Dr. Teresa Hairston is founder of Gospel Today magazine. She visited Kalamazoo, Mich. on Sept. 11 as featured presenter in the 1st Annual Kingdom Entrepreneurial Summit and Expo. The event was presented by Joint Heir Ministries, founded by Michelle and Anthony Carter to provide Christ-centered educational, developmental and financial resources that will advance the Kingdom of God in the marketplace. Hairston, also a minister, presented the â€œOne-Day Boot Campâ€ for entrepreneurs and preached at Mt. Zion Baptist Church the following day. She sat down with Community Voices to share her story.
Dr. Teresa Hairston inspires hundreds during a recent visit to Kalamazoo, Mich.-photo by Sean Hollins
KALAMAZOO (Mich.)-Glance through the press kit of Dr. Teresa Hairston and you will see the publisher of Gospel Today magazine posed alongside heavy-hitters in the political, music and business worlds. She has been featured in Essence and Ebony magazines and has been named the â€œOprahâ€ of Gospel. When asked of the most interesting people she has interviewed, she mentions the Bishop TD Jakes, and smiles as she recalls her interview with the handsome Denzel Washington.
Through the many accolades she receives, her spirit is humble, yet her success and confidence through Christ leads many to seek her advice on how to be the person God has called them to be. Although she features the trials and triumphs of others in Gospel Today magazine, the hills and valleys of her own journey is inspiring.
IN THE BEGINNING
Hairston grew up in the church and at the age of 5, was already playing piano. She would attend college and earn a degree in music and later teach in the public schools in New York where she was raised. However, life would not be that simple. In 1989, as a mother of three small children she found herself divorced and working two jobs. It was then God gave her a vision to launch into the publishing arena, an area she knew little about.
With $300 she created Gospel Score, a four-page newsletter and eventually quit her jobs to commit to the newsletter\’s success.
â€œPeople laughed at me,â€ Hairston recalls. â€œThey told me they would call my former employers to help me get my job backâ€¦and these were people of God. They didn\’t see the vision God gave to me.â€
That vision seemed blurry at one point when she struggled financially and wanted to quit. However, in 1991 she took total faith and moved her children to Nashville, Tenn., which had become a hub for Gospel music similar to the city\’s culture for Country music. By 1995 Gospel Score had become a glossy magazine called, Gospel Today which has more than 200,000 subscribers nationwide.
LIVING OUT GOD\’S PLAN
Hairston\’s mission statement is, â€œWhen God gives you a vision, and He\’ll make the provision!â€ Today, her faithfulness in listening and following God\’s plan has led her to found Gospel Heritage Foundation, an annual three-day Praise and Worship Conference and Gospel Heritage Awards show, and co-venture with Verity Records to produce a nationally-distributed CD, Praise & Worship. She earned a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Richmond Virginia Seminary in 2005.
As a Gospel-industry icon, Hairston has created a niche for herself in the Gospel world that has led to her hosting â€œGospel Today Updateâ€ on the ABC Radio network. Her music background has led to her writing songs for such artists as Albertina Walker (â€œInto Each Lifeâ€), Georgia Mass Choir (â€œMore Love to Theeâ€) Lecresia Campbell (â€œMagnifyâ€) and William Murphy III, (â€œWorship Experienceâ€).
Dr. Hairston listens as one entrepreneur shares his vision.
CV: With only $300, what were the challenges in starting Gospel Today?
TH: Challenges were money, staffing, knowing how to do what I was called to do because I didn\’t have the education. And so I worked my way through and the whole, â€œstick-to-itivenessâ€; that\’s the challenge and the opportunity.
CV: What was your turning point for Gospel Today, when you really knew it was going to work?
TH: It was many years later when I started seeing thousands of people subscribing and thousands people saying, â€˜I know about Gospel Today,\’ and I would go places and they would introduce me (as being from) from Gospel Today, and (people) would start clapping. I would say, â€˜Wow, I think they\’re reading it.\’
CV: The Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs, how did that get started?
TH: The Boot Camp started last year. So many people were asking me to mentor them and I didn\’t have the time. It sparked something in my spirit to pour into entrepreneurs; help them understand their assignment, their authority. All of that aligns with what God has for them to do. The camps are not about just what you do in business, it\’s the spiritual, physical, and emotional â€“that\’s the side that people devalue in the business world, but we know that\’s what really makes it work.
CV: What would you tell people thinking about getting into business, but just don\’t know how to get started?
TH; Pray. Ask God for the vision. Read the scripture in Habakkuk 2:1-4. Look and listen to God, watch see what He is saying to you, write it down, wait. As you\’re waiting be prepared and understand there is a processing time. And walk by faith and not by sight, and trust Him in everything you do. And give back to Him.
CV: What are you, like, Wow, I have can\’t believe I\’m doing thisâ€¦I\’ve made it; what moment was that and what do you still want to accomplish?
TH: When I went to Egypt, Asia, Europe, South America. God has this vast world. He\’s a global God. And I thought, wouldn\’t it be great to have a Gospel Today Asia, a Gospel Today Africa? I am inspired and I know God doesn\’t show you things without making provisions. So, I haven\’t done it all; I\’ve just done a little bit. But what I\’ve done so far I feel like a little girl in a candy store..What\’s next?