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!

Summer Camp = Changed Lives

Several of our students from Homes for Children (HFC) experienced camp for the first time this year and for more than one, it was life-changing. 22 of our students enjoyed a week of comradery, fellowship and inspiration at Camp Zephyr. The camp was led by M3 Camps with worship led by The Mike Romero Worship Band and speaker Shane Pruitt. The goal of the week was to lead the students towards finding their purpose in Christ.

During the week, the HFC students experienced a renewed affection for Jesus through worship and the message. Each of the students left camp transformed by the words, music and the physical aspect of worship. One young man new to HFC this year said the worship experience was the best of his life. As he looked around he noticed each individual was having a personal conversation with God while singing and was awestruck by the sensation of connectedness to Christ and to those around him. “I definitely loved worshipping, reaching out to Him, crying out to him. It was amazing to see what God can do, and to understand how God can handle my problems.”

The week changed three of our students lives forever. For one of the students, the worship songs and message began softening her heart from the first evening of camp. The second night of camp she decided to make a life-changing decision. She explained, “That night I asked God to be in my heart, to take all my sins away and help me to be a new person.”

Eternal change is the goal for each of the students at HFC, to come to know the radical saving love of Jesus Christ and be forever changed. The students came home with renewed spirits and their eyes opened to God’s purpose for their lives. STCH Ministries is thankful for organizations like Camp Zephyr and M3 Camps for their continued drive to help change the lives of students.

Stella’s Story

On a cold night in the mid-1950s, Stella’s parents left their home never to return. Frightened, Stella and her six siblings walked to their grandmother’s cottage for refuge. When their grandmother could not raise them on her small pension, San Antonio authorities sought assistance from STCH Ministries.

STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) became a haven for young Stella and her siblings. Her lifelong commitment to worshipping Jesus began when her housemom taught her to play piano and sing. Five of the siblings were adopted but she chose to stay with her remaining sister. The children’s home provided Stella a safe place to grow up, find encouragement and develop a compassionate personality.

After leaving HFC, Stella moved to Houston, but love for her grandmother brought her back to San Antonio where she met and fell in love with Scottie Crow. The two were married in 1978 and began a happy life filled with volunteer work.

Her altruism extended to everyone she encountered, and she encouraged others to show kindheartedness. One of Scottie’s favorite memories of Stella’s practical compassion is the time she met Henry while on a shopping trip to Fort Worth. When they met, Henry was homeless and had not eaten in days. She escorted him to a nearby restaurant where she overheard the staff speak rudely about his appearance. She quickly stepped in to address the young women’s behavior and when the manager learned about this, he comped the entire meal. Another patron provided Henry with some pocket money.

Unable to have children of her own, Stella generously mothered Scottie’s children and grandchildren. She was the primary caregiver for his parents and youngest son until their deaths.

Stella passed away from a heart attack in May of 2018. Following the example she left in life, Scottie donated her wardrobe and jewelry to housemoms caring for children on Boothe Campus, a legacy of kindness brought full circle.

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A New Direction

 

Living at STCH Ministries Homes for Children has provided an unexpected change of direction for Deray Davis. In the video above, he shares that his life was on course to a dead end. Everything changed when his grandmother brought him to Boothe Campus after his mother lost custody of him.

Deray’s affection and respect for his grandmother are evident in his testimony. “My grandma just loves this place because it has an incredible impact on kids’ lives,” says Deray. “My grandma loves the Lord, so this is probably the best place for me to be.”

A dynamic young man with an engaging smile, Deray describes the many positive aspects of life at Homes for Children. “It’s like having your own neighborhood around you. The kids are always wanting to come and play with you or talk to you.”

Deray also acknowledges the spiritual significance for the young people living on campus, saying that it “brings us closer to God.” He has had many new faith-growing experiences at STCH Ministries, including the opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic through our International ministry.

Children come to live at Homes for Children for many reasons. Sometimes a parent or grandparent is facing health problems. Other times, there may be substance abuse issues or a temporary season of crisis for the family. Whatever the cause, we are here to give children like Deray the hope of a new direction in life.

Basing Marriages on Intentional Love

Strong families are the key to a strong society, and in order for a family to be strong, the marriage that is its foundation must also be healthy.

One of the ways that the therapists from our Family Counseling ministry help marriages is by providing presentations, seminars, and workshops to groups both large and small. These presentations cover family, parenting, and marriage topics, approaching common issues from a biblical perspective. STCH Ministries will also tailor presentations to meet the needs of a specific group.

One such class offered by our Victoria counseling office is called “Love Intentionally.” The idea that drives this teaching series is simple: most marriages don’t fail because of a lack of love, they fail due to a lack of grace. The syllabus bundles teaching, discussion, comedy, games, and a couple’s scavenger hunt, all designed to allow couples to reconnect and communicate. The amount of variety in the class is by design. The therapist leading the class explains, “Participants will remember only some of what we teach, but all of what they experience together.”

To schedule a presentation, seminar, or workshop, give us a call at 1.833.83.STCHM or email familycounseling@stchm.org.

International Partnerships: Monte Plata

Ramon and Juana Prensa, from the Monte Plata Orphanage, began using their home to give street children an education about 20 years ago. Over time they established a permanent home for them. Later, the Kids Alive International mission organization partnered with them. Since 2007, STCH Ministries has also supported the home with a monthly donation, Texas Baptist Hunger Offering food deliveries, small construction and maintenance projects, and activities with the children. Mission teams have taken them to the children’s museum, the aquarium, plus many other activities.

One of the great needs of this ministry has been a transitional home for the young people who age out of the home. By law they cannot stay here after they graduate from high school or turn 18 years of age. In 2016, STCH Ministries Ladies for the Least members voted to fund the Esther House, an apartment-style home that would house graduates while they continue their education or begin apprentice-style training to fully equip them to be self-supporting adults. Partnering with Kids Alive, our construction projects coordinator Russell Jerez and contractor Luis Pichardo got the home ready for occupancy in September 2016. The vision is to build at least one more home on the adjoining property.

The home has experienced struggles and changes, as all ministries do, but STCH Ministries has consistently walked with them, sharing encouragement and guidance. Today, Ramon and Juana continue to serve faithfully while they pray for new and younger directors to take their place. We share their love for their children, their priorities of education and faith, their policy of caring for children in a home environment, and their hope for the future.

International Partnerships: Higuey Boys Home

Cesar from the Higuey Boys Home exemplifies someone who allowed God’s Spirit to speak through him during the ordinary activities of his work-life. Cesar was a taxi driver in the small town of Higuey in the Dominican Republic. Every day was a challenge as he drove up and down city streets, always looking for another fare providing a few more pesos to meet the necessities of his family. Lunch time was a prime opportunity for fares and he often drove customers to eat at various restaurants. In the midst of his work pressures and responsibilities, God’s Spirit spoke to his heart. Cesar began to notice the ragged boys who hung out behind the restaurants, scavenging the uneaten food out of the trash.

Cesar had enough to worry about. Just making enough pesos to live was hard. And he wasn’t doing too badly in the serving God department, either.  He was a leader in his church and supported a wife and several children. He could have ignored the sight of the hungry boys, looked the other way, and busied himself with his own responsibilities. But God’s Spirit continued to whisper, “Those are My boys, My special creation.” Compassion for the children grew, and Cesar shared the need with other church members. In time they formed a board, found a rental home, and the boys were accepted into their hearts and lives.

STCH Ministries was introduced to the Higuey Boys Home, named “A Better World”, about two years ago, and we began to help with food and maintenance projects. We slowly developed a relationship with the boys and the staff. Although their rent house was shabby, the owner of the house allowed them to live in the home for only $1.00 per year. Last spring, however, the elderly owner became ill. As a result, her family required the orphanage to move out of the home by the end of 2018.

The board had acquired a small piece of land, and now they turned to STCH Ministries for help. Could we help to build a permanent home for the children? Plans have been drawn and the estimate to build a home for the 15 boys is $100,000. We are continuing to seek donations and trusting in faith for the needed funds.

Cesar stepped out in faith when God’s Spirit stirred compassion in his heart for abandoned street boys.  We are also trusting God to provide this need.  We hope many of you will partner with us and with the boys home of Higuey to build a permanent home and to truly create “A Better World” for them.

Donations can be made online at this link. Please be sure and designate in the comment box that your donation is for the Higuey Boys Home. For more information, please call 361.994.0940.

Raising Up the Next Generation

Debbie and her youngest son, Jonathan, pictured in June 2017.

Debbie and her two-year-old son Jonathan live at our Homes for Families campus, a program designed to be a resource for single mothers during times of crisis while they transition into independent living. Sometimes the public only thinks of Homes for Families as a ministry to single moms, but it is every bit as much a ministry to their children.

Little Jonathan is learning the ways of God while living at Homes for Families. He has learned to hold his hands together during meal-time prayers, including an enthusiastic “Amen!” at the end. During a recent worship service at church, Jonathan saw another mom in care raising her hand in worship and he followed suit. Those around him smiled at the precious sight of a two year old, hand uplifted and seeming to be absorbed in the song of praise.

Even if he does not understand it now, Jonathan is watching and learning from his surroundings. And thanks to STCH Ministries, he is getting to know his Heavenly Father.