Terence Lester is the author of I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People and founder of Love Beyond Walls, a not-for-profit organization focused on poverty awareness and community mobilization. Out of a deep concern for the homeless during the Coronavirus, Love Beyond Walls has created portable hand-washing stations for those living on the streets. The initiative is called Love Sinks In. In an article for Sojourners, Lester wrote, “It sounds basic, but we wanted to ensure that people had access to this basic human right as a preventative measure against contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus.”
The inspiring story has become one of hope amid fear and uncertainty, catching the attention of media outlets like CNN, Good Morning America, Disney, The Weather Channel, International Business Times, NY Daily News, USA News Hub, MSN, Readers Digest and others.
“As the world was talking about sanitizing and washing your hands, I knew there was an entire community of people experiencing homelessness who couldn’t do any of those things,” Lester told Good Morning America.
Lester says that the idea came from listening to a story of suffering from one of their community members named Dmitry. He is in his late forties and is experiencing homelessness. “He expressed to us his fears about contracting the virus because he did not have a safe place to wash his hands without being put out of a public space,” Lester said. “His story prompted us to think about an entire community of people experiencing homeless who can’t do any of the basic things the news anchors were advising us to do, like wash our hands. A teammate, Johnny Taylor, and I decided that we could do more as an organization.
“That’s when I got a call from my friend Lecrae, a Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist, who wanted to know what we could do. He rose to the occasion and we combined our efforts to create Atlanta’s first-ever homeless sink installation crisis campaign.”
Lester’s heart for the overlooked was penned in I See You, in which he calls people to see the invisible people around us. He writes about personal encounters and real-life stories in an effort to challenge others to become more informed about poverty and homelessness, and to see the poor as Jesus does. Al Hsu, senior editor at IVP, said, “When the world is paralyzed, Terence Lester acts. And his creative and compassionate actions inspire the rest of us to follow his lead.”
Lester said, “Every single woman, man, and child experiencing homelessness has a story and they matter to God. If we truly believe that God has created us all, that means that we should care for the whole community — including people living on the streets.”
The goal of the current “Love Sinks In” campaign is to install as many portable wash stations as possible in the next two to three months. Love Beyond Walls wants to continue the initiative through focused collaboration with local stakeholders, governors, mayors, private sector and philanthropic partners.
He told Good Morning America, “Recognizing those experiencing homelessness as ‘people’ and not ‘problems’ is important. I hope this leads us to think about how we can adequately address this issue nationally."