Terence Lester is a minister, speaker, community activist and author who co-leads Love Beyond Walls, a not-for-profit organization focused on raising poverty awareness and community mobilization. He and his wife, Cecilia, founded the community-based center in College Park in 2013. Since that time they have led a couple hundred creative service projects designed to display the skills and gifts of those living in poverty; led homeless and poverty awareness campaigns in schools and throughout the metro Atlanta area; and mobilized over 10,000 volunteers through church, community, and business partnerships.
Terence is driven by two ideals: (1) anyone can make a difference, (2) and he won’t live forever.
At the age of 16, Terence was a high school dropout and a member of a gang. A rebellious teen, he’d spend time living on the streets himself and had even attempted suicide. It would take four years for him to make a change for the better.
At 20, he was arrested and while in jail met a man who talked to him about life decisions. It was the first time he had ever heard the gospel. By the start of the next year, he was submitting to his own call to share his testimony to change the lives of others.
While he can, he intends to leverage every gift he is cognizant of to impact the lives of others for as long as he can.
Terence has delivered countless sermons and speeches at conferences, churches and schools including the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial in Washington, D.C., Radio One’s Praise in the Park, Morehouse College, Alabama University and Kennesaw State University. He has been featured in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) National Magazine, Dioceses of Atlanta’s Pathway Magazine, USA Today and NBCNews.com for March Against Poverty (#MAP16) in 2016, as well as Black Enterprise, Rolling Out, and numerous other publications.
He holds an associate degree in Media Production from American InterContinental University (2005), a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Leadership from Atlanta Bible College (2008), and Masters of Education in Counseling from Liberty University (2010) and Masters of Arts in Theological Studies also from Liberty University (2012).
He has served on the ministerial staffs of Word of Faith in Austell, GA, New Life Presbyterian Church in College Park, GA and is a communicator at Wheat Street Baptist Church and West Ridge Church. Terence has authored five books including, “Getting Past Stuck,” “Simple Prayers for Hurting People,” and “Identity Theft: Defending Who You Are.” He has also co-produced a biographical documentary based on his book, “The U-Turn Project: Answering the Call.”
Terence has also received numerous awards for his community activism including the Empire Board of Realtists Distinguished Service Award (2017), SCLC Social Advocacy Award (2016), Atlanta Voice’s 50 under 50 honor (2016), the True to Atlanta Award presented by the Atlanta Hawks (2016), Fulton County Schools Service Award (2015) and the winner of Plywood Presents Idea Competition (2015) and Awesome Foundation’s Idea Competition (2015).
Terence is the proud husband of Cecilia, and proud father of Zion Joy and Terence II.