Today we’d like to introduce you to Theresa Waters-Dunston.
Theresa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was raised in the inner city of Philadelphia, PA, with strong southern roots tied to my birthplace of Asheville, NC. I can remember visiting the south every summer enjoying the country and carefree life which significantly differed from the crowed and chaotic inner city of Philadelphia which I had become so accustomed to. I looked forward to spending my summers in the south because somehow it seemed to balance out the chaos that existed in my life. It was my place of escape. Although I was raised by two very loving, supportive and affirming parents, as a young child, I was faced with many obstacles. For most of my childhood I watched my parents battle with addiction, and I not only witnessed, but experienced firsthand the devastation that it brought to our family. I was forced to call upon wisdom and strength beyond my years in order to survive the daily trauma of watching my parents being overtaken by addiction. My faith is what carried me through these challenging and unforgettable years and to this I credit my survival.
I was introduced to church at an early age by my parents and paternal and maternal grandparents. My paternal grandfather was an ordained minister in the Baptist church and was known for his expressive and passionate preaching. My paternal grandmother was an avid prayer warrior and was known for hosting prayer meetings. I credit her with the prayer life I have had since a little girl. I proudly continued the legacy of prayer once she passed away. As a young kid I LOVED attending church! Church brought me hope and encouraged me not to give up, and although my parents were not regular church goers, they desired that I attend. For some reason, I had a strong, innate desire to attend church and would often attend church alone and sat in the balcony.
For as long as I can remember church was my place of refuge, comfort and strength and became the place that I longed for. I later discovered that my yearning for church was tied to my life’s purpose and my life experiences shaped, molded and prepared me for a life of ministry.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life for me has not been easy, smooth or problem free. For as long as I can remember, my life has been filled with what presented itself as one insurmountable obstacle after another. First, witnessing the two people I looked up to and loved the most being controlled and ruled by addiction during the most critical and formative years of my life was very scary, painful, disheartening and impacted every area of my life. My spirit was broken. It was out of this experience, even as a young child, that I looked to my faith and belief in God (a higher power) for strength and sustenance. This experience birthed my prayer life which helped to sustain me during some very uncertain times in my childhood and is the foundation of my present-day ministry. As a child, I always knew there was something different about me because I struggled to fit in. I was very shy and introverted and I loved to read and write. I was a pretty good writer and found writing to be enjoyable because it allowed me to express my innermost self. Reading allowed me to escape my reality.
Second, I am a survivor of teenage dating violence and attempted suicide. For two years I was trapped, stuck in a (secret) abusive and unhealthy relationship with a young man that was verbally, physically and emotionally abusive. I found myself looking for love, acceptance and validation in all the wrong places. Once again, I was broken. This relationship stripped me of my identity, my independence and my self-esteem. It was at this point in my life that I battled depression, self-worth and unknowingly attempted suicide by trying to numb the pain of the abuse. I survived and lived to tell my story. This experience proved to be a very pivotal time and turning point in my life. It was a wake-up call and the moment in time in which I decided to choose self-love above all others. Through my own prayers and that of my mother and grandmother, I was delivered from this relationship and was able to move on with my life.
I can proudly say today I am unashamed of my past and my life’s story. My pain has been used to help heal others. My story of survival, restoration and redemption has afforded me the opportunity to inspire and encourage others through various outlets including, radio, tv, podcast, magazine, teleconferences, keynotes, etc.
Please tell us about Divine Destiny and Purpose Ministries.
I accepted my call to the ordained ministry in 2004 in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church where I served in various leadership capacities including Co-Chair of young adults, Co-Purpose Leader of Fellowship ministries, among other roles. In 2012, I received my Masters of Divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling and was nominated Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. My seminary training helped to solidify my call, further shaped me for ministry and allowed me to deconstruct and strengthen my theology.
In 2013, my husband and I birthed Divine Destiny and Purpose Ministries. A multi-faceted ministry birthed out of our life’s ups and down’s, past disappointments, abuse, hurt and pain. We share how God took our MESS and turned it into our MESSAGE. We teach individuals and couples how to become UNSTUCK and push beyond their past hurt and pain in order to reclaim their power, restore their identity, renew their faith, pursue their purpose and live the life God promised. We accomplish our mission through mentorship, coaching, conferences and pre-marital education. Our testimonial book of a marriage redeemed and restored by God, “21 Keys To A Successful Marriage in the 21st Century” prepares couples for marriage and provides encouragement and support for marriages in turmoil. Annually, we host our signature Live Your Dreams Conference, an event designed to teach, encourage and empower people to live their God-ordained dreams by overcoming their PIT, “Point in Time” that was meant to break them. Our tag-team approach gives us the unique appeal, perspective and ability to reach a more diverse population of all ages including men, women, young adults and youth that genuinely desire to become unstuck and unparalyzed by their past in order to fulfill their life’s purpose and destiny.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
As I reflect on who I am today, a woman in ministry, a preacher, associate minister, coach, mentor, intercessor, ministry leader, teacher, author, conference host, visionary, advisor, and motivational speaker, my most favorite childhood memory takes me back to middle school. The woman that I am today can be traced back to an opportunity that was extended to me in the 9th grade, which gave me a glimpse of who I would one day become. In middle school I excelled in English class and was known for my writing ability. As a result, I was often called upon to write letters, poems, and even papers for others. My writing gift caught the attention of my English teacher who afforded me the amazing opportunity to be the commencement speaker for my 9th grade graduation. I was afraid, but honored to be chosen for this once in a lifetime opportunity. As I delivered my speech, I discovered an additional gift, public speaking and loved operating in this gift. At the end of my speech, I received applause and a standing ovation from teachers, parents and my fellow students. This was a crucial and revelatory moment in my life and I knew that my life’s purpose involved speaking and writing. From that day until now I have been intentional about writing and speaking at every opportunity to encourage, inspire and enrich the lives of others.
- Website: http://www.divinedestinyandpurposeministries.com/
- Phone: 678-590-1434
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @ddp.ministries
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/divinedestinyandpurposeministries