Thought Leader: Terence Lester, Founder of Love Beyond Walls
Location: College Park, Georgia
Photographer: Jenna Shea Photography
Designer: Monica Kraeger

TERENCE LESTER SAYS: “It totally rocked my world when I understood having Dignity and Worth are inherent.”

Terence Lester was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s an African American man. Growing up he had a lot of experiences around statistical data about African American men especially being on a negative trajectory. A lot of the hardships his family faced he internalized early on in life, and it led him down a path that would tend to validate those statistics. 

When he was 16 ½, and often living out of a car, he dropped out of school and was walking away from his alternative school when he ran into a homeless man. The man said to Terence, “Hey, man, you don’t want to end up something like me. If you stay on this path, that’s where you’re going to be, but if you turn it around, you will probably be the leader of all the people around you now.” Then, he didn’t ask for money. He just walked away. That conversation began to whittle away at Terence’s heart.

Terence eventually went back and completed his high school diploma, but he got into more trouble afterwards. Then he had another experience that changed his life, and that was probably the first time ever that he acknowledged that he had a Creator, and the Creator had a purpose for his life…to support the dignity and needs of all people. 

The name “Love Beyond Walls” came out of this desire to allow God’s love to tear down things that are evil in the world.

At first his wife and he were leading groups. It totally rocked his world when he understood that having dignity and worth are inherent. You can’t give anybody dignity or worth. You can only affirm them. 

He learned that service is not an event. It’s a lifestyle that leads you into authentic relationships.