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.

International Partnerships: Villa Altagracia

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.

International Partnerships: Betesda Orphanage

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.

International Partnerships: Raquel De Jesus

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.

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.