Providing Hope and Direction

STCH Ministries Family Counseling provides hope and direction for individuals, couples, children, and families when they need help sorting through the challenges of life. Kelly Harris, a therapist serving in Corpus Christi, shares with us how God is granting freedom to a client.

I received a note from a client today who has been working with me for just a few sessions now. She wrote, “As you erased those items (from the whiteboard) and talked, it literally felt like you were erasing them from my life. It felt so freeing!” Of course, I had no idea of the impact of that moment, but He did and in this instance, I received a note to let me know.

What a great reminder that I need not offer anything profound as I work with those I serve. Sometimes it’s the smallest action that God uses to touch and change the hearts of people.

The second reminder is that this is His work, not mine! Praise God for the freedom He wants His people to have in our Lord Jesus Christ!

At the time of this writing, our Family Counseling ministry consists of four counseling hubs with seventeen offices operating, for the most part, out of partner churches in each area. Corpus Christi was the original office hub. Earlier this year, this center added a new counseling location and a new therapist to their roster. Kelly came on part time in February 2018 and began serving one day each week in the satellite offices inside Yorktown Baptist Church and Coastal Oaks Church in Rockport.

The response to having a licensed counselor in these two locations has been impressive. In just six months, Kelly’s agenda filled up and by July she transitioned to a full-time schedule, adding an extra day to each location as well as seeing clients in the main Corpus Christi office. Those extra days soon filled with regular clients and both the Yorktown and Rockport locations now have a waiting list.

STCH Family Counseling therapists are professionally trained and offer counseling that is clinically excellent and distinctively Christian. Counseling services are provided regardless of an individual or family’s ability to pay for them. Donations toward services are accepted and appreciated. Learn more at www.STCHM.org/FC.

Lessons Learned

Ashley Beck spent her summer as a STCH Ministries International summer intern in the Dominican Republic. She and four others served together from the base located on the grounds of Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ). The young people worked shoulder to shoulder with teams made up of volunteers from 15 different churches and STCH Ministries staff. The teams engaged in medical, construction, and teaching projects across the island nation.

This year, construction projects were the priority. Four new houses were built over a period of three months. Each new home was for a child sponsored through Samuel’s Fund – a sponsorship program that enables orphans and at-risk children to receive an education, participate in spiritual training, and have other needs met. Ashley blogged about her experiences in the Dominican Republic. Through those journal entries, she reveals some of God’s construction projects inside her life – demolishing incorrect thought processes and revealing His plan for her future.

She candidly communicates about the openness of the Dominican nationals to share their lives and culture to bring one more person to a saving faith in Christ. “I have a new place in my heart for Dominicans,” she wrote, “They love and serve unlike any people I’ve ever met.” She witnessed an unfailing commitment to working hard at every task no matter how menial, by workers of every nationality.

Over the course of her tenure, Ashley identified three major lessons she learned:

    • God works His alterations in each of us on His timetable,
    • Our personal hopes are eclipsed by those God has for us,
    • God is bigger than all of our shortcomings.

Ashley credits God with changing her focus from herself to other people. In the beginning, she was alert to what she would get out of her time overseas. What she realized was God works in each volunteer in every group, while at the same time impacting both believers and non-believers in deeply individual ways. For instance, the girl who came on the family mission trip reluctantly is impacted by the joy she identifies on the faces of children in the orphanage as they welcome friends to church services. She has been impacted by “people who live and breathe every day to make sure one more person will join them in the Kingdom (of God).”

The focus of what she hoped for was remodeled as well. While working on a demolition project, she realized she had been inattentive to the purpose God had for the project. “In life,” she muses, “we can become so distracted by what we hope for that we miss the lessons or better gifts from God.”

Overall, Ashely has come to the conclusion each of us needs to accept: God is greater than our failures. As she grappled with her weaknesses, she noticed the hole she had dug herself into, and the temptation was strong to stop striving. God is faithful to speak to our flaws and He sent friends who encouraged her. “They picked my life apart and tried to find Jesus,” she explains, “but He was hidden underneath my selfish desires.”

She is determined now to continue to fill in those frailties with what she calls “the cement of Jesus – made with a mixture of Bible truths and water from the people in your life.” Ashley has committed to begin “digging into the Word rather than into my hole.” And she invites us to join her.

Growing up as a preacher’s kid (PK) has helped prepare Ashley to understand and accept God’s call on her life to a career in international missions. She has begun her senior year of high school with a clear focus and is submitting college applications to schools where she can pursue biblical studies with a minor in missions.

International Partnerships: Rosa Elena

For the many people who knew her, the memory of Rosa Elena lives on.  Dark-skinned, turbaned elegantly, and dressed in flowing white, she often pointed one thumb heavenward.  It was her signature gesture as she deflected all the glory to God. Rosa Elena inspired everyone with her amazing faith and her dedication to the forgotten, yet priceless to God, children of Hatillo—chained by ignorance, generational poverty, and immorality.

Shortly after she opened her heart to Christ, God gave her a passion for these children living in the Hatillo area.  Their location and poverty isolated them without access to education, without knowledge of God’s love, without hope for the future. Rosa Elena began educating 7 children in 1996, and labored faithfully with minimal resources for 10 years.

Joanna Berry (standing left), Rosa Elena (right), and children receiving new school supplies.

When STCH Ministries began to partner with the school in 2007, a former graduated student recounted, “We had to break a crayon in four pieces to share!”  In 2012, STCH Ministries received significant funding for this project.  With the help of partnering churches they replaced the deteriorating wooden buildings with new concrete structures.  The school grew to over 100 students.

Unexpectedly, Rosa Elena’s health began to deteriorate and on September 26, 2016 she passed away.  A crisis developed as the school struggled with decreasing attendance, teacher resignations, and financial stress.  STCH Ministries staff and donors, along with the IBQ church staff and a newly formed board, stepped up their support. New staff was trained, salaries were increased, additional investments were made in uniforms, computers, and other equipment. Gradually the school stabilized and began to grow. Today, the goals for the future of Rosa Elena’s school are excellence with self-sustainability.

Since the time Rosa Elena began to educate children and share the hope of the Gospel, many years have passed and countless children have been impacted.  “La Gloria a Dios,” was Rosa Elena’s refrain, as she pointed with her thumb to the skies.  Two years ago Rosa Elena left our planet to reside in that Glory-land to which she often pointed.

God Through the Eyes of Children

The Dominican children are back in school. This year every sponsored child proudly carries a colorful STCH Ministries backpack, school supplies, and their uniform, provided by our Samuel’s Fund sponsors!

During regular visits, our Dominican staff ask them about their school progress and families. The children’s answers reveal their interests and pleasures, and their concerns. Many times their responses provide a small “window” into their spiritual development as well:

No matter what, God is always God. No one can laugh at Him.

God never leaves or abandons His children. I just need to have faith.

God is in every place. Anyone can know Him if they open their hearts to receive Him.

God will help me do all things, if I trust and believe.

I need to be patient and wait for God’s timing.

We must trust God no matter how difficult our situation.

I had to repeat a grade and I worked hard and prayed that God would help me. I passed!

I saw God’s hand when the brakes failed, and He protected my family.

The priority of the Samuel’s Fund sponsorship is to enable children to get an education so that they can overcome the obstacles that poverty has created. Of equal importance to that goal, however, is helping them to grow in their knowledge of God and to develop a faith relationship through Christ. It’s an investment that brings hope not just for today, but also for eternity.

Biblical Finances

“In most cases the answer for a couple in financial difficulties
is personal discipline – not more money.” – Larry Burkett

Nothing can substitute for having personal discipline and self control, and that also goes for managing your finances. At times families taking our Faith & Finances class come expecting an easy-to-follow formula for solving all their financial woes. In class we share biblical guidelines from God’s Word, lessons like:

  • being content and faithful with your resources
  • the borrower is slave to the lender
  • having a plan for the future
  • having an accountability partner
  • providing for your family
  • generously giving

Fixing the root problem is more powerful than an easy-to-follow formula. And the best way to solve a problem is by first putting into practice the wisdom found in God’s Word. Sometimes it simply comes down to being willing to trust and obey Him.

Faith & Finances teaches that God’s plan for your money might be larger than yours! Biblical principles about money come alive in this highly interactive course, as students are equipped to conquer the “battle of the budget.” Classes are open to individuals, families, and youth, and start soon in Corpus Christi, Houston, and San Antonio. Learn more at www.STCHM.org/FF.

More Than Bare Necessities

It is often true that what happens behind the scenes makes a big impact, and the commissary at Boothe Campus is a prime example. The commissary is not a store, however it does provide much of what the children living there need on a daily basis. It is stocked through a combination of donations from churches and organizations around the state and the STCH Ministries operating budget.

The primary function of the commissary at Homes for Children is to provide the eleven cottages on Boothe Campus with all that they require to run as smoothly as possible. Food, cleaning products, and even clothing for the children can be found on the rows of tall wooden shelves. Each Monday, housemoms fill out their shopping lists and Commissary Supervisor Patty Kinnamon (pictured here on the right) and her assistant Becky Martinez (pictured on the left) work together to prepare the orders.

Patty’s earliest memories of Boothe Campus come from childhood visits with her uncle and aunt, Floyd and Peggy Patterson, who served at Boothe Campus for decades. God then lead Patty and her husband, Marvin, to become houseparents in 1994, and Patty has now supervised the commissary since 2010. She says that having served as a cottage mom is extremely beneficial when working out routines and making decisions for the commissary.

After 24 years on staff, talking about STCH Ministries still brings a twinkle to Patty’s eye. She says her favorite part of her job is “when a little girl puts on a dress and twirls like a princess with a huge smile on her face.” (Many times when children arrive at Boothe Campus they bring very little with them. Each new child visits the commissary to be outfitted with all the new clothes that they need.)

Children drop in throughout the day to share some news or get a hug. The grins displayed by staff and students coming and going show that it is more than “the place to get stuff” on Boothe Campus; it is proof that love comes in a practical form.

When your church or Sunday School class participates in “Cans for Kids”, you help to stock the commissary at STCH Ministries Boothe Campus. Resources are available for download at www.STCHM.org/Cans-for-Kids.

Raising Highly Capable Kids

STCH Ministries Family Counseling is pleased to announce a new 13-week course to help parents excel at one of life’s hardest jobs. “Raising Highly Capable Kids” will begin Wednesday, September 12 at Grace Point Church Medical Campus in San Antonio, and the class will be led by Dosely Antongiorgi, regional counseling director for San Antonio.

The curriculum was developed by RezilientKidz in partnership with Search Institute. Their “40 Developmental Assets” include attributes such as honesty, integrity, parental involvement, self-esteem, and religious community. According to the publisher, these essential building blocks “not only help parents raise healthy, caring, and responsible children but also equip kids with the power to make healthy life choices.”

Parents who have graduated from the course are highly enthusiastic about their experience. “The classes helped me learn how to treat others; how to treat my wife and children better. And now I’m another person; a good person. My life has changed completely. It’s an excellent program.”

“It helped us to interact and communicate with our children better. It allowed us to understand about their homework needs, and it was really enjoyable to change our daily routine and have ‘parent time’ to talk with other parents.”

Our mission at STCH Ministries is to care for children and families, and one of the ways we do that is by coming alongside families before they get into crisis situations that are unrecoverable. This class will empower more San Antonio families for success!

The Gift of Eternity

Go into all the world and share the Good News. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. These mandates “blow our minds.” It seems unachievable and beyond our imagination. That perspective, however, discounts what God can do—the God of all power and wisdom, who loves the world and knows when a sparrow falls.

There were many examples during the mission trips in the Dominican Republic this summer of God’s power to use Samuel’s Fund to share the Gospel and to love children in His name. One of the many blessings of a sponsorship is the opportunity to connect personally with a child—sharing emails, Facebook messages, letters, pictures, and above all a personal visit.

Mark is a sponsor who was able to visit his sponsored child, coincidentally named Samuel. He is an angry little boy, acting out at home and in school. Samuel’s dad has moved to another country in search of a better job and he knows that frequently fathers never return. “Do you have a Bible?” Mark asked. When the answer was no, Mark purchased a children’s Bible in Spanish. As he gave the Bible to Samuel, Mark asked, “Would you like another gift?” Mark shared the gift of God’s love and Samuel opened his heart to receive that gift, too. Mark comforted Samuel with the knowledge that no matter what happened, he had a heavenly Father who would NEVER leave or forsake. And a sponsor who would always love and never forget him.

Through Samuel’s Fund, we have seen how God is able to take a sponsor’s support and love for a child in a distant land and multiply the “little” we can do into the fulfillment of His mandate to each of us.

Licensed Professionals Provide Affordable Counseling at FBCC

This article highlights our counseling office in Castroville and was written by Ginger Carnes. It originally appeared in the FBC of Castroville “Connections Newsletter” in August 2018.

Is your marriage in crisis? Do you have a concern about one of your children or your spouse? Has your family been fractured and you need help moving on?

Your church has a convenient and economical counselor available to help. Counseling can help parents be better parents and can help children communicate with the parents. The counselors also help couples with problems in their marriage and those who are going through separation or divorce.

Through STCH Ministries, a South Texas affiliate of the Texas Baptists that originally was called South Texas Children’s Home, a Christ-centered counselor is available every Tuesday and meets with individuals, couples, and family members in an office in the Chapel building.

But isn’t there a stigma associated with people who need counseling? What if someone sees me going to meet with the counselor? You might say, “I’m not crazy, so why do I need to go to counseling?”

But Dosely Antongiorgi-Green, Regional Counseling Director for the San Antonio area, says, “First, I’m going to send you back to Christ. Second, the counselor is going to teach you some coping skills, so when you have a situation that you’re dealing with that’s going to be difficult, you’ll have a toolbox and you can pull out the tool you need and use it.”

The current counselor at First Baptist is Maritza Garcia-Pulido. She will meet with you every other Tuesday so she can serve more people. During those two weeks, you work on assignments so you can practice the methods – “tools” – she has provided for you.

“We encourage people to pray, to stay in the Word, to spend quiet time to help them understand where God is leading them,” Green said.

Although STCH Ministries does not turn away anyone who needs help, the organization does appreciate donations, large or small. To help you understand the value of this counseling, a counselor who does not accept insurance could charge up to $150 per session. STCH Ministries does not accept insurance or government funding “because we would like to remain Christ-centered in the delivery of our counseling services,” Green said.

Make appointments by calling the STCH Ministries office toll free at 1-833-83-STCHM. The church does not set up appointments or know who is receiving services. Counseling is available to members of the surrounding communities, too. As more people express a need, they could add another day to the counselor’s schedule.

You can read more about STCH Ministries at www.stchm.org.

Summer Interns

The summer intern program at Boothe Campus has been a major component of the activities calendar for over 40 years. Just before school lets out each year, three to five college students move to Boothe Campus for the purpose of becoming extra hands for Joel Bowden, Director of Student Ministries. The young adults remain on campus for 10 weeks, until just before classes are back in session again in August.

Joel began his career at STCH Ministries as a summer intern in 2012, serving three consecutive summers, and took on his current role once he graduated from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Joel is responsible for planning all student activities as well as coordinating volunteers. He describes his job as “a combination children’s and youth pastor – for kids who are here 24/7.” Summertime brings many volunteers to Boothe Campus: church groups spend days or even a week at a time leading vacation Bible school, hosting sports camps, and carrying out work projects. With so many things happening on campus, having the interns as extra help is beneficial.

Being a summer intern is hard work. The hours are long but the schedule is flexible, and there are so many things to do that no one gets bored. The most important work of all is the spiritual investment they make in the lives of children. The interns are encouraged to seek out friendships with the children and even lead Bible studies.

But it’s not “all work and no play” for the interns. The opportunities for residents and interns are plentiful: horseback riding, swim days, game night at the gym, and “dive in” movies at the pool are just a few of the options.  Off-campus activities this year included Hooks baseball games, summer camp, and even a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

The team of interns includes members from across Texas. Each year two summer missionaries from Go Now Missions, a ministry of Texas Baptists, join the team. This summer, Jaci Fulton from Telephone, Texas, and Israel (Izzy) Pereyra, from El Paso, Texas, felt called to STCH Ministries.

Izzy says that God has given him a heart for young people. “To see so many kids and youth who have been hit by life at such a young age, and be able to show them the love of a Heavenly Father, is an amazing opportunity.” What impacted him the most, he says, was “the love the kids show you…even though they have every reason to shut out the world.”

Some interns have a personal connection to STCH Ministries that keeps them coming back, such as parents who work at the children’s home.  Intern Mark Nauman is the son of houseparents at Marshall Cottage. Benjamin and Leah Brewer are the son and daughter of a staff member from the development office. All three have served as summer interns previously and were welcomed back eagerly by the children on campus.

Leah says that being an intern has been a wonderful experience, and these experiences are what keep her coming back. “Living on campus gives me the opportunity to actively disciple the kids, to truly model the character of Christ,” she says.

These committed young adults have now completed their summer-long marathon of ministry. But even though they have returned to their college studies, they have left countless memories in the hearts of children in care at Boothe Campus.