 

"Lighthouse Gospel Mission is a place of transformation. It's a place where people have been dealing with life controlling issues can come and learn a completely new way of life and learn to live in the freedom that God is intended them to live in," Pastor Anthony said.

The pastor found his freedom from drugs in 1997. He came to the Lighthouse Mission after going to jail and meeting a man that knew about the program.

Pastor Anthony didn't join the program to fulfill a calling, he just needed help that the Lighthouse Gospel Mission could provide.

"I didn't have a dollar to my name, but the program welcomed me and taught me a better way of life. And in that pursuit, I found my purpose. And my purpose was not only to get help, but also to give help back," Pastor Anthony explained. 

J.A. Leonard started the initiative in 1952 as a traditional mission in downtown Tampa. It now offers an 18-month on-site residential program. 

"Each class is designed to focus on those areas of their life where they struggled in society and to get them to mastery and to become successful in those areas. So when they go back out into society, they can be productive citizens," Pastor Anthony added.

Rachel Cook, came to the program in 2017 and is now a women's program supervisor. 

"The program is not an easy program. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But the program taught me discipline. It taught me structure. It taught me that I can't always have my way. It taught me, really, just to follow the Lord's guiding in life," Cook said. 

Sarah Ann Brewer, works on the program's food truck. She came to the Gospel Mission 10 years ago.

"Our pastors are amazing. They're so into the community, you know, they're so helpful, and they're  easy to talk to, they're loving," said Brewer. "Everybody's so great here. They definitely saved my life."   

Lighthouse Gospel Mission food truck

Pastor Anthony said his role is like a cheerleader for the people in the program, helping them finish their course.

"But when you see somebody come to the place of completion is definitely one of the most rewarding things," Pastor Anthony said. 

The program has helped thousands of people with their addiction problem. They are hosting a banquet on Sept. 30th at Lighthouse Freedom Center. 

For more information visit: www.lighthousegospelmission.org.