Image source: Pixabay.com
(F.C. Tucker Anderson, July 2017)
At his wife’s urging, Sam Johnson went to his first meeting of the American Indian Council in Phoenix, Arizona in 2001. He was heavily involved at the time with Church of God Ministries and had felt that it was time for him to explore his Cherokee heritage.
Sam’s reception was mixed at first. Sure, his dark hair was the appropriate length, cascading down his shoulders; it just seemed an odd fit with the light-colored skin and business casual attire paired with Converse Chuck Taylors.
“Some thought I was some kind of spy,” Sam said. “They wanted to know what this white man was doing here.”
When he was young, his father had urged him to be guarded about his heritage for fear of discrimination. Now, it seemed he didn’t appear Cherokee enough.
“I told them I wasn’t white! I was Irish, German and Cherokee, and I was here as a Cherokee.”
By the third day at the conference, Sam had not only won them over, he became their treasurer. In 2004, he became First Chief, or President. His served as a liaison between the church and Native American reservations, as a kind of cultural translator to Church of God Ministries.
For example, he said to be careful encouraging young Native Americans to find work in metropolitan areas because, in their culture, that meant abandoning your family.
He also advocated for ministries to provide food to Native American families because, as he explained, “Nobody’s going to care about what you say about God if they’re hungry and you’re not feeding them first. That’s just common sense.”
In 2006, Sam felt God calling him to serve families a little closer to home, in the Anderson school system. He had spent some time as a substitute teacher and didn’t much care for it. Children who were too often the “adult” in the home, as parents struggled with drug addiction or were simply absent, came to school hungry, angry and ready to fight.
“It’s a war zone,” he said.
He fought it at first, but Sam finally accepted God’s call. He took a job as a permanent substitute teacher at Robinson Elementary. For three years there and another two at Anderson High School, he fought to keep kids out of trouble, and to give special needs kids the attention they desperately needed.
In 2011, Sam felt it was time for a change. He had always been interested in buying and selling real estate someday, and had a feeling he would end up becoming a real estate agent. He looked into all the agencies in town and decided on FC Tucker for a simple reason.
“The CEO is a Christian. We pray before every annual awards banquet, we talk about God, we talk about what it means to be a good person,” Sam said.
July 1st, 2017 was Sam’s six-year anniversary here at FC Tucker. In that time he has continued doing what he’s always done: serving others in need.
Though Sam no longer serves on the American Indian Council, he still supports missions as a member of Madison Park Church of God.
Though he no longer works in the school system, he still serves children and families through his affiliations with Dove Harbor, United Faith Housing, Operation Love and the Miriam Project, which together provide subsidized housing, food, clothing, utility assistance, and support for women in crisis pregnancies.
All this, while still selling enough real estate to make a good living.
Sam shrugs off his community involvement. He says it’s just using relationships he’s developed over a lifetime in this area to connect people and get things done. Sometimes that means speaking hard truths, be it telling a client their sale price is too high or that the church needs to do more to live up to its call.
It’s all just part of who he is.
“I’m a squeaky wheel,” Sam said, with the chuckle. “I’m gonna tell you the truth, because I’m all about trust, and building relationships. It’s not about selling a house.”