In March 2020 as the coronavirus started to spread and experts emphasized the importance of handwashing, Terence Lester, author of IVP’s I See You and executive director of the nonprofit Love Beyond Walls, took notice of the homeless population. How would they wash their hands?
Lester came up with the idea to set up portable washbasins that are sold for RVs and camping. With the help of Grammy-winning artist Lecrae and Reach Records, Love Beyond Walls set up the first fifteen handwashing stations in Atlanta. Since early April, the Love Sinks In campaign has expanded to fifteen states, seventeen cities, and is supported by twenty-five partners. The inspiring story caught the attention of media outlets around the world, including CNN, Good Morning America, Today, Disney, The Weather Channel, International Business Times, NY Daily News, USA News Hub, MSN, Reader’s Digest and countless others. Most recently, Love Beyond Walls was also selected by AbbVie, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, as one of twenty-six nonprofits to be supported by their Community Resilience Fund. Because of this, Lester and Love Beyond Walls will be able to place one thousand handwashing stations across the United States.
Starting June 1, IVP will also join the campaign to help “see” and address the needs of the homeless population during this time by donating a portion of all proceeds from Lester’s book, I See You, to the Love Sinks In initiative.
“In his book I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People, author Terrence Lester conveyed a powerful message calling us all to open our eyes to invisible people,” Jeff Crosby, IVP’s publisher, said. “The Love Sinks In campaign, designed to bring portable handwashing stations to the areas of our country with a high population of homeless persons who are especially vulnerable during the pandemic, is a tangible expression of the work we are called to do and of the people we are called by Scripture to see and serve. I am grateful for the chance to partner with Terrence by donating a portion of the proceeds of the sales of I See You to the Love Sinks In campaign during this time of great need in our world.”
Having been homeless as a teenager, Lester knows the challenges of living on the streets. In an interview on The Bright Side with Katie Couric, he said, “My experiences with homelessness resulted in my life calling. . . . I feel very grateful each day I get up and I get a chance to do this work. I’ve devoted my entire life to this service.”
Lester writes about his call to help the overlooked in I See You, in which he also calls us to see the invisible people around us. He writes about personal encounters and real-life stories with the “invisible” 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, “Covid-19 has presented us with many challenges but has also presented us with a huge opportunity to see the people that have been invisible and overlooked in society and culture. It has awakened us to the realities that have persisted for far too long for people living on the streets and experiencing poverty in our country. We are being called now to affirm the value that each image-bearer possesses no matter where they live in society. God has called us to build longer tables and destroy higher walls.”
Lester 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.”