Many years ago, Terri (Burns) Fowler received an invitation to lunch.
The invitation was from Marketplace Chaplains U.S.A., which provides chaplain services to a variety of workplaces. They offered Fowler a job. Initially, she declined, asserting that it wasn’t what she wanted. However, she agreed to pray about it and consider a role as a chaplain.
“I didn’t think it would ever work out,” Fowler said. But during the second lunch interview, Marketplace Partners asked her if she wanted to work in the office of a large, local business. Fowler enthusiastically agreed. Ministering to professionals was an answer to prayer, and it fulfilled a deep desire to work in a business setting.
This was just one of the many affirmations of God’s sovereignty in Fowler’s life.
Fowler became a Christian at the age of 7. Later, when she decided to go to Cornerstone University—which was Grand Rapids Baptist College (GRBC) at the time—God graciously put people in her path to bolster her along the way.
On a blustery Michigan day, Fowler’s youth pastor brought her youth group to visit the college. Fowler wondered why anyone would want to go to college where it was so cold and snowy. But God wanted her there, and her youth pastor encouraged her to attend.
“For me to go to GRBC at that time was the perfect situation,” Fowler reflected. “The school was a hothouse for spiritual growth.” She recalled how professors at GRBC inspired her to build a Christian worldview and to be an agent of Christ wherever she went.
Even after college, Fowler was confident that God provided every situation in her life for her benefit. She sought out various opportunities as she tried to seek out her career. God used that season to help her grow. After working a few different jobs and pausing work to raise her family, Fowler accepted a job at Marketplace Chaplains following that providential lunch meeting.
Fowler currently serves as chaplain for the corporate offices of Gordon Food Service and Our Daily Bread Ministries, both located in Grand Rapids, Mich. Some of Fowler’s assignments are out of the ordinary. You’ll find her anywhere from tool-and-die facilities to intensive care units. For Fowler, it’s all about being available for people.
“I talk to a lot of different kinds of people,” Fowler said. “I often start with basic chitchat—sports, the weather, gardening—but in the middle of that, we talk about things that are important.”
By intersecting the lives of others around her, Fowler finds that she can also help them explore their faith. In her experience, anything can be a ministry—marriage counseling, child dedication and even divorce care. She has seen people come to faith in each of those situations. Sometimes it’s not a big event—it’s a mere conversation.
“I come alongside people in their good times and their in-between times,” Fowler said. “People allow me to come into their story.”
Fowler’s entire life and career is dotted with stories of her pouring into others. To her, every interaction she has is ordained by God, even if she’s not on the clock. It all comes back to how she felt affirmed during her studies at GRBC.
“It is my desire to affirm people,” Fowler said, “whether they’re the person I stand with in line at the grocery store or the person cutting my hair.”
Fowler’s faith isn’t pigeonholed into one area. It permeates her entire being. She understands that she is an instrument for God’s goodness, and He will use her as He sees fit. She encourages others to understand that God is using them no matter where they are. Fowler is a light to everyone, whether she’s at a restaurant or in an office.
“All truth is God’s truth,” Fowler said. “All ministry is God’s ministry.”
Terri Fowler graduated from Cornerstone University with a degree in speech communication. She currently works as a chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains U.S.A. Fowler serves employees of Gordon Food Service and Our Daily Bread by making hospital calls, assisting in funerals, performing weddings and coming alongside those employees in moments of crisis. Terri and her husband, Bruce, currently reside in Grand Rapids. They have two adult children.