When We Stand: The Power of Seeking Justice Together, By Terence Lester

When We Stand

The Power of Seeking Justice Together

by Terence Lester
Foreword by Father Gregory Boyle

When We Stand
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: May 18, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3178
  • ISBN: 9780830831784

*affiliate partner

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the injustices that we see in the world. We don't know what to do and might think that we don't have anything to offer. But by using our gifts in collaboration with others, we can do more together than we ever could on our own.

Activist Terence Lester knows it's hard to change the world. But mobilizing and acting together empowers us to do what we can't do as isolated individuals. Lester looks at the obstacles that prevent us from getting involved, and he offers practical ways that we can accomplish things together as groups, families, churches, and communities. He helps us find our place in the larger picture, discerning the unique ways we can contribute and make a difference. By connecting with our neighbors and discovering our own paths of service, we can drastically change how we follow Christ and see God moving in the world.

Togetherness and community give visible testimony of the power of the gospel. In this broken world, the body of Christ can transform society—when we stand together.

"Terence invites us to embrace a love that is without measure and without regret. It connects us. . . . We are meant, after all, for kinship and connection. We are grateful to have been reminded. In precisely this, Terence Lester is the shape of God's heart."

From the foreword by Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries

"When We Stand is both an intimate and intentional work, infused with personal reflection as well as community recruitment to action. It teaches us that with the advent of the cellphone, we have all been exposed to injustice (both concerning race and resources) and therefore have been called to action. This provocative piece by my friend and colleague Terence Lester is both a motivational journal of his personal call to action and events that he could not ignore, and a model journey into a collective call that we can share. Now is the time to act, and When We Stand is the pathway to action."

William K. Gravely, lead pastor of Refuge Community Church, Austell, Georgia

"'People are homeless by choice.' That's what I used to tell myself. Not that they wanted it, but their personal choices resulted in it. So it ultimately was their fault and their responsibility alone. But Terence Lester knows better. He has experienced homelessness and now he's helping the rest of us draw near to those we might otherwise fear, scapegoat, and want to blame. If you care about justice and the transformation of your own biases at the intersection of personal dignity and structural change, Terence Lester is a leader to follow."

Jeremy Courtney, CEO of Preemptive Love and author of Love Anyway

"Terence Lester writes with vulnerability, grace, and truth about the endless possibilities for good in the world when we seek justice in community. You will be changed by reading the Bible through his eyes. You will be inspired by his story, as he has been transformed through his friendships with those most of us overlook. Lester's book is deeply relevant, practical, and theological—a rare combination! He believes deeply in the God who lives in community as Father, Son, and Spirit and calls us to do the same as we live out our calling to seek justice. If reading the news, scrolling through social media, or watching current events unfold on television leaves you despairing and feeling helpless, When We Stand is the book for you. It's a must-read, offering a tangible and compelling way forward for everyone who wants to follow in the steps of our God of justice."

Karen González, immigrant advocate and author of The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong

"When We Stand is a poetic expression grounded in a faith-based perspective addressing a multitude of social injustices and worldly misfortunes. Terence's vision of interconnection and call for action is simply remarkable."

Alieizoria Redd, executive director of Covenant House Georgia

"We are at a time in this country when we have to speak the whole truth about our worst problems and our best solutions. Terence not only speaks the whole truth, he lives it with bold clarity today. He is my living peer hero."

Shaun King, author and activist

"Through vulnerability, conviction, and empathy, Terence Lester clearly lights a path to what togetherness can look like on this never-ending journey to justice. When We Stand invites us to see ourselves the way God does: as a unified body, with each person having a specific and valuable role to play in the larger story. A breath of fresh air and a needed push in the right direction, this book will leave readers encouraged and equipped for hard, holy work."

Danielle Coke, digital illustrator and activist

"Using faith as both his fuel and fire, Terence Lester solidifies his place and voice as a national leader in homeless advocacy and human rights in his new book When We Stand. He brings a clear message of faith and purpose—cutting through the clutter of news cycles and social media noise—and reminds us that humanity, and the love we have for it, is the only way to truly seek justice and obtain it together."

DeMark Liggins, national chief of staff, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

"Terence Lester is without question one of the voices I respect most on biblical justice. When We Stand is a book that Christians and churches alike should be reading right now. Through powerful story that is rooted in Scripture, Lester challenges us to become proximate to the injustices of this world, because it's only when we've encountered these pains close and upfront that we will begin to understand, care, and seek to do something about it. This is the simple first step we all must take. Lester's life and ministry are a testament to this, and I can't think of a better person to serve as a guide to one of the most important conversations of our age."

Michelle Ami Reyes, co-executive director of Pax and vice president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative

"When We Stand is a unique call and challenge for Christians living in the internet age. The antidote to compassion fatigue, being overwhelmed, or loneliness, as Lester beautifully illustrates, is not more stuff on your to-do list but deeper practice of proximity, vulnerability, and consistency. This book is a vital word for all of us. I hope it is as life giving for you as it was for me."

Chad Wright-Pittman, associate pastor for care and outreach at First Presbyterian Church of Anderson, South Carolina

"Terence Lester is a doer. He believes we can change the world; we can make a better, more just world, and he is doing this. When We Stand allows us to get into his head and actions. This book is a moving testimony that will inform your will and way to act in the world to make it the just place that God intends. Terence's brilliant understanding of the gospel in action comes to life in this book. This book is my walking bible as I go into the world to heed the call of God to make the world the just world that God intended. This works calls me to see, act, feel, and do something about what I see in the world that is unjust, immoral, and deprives my brothers and sisters of the full life that they were created to live."

Ralph Basui Watkins, Peachtree Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia

"Terence has committed his life to helping others know they are seen, heard, and that each of us has purpose regardless of our circumstances. In When We Stand, Terence helps us discover how we can be a part of collective change. His words are real and honest truths that challenge us deeply. This book is an essential to our souls if we want to see change in our current day."

Eryn Eddy, author, founder of So Worth Loving

"So many people want to be a part of the solution to the issues facing our world today but find themselves paralyzed by fear, apathy, and isolation. In When We Stand, Terence Lester names an age-old solution to the barriers that keep us from playing a meaningful role in positive change and draws a map to help us get there. As someone who knows firsthand the lands we must traverse, Terence doesn't just point a finger toward our desired destination but serves as a guide for the journey."

Rob Kaple, lead pastor of Grace Midtown Church in Atlanta

"When I hear my friend Terence Lester speak, I feel as if I'm listening to one of the civil rights prophets of fifty years ago. He is passionate, humble, and has a deep care for the poor and marginalized. That same world-changing energy comes through in When We Stand. This book beautifully subverts our cultural moment, calling us to get awkwardly close to one another through empathy, vulnerability, and love. To a culture that often appears unwell, this book feels like a welcome medicine."

B. T. Harmon, creative strategist and podcaster

"When We Stand is a book the world needs right now. There's a lot of talk about how to fix the issues that plague us, but very little action to match. What I love about my brother Terence's amazing book is that he doesn't just talk the talk; chapter by chapter we follow him as he goes into the dark places of society operating as an agent of change, and then he utilizes his experiences to paint a blueprint for the reader. If you've felt a pull to help heal the ails that sojourn within your town, city, or country and don't know where to start, look no further than When We Stand."

Remi Adeleke, author and actor

"Terence Lester is a champion for the image of God found in every human—not just those worshiping next to us on Sunday. When We Stand is a beautiful challenge to honor God through our acts of restorative justice."

Brandy Wallner, writer and founder of A Good Conversation Dinner

"When We Stand is a mosaic of practical wisdom that does not endeavor for us to add to our already overflowing to-do list but empowers us with tools that create space to do justly. The hope is that we stop talking about doing justice and actually work alongside existing community advocates. As Terence says, 'When we stand together, we can make this world a significantly better place.'"

Gricel Medina, pastor and church planter, the Evangelical Covenant Church

"It is said that we are experiencing a second wave of the civil rights movement in America. Sadly, if you look back at history, you'll also see that there was a great deal of inaction and even opposition from the mainstream church during the first movement for justice and equality. For those who take seriously the call to put faith into action and be salt and light in this world, Terence's words and wisdom here will give us much guidance. He has lived the truth he speaks, and his words are prophetic and powerful yet seasoned with grace and delivered with love. May the Holy Spirit move in you and through you as you read When We Stand."

Susie Gamez, speaker and writer

"Terence Lester taps into a macro problem in our increasingly virtual society—the weight of seeing how people are being mistreated all over the world. We are more aware of injustice. That awareness can be overwhelming. When We Stand comforts the hearts and guides the minds of those who want to move past awareness into action. No more poignant words could be written about communal justice. No more qualified person could have written these words. Terence Lester can talk the talk because he walks the walk."

Darrell Hall, pastor and intergenerational communication expert

"Terence Lester is a leader. His words about personal and societal change should not be taken for granted. This book is a gift."

Lecrae, hip-hop recording artist

"When We Stand is for those who feel overwhelmed by all the suffering and injustice people are experiencing in our country and around the world. When Terence Lester speaks, I'm listening because he draws from his lived experience, not just untested abstract propositions. This book is a gift from a credible witness."

Drew G. I. Hart, assistant professor of theology at Messiah University and author of Who Will Be a Witness? Igniting Activism for God's Justice, Love, and Deliverance

"Social justice movements that change the course of history are anchored by leaders and followers driven by love, justice, and deep compassion. That's Terence Lester's mission in When We Stand—to love, to unite people across differences that divide, and to fight for justice for all."

Vicki Crawford, executive director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection and endowed chair in civil and human rights at Morehouse College

"Doing the hard work of change requires locking arms with others. Terence is one of those courageous friends to me. This book is the guide for justice work, together."

Jeff Shinabarger, founder of Plywood People and author of Love or Work

"When Terence writes something down, I need to read it because Terence embodies his truth. His heart has always been for the one not commonly seen. In When We Stand, Terence helps us to reimagine justice through the eyes of a community. You'll be challenged to do the hard work with others!"

Dave Gibbons, advisor and activist

"When We Stand challenges and instructs readers to move from being passive observers of injustice to active justice seekers through the power of proximity. Through the lens of Terence's own justice journey, you are given a practical approach to seeking justice collectively."

Ekemini Uwan, public theologian and cohost of the Truth's Table podcast

"Terence asks a lot of us in When We Stand, but he vulnerably and courageously shows us the way. Exemplifying it in his own life, Terence has traded the American dream—which requires us to hold tightly to our own pride, insulation, comfort, perceived expertise, and homogenous bubbles—for the justice-oriented dream of a kingdom that intentionally makes space for every voice, every skill, every human, including and especially those who've been marginalized the most by society. When We Stand is an invitation into the dream that brings us closer to God, whose life-giving breath infuses dignity, agency, and communal flourishing. May we be brave enough to dream as Terence has and humble enough to follow his lead."

Gena Thomas, author of Separated by the Border

"Terence has done it again! The passion of leaders like Terence make it possible for works of art to exist that both challenge individualism while offering a solution for isolation—When We Stand is that work of art. Do yourself a favor and explore this vital portrait of how together we can create a masterpiece."

Tedashii, artist, author, and speaker

"Christian minister and activist Lester . . . issues a fiery call to action for those concerned about the rise of social injustice. Writing in a conversational tone, Lester strings together inspirational passages from the Bible, Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, and quotes from articles and documentaries that invite readers to 'make a long-term commitment to live according to God's call for us to come alongside others.' Readers looking to make a difference but unclear about how to begin would do well to start here."

Publishers Weekly Review, May 2021

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Father Gregory Boyle

Introduction: Be Better—Together
1. Get Out of Your Bubble
2. Make More Time
3. Pursue Something Real
4. Be Brave and Unlearn
5. Think "We"—Not "Me"
6. Know Your Worth and Make a Difference
7. Take the First Step
8. Live Intentionally
9. Bring Someone with You!
10. Maximize Your Impact
Conclusion: Play Your Part
Questions for Reflection and Discussion


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Terence Lester

Terence Lester (PhD, Interdisciplinary Studies, Union Institute and University) is a minister, speaker, community activist, author, and founder of Love Beyond Walls, a not-for-profit organization focused on poverty awareness and community mobilization. His campaigns on behalf of the poor, including #LoveSinksIn, have been featured in USA TodayBlack Enterprise Essence, and Reader's Digest. They have been viewed by millions of people globally on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS News, NBC, Upworthy, and "The Bright Side" with Katie Couric. His books include When We Stand, I See You, Getting Past Stuck, Simple Prayers for Hurting People, and Identity Theft.