Health Journey with Homes for Families

Our Homes for Families residents from both Marshall and Bluebonnet campuses were recently blessed by Nicole Pedraza with Yoked Fitness, a Christian-based fitness group that helps people meet their personal health goals. Nicole gave an informative presentation on health and exercise to the residents and staff at the new Petty Acres Children’s Center on Marshall Campus. She had everyone complete a personal goal sheet which she will use to put a personalized training program together for each person. Nicole will meet with everyone as a group and individually in the coming weeks and months as she helps them accomplish their health goals! They kicked off their health journey by making a healthy meal for the presentation which consisted of baked fish, salad, guacamole and fruit. 
 
Nicole is currently a student at the University of Houston-Victoria and will be doing her internship hours while working with our residents and staff. We’re thankful for Nicole and Yoked Fitness for investing her time and resources! 

Christmas on Campus

Christmas was a busy season for our Homes for Children and Homes for Families! We are blessed to have had several groups come to campus to love on our kids, bring gifts and throw parties. The kids are always anxiously awaiting the season with excitement and anticipation! Some of the children on our campuses have never received Christmas gifts or experienced any Christmas festivities before, which makes it even more special for them. We’re honored that these organizations and groups have chosen to bless our kids during the season of giving. 
 
A big thank you to all of the organizations, churches and individuals who came to campus to love on our kids, put on parties and bring Christmas gifts throughout the season. We truly appreciate the support and love throughout the year and especially during the Christmas season! Please enjoy some pictures from all the festivities throughout December. 

Faith & Finances Expanding the Reach

Faith & Finances is a 10-week course that teaches Biblical principles about money and God’s plan for your money. Initially, STCH Ministries hosted classes in the San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Houston regions. Over the last three years, we have been working to expand the reach of the course by hosting Zoom classes and training facilitators across Texas and beyond. In 2021, STCH Ministries partnered with Texas Baptists to offer a ten-week Faith & Finances Facilitator Training to pastors and other church leaders. Over the last year and a half, STCH Ministries has trained over 20 facilitators through this partnership who are now hosting Faith & Finances classes in their churches.

Joel Gallegos is a member of Alliance Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. Joel saw a very real need for a Faith & Finances class in his church. He became certified to teach the course through the Texas Baptists’ Facilitator Training after taking classes with Tim Tolosa, Faith & Finances | Faith & Work director in San Antonio. Now, Joel graciously volunteers his time after working a full-time job during the day to teach Faith & Finances to the Spanish-speaking members of his church. The class has 10 members with each of them driving almost 30 minutes each way to attend the class. Joel shared, “The Spanish Fe y Finanzas class has been off to a strong start, attendance and participation have exceeded my expectations. One session that impacted me was when we discussed assets. The class was engaged and offered ideas to each other. It was a great experience to see how liberating a concept can be when knowledge is shared and is applied.”
 
We are so thankful for Joel and all our facilitators who have servant hearts and meet the needs of those around them!

Family Counseling Goes International

Pastor Rudy in the Dominican Republic was living out, “The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few,” as he shared that the IBQ church was growing, and many new couples were attending. “They are desperately seeking God’s help, as they struggle with economic stress, generational family dysfunction and pandemic-related effects of isolation. They need specific Christian guidance for their marriages. Can STCH Ministries help us?”

We began to pray. Could STCH Ministries Family Counseling staff be helpful? Every endeavor requires faith, effort and a decision. With a heart to meet the critical needs of marriages, Eron Green and Family Counseling leadership took a faith step, and plans began. Counselors, Mark Kass, from Houston and Caleb Barnet (Counseling Director in the Rio Grande Valley) volunteered and on October 6 they boarded a plane for the Dominican Republic for a three-day marriage conference. They were joined by three American couples from City Rise in Houston.

Plans included morning sessions with the American couples joined by STCH Ministries partners, Russell, his wife, Mio, Dr. Francisco and Robert Alcantara. The therapists reviewed the material and verified it was relevant to the Dominican culture. In the evening the sessions were repeated–a large group presentation, followed by small group discussions.

Coed groups of couples were a new experience in that environment. Would Dominican men talk if the wives were present? However, it was decided that a small group would allow couples to apply material personally and culturally, which was critical for the benefit of the teaching.

God’s Spirit was present in an amazing way, as the therapists shared information on God’s vision for marriage, building a friendship, conflict resolutions, forgiveness and communication strategies. More than 50 couples attended all three days. As they broke up into ten small groups and shared a small snack, the conversations began. Bonds were quickly formed. Men and women both participated, and at end of the discussion time, the couples were not ready to leave!

As they left the conference, many couples shared the impact on their marriages. Comments included, “We decided to pray together. We now have tools to resolve our conflicts. I understand what forgiveness requires. I never knew my husband and I were supposed to build a friendship. We have decided together what God’s purpose is for our marriage. We need to prioritize couple-time, communication is critical. We renewed our love for each other.”

Pastor Rudy and Patria were almost speechless with wonder and gratitude. God’s Spirit impacted every heart–newly married, older couples, marriage partners who previously refused to come to church, unbelievers, new believers and mature Christians. As the conference ended, Pastor Rudy handed out a book to each small group for them to continue meeting over the next few weeks.

“Go into all the world, and make disciples,” Jesus commanded.  Sometimes disciple-making happens through a marriage conference.

Bendiciones,

Joanna Berry
Joanna Berry
Vice President of Family and International Ministries
STCH Ministries

Unidentified Grief

STCH Ministries Family Counseling exists to provide hope and direction for children, individuals and families. Our counselors walk hand and hand with people to help heal hearts with Christ at the center. Below is a story written by Leslee O’Neal, one of our counselors in Corpus Christi, about how unidentified grief can affect an individual.

         Too often grief is looked at as despair and sadness coming on after the loss of someone we know and love. This grief can be extremely painful and can bring about emotions and behaviors that one never expects; such as anger, confusion, loneliness and fear. Far too often, grief coming from other losses is never looked at or identified as grief. I had a client come in about 3 years ago, his name was Daniel, and he was 47 years old. Daniel first reported that he was coming in because he was experiencing anxiety and had several panic attacks; which seemed to come from nowhere. As he shared his story in our first session together, I asked Daniel if he was experiencing any grief – he stated that his father died from a heart attack when Daniel was only 16, and his mother died 9 years later from complications related to cancer. Daniel was then 25. He stated that he assumed that he worked through the grief – and that so much time had passed that he didn’t feel as if he was still grieving the loss of his parents. However, the further Daniel explored his past it was clear that grief filtered throughout his entire lifespan.

Just to identify a few areas of grief, he said his father was an alcoholic and when he was intoxicated he was physically aggressive toward his mother. He stated that he, as a child, was never hurt, but struggled with the fact that he could never help his mother. Grief permeated Daniel’s years of development. He grieved his father’s behaviors and he lived in a state of constant fear of the unknown or the unexpected. He grieved the pain his mother experienced, emotionally and physically. He grieved that his environment and experience had to be secret. He grieved his total and complete helplessness; he couldn’t change his father and he couldn’t rescue his mother. The act of simply identifying the grief related to Daniel’s experiences as a child enabled him to begin the process of healing. It was going to take time but along with time came a deeper understanding, needed self-empathy and a stronger will to overcome generational curses that had been passed down through Daniel’s family line. This really is a story of healing. It also brings attention to unidentified grief. If grief is not identified it can cause trouble in many different areas, such as depression, anxiety and a variety of health issues. I encourage those who suspect they may have unidentified grief to seek help from a therapist or a pastor. Most importantly though, seek help from God, who tells us that he knows every individual hair on our head. 

Finding Safety

The Lord is truly working in our Homes for Families ministry! A young woman named Klavdia came to Homes for Families last month but left only a few days later. She was confused and emotionally tormented. The enemy was coming at her from all angles through the controlling and abusive relationship she had recently fled. She started to settle in at Homes for Families when she decided to leave. She was not gone very long before she realized that Homes for Families is where she needed to be even though the enemy was fighting for her to leave. Through many prayers, Godly counsel and unending support, she decided to return! Klavdia began to do her daily devotional and stayed in constant communication with her resident coordinator. She finally broke through the confusion and emotional torment she had been experiencing.

Since returning to Homes for Families she says she now feels safe. She discovered the things her abuser had used to hurt and shame her and started to move past them. She has also been able to find it in her heart to forgive her abuser as well as others who have hurt her in the past. She said, “Now I don’t have to worry about any of that in the past. I can focus on my Bible, the Lord and the future He has for me and my children!”

We are so thankful for the counselors, resident coordinators and other staff who provide endless support and open arms to mothers and their children. Please join us in praying for Klavdia and the other mothers and children on our Homes for Families campuses.

A Story of Hope

Every day STCH Ministries Family Counseling provides care when individuals, couples, and families need help sorting through the challenges of life. Recently a counseling client from Victoria shared her story of hope with us. Here it is in her own words.

Preparing to Serve

Monica and her husband Ken recently participated in our Faith & Work and Faith & Finances courses in Corpus Christi. They attended Faith & Work because they were looking for a ministry opportunity that could really help people to further the kingdom. Throughout the course, they were reminded, “God loves us and that through the Holy Spirit, He graciously has given us different gifts and skills that help us to do the work that He wants us to do.” Concepts of Vision Maps and Smart Goals were just a couple of the tools shared to help further their career goals and ministry visions. Monica and Ken are thankful for this course and are confident that God will continue to do the work in their lives that He promised when they gave their lives to Jesus.

During Faith & Finances, they learned the value of handling their money in a Godly way, realizing everything they have already belongs to Him. Monica shares, “We were reminded of some principles of saving, budgeting and spending that would help us to be free to be able to share more of our money with others, as God would have us do.” Instilling these principles into their finances allowed them to save money immediately and even share more financially with others.

Monica and Ken share that they were truly blessed by both of these classes and will use the skills they have learned to further their ministry. They are interested in giving back and even plan to be future facilitators for the Faith & Finances course in Corpus Christi! “I know He will use the skills that we learned to bless individuals and companies that take these courses,” Monica shared. We invite you, your family or your organization to participate in one of these courses.

Beyond Fishing – Making Disciples

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus challenged Peter and Andrew. Short years later, Jesus refined and extended His calling, “Go, and make disciples of all nations.”

The key component of Jesus’ command is GO! Into all the world doesn’t eliminate my neighbor or work associates, but it does include the world beyond. Making disciples is substantially more than, “Share the Gospel.” Succinctly stated by David Platt, “We are to share the word, show the Word, teach the Word, serve the World.”

Showing the Word requires relationship. International missional effectiveness requires more than “throwing-seed-out-and-hoping-it-grows.” Consistent, personal involvement, doing “life” together– sharing testimonies over a meal, mixing concrete, building a bed, sewing, sponsoring a child—activities that build relationships. WUBC and Crosspoint churches from Houston (now known as City Rise) have served in the Dominican Republic since 2013. One young lady brought piles of costly fabrics inherited from a beloved grandmother and three sewing machines. Building relationships as they shared interests, and met needs, Dominicans and Americans created garments and curtains. One machine was donated to the orphanage, and the other two machines were awarded to a Haitian mother and an older grandmother. “God sent you! He answered my prayers to help me provide for my family.”

The Guaricanos school ministers to children trapped in cycles of poverty, abuse, abandonment, and alcohol. Jesus and education are their only hope. Each day the team shared the Gospel and taught the Word through drama and songs at  VBS. The staff will visit the families and follow up with children who made decisions.

Small groups of 3-5 shared life with Dominican families at supper one evening. They served other destitute families with donations of food. They sponsored a special tea for young ladies with handcraft and a devotional.

At the medical clinics, patients received prayer and spiritual support, in addition to meeting their physical needs. Back at the IBQ site, others built benches, and helped build a home for a Samuel’s Fund sponsored family—serving Christ through hammering, sanding, digging, mixing cement, and carrying cinder blocks. Lives and entire families are changed through the work of mission teams, who return year after year to live out Christ’s call to “make disciples.”

“I was a falling-down drunk who could only provide a two-room shack with a shared neighborhood outhouse. My family accepted Christ through an evangelistic service. They kept telling me about their Jesus, but I ignored them. Our situation became desperate. Bags of sugar, flour, rice and beans made God’s love real. Soon their Jesus became MY Jesus.”

“My children accepted Christ through VBS and my wife followed. They were chosen for sponsorship. I saw the difference in their lives, and I reached out to Christ. We grew in our Christian walk through continued ministries–VBS, English camps, children’s activities and construction projects. They even rebuilt our house. People have seen the change in our lives, and they listen when I tell them about Jesus.”

WUBC-Crosspoint has shared the love of Christ and helped others to experience the life of Christ through teaching, showing and serving for many years. Not a one-and-done mission trip. International missional effectiveness requires a long-term commitment to the process of making disciples, empowering those disciples to reproduce God’s call in their own language to their own families and neighborhoods.

 
Blessing young women with tea, testimonies and handcrafts 

Bendiciones,

Joanna Berry
Joanna Berry
Vice President of Family and International Ministries
STCH Ministries

iCare 2022

On Tuesday, August 2nd, STCH Ministries Family Counseling hosted our 6th Annual iCare Conference. STCH Ministries Family Counseling created this conference as a way to reach people who help people. The attendees included teachers, counselors, pastors, church staff and others who work to impact the lives of others. Attendees received continuing education credits for the breakout sessions they attended but more than that, they heard from professionals about various topics that will help them grow in their field.

This year’s breakout sessions included Understanding Generation Z, Raising Highly Capable Kids, The Brain and Body on Stress: How Stress and Trauma Impacts Us and many othersThe last session of the day was taught by Cheryl Miller from Quantum Circles Consulting and Training. Cheryl shared about surviving the work of helping others and how to turn challenges into opportunities for the miraculous. Due to the heaviness of the topics, comedian Mike Goodwin brought humor to the lunch break and showed how there is healing through laughter and encouragement. 

STCH Ministries is thankful for all the individuals who made iCare a success, including the presenters for their time and effort in preparing for this event. Also, thank you to Parkway Church Victoria for allowing us to use their facilities for the day. For more information on STCH Ministries Family Counseling visit, https://www.stchm.org/family-counseling/.