Even as a small child, Terri knew the meaning of hunger. She was poor for as far back as she could remember. Her mom resorted to writing hot checks to buy food and was eventually imprisoned for it.
Her early life took Terri from one challenge to the next. She dropped out of school in 7th grade. At 14, she started drinking and three years later she was using hard drugs.
By age 40, Terri had already been in more than one abusive relationship and served a 2.5 year prison sentence for a drug charge. Not long after, she became pregnant. Unsure what her future held and with a new life on the way to care for, Terri sought help. She was admitted into Exodus Ministries after her release from prison with her six-day-old newborn son, Brayden. Exodus, a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering recipient, is a Dallas-based Christian ministry which helps formerly incarcerated mothers successfully re-enter society.
While at Exodus, Terri was provided with her own fully-furnished apartment. She said she vividly remembers opening the refrigerator and pantry and seeing it stocked with food. The food and groceries given to Terri, and each new resident of Exodus, was provided by the Hunger Offering.
Exodus helped meet her immediate needs with food, formula and diapers, but they also taught her to meet her own long-term needs through budgeting classes, job training, spiritual support and prayer.
“They helped me learn how to budget,” she said. “Because I had no idea how to budget or save money. When I graduated from Exodus, I was still able to save ... and budget and put back money in case I needed anything.”
“[While at Exodus] I started a job washing dishes and I hated it, but I knew that I had to have income so I did it ... I went from washing dishes to managing the cafe. I’d been there for two years and in March 2017, I took over as owner. I achieved all that in three years and had it not been for Exodus, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Terri said.
As a small business owner, Terri is now able to provide for herself and her son - a reality she never dreamed of before. She also finds through her Exodus family as they continue to point her to God for strength, hope and a strong future.
“Hunger is something that can be satisfied with a meal,” said Ali Corona, hunger and care ministries specialist for Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission. “But it will come back again and again until a person is equipped to provide for themselves. Through ministry partners like Exodus, the Hunger Offering is able to make a real difference in the lives of thousands in Texas and around the world.”
Texas Baptists are collecting a special Hunger Offering to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 14. Make a donation to help women like Terri by visiting hungeroffering.org.