From earthquake relief in Puerto Rico and back to COVID-19-stricken-New York. That itinerary sounds like one a “Shero” would navigate.
The January 2020 earthquake in Puerto Rico may not have attracted the same media blitz drawn by Hurricane Maria. It did grab the attention and the heart of Lillian Torres. Co-founder of TENT Ministries, Inc. with Jason Ayala, together they established the 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization in 2015. Why? Lillian says, “Because good deeds are not enough.”
The 2014 alumna of the Nyack College School of Education’s Master of Science in Childhood Education, realized that people have more than physical needs. When other non-profit organizations restricted the two from providing spiritual care to people who wanted it, TENT Ministries was established.
“The Lord then spoke to us through Isaiah 54:2-3, ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.’ TENT is an acronym for To Empower, Not Tear Down. This stems from the concept that we are the body of Christ and we need one another to function. Working in unity strengthens the force of our impact. We have vowed to work with other organizations, precincts, churches, individuals, and all who wish to be a part of the change,” says the advocate for the marginalized and underserved.
Both Lillian and Jason, her fiancé, were born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York, where TENT headquarters is located. During their development of the outreach, one business was quite impressed with their mission. “The owners provided us with a Bushwick office, as well as an office and conference room in the Empire State Building, as donated space,” she explains.
Demonstrating that they are pursuing challenges bigger than themselves, Lillian shares about their outreach to Puerto Rico. “After Hurricane Maria in 2017, TENT Ministries was on the ground just weeks after, providing relief and aid to the people on the island. We came across a two-acre property in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.” More confirmation of Isaiah’s prophetic word to enlarge and stretch their “tent.”
The words of Jeremiah 33:10-13 resonated with them as they considered the land and envisioned it as another opportunity for TENT Ministries to flourish. Lillian and Jason shared that scripture with the property’s owner. “He claimed that God had not permitted him to sell the land because he was to wait for the person he wanted him to sell to, and he felt confirmation in his heart that it was us, “says Lillian. “We purchased this property, which had been used in the past to host missionaries. We vowed to continue using it to train up leaders in the fields of community outreach, missions, and evangelism and to raise up men, women, and children with a fire and passion for Christ.”
“In 2018 we also put a down payment on land in Rosarito, Mexico as God put it in our hearts to do. One day we will also erect a TENT School of Ministry on the two plots of land. We go annually to minister to the youth and employees at orphanages in Rosarito and Tijuana, minister to rescued women at women’s shelters, minister to men at rehab shelters, and serve however the Lord asks us to serve. Just as the promise made in Isaiah 54, we know that this is just the beginning and TENT will have Schools of Ministry in countries all across the world!”
It is in the DNA of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary alumni to serve and to fulfill the Great Commission of going into all the world with the Gospel. Lillian Torres humbly gives credit to her alma mater for how her purpose is being fulfilled.
“My education at Nyack has prepared me to better serve communities all around the world by providing me with a foundation in childhood education. But in order to affect change, you must take initiative and prepare yourself so that God can use every experience and every skill set for His glory.”
“I will continue to further my studies and pursue a doctorate in education to ensure that I am fully equipped with the tools I need to develop curriculums and leave a lasting, positive impact on educational systems around the world. As I reflect on how it all began, I recall the very first conversation I had with Dr. Looney (Nyack’s School of Education Dean) in my admissions interview. Everything I am living right now began with me speaking it into existence and believing it before I even saw it happen. I am very appreciative of Dr. Looney and Nyack College for guiding me through this journey and helping me to advance in my purpose and goal in life!”
Good words and good deeds define TENT Ministries. The sum of that equation is “more than enough.”