In September of 1994, Dale Pogue thought he knew God’s plan for his life. He had been pastoring First Baptist Taft for the last 9 years, and his wife, Ann, loved her job as the school nurse for Taft ISD. They lived in a nice parsonage and did not envision God calling them to serve anywhere else. However, God had a bigger plan for both the Pogues and STCH Ministries.
Unexpectedly, Dale received a phone call from STCH Ministries President, Dr. Jack Green. Dr. Green wanted to invite Dale to lunch with Vice President, Homer Hanna, and himself. Dale “could not turn down such an invite” so he told them he would be there. He arrived at lunch with no idea what the meeting was about, except maybe to discuss his recent nomination to serve on the Board of Directors. After they finished eating, Dr. Green began to share his dream of a ministry to help strengthen families: a way to help them before they reached the point of separation. He envisioned working with families in the surrounding churches, their pastors and their staff members, despite the individual’s ability to pay. Dr. Green shared his dream but left the how, what and when up to Dale.
Dale left lunch overwhelmed by the fact that Dr. Green wanted him to take over his dream. He had so much to consider; his wife and her feelings, his church, where they would live and his age. “To begin a new ministry at my age was almost unheard of,” Dale explained. “I knew in my heart that it could happen if it was God’s plan for me and STCH Ministries.” Dale shared the proposal with Ann and together their hearts opened to this new challenge. In order to receive approval to lead this new ministry, Dale resigned from the board before he had the chance to serve.
Dr. Green’s dream was set into motion, but it was not going to be an easy task. Dale, under the direction of Homer, started out on the road with brochures in hand to meet with pastors and church secretaries about this new Family Ministry. He had to build excitement for what STCH Ministries was doing and show how it could benefit the people in Corpus Christi. Dale also had to find Christian Counselors to help serve the clients that would be coming to see them. Without funding for full-time counselors, Dale had to get creative. STCH Ministries employees, Diane Gryseels and Lil Abshier, said they wanted to help when possible, but they had their own ministry assignments. God stayed faithful through the process, and showed in many different ways that they were following His plan. STCH Ministries contracted with multiple counselors and they worked on a client by client basis.
God was laying a solid foundation for STCH Ministries Family Ministry. Next, the ministry needed an office space and through God’s provision, STCH Ministries purchased a building at 4438 South Staples in Corpus Christi. The office space was to be shared – one side Family Ministry and the other for ministries already in place. After moving into the new building, Dale started building a library with resources for those in need and planning retreats for pastors and their wives. The staff started seeing clients, some of which traveled a long distance. Dale received a phone call one day from a couple living in a rural area near San Angelo. The couple needed counseling but could not afford what most places were charging. They asked him what the cost of a session would be and Dale replied, “just the cost of gas and meals.” They scheduled a time and Dale met with the couple as a pastoral counselor in Corpus Christi. A few weeks later they called again asking to return to discuss other issues. With tears in his eyes Dale stated, “I was delighted to see them leave with full assurance that their commitment to marriage was real and final.”
In 1996, Joanna Berry was hired as Family Ministry’s first part-time therapist. Joanna was excited about the opportunity because she already worked as a contract therapist for STCH Ministries. She loved the ability to help clients not only through counseling but counseling based on biblical truths. Shortly after hiring Joanna, Dale decided it was time for him to step away from the ministry, and Les Chaney was hired as the director. Les wanted to focus on the family aspect and implemented family conferences for those in the area. This is when STCH Ministries Family Ministry really began to grow.
In 2001, Les stepped down from Family Ministry, and STCH Ministries President, Dr. Jerry Haag, had to decide who would take his place. Dr. Haag sat down with Joanna to decide the future of Family Ministry. Some began to speculate that it was not a ministry that needed to exist and that time and funding should be spent in other ministries. During Dr. Haag’s conversation with Joanna, she received a phone call from a distraught client. Joanna helped walk the client through their difficult situation over the phone and helped make a difference in their life. In that moment Dr. Haag knew Family Ministry was worth fighting for, and he knew just the person to run it, Joanna.
Joanna was still only working part-time which is what she preferred. Unsure of what she wanted to do, she went home and talked to her husband, John, about the offer. Together, they decided it was time for her to move forward and accept the offer as the director. “All I did was take a step,” Joanna states. STCH Ministries continued to work in God’s will and Family Ministry continued to grow. In 2007, under Joanna’s direction, STCH Ministries opened an office in Victoria and changed the name to Family Counseling.
In 2017, due to the tremendous growth, the leadership of Family Counseling was given to Darin Griffiths who had served as a counselor at the Corpus Christi office for 12 years. When Darin joined STCH Ministries in 2005 there were only 7 counselors, today there are close to 30. He has seen the ministry expand both in numbers and their impact. Even though there are more locations and employees they are still able to stay connected and work together for the good of the ministry. Darin’s dream moving forward is to expand Family Counseling’s outreach through distance counseling over the internet. “Technology is only going to get more advanced so we will need to continue to discover ways to use technology and to expand our abilities to use it,” Darin states.
Dale, Homer and Dr. Green love looking back and seeing how God used people to take what seemed like a small dream and how He turned it into something so beautiful. Dale helped “get the plane off the ground”, but others “took the plane up higher with God’s leadership.” Today, STCH Ministries Family Counseling serves over 800 people a month at 15 different locations. Eron Green, the current STCH Ministries President, says, “The true impact felt through Family Counseling ministry cannot be fully understood and appreciated this side of heaven. So many have been blessed because of Dr. Green’s willingness to follow the Lord’s leading by starting the program. I am so excited to see how Family Counseling ministry will continue to grow and develop.” Over the years, no one expected the ministry to grow the way it did, but God had bigger plans!