“I would tell anybody, to this day there are a lot of people doing philanthropic work. Is your heart in it? Can you do it when nobody is there? Can you do it when nobody shows up? Can you do it when you are only affecting one?” These are the things that drive Terence Lester to go on for his organization Love Beyond Walls day after day. His desire is to make sure that he is leaving a legacy that not only his children, but others will follow. He has witnessed people waste their lives being distracted by bad relationships, failed obstacles and other challenges. Terence is determined not to allow anything to distract him from striving on a daily basis to do all that he can to contribute to humanity.
In 2013 Terence Lester accepted the challenge to sleep on the streets and experience life like the homeless in his city during the Christmas holiday season. He took to social media sharing a gofundme campaign to raise money to launch his now flourishing organization, Love Beyond Walls. Love Beyond Walls is a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, GA and it was founded by Terence to be an aid to those who have ended up on the streets for reasons anywhere from job loss to runaways.
So exactly how does Love Beyond Walls operate? Well, some years ago, Terence met with mentors and he learned that every organization or company focuses on data. He wanted to do something where his measures of data were not focused on the number of volunteers or donations but his success was about reaching one person and making a difference in their life. Every life is important. While speaking Terence referenced the scripture Matthew 18:12 when Jesus mentions a shepherd who will leave 99 sheep to search for one. That is Terence’s focus today, reach one, and he believes that if his measure marks were not different from other organizations he would have quit a long time ago.
This was recently proven through a campaign that was led by Terence and Love Beyond Walls using the hashtag #HireMark. Love Beyond Walls has helped a ton of people over the years. Mark’s story was that he was adopted as a child, ended up in corporate America and became homeless. Terence promised Mark that if he went the distance that he would do the same in return to get him employed. Terence wanted to show Mark the power of collective support and how many people would be able to identify with Mark’s story. Mark was involved with volunteering with Love Beyond Walls and in turn they kept Terence’s promise. They helped Mark gather all of his identification documents, connect with family, and moved forward with the campaign. It was launched using the hashtag and Terence stood with Mark wearing a sign with the words “Hire Mark” painted on giant boards hanging over his shoulders. Mark was recently hired back into corporate America, moved into a housing space and open a bank account in less than a month from the campaign launching thanks to social media and word of mouth. This was a successful outreach for one but it affected thousands. That’s the magic of Love Beyond Walls.
Love Beyond Walls is gearing up for it’s next campaign known as MAP18 (March Against Poverty 2018). You may recall seeing Terence in the media during MAP16 when he walked from Atlanta to our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. This year Terence will begin walking on March 3rd from the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Terence should arrive in Memphis by April 4th. The day he is set to arrive will be the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The focus this year is to bring attention to poverty and racial division in honor of Dr. King and two of the triple evils that Dr. King marched for during his life. This is a way to bring people together in a non-violent way. They have the endorsement of the NAACP as well as the SCLC. Terence believes this march will be one of the most historic campaigns that Love Beyond Walls has participated in. The campaign will be turned into a documentary film on racial reconciliation. “It will be creating the moral courage that we need,” said Terence. He believes this is something that america desperately needs. If you would like to learn more about MAP18 or Love Beyond Walls and how you can help visit their social media (@lovebeyondwalls) and website.
A little over 2 years ago I was scrolling through my timeline on Facebook and came across a video of a young woman sharing her testimony of God answering her prayers and blessing her family with a vehicle from a total stranger. That woman was none other than the Faithful Chics founder and owner, Crystal Perkins. After watching that video I was encouraged as a woman of faith and an entrepreneur and began following her and her brand. So, when she accepted our invitation to be interviewed for this issue of Nouveau Exposure I was ecstatic. If you aren’t following her, you need to! She truly is a faith filled chic and involves God in every aspect of her life.
– Only God Can Do It –
Crystal’s testimony of God bringing her through trials and tribulations may sound a bit cliche,` but it is the truth. Several years ago she had lost her father and grandfather and her family began experiencing hardship after hardship from losing employment to losing their home. On top of that her marriage was on the verge of divorce. Crystal and her husband have known each other since 9th grade but married life wasn’t coming to them as the union they hoped it would. Things were rocky. One day she was driving and talking to God and she heard God speaking to her saying he was going to restore everything that she lost and what he required of her was not to give up and to share her testimony with everyone she came in contact with. At the time she couldn’t see it happening because she and her husband were a dark space in their lives. In Spite of that, she pulled over immediately and called her husband to share with him what God had given her saying, “We can not give up, God wants to use all of this for his glory.” They made the choice to fight for their marriage.
Their fight wasn’t physical or mental, it was spiritual. Counseling sessions didn’t really work for them. They realized that they had to find themselves in Christ before they could work on healing their marriage. As they learned to pray with each other and open up the line of communication between them by offering vulnerability they began to see a change in their marriage. These changes taking place in their individual lives and their marriage was the foundation for God to begin to bless them and open doors that he had promised.
– Faithful God –
Crystal eventually began Faithful Chics while working as a counselor for those who were blind or visually impaired. Her days typically consisted of her having her time with God, going to work, coming home to prepare dinner, spending quality time with her daughter and husband and as they shut down for the night she was working on anything related to Faithful Chics from design and planning to packaging and shipping. While her days and nights were long and full, she loved her job and she loved her business/ministry.
One of her coworkers shared a word with her that God revealed to them that her ministry was growing so fast and she was going to have to make a decision soon about pursuing it full time. After some time God began to reveal those same things to her and before she knew it she found herself at work one day hearing the voice of the Lord say that she could not return to work the next day. With tears in her eyes and an obedient spirit she began packing her personal items and went to let her boss know that she would not be returning after the day was over. She received her confirmation during that conversation. Her boss let her know that at the time when Crystal began working for the organization they were losing faith in God and it was ignited seeing Crystal’s faith in action and witnessing her relationship with God. While Crystal thought her assignment was having the job to be there for her clients and the favor of being able to grow and operate her business while working, for her boss it was to inspire them to renew their faith in God.
The next morning after leaving her job she logged into her website for Faithful Chics and said “Here I am God.” Two weeks later she received a call from a new outlet mall in her area in Arkansas. They found her company on the internet, loved her brand and wanted to offer her space at the mall. She opened a kiosk located outdoors during early fall of 2015. She prayed to God for an indoor location due to the weather changing and God allowed her to have her first indoor location by November of 2015. Later her company left indoor location at the mall for her own storefront location by January of 2016 known as the Faithful Chics Boutique. Crystal remembers thinking “If I would have stayed at my job, I would have missed out on all of this.”
Her ministry and business began growing and thriving. Faithful chics boutique was not your average store. Part of the policy to open the store was to pray and worship before the doors opened. The boutique became a sanctuary for customers. They were welcome to come there and be free to talk about their struggles, be emotional, pray, worship and more. Crystal was witnessing the promise God gave her from years prior coming to past.
-On to the Next –
When it comes to what God has in store for the Perkins family you should always be waiting for more. By spring of 2017 Crystal announced via social media that God had given them the assignment of uprooting from Arkansas and moving to Georgia. It wasn’t a real surprise to Crystal for God to have them do this. God had already shown her in visions that a move was going to occur and as she put it, “Every time he [God] gives me a vision about something, it happens.”
Because of her faith and obedience she was ready to move. She admits that it was hard to leave family and let go of the boutique. She prayed and prayed for God to make a way for the store to remain open. It wasn’t for the financial benefit of having a physical store versus an online presence and pop up shops but for the customers who loved the environment of the store and all that it offered as a sanctuary to them. Finally God answered her saying if she could not let go of the boutique then it had become an idol to her. After that she stopped trying find ways to keep it open and followed God’s instruction. It was an emotional process leaving everything that they knew, but she and her family came to terms with separating from everything they loved about Arkansas to establish residency in the Atlanta, Georgia.
The transition itself was easy. Crystal has experienced God’s provision for the vision over and over. He hasn’t failed her yet and she doesn’t doubt for one second that he will. While they don’t have a physical store in Georgia at this time God has provided for them in other areas from blessing them with their place of residence to their ministry and business continuing to thrive. At this time their residence is the operating site for Faithful Chics but they are bursting at the seams and currently praying for the best location to launch their boutique in a new city. She believes a physical location is in their future within the next six months to a year. In the meantime Crystal has launched a new opportunity for individuals to become licensed to sell Faithful Chics apparel. Along with the licensing they will be receiving one one one coaching sessions with Crystal and tools to help them become successful entrepreneurs. She and her staff received and reviewed over 200 applications and recently contacted the first group that was selected for this experience. Be on the look out, you may have a licensed seller in your area to see for all of your Faithful Chic Apparel.
Crystal has not allowed herself to be defined only by the label of her company Faithful Chics. She is branching out and becoming a serial entrepreneur by launching her latest business, God and Goals. God and Goals is a consulting company founded by Crystal to show other entrepreneurs how to move forward in business with hard work, perseverance and faith. She didn’t start doing this out of thin air. She began doing faith and purpose consultations a couple of years ago. But God began to pour into her and show her how to develop God and Goals. Her desire is to teach others to keep God at the forefront, pray over their business and seek God with decision making. God and Goals is the tool to allow her to accomplish that desire. There are services for the general public to sign up to receive and membership perks as well. Services not only involve consultations, but also include branding and marketing assistance, workshops, brand audits, and access to apply for scholarships and grants.
There is a special customer that Crystal has been serving lately and that is her beautiful daughter. Crystal’s daughter Kennedy (8 years old) has already come to her parents on her own with a business plan and a mission. She has witnessed her parents apply faith and hard work for their businesses and she is taking notes for her own endeavors. It will not come easy. Her parents are teaching her to that the development of a brand and business takes time. She recently did chores to earn funds to have a logo created and moving on to the next step. Talk about legacy!
– Penny For Your Thoughts –
Crystal did share a few words of wisdom with us for someone who may be going back and forth with making the decision to launch a business. “There is never a perfect time. The right time is when God confirms that it’s the right time.” She has learned from experience that life is never going to stop and when God gives a vision and confirms it, it is time to fulfill it. “You need to literally drop everything and be obedient. I obey God flat out. I don’t try to negotiate with God. I do it.” if you only take one thing away from reading this, Crystal hopes that it’s to make sure that your dreams/goals are aligned with God’s will. Remember in all the hustle and bustle of making business decisions to keep God at the forefront of all decision making. And last but not least, stay humble.Increase, influence, prosperity comes in stay hungry, don’t get so comfortable that you feel like you have reached the final level of success. You should never stop growing, never stop grinding and never stop working hard.