Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamika Fussell.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Tamika. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I was born in Miami, Florida to Jerome and Joeann Fussell. I have three brothers and three sisters. My father died when I was about 12 1/2 to lung cancer. He was an entrepreneur who owned a snack bar and pool hall. It became a bit of struggle when he died. My mom had to go on welfare and work two jobs until she found steady work with benefits. I have to say I gained an all new respect for my mom and single moms alike. It’s by the grace of God that kept us. We never missed a meal, and we never went without.
I was born and raised in the church. My baby brother and I were in church at least three times a week. We did not have an option. It is during this time that I learned about the bible and grew a love for the Lord and His word. As I became older, I wasn’t always so “churchy” if you know what I mean. I had one foot in and one foot out. It was during a near death experience that brought me back in. The Lord led me to a new church that I still attend today, New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church and it is through this ministry that I gained my strength and yearning for the word.
It is also through this ministry that I acknowledged the call on my life. I ran for ten years, but it was September of 2009 that the Lord literally grabbed me and beat me in front of the church during an alter call and told me no more. I did my trial sermon in June of 2010, and I guess you can say the rest is history. I have been blessed with the privilege to preach at churches outside my denomination as well as facilitate workshops at various conferences.
I started my own ministry with the leading of the Holy Spirit in 2016, TLF Ministries which is a mobile ministry, we move as God leads. It is a ministry that promotes empowerment, encouragement, and enlightenment to all. It started with my first t-shirt, Pretty Girls Preach which led to my first brunch Pretty Girls Rock Your Pearls. It was a sold out event. I was beyond humbled by the response. I now facilitate at least three to four empowerment events a year ending with my favorite Woman and Her Well, which is a beach event.
Last year, I had over 60 women to register. During this time we bond in sisterhood through songs, prayer, and conversation., burning our troubles away and casting it into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Everything we do is symbolic. I will definitely say it’s all God how I got here. I am shy and prefer working in the background, but the Lord seems to have other plans for my life. This year I am in the process of rebranding. This process is going to push me to be more vocal. God has shown me new visions as well as a new direction in which He is leading me. I can’t share too much, but I am excited.
I am currently a high school guidance counselor in Broward County. I am a graduate of St. Thomas University where I earned a bachelors in Elementary Education with a minor in Religion and a double Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and Guidance Counseling. I also earned a certification in Loss and Healing. My education has been a big help with counseling people I encounter as well as being able to see the glass half full. These degrees did not come easy.
It took me almost ten years to earn a bachelors degree that is because I had trouble with math and dropped out. I took several years off and worked as a Manager for the clothing store Express. Again, I have to give props to my church, it was my Pastor, first lady and who I call my angel, Ms. Pauline Darling who encouraged me to go back and finish up. It was Ms. Darling who literally walked me through the process at St. Thomas. My Pastor arranged for me to get a tutor and it was smooth sailing after that. I graduated in December of 2006.
The following year, I started my master’s program and was put on probation after the first semester of failing a class but God. I had to write an appeal, pray and fast. I never told anyone this story other than my boyfriend at the time, but I feel led to share to let someone know it’s never too late and you can defeat any obstacle that comes your way. I can go on, but I’ll stop with that as it was many other obstacles and hurdles that came my way during this process. I am extremely blessed to have Jesus and my mom among others in my cheering corner.
Has it been a smooth road? I shared some of my educational challenges. Now let me share some other challenges I have experienced during this journey. Like many African American Women, I deal with Fibroids. They have caused many other challenges. There was a point when I had to decline speaking invites because I could not sit for a full hour without soiling my clothes. I had fear of embarrassment.
In 2014, my hemoglobin dropped to a two which is extremely low and dangerous, and I lost oxygen to my brain causing me to lose some of my vocabulary. I only found this out because I was having repeated headaches and tightness of the chest. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I drove myself to urgent care who then rushed me to the hospital.
My attending doctor said to me you must know a Higher Power, according to your tests you should be dead or full of tubes. During the surgery, they removed 33 fibroids leaving two behind. In recovery, I almost died. I can definitely say I saw the light on that day. For some reason, they could not find a vein to insert the IV. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.
I could not speak or move my limbs, but I could see the fear on the nurses and the anesthesiologist as my pressure was declining and I was zoning in and out. There was a time that my eyes remained shut, and I could not open them. I thank God for my mom teaching me the 23rd Psalm. I could not speak verbally aloud, but I was able to speak in the spirit. I believe it was me quoting God’s word back to Him that kept me. I guess you can say that I am a living testimony.
Unfortunately, the fibroids are back, but they are not as troublesome as before. I still struggle at times with my vocabulary, but I am working on it daily. There were times when I would hide behind my shyness to avoid intellectual dialogue because I no longer felt I could keep up. That was a trick of the enemy to keep me quiet. He knows that there is power in my voice and for a few years it worked but no longer.
I refuse to remain quiet and voiceless for I know there are people attached to my calling that are waiting and depending on me. The other challenge for me has been the struggle of being taken seriously in ministry among men. I consider myself an attractive woman and many times men would become more concerned about my physical appearance than my spiritual substance. This is where the Pretty Girls Line was derived from.
It is a T-shirt line created by me basically letting the world know my prettiness does not define me. I am that Pretty Girl that can Preach, Teach, uplift and inspire. Don’t get it twisted! It is sad to say that in 2019 there are still many men that don’t believe women can preach. I’ve been blessed by God with divine avenues and connections that have been created for me to freely operate in my gifts.
The other challenge has been competition from other women and people using me for my gifts to build their brand. I genuinely have a love for people and want to see them reach their full potential, but it has also caused me pain. I have been stabbed in the back more times than I can count.
I guess the other challenge has been to see people who copied my ideas to get praise and recognition for it, but I have come to learn that it is all apart of the journey. I’ll tell anyone that ministry is not made for the weak and faint-hearted. You must have thick skin and be able to push through even when you don’t want to.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with TLF Ministries – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others. I taught in the classroom for 14 years before I made the transition to a guidance counselor. I have always had a love for kids, and I believe I could reach more students having flexibility as a counselor. I got my start at my church’s daycare Safe Haven as a Pre-K Teacher.
I am currently a high school guidance counselor for Broward schools. I love the set up as I am with my group from 9th-12th grade. It brings me great joy to plant seeds into our young people. I presently serve on the ministerial staff at my church where I coordinate church activities as well as teach and preach.
One of my favorites is outreach ministry. I call it, “Get Dirty for Jesus” I absolutely love going outside the four walls to reach those who are lost and hurt. It is definitely one of my passions. I try to coordinate at least two-three donation drives throughout the year. I also have a ministry of my own, TLF Ministries.
What I love about the ministry that God has graced me with is that I get to reach people from all walks of life that I would probably never meet inside a church. I believe I’ve been called to empower, encourage and inspire people to see pass their past and fulfill their God-given purpose on Earth.
What are you striving for, what criteria or markers have you set as indicators of success? Wow, I’ve never been asked this question. How do I personally define success? I have come to learn that success is not defined by how much money you have in the bank or the latest designers you rock but by the unspeakable peace that resides consistently in your soul.
Success to me is when I can witness the fruit of my labor through someone I counseled and or prayed for. The unexpected calls or text from people that tell me it was something I said that touched them and or motivated them. Like one of my students who came back recently from winter break at Columbia that thanked me for being an inspiration in her life.
I really thought it was going in one ear out the other, but she heard me. She was awarded a full ride to Columbia and completed the first semester with a 3.8. Moments like this define success, it lets me know that my work is not being done in vain.