- Faith & Family
Pastor says her past experiences help her relate with members
Today, Pastor Monique Hester of Tree of Life Bethesda is known as a role model, according to one of her church members.
She’s a woman who has gone from door-to-door evangelizing and holding Bible studies at others’ homes, saying “I can come to you, you don’t always have to come to the church. I’ll bring the church to you.”
But about 15 years ago, she was a woman who was in a relationship with a drug dealer and had become a drug trafficker. She was a woman who was almost sentenced to five years in prison, and had even tried committing suicide.
Then her drug dealer-boyfriend who was also the father of her children was murdered, Hester was almost shot while being robbed, and she eventually lost everything: her house, cars, hair salon and all of her money. This series of tragic events had eventually led Hester to seek God and start living a righteous life.
She joined Tree of Life Ministries and under the leadership of Apostle E. Scott, she was trained to live a godly life. She then became very involved in the church going from a missionary to an evangelist and then to an assistant pastor. Eight years ago, she became the pastor of Tree of Life Bethesda.
Hester believes her past experiences have helped her relate to her church members, especially the women, who have dealt with similar situations, such as domestic violence and infidelity. She wants to motivate women to move past their issues and walk in the success that has already been ordained for them by God.
“I believe that there are a lot of women in church — even though they are hurting — they’ve got dreams, so if we could just push them to go forth in the midst of their pain, they’ll come out of what they’re going through.”
Hester has ministered to women at the church’s recent women’s conference and at the monthly women’s group meeting, where women who are dealing with hurt, emotional pain, self-pity or depression are encouraged.
Hester, who has watched her members grow, as Christians say, it was through love, listening, praying and fasting.
Showing Love to Members
“She loved me back to Christ,” Shatoya Linton Thornton, 29, said about Hester.
In the past, Thornton had a bad experience at a church in an unwelcoming manner, which had even made her considered Mormonism.
It wasn’t until attending Tree of Life Bethesda that Thornton had began to grow as a Christian.
“I came there and said ‘this is the place for me’ in the very first visit,” she said.
Since joining, Thornton has watched God work in her life. She has gotten married and went back to school to receive a certification to teach preschoolers.
“A lot of us came in hurt, but we leave out feeling more powerful and equipped,” she said.
By Malika A. Wright