Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Family: Wife, Marcia, and eight children
Vocation: Program supervisor at Family Service Rochester, associate pastor at Word of Life Church, & executive director of Life Community Development Corporation
PAM: You’re really busy. How many things do you do?
TIERRE:At Family Service Rochester (FSR), I supervise three child welfare programs. Two look specifically at families of color, and the third is a truancy diversion program. I founded the Father Project, a parenting program at FSR, but it’s currently on hold due to lack of federal funding. And I preach at Word of Life Church.
I come from an entrepreneurial lineage. That’s my blessing and my curse. I’m a social entrepreneur. I’m always building with other people, but then I miss out on time with my wife and family.
That said, I’m seeing pieces of the puzzle coming together and starting to work together. My core value is family. I have realized that if you build your family, your family will build your ministry. That’s been a paradigm shift for me.
PAM: Tell me about Conquerors, your latest venture.
TIERRE:It started in my garage as an outlet for kids and young adults. It’s a program of Life Community Development Corporation. We use boxing as an activity, but it’s more than a boxing program. We have four focus points: fitness, faith, family and future. Right now, we work with youth at two locations: the Rochester Area Family Y and Oak Terrace. At the Y, we’re already completely booked.
My hope is to take this model to different neighborhoods in the community. I want to take the program to where the kids live. Ideally, we’d like to have one going on weekly in targeted areas.
PAM: You have eight kids, ages 2 to 23?
TIERRE:I’ve parented an array of kids. I’ve been the absent father to my 23 and 21 year olds. I’ve been the single father to my 20 year old. I’ve been blessed to have this transformational opportunity to be married to my wife, Marcia, and we have five kids together, ages 2 to 10.
PAM: How did you meet Marcia?
TIERRE:I was living in the Twin Cities; she was living in Rochester. I had my eye on her. So many people that we had in common had told me great things about her family.
So I went first to her father. He said, I’ll talk to her and see if she is interested in pursuing this [courtship]. That was on a Thursday night. He called me back on Sunday and invited me to a family gathering.
But three years before we started courting, I was in a horrible mental state. I came to Rochester for a softball tournament with my sister on a Sunday morning and asked her to drop me off at a church of our same denomination.
I was sitting in the service and saw Marcia’s mother dancing. God spoke to me. He told me, “She’s dancing because I just told her that you’re her daughter’s [future] husband.”
Three years later, when we started courting, Marcia said to me, “Remember when you were here three years ago? My mother told me that you were my future husband.” So we knew it was God’s plan for us to be married.
PAM: What advice would you give men about relationships?
TIERRE: Take the time to address those three key questions that humanity has asked of us. Who am I? What is God? What is my purpose? If a person can confront those three questions, then they can become successful. Personally, I’m contending with the purpose question.
PAM: What do you mean?
TIERRE: Do I go out and market myself as part of a for-profit organization or do I fulfill the demands of my heart?
Marcia has a master’s degree in education. She works extremely hard too. She’s the director of Seeds of Wisdom, the private school and daycare that she and her family founded.
I believe spiritually that if you’re going to do something for God, there is a price that you’re going to pay. I’ve paid a price in terms of unemployment, a blended family, a medical scare with a big price tag.
PAM: You have amazing energy. What’s the secret to your marriage?
TIERRE: I have an amazing wife who is very gracious to me. The unfortunate thing is that my wife has had to teach me how to be a father and husband. She’s been able to discern my heart. My heart is always turned toward her and my children.
Maybe the secret is being totally committed to my marriage, committed to my children and growing through it all. I’m not perfect, but hopefully we have a story to tell, and it will be a story of victory.
Pam Whitfield is a teacher, writer, horse show judge and spoken word artist. In 2011, she won the Minnesota professor of the year award from the Carnegie Foundation.