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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Our 2015 Vision Trip made a memorable stop in the small town of Villa Altagracia. Pastor Rodney and Nilsia’s school was referred to us by Pastor Rudy (from Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana), who officiated at their marriage years before. The school was in a crowded apartment, desks jammed tightly together and some classes held in an outdoor lean-to. A banner proclaiming their vision hung over the doorway, EDUCANDO PARA LA ETERNIDAD (Educating for Eternity). In spite of the circumstances, the children enthusiastically smiled and sang and quoted Scripture to us.

Rodney and Nilsia proudly showed us a rocky hill, overgrown with tropical foliage, which they had purchased by faith for a future school building. We left that day with a burden for this ministry, and a vision for the future. First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi raised a significant portion of the construction cost. Later in the summer of 2015, the FBC-CC mission team accepted the challenge of building a new facility, in spite of American Airlines’ best efforts to cancel their trip! Other individuals and churches contributed, in addition to the dedication and hard work of Luis Pichardo and Russell Jerez. When God is in it, faith and hard work truly can move a mountain—or in this case, a big hill!

In 2017, construction began on the second story of this school due to the demand for more rooms to house the students. Multiple mission team groups invested donations and their own sweat equity to build the final project. In addition to investing in the facilities, STCH Ministries International has sponsored several of the children through the Samuel’s Fund program, and regularly offers opportunities for teacher training.

In 2019, our vision is to install a metal roof over the patio in the middle of the school, which will create a Sunday meeting place for a new church. The church would use the school rooms for Bible classes.

Recently, the IBQ church commissioned Rodney and Nilsia as missionaries to Villa Altagracia and committed resources for their support. Pray for the growth of this work and our continuing partnership with the Villa Altagracia school and now the new church.

Pastor Ramon and Ludis Castro, from the Betesda Orphanage in La Romana, Dominican Republic, have a strong faith in a great God. Through great financial stress and many obstacles, they have been very intentional in their four goals for their boys. First, a personal relationship with Christ as Savior; secondly, character formation; thirdly, an education and job skills; and fourth, the opportunity to grow up in a family environment.

Although they longed to open their home to many more orphaned boys, their small rented home would not accommodate any more. In 2014, with the help of Dominican and STCH Ministries donors, they were able to buy a piece of property. Plans for buildings were drawn, with recreation areas, a community building for fellowships, study area, laundry, and work-study areas to develop job skills.

The plans for this first home are the result of many months of cooperative dialogue as STCH Ministries worked with Dominican architects and leadership to find a model of resident care that would accommodate the differences in culture, number of needy children, and scarcity of land, but still provide a family environment.

In 2015, Ladies for the Least members voted to help fund this home, along with other STCH Ministries donors and contributions by the Dominican Betesda Board. The construction project was fraught with delays and misunderstandings, as individuals from different cultures worked through the differing opinions and priorities of the construction project.

STCH Ministries remained faithful and committed and now the first floor of the Betesda Home is completed enough for the boys to move in. STCH Ministries International mission teams will continue to work with this ministry to provide their needs.

Raquel De Jesus

Raquel De Jesus

Raquel began sharing Christ’s compassion for the poor while still a child herself, teaching street children seated on a board between cans. Raquel’s school grew and soon occupied a chicken coop. Heavy cardboard partitions divided the classes. STCH Ministries’ first visit to Raquel’s school was discouraging. Her faith and passion were the only pinpoints of hope. When asked how we could help, Raquel shyly bowed her head, explaining that the rusted tin roof leaked when it rained.

Later, we returned to the Dominican Republic with good news: a donation for a new cement roof! However, the weight of the cement roof required digging huge holes at every corner and at intervals throughout the building to add cement beams and rebar for support. The resulting “collateral” damage to the interior of the school was catastrophic. But God was faithful and through donations and a lot of work by our DR crew and mission teams, a new two-story school was built to replace the rubble.

Raquel envisioned purchasing the termite-ridden shack on the lot next door to expand her capacity to care for preschool children, and space for a computer lab—all things which would allow her to attract more children from families who can pay for their education. God is so good!! By the time our Vision Trip 2017 was over, we had been promised funds to help purchase the lot. God continued to provide, even including computers and office furniture!

Today you will see what God can do with faith, donations, and mission team efforts. Where we saw a chicken coop, or a lot with a termite-ridden house, God always saw a beautiful new school.