Christmas in Costa Rica

What gift do you think the wise men brought to Jesus? A chupon! A baby bottle was the eager answer.

Sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth, our mission team traveled to Costa Rica in December. We turned an old table on its side, and draped it with a blanket, creating an improvised puppet stage. Crouched behind, team members held stick puppets while a narrator told the story of angels, and shepherds and wise men, and best of all, a baby! The children responded to questions in their language. “Jesus was born in a “corral” and laid in the dry grass in a pesebre, surrounded by stinky, noisy pigs, chickens and a rooster!” The children could visualize a baby born in the midst of those surroundings. After all, the surroundings in which they lived were not so very different from this stable.

The Christmas story continued. The wise men were very rich and they brought gifts to the baby Jesus. What do you think they brought? One little boy shot his hand straight up and said for all to hear,

“A bottle!”

Of course, what else? Gold, silver and frankincense were foreign concepts in a village with dirt roads, and hovels made of tin and scraps of wood. In any case, what would a baby do with gold, silver and frankincense? A bottle made perfect sense, and it brought a smile to all of our faces.

The story ended with the question, “Do you know that Jesus is still looking for a place to live?” Perplexed looks responded. “That’s right. Jesus wants to live in our hearts, in my heart and in your heart. Can you hear him knocking right now? Do you want to invite him to come in?”

God chose to announce his arrival in terms that even a poor, uneducated, isolated child could understand. Hearts open, there was nothing in their lives to distract, to compete with the amazing angelic announcement, “This day, a Savior is born and lies in a manger!”

As we closed, the children joined in singing a carol about Jesus birth—a song translated into many languages around the world, “Noche de paz, noche de amor” (Silent night, holy night).


Joanna Berry

Joanna Berry
Vice President of Family and International Ministries
STCH Ministries

Thank You!

STCH Ministries is a collaborative effort. The dream birthed in the heart of Laura Boothe 67 years ago grew into an organization leading hundreds to meet the needs of children and families in crisis across South Texas and around the world. As you know, STCH Ministries is comprised of nine ministries, each one dedicated to healing hearts and sharing hope in their own way.

One of our driving principals is to remain 100% privately funded and God has honored that principal by providing through His people on many levels. STCH Ministries continues to grow because individuals and churches go beyond financial support. They link arms with our staff every day.

Fourteen Churches spanning from San Antonio to Houston, all the way down to Corpus Christi partnered with our Family Counseling ministry to provide a place for families and individuals to find hope and direction when they found themselves in broken places.

Couples enjoyed romance and inspiration in Corpus Christi during Date Night by the Bay. School counselors, pastoral staff and others who help people earned continuing education credit and more tools for their work at our 3rd annual iCare conference in Victoria. These events further Family Counseling’s efforts to provide safe environments for individuals, couples and families to process through the places of hurt in their lives.

God used our Faith & Work and Faith & Finances ministries as instruments of hope, reconciliation and healing for families across Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi helping people discover God’s purpose for their life, work and money. Students in all three cities testified to the practical and spiritual impact these programs made on them both personally and professionally. Class sizes, new training sites and the support from volunteers willing to assist in facilitating allowed the courses to increase in all three cities.

Hundreds of individuals stepped up to encourage the children and moms at Homes for Children and Homes for Families. That encouragement was expressed through hugs, group activities, new sidewalks and playing games.

Others literally went the extra mile traveling beyond the borders of the United States to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Peru. Volunteers in these places ministered to orphans, taught job skills and built homes to show that Jesus’ love crosses man-made boundaries.

Our vision is to show the love of Christ to each child and family to whom we minister. Your cooperation brings it to reality as you pray, demonstrate acts of love through time spent helping others and financial support. Thank you for joining us in reaching hurting children and families with God’s love and truth.

Summer Vocation: Ashley Beck

Summer interns have assisted STCH Ministries International in the Dominican Republic (DR) for three years. This year, three college students lived at International’s DR base of operation inside Iglesia Bautista Quisequayana (IBQ), near the capital city of Santo Domingo from May-August. Amanda Longoria, Associate Director of International said the interns helped in many different ways. Their upbeat spirit and endless energy made the summer weeks go by without a hitch. They connected not only with the Dominican nationals but also with Americans traveling to the DR on mission trips. They offered comfort and accommodations to the needs of the groups. Summer interns served as the hands and feet of Jesus in the Dominican Republic.

Ashley understood God’s call on her life to vocational missions during a mission trip to Poland in 2017. This fall, she began to prepare by pursuing a Christian studies degree with a minor in missions at Ouachita Baptist University. Amanda remembers Ashley having the heart of a missionary with an infectious laugh and fun-loving spirit. During the summer of 2018, Ashley served one term as a summer intern and loved it so much she returned for the entire summer this year. Ashley helped train and offered comfort to the new interns. She helped them make friends and adjust to living in the Dominican Republic.

A few of the interns shared their experience in the DR and what they learned about themselves and God as they served. This is Ashley’s story, in her own words:

The biggest question to answer when I came home from being on mission for a summer was, “What did God teach you?” Every year it was the easiest question, yet the hardest question. While in the Dominican Republic, God taught me new things every day. I was constantly encouraged, loved and picked on (apparently that type of love is universal).

This summer the biggest lesson God placed on my heart was, though things get hard and I get tired, ministry never ends, whether that is at home in Texas (now Arkansas) or home in the Dominican. I learned you must be mission-minded wherever you are, you can’t shut that off when you get tired.

Leaving the Dominican Republic was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I miss it more and more every day. I miss the people, the joy, the laughs, the tears and the relationships. About six weeks into my eight-week internship, things got a little harder, I began to feel like I was home and Texas was no longer home to me. With this mindset, I had to begin to prepare myself to leave.

I started to pull myself away; I looked at negative things and thought more of the things I missed over the summer not being in Texas. The memories my friends were making and what I missed out on.

This mindset brought me to think less of my time and my mission and my focus turned away from God. I began to focus on how tired I was rather than the opportunity to serve that God had laid before me. For about four days I completely withdrew myself, not physically, but mentally from everything. I stopped focusing on the people around me that needed encouragement and stopped focusing on what God was showing me.

I was sitting at what I would call the “Wi-Fi table” when God gave a small bit of encouragement through another person. With those small words of encouragement, God showed me what I was doing and reminded me that my focus needed to remain on Him.

Although I was exhausted, my mission should never stop. I needed to stop relying on myself to push through this exhaustion and rely on God

After all, God did not place me in the Dominican Republic to sit around and pout. Just as God did not place me in Arkansas to sit around and pout. I learned a big lesson at a young age, ministry is hard, ministry is exhausting, but ministry never ceases. At times it seemed like there was no reward and I was wearing myself out, yet God reminded me that the reward is the hearts I have led to Jesus, the people I may only meet once, but will worship with forever. The reward is always Jesus.

If you are interested in serving as a summer intern, applications for summer 2020 are open now; those chosen will be notified in early 2020. Please see  for more information.


R U OK? With this simple question, anyone can act as a superhero to a friend in need.

STCH Ministries Family Counseling joined Golder Associates in creating awareness that it is okay not to be okay. Family Counseling Regional Director Lorraine Turner presented during a suicide prevention event hosted by the global environmental consulting company.

Every day there are tragic stories about the toll mental health issues take on people’s lives. R U OK Day began in Australia in 2011 after Gavin Larkin’s father committed suicide. He had wondered whether this simple question could have made a difference and saved his father’s life. The suicide awareness and prevention campaign, now a recognized nationwide event in Australia, gained attention around the world through global companies such as Golder Associates.

Many times, individuals put their best face forward on social media and in face-to-face interactions because no one wants to burden others with personal issues. Lorraine firmly believes if everyone spoke openly with each other, there would not be the same level of mental illness such as depression and anxiety in our society. Most of us walk around acting like things are fine when they may not be. She insists it is important to express day to day frustrations, not just the big things because it’s the little things that add up to the big things.

Lorraine shared with the group that she dislikes the polite greeting, “How are you?” Too many people answer it with “fine” when they are not. Her presentation included reasons why someone might not be okay: stress, burn out, grief and depression all contribute to emotional well-being. However, everyday issues such as family disagreements, traffic incidents and a lack of sleep can also affect one’s overall health.

After defining the concerns, Lorraine gave practical tips on how to help a friend or coworker who is struggling. Concentrating on basic steps anyone can take to make a difference in another’s life, she spoke of the importance of active listening to another person’s responses, repeating back to them what you heard to show understanding, validating their emotions and asking clarifying questions. What bothered you about the conversation? When was the last time you did not feel so heavy? What do you like to do for fun and when was the last time you did it? Lorraine instructed the attendees to ask these questions to move the conversation forward and explore possible solutions together.

Lorraine taught self-awareness which enables individuals to recognize negative patterns. Participants learned how to self-evaluate stress levels by acknowledging what fills them up emotionally and drains them physically.

Greg Logan, a geologist at Golder Associates, used balloons to show how someone can become overwhelmed when they have too many things going on in their life. Each balloon represented a different issue or responsibility. Greg handed a colleague one balloon at a time and asked him to hold on to them the best he could. This revealed how challenging life can be when one has too much going on. This can lead to stress, feeling overwhelmed or even depressed. Asking “R U Ok?” allows a person to ask for help and lets them know someone cares for them. After asking “R U OK,” Greg began to take the balloons back and delegate them to others. This illustrated everyone can work together to help relieve the stress of others.

Writing pens, bracelets and posters around the office remind Golder Associate employees two things: ask each other if they are ok and to be open to sharing their burdens with others. Statistically, there is a global rise in depression, anxiety and both suicide attempts as well as suicide completions. Asking “R U Ok?” can make the world of difference for someone!

STCH Ministries Family Counseling serves as a preventative ministry as well as a source of direction and hope in times of crisis. Counselors provide training, seminars, and workshops enabling churches, organizations and community groups to be a resource to those in need. For more information on counseling or workshops:

Summer Vocation: Israel Pereyda

Summer interns have assisted Homes for Children (HFC) on the Boothe Campus for nearly thirty years. Enabling others to join in the ministry of reaching hurting children and families with God’s love and truth is essential to the mission of STCH Ministries and the intern program is one way to achieve that. This year, five college students lived among our students at Boothe Campus from May to August. The staff feels interns make summers richer providing guidance and friendship to the students on campus.

College students provide unique friendships as they pour into the lives and hearts of the kids, friendships they probably do not have with their houseparents, their caseworkers or other staff.

Israel Pereyda (Izzy), a civil engineering major at the University of Texas at El Paso, came back to Boothe Campus for his second summer. The kids loved him and his playful spirit. One staff member described him as, “A great empathizer which makes him awesome at building relationships because he’s able to feel for our students and share in their emotions.”

A few of the interns shared their experience at HFC and what they learned about themselves and God as they served. This is Izzy’s story, in his own words:

I have a calling to vocational ministry. I have felt a loud voice saying, “That’s cool. You’re going to finish that (civil engineering degree), but I’m going to call you for something different.” I do not know yet what that will look like. I would love to pastor a church, but after coming here and experiencing the ministry that happens in this place, maybe I will come back as a houseparent.

My relationship with DeRay Davis and Josh Parker, two boys I discipled last summer, brought me back to HFC this year. DeRay and Josh helped me to figure out how to be intentional in each moment – as a godly presence in their lives which allowed me to teach them. Beyond friendships with the kids, the focus of the summer meant increasing my skills to work with them. The Lord taught me to be flexible and rely on Him to give me exactly enough wisdom, energy and rest to make it through each day.

Every interaction with the kids showed me God’s love in a way that is unique to Boothe Campus. Though these kids have every reason to close themselves off and not let anyone in, they choose to love. Every single time, they showed me what the Bible means by “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Experiencing the trust and love of a child daily was both overwhelming and restful. God showed me how much I lacked when it came to trusting in Him. I got nervous wondering if I was enough to meet the needs of these kids. Was I worthy to be at the mountain top with God? He showed me I will never be worthy by my own account but through Jesus’ sacrifice and the Holy Spirit in me, I saw Him work through me. The fact that I witnessed God’s hand so strongly this summer changed me. I learned to trust and rely on my faith more and the kids taught me how to love without being scared.

The houseparents were another big reason I wanted to be here again, they are some of the greatest examples of God-followers I have in my life. I saw God shine through each of them as an example of how His love is supposed to be. They handle kids from tough situations yet wake up every day and act in the same, consistent way loving these kids just like Jesus does.

The chance to talk with them or share a meal with them brought me joy and encouragement. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6:30, I joined Mr. Art and Mr. Jose, two of the housepops, to work out in the barn. These two Godly men showed me how to lift weights while sharing their wisdom with me at the same time. Between the kids and the houseparents, God showed me how much I had been slacking back home.

This year at school, I will continue as a student leader in the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM). I will also accept the honor of youth pastor at Mountain View Baptist Church in El Paso. I look forward to continuing my degree plan, spending time with my new youth group and the opportunity to lead young men to become genuine Christ-followers.

STCH Ministries holds a special place in my heart and in my walk with the Lord as I learned there to trust Him more and love as He does. As a youth pastor, I am prepared to show the love and compassion HFC children taught me to the kids in my backyard. My heart will forever long for those summer days where the Lord taught me so much within that campus.

If you are interested in serving as a summer intern, applications for summer 2020 will be accepted beginning January 2020. Please call our office at 367-375-2101 or send an email to for more information.

From Surviving to Serving

Tim Williams, Director of Church Relations grew up in the Victoria area and has been in Christian ministry since 1982 with 27 of those years serving as a senior pastor. As Director of Church Relations, Tim connects churches with STCH Ministries by helping identify ways to minister to their needs. He is also available for pulpit supply as he leads the Pastor Care ministry.

Occasionally, Tim will share stories from his ministry relating to how God heals hurts and shares hope using STCH Ministries. Here is one story, in his words:

My wife and I recently got to visit friends in Maryland, Pastor Dario and his wife Susie Agnolutto. Through our relationship with them over the years, Grace Brethren Church of Calvert County has made two trips to the Dominican Republic with STCH Ministries International. They are now planning their third trip. Since our visit included a Sunday, Pastor Dario allowed me to say a word of thanks to his church, share about our ministries as well as show one of our videos.

My wife, Judith, helped with the Ladies’ Retreat at Grace Brethren Church several times and after the service, a friend approached us. The woman shared she knew that she and her husband were, “going to make it – they were a family again,” after participating in the most recent mission trip as a family.

My wife later told me this woman showed up two years ago, at the Ladies Retreat broken and considering divorce after her husband’s affair. Through the grace of God, her church’s work with both of them as well as Christian counseling, this family has not just stayed together but now is being made whole.

It hit me that she was telling me the STCH Ministries mission trip made a difference in their lives and in her mind, changed their course from surviving to serving. We don’t always see the impact our International ministry has on people once they return home, but in this case, it was the healing of a family and the restoration of a marriage.  God works through us when we serve and that may be the most powerful way He works in us as well.

For more information about Pastor Care, please see:

For more information about International Mission Trip opportunities, please see:

2019 Golf Classic

Participants at last month’s Golf Classic enjoyed ideal fall weather on the challenging course at the Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club in San Antonio. The tournament has played a prominent role on STCH Ministries’ calendar for nearly 20 years and has grown significantly since becoming an annual event in 2014. The Golf Classic serves as a fundraiser allowing STCH Ministries to continue healing hearts and sharing hope as the Lord leads. Effective events require collaboration and we are thankful to the following corporate and individual sponsorships. Strike, a leading pipeline and facilities solutions provider, and Pickett Systems, an oil field equipment supplier donated the title sponsorship. Lunch was provided by Highground Advisors and dinner was given by longtime friends Firmin and Leita LePori. Thank you for helping to make the Golf Classic a success. This year, over $69,000 was given to support the operational expenses of STCH Ministries.

The tournament draws individuals from longtime networks to new friends alike. One of the players discovered STCH Ministries when he fulfilled a service call on an air compressor at Homes for Children (HFC). Intrigued by his boss’s commitment not only to repair the machine but replenish supplies at no charge, he asked about the ministry and took a tour of the campus. Once he learned of the commitment and the ministry on Boothe Campus, he wanted to be a part of it.  During the dinner program, he and his wife learned about the nine separate ministries of the organization and committed to becoming more involved.

Students from HFC helped at the tournament – carrying clubs, serving lunch, hosting a dinner table and handing out awards. A sixth-grade table host shared “This feels more like a friend-raiser than a fundraiser,” while discovering he does not like bread and butter pickles with his barbecue. Earlier in the day, he passed out water bottles and reminded golfers their best chance at making a hole in one came from staying hydrated. His lively conversation and outgoing personality created smiles all day.

Mark your calendars for Monday, October 26, 2020, for next year’s Golf Classic. The tournament will take place at Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club in San Antonio. Registration begins at 11 AM followed by a shotgun start at 1 PM and finishes with an awards dinner at 6 PM.

If you have questions about the tournament or sponsorship information, please contact Jeff Brewer at 361.375.2417 or by email (

Forgetting the Shame

Isaiah 54:4 – “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth.”

 A STCH Ministries Family Counseling client sought relief from crippling guilt and shame. The misplaced guilt the client struggled with stemmed from not wanting to be like his parents and feeling he had to hide his past. He helped raise his younger siblings due to a sexually abusive father and absent mother whose drug addiction led to frequent jail time. He believed himself guilty because he felt embarrassed by his family, he thought as a Christian, shouldn’t he love them unconditionally?

His counselor, Peyton, set a goal to help the gentleman discover those feelings did not belong to him. Guilt, a deep feeling of regret for an act which may or may not have occurred in the past, led to shame, the feeling of failing to live up to an imagined ideal of oneself. After many sessions processing through these emotions and establishing healthy boundaries, Peyton established that the guilt and shame he was carrying belonged to his family.

Often in a dysfunctional family, the children feel shame for their parent’s problems. Children cannot understand that their family is not “normal” or healthy and may think they are the cause of the problems. This idea may make them believe that the problem has to do with themselves, rather than the family. Family secrets can produce shame. Keeping a parent’s drug habit or sexual abuse a secret makes the child feel like they have something to hide and gives them the message “Don’t let people see you as you are.”

Peyton selected an insightful workbook called Making Peace with Your Past: Help for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families by Tim Sledge to help her client. The lessons guided them through identifying the key characteristics of a dysfunctional family—how shame may transfer to others, defeating shame and understanding that spiritual cleansing is essential to win over shame. The client gave his shame and guilt to God and experienced God’s emotional renewal thus discovering his family was not his destiny. He learned to love his family with healthy boundaries in place.

Through faith and counseling, he surrendered guilt and shame to the Lord, developed a refreshed outlook on his life and experienced a great sense of relief. The client’s life reflected Psalm 3:3—“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” The client gave himself the grace and mercy he deserved, and his faith is stronger than ever.

If guilt or shame is a problem in your life, STCH Ministries Family Counseling offices are available in 16 locations around South Texas. Please visit:


Is it possible to raise $80,000 in one day?

Yes, with your help, we can!

With your help, we will continue to heal hearts and share hope in the lives of hurting children and families throughout South Texas and beyond our borders.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that occurs each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Following right on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it kicks off the holiday giving season and inspires people to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

STCH Ministries’ mission is to honor God, reach hurting children and families with His love and truth and enable others to join us in this ministry. We are 100% supported by private donations and do not accept any state or federal funding. Beyond that, we offer all of our services to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. By making a donation to STCH Ministries on #GivingTuesday, you can help:

  • Provide a loving, family environment for children in need.
  • Give a safe haven for mothers and their children during times of crisis.
  • Save marriages with biblically sound counseling.
  • Send the gospel and God’s love through international missions.
  • Teach job skills and money management.
  • Offer special resources to pastors and their families.

And so much more!

Go to: on December 3rd for the #GivingTuesday donation form and other ways to get involved!

Tabitha’s Smile

Tabitha, 55, reached the point where she entertained the idea of ending it all – believing there was no way out of the mess she had made of her life.  She came to counseling stricken with guilt, grief and hopelessness.

Her upbringing in an unstable home spilled over into her own marriage and family. She had traveled a long hard road suffering tremendous emotional and physical abuse throughout her life and also in her first marriage. She felt unworthy, unloved and unfit to be a mother to her 3 children.

These overwhelming feelings led her to make a decision that haunted her for years to come. Tabitha decided to leave her family believing she wasn’t enough for them, for God, for anyone.

God had a plan of redemption for Tabitha. God led her to STCH Ministries Family Counseling Corpus Christi, where she met someone who listened, who cared and believed that she was a worthy person. STCH Ministries counselor Leslee O’Neal became the representation of God’s grace for Tabitha. Through the course of counseling, Leslee helped Tabitha learn about her true identity in Christ.

Leslee stood firm in the truth of God’s good plan for Tabitha’s life. This helped her gain an understanding of God’s love, mercy and grace. Tabitha worked hard to battle the lies of her past and hold fast to the truth of God’s love, salvation and redemptive plan for her life. God and Tabitha won. She learned to accept herself, forgive others, and be led by a God of unconditional love and acceptance. As she healed, she reconnected with her grown children and enjoyed the blessing of being a part of her grandchildren’s lives.

Tabitha recently wrote a sweet note to Leslee staking her claim to the freedom and blessings she now gets to live in. Tabitha shares in her message “… I love my life…and I know that God and you did an amazing thing for me, you taught me to smile again.”

Leslee gives thanks to God for His unconditional love and peace. She is grateful to STCH Ministries donors, supporters and staff for providing the opportunity to help Tabitha find her smile again.