Love Crosses Oceans

When God called missionary John Gilbert to become Headmaster of Yorktown Christian Academy, John brought his passion for a world lost without Christ into his goals and responsibilities. God formed a perfect partnership with a school that purposed to impart a world vision and the STCH Ministries focus on children and families. In February 2023, the Academy put into action their motto, “Love Crosses Oceans” for the 6th year with a large group of 38 children and parents in the Dominican Republic.

Eighth graders were invited on a week-long mission trip, accompanied by at least one parent. The impact goes beyond the individual to touch family and school relationships. They delivered food to hungry families and built and delivered beds for children. Little Maria will never lead a normal life due to crippling brain seizures and a speech disorder. She had never had her own bed and when the group delivered her bed, she couldn’t stop saying gracias, gracias, gracias! They worked to build a home for a family with 3 children who lived in a window-less zinc hovel that shared a neighborhood outhouse. They also prepared and presented a VBS program on the Armor of God. And as they prepared to teach and share they also learned, “Be equipped! Share your testimony. Speak truth boldly. Live a righteous life.”

One evening the mission team divided into small groups to share a meal in the homes of IBQ church families. Their gracious hospitality and love overlaid their humble circumstances. Adalisa Paredes and her children have been praying for such a long time for their husband and father, so when the YCA group asked, “How can we pray for you?” the children boldly responded in their father’s presence, “Pray that our Dad will go to church and come to know Jesus.” The team prayed right on the spot, and the father promised to come to the Sunday service the next morning! Excited to see God answer their prayers, the families embraced and prayed together after the service. They promised to keep each other in their prayers that Dad will soon make his decision to accept Christ. The YCA leadership is careful to emphasize flexibility–that this trip is NOT a vacation. The focus is, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” They purposed to serve, to work, to adjust to the unexpected with a great attitude! The love of Christ expressed in actions crossed an ocean. God so loved, that He gave His only Son. Yorktown Academy’s eighth-grade students and their parents shared that love to children and families in the Dominican Republic.



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

Faithfulness in Homes for Families

Kisha arrived at Homes for Families Bluebonnet Ranch at the end of October after patiently waiting for an opening. She had broken free from a long-term abusive relationship with the father of her four children in May and found a temporary safe place with her aunt and uncle. After a while, Kisha knew it was time for the next step in healing for her family. She knew the Lord but after years of abuse, her self-worth and confidence were completely shattered.

Immediately upon arriving at Homes for Families Kisha sought how she could draw close to the Lord and teach her children the love of Jesus. Within two weeks her oldest son gave his life to Christ and now reads his Bible to his younger siblings every night before bed. The others have a hunger for the Lord and they desire to be baptized like their big brother! Kisha always worked and felt like she was never allowed to parent her children. She is now a mom who boldly points her children to the Lord. She is so excited about their future and thanks God for their many blessings.

Below is a photo of her oldest son’s baptism and one of her other sons on his birthday receiving a bike from generous donors. The children were never allowed to play outside with other kids and did not know how to ride bikes. They’re thrilled to be outside playing with their friends now! 

Faith & Finances at Work

Our Faith & Finances and Faith & Work classes are a huge blessing to those who participate in them. Our site coordinator from Corpus Christi, Alicia Tijerina, teaches both classes and trains facilitators to lead the classes as well. She recently shared a story about a young lady who graduated from Faith & Finances and was eager to get a new job. She called Alicia really upset after not receiving an offer from a potential job opportunity she wanted. Alicia prayed with her and assured her God has the final word and He will direct her path. A week later the same young lady called her thrilled, she had received a job offer in finance. The company had noticed her certificate from Faith & Finances on her resume and wanted to know more about the program. The young lady was overjoyed to share her experience in class. Alicia cannot wait to see her future successes and be there as support when needed.

Faith & Finances and Faith & Work are more than just classes that teach God’s purpose for your finances and work, they create a support community that will be there long after the classes are finished. They are powerful because of the principles they teach and the paths the Lord directs. We are thankful for people like Alicia, who are part of our ministry and see it as a calling to follow the Lord.  We are excited to see what 2023 has in store for this ministry! 

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.


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.