Vision 2025

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained; but happy is he who keeps the law.

As we begin 2023, we have embarked on an exciting journey called Vision 2025. The pursuit of where God would have us to be at the end of year 2025. As we begin this pursuit, we appreciate your prayers and are expectant that God will continue to use STCH Ministries in amazing ways!

As a lead in I would like to share a few ideas and help you to understand a bit about where we currently are in the vision pursuit. Vision is the bridge between the present and the future, vision gives planning a purpose. Organizations that do not make vision pursuit an integral part of their strategic planning will see chaos, lack of purpose, employee disengagement and an overall dysfunctional environment.

Through God’s leadership and power, we will press on to become all that God has in store for STCH Ministries. As an organization we will strive to:

• Ensure that all phases of this ministry will be completed in a manner that will ultimately bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
• Ensure that all children and mothers in our campus care will be provided a safe haven of love and refuge and the opportunities to realize the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams.
• Ensure that the ministry provided to families and individuals is Christ-based and of the highest professional standard.
• Nurture and grow our children and families spiritually to have an active, deep and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Wisely use the financial gifts we receive, this will include remaining debt free.
• Remaining completely funded by charitable gifts and not take state or federal funds.

Our mission statement is to honor God, to reach children and families with His love and truth while enabling others to join us in our ministry.

Our vision statement is to show the love of Christ to each and every child and family to whom we minister. We do this by creating a culture where the needs of children and families are seen and met in creative and innovative ways. Efficiency and accountability are strategic priorities with effectiveness and excellence the resulting evidence. We desire God to use STCH Ministries in mighty ways to do His work.

Our Core Values are: Excellence – in all programmatic and operational details, we desire to do all that we do in love and with excellence. Accountability – to serve others to the best of our ability, we will hold one another accountable by setting program and employee-specific goals and working together in a spirit of unity. Integrity – is the key to any relationship and we will build this trust each day by choosing to walk in truth, understanding and wisdom. Vision – we believe in seeking God individually and corporately to develop a vision for the future as we grow in effectiveness and excellence. Glory – we trust God to guide and direct us and we will give all that we are to Him – our strengths and our weaknesses; the challenges and the glory – for all good things come from His hand.

I hope this in-depth explanation has helped you to know more about who we are, how we do what we do and why. Thank you for taking the time to read through our Messenger. Please join us in prayer as we desire to understand all that Vision 2025 will entail!

Joining What God is Doing in El Salvador

Things don’t just happen to us who love God; They’re molded and shaped, and timed by His clock. Things don’t just happen; they’re planned. (Esther Fields, 1944)
HOW FAR BACK IN YOUR LIFE can you trace the hand of God? The sovereignty of God—the secret history behind every decision, every interaction. Not an accident, but by design, not coincidence but His plan, not chance but Divine direction. “He holds in His hand not only the broad sweep of world history, but the tiniest details of our personal stories.” (Alec Motyer, Psalms by the Day)

As we begin exploring international expansion into El Salvador, it’s interesting to think about the foreknowledge of God as it relates to STCH Ministries International. In 1947, the Brown family carried the Gospel to the Dominican Republic, and a strong beachhead was established for Baptist work. During the same time period, thousands of miles away, Laura Boothe began the process of donating her land for the establishment of South Texas Children’s Home Ministries. 71 years later, those threads were connected through the descendants of the original actors in this God-directed drama!

For several years, STCH Ministries has sensed a need to share what God has enabled us to develop through International in the Dominican Republic since the beginning in 2006. Pre-Covid vision trips took us to Costa Rica, Peru and Mexico. The Covid chaos abruptly impacted those plans and we prayerfully waited and sought God’s wisdom for the future that only He could see.
In the summer of 2021, we met with Ward Hayes, Chief Financial Officer of Texas Baptists, to discuss sharing Faith & Finances training with leaders of small churches. However, Ward had heard of the STCH Ministries international work, and shared his passion for the tiny country of El Salvador, specifically for the Peniel network of churches, led by Edgar Borja, Sr. The “secret” history—God’s sovereign design for STCH Ministries in El Salvador gradually unfolded.

Prayer accompanied our research of these opportunities. El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated Central American country. The capital city, San Salvador, is the oldest and longest-standing capital in Central America. El Salvador is bounded by Honduras to the north and east, by the Pacific Ocean to the south and by Guatemala to the northwest, making it the only Central American country that lacks a Caribbean coast.

El Salvador is largely an ethnically homogenous people. The intermarriage of Spanish settlers with the indigenous Indian population has resulted in a population that is nine-tenths mestizo, with Spanish as their universal language. Coffee, sugarcane and cotton are their major export crops, although today the service sector dominates the economy. They are also a large producer and exporter of hammocks and their most notable dish is the pupusa, a stuffed corn flatbread.

A history of Civil War, crime and violence has marked Salvadoran history for many years. In addition, the country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and by a major earthquake in 2001. In February 2019, Nayib Bukele, a Millennial who was not aligned with either of the major parties who had dominated the country since the Civil War, was elected president of El Salvador. Although he has suspended due process, according to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) 2020, violent crime has dropped by as much as 60 percent since Bukele became president in June 2019. Tourism is on the rise and the protection of Americans and all foreigners is a high priority for this government.

Prayer and communication began with El Peniel leadership. Their passion to reach people with the transforming power of the Gospel is expressed in Genesis 32:30 which is quoted on their website. In Spanish, it reads, “Vi a Dios cara a cara, y fue librada mi alma.” (I saw God face to face, and my soul was set free).

The Peniel ministry was first established in 1997, and they have been a self-governing, self-multiplying church for 30 years with no outside funding. Today they are a growing network of eight individual churches and two church plants located south of San Salvador, reaching to the coast. They are led by Edgar Borja, Sr. and a strong leadership team of home-grown pastors and their wives. They meet once a month and together they make decisions on strategies, budget and vision. They reach decisions through prayer, discussion and mutual agreement.

The Peniel churches’ objective is two-pronged: to set people free through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to accomplish life transformation through intentional discipleship opportunities. Their church-planting model starts with a pastor, a building, a soccer team and a school.

One of the most successful outreach methods utilizes the national obsession with soccer, where each church sponsors a soccer team.

People in the neighborhood are attracted to the soccer team but must attend church to be able to play each week. However, if in the excitement of the competition, fighting and bad language occurs, the penalty is a yellow slip and additional attendance requirements! There is no pressure or compulsion to make any additional decisions, but under the teaching from the Word of God, lives are transformed.

A second goal for each church is that every church needs to establish a Christian school. Their goal of discipleship was boldly proclaimed in a large banner that hung over the combination gym/auditorium.

2022—THE YEAR OF GROWTH IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Colossians 1:10). The schools have developed a reputation for excellence in their education and offer English and computer classes. Parents are incentivized to attend church by the significant discounts on school tuition which they can earn.

Since May 2022, we have made three exploratory-vision trips. The team members included our Dominican partners, Russell Jerez, Dr. Francisco Paredes and Rebeca Dinzey. Succeeding trips included Eron Green, Kyle Luke and a few selected pastors and leaders as we continued to get to know the Peniel network of churches. At one of the locations that we visited named El Riel, we observed volunteers working with picks and shovels to clear land for a church building. They had been meeting on the school grounds, but as the ministry grew, they needed a larger site. We were inspired by the testimony of Pastor Anselmo.

“I was a falling-down drunk who frequently didn’t make it home at night, and my children would find me asleep in the road and drag me home. My cousin invited me to play soccer but when he told me that I would have to attend church, I refused. Later, I reconsidered and decided I would attend one time, just to be part of the soccer team. At first, church did not impact me. But I did discover that if my wife and I attended additional services, our children would receive discounted tuition! That motivated us to begin to attend more frequently and slowly the Word of God penetrated our hearts and changed our lives and our home. I began to serve, went to school for my Bible training and now I reach others who are caught in the same hopeless circumstances.”

God touched our hearts, and over the succeeding trips, we were led to contribute funds to put up the walls, and later add the roof. They continue to work by faith to add windows and doors in God’s time. We also discovered that the greatest need of the El Riel church and school is for water, as their future growth is limited by a lack of access to this essential commodity. We invite you to pray with us in faith that God will also supply this need.

There are some distinct differences between the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. Obviously, the logistics of lodging, food and transportation are different. Since they are south of the equator, their school calendar is very different from the United States, as their “summer break” is November-January. As a result, many of our ministry activities will focus on participating with the children while in school, as well as discipleship opportunities and construction needs.

We continue to seek God’s guidance as we begin the process of stepping into this expansion gradually, adapting the mission God has given to STCH Ministries to the unique needs of the Salvadorian people and the Peniel ministries. We share a common focus on meeting the needs of children and families and the goal of life transformation through Christ. Our hope is to begin in 2023, partnering together with a few US mission teams. As of December 2022, we have begun to accept some of the children into our Samuel’s Fund sponsorship program.

One of our vision trip participants, Tony Gray, who also serves on the STCH Ministries board, responded after his trip, “It is evident that God is directing us and I am impressed by the discernment you (as leaders) show in your assessment of the countries we have an opportunity to work in. Recognizing it is not the DR, we want to grow in our ability to experience the people and the culture as much as we can. Thanks again for this opportunity you provided Heather and me to visit El Salvador, meet the people and get a feel for the amazing work God is doing there through Peniel.”

Trevin Hoekzma, pastor of Calvert Grace in Maryland, shared his impressions. “While traveling through El Salvador and visiting church plants associated with the El Peniel network of churches, I experienced a vibrant church community focused on making disciples, teaching the next generation and investing in families. Salvadorians reaching their neighbors and rural communities was a beautiful thing to witness.”

Trevin continued, “In speaking with some of the church members, I heard a desire and request for Americans to come teach English to their children and help increase the scope of the church’s outreach. We are eager and delighted to answer that request by sending a team this summer.”

Russell Jerez, from the Dominican Republic, added, “Visiting El Salvador has helped me see the wonders God is doing through the Salvadorian people in their ministry.”

We are excited about the opportunity to serve God through the Peniel network. We trust God to continue to help us plan wisely as we follow His leading. Mutually beneficial partnerships don’t just happen—they are planned in that mysterious interplay between the sovereignty of God and our own choices. We ask for your prayers in the following ways:

1. For volunteer teams
2. For financial support
3. For wisdom and God’s perfect timing.

Most of all, we desire that our vision will be renewed and energized as we celebrate what God has done and seek to transform lives through the power of the Gospel.

Building up a Leader

IMAGINE MOVING TO A NEW TOWN and a new home where you know no one. Now, imagine moving into a home with strangers. Many people would feel anxious in a situation like this. For children arriving on the Boothe Campus, this is what they are walking into. Luckily, on the other side is a set of houseparents ready to welcome them, caseworkers to walk alongside them, counselors to help them work through issues that arise and support staff to help guide them. Most importantly, they do it all while being examples of Christ’s love for the children.

Jonathan came to STCH Ministries Homes for Children in June 2021 on the verge of turning 16. Having endured some difficult times throughout childhood, he lashed out with violence when in an uncomfortable situation. Coming to the Boothe Campus was one of those difficult moments for him. He felt “awkward” and unsure of what the future held. Little did Jonathan know he was being covered in prayer and it would ultimately change his life.

From the beginning, Jonathan’s houseparents wanted him to know that he was part of their family. One common scene on the Boothe Campus is a cottage coming together for dinner every evening. This one simple act helps create a time for the children and houseparents to feel a sense of normalcy. Around the table, they talk about their day, enjoy laughs together, share disappointments and grow together. For many of the children that come to Homes for Children, their first dinner is a memory that stays with them. Jonathan recalls his first dinner on campus as Cajun Sausage Pasta Alfredo, something he says he will never forget.

From early on in his time on campus, his houseparents saw his potential to be a leader in the cottage. “He’s always been a great kid,” his housemom shared, “he will volunteer to do stuff when I ask for the boys to do something without complaining.” As summer progressed, Jonathan felt genuine relationships starting to form between him and his houseparents and him and student ministries coordinator, Benjamin Brewer. He started opening up more and found ways to better channel his anger. He also began to seek a relationship with Christ.

When Jonathan arrived on campus, he knew of God but he did not know God. He had never pursued a real relationship with Him. Children that live at Homes for Children are given many opportunities to learn about Christ. The cottages attend local churches on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday nights there is chapel hosted on campus. More than that though, staff members like Benjamin, spend time with the students helping them understand the Bible and what it means to be a Christian.

In March 2022, Jonathan attended a D-Now weekend at his church. D-Now is a weekend retreat for middle school and high school students with worship and Bible studies. The theme for the weekend was “Through the Storm” and Jonathan felt like God was talking to him because he was personally going through a big storm. One night during worship, he decided to make a life-changing decision. “I felt God touch my heart,” Jonathan shared. He walked up to the front and found Benjamin who was one of the leaders for the weekend. Benjamin walked Jonathan through a prayer to accept Jesus into his heart. Even after D-Now, Jonathan continued to deepen his relationship with Christ and started to look for more ways to become a leader around campus. He sought discipleship from some of the staff and feels like those interactions have helped him grow immensely.

During the summer of 2022, Jonathan traveled to the Dominican Republic with other students from Boothe Campus. In order to go on the trip, the students had to prove they were responsible and could handle a trip of this caliber. Jonathan had shown so much growth since coming to Homes for Children, the staff saw him as a great addition to the trip. He enjoyed the trip and getting to see a different way of life and the different hardships people face. “Us STCH Ministries kids think we have it all bad but we don’t have it as bad as them,” Jonathan shared. “They live without food sometimes but they are more welcoming than we are. They welcomed us into their homes.” This experience is something he will hold close to his heart forever.

Next, Jonathan was asked to attend the Association of Christian Childcare Administrators Youth Leadership Conference at Shepherd of the Ozarks in Arkansas. Jonathan and one other student attended with the intention of them learning how to become better leaders on campus. “It was a time that I got to step up and be a leader,” Jonathan shared. “It was touching because the other student from here got saved while we were there and I was able to pray over him the whole time.” Jonathan came home from the trip ready to share his experience and step up as a leader.

Every year in September, schools across the world participate in See You at the Pole. Students gather around the flagpole at their school and spend time in worship and prayer together. Jonathan stepped up this year to be the student leader for the event. He feels a calling on his life to feed into the lives of those around him. “I didn’t always have the best experiences growing up. I want to be able to help those that are in similar situations to mine. I want to help them get through that time. That’s my calling,” Jonathan shared.

Staff members from Boothe Campus continue to see the work that God is doing in and through Jonathan. “Jonathan has grown to be a respectful leader at school in his extracurricular activities especially athletics and on campus,” Greg Huskey, vice president of campus ministries shared. “He has shown leadership by taking responsibility. Jonathan has a great willingness to serve others, lending a hand whenever needed.” Benjamin Brewer shared, “Jonathan is one of the most thoughtful and servant-hearted kids out here. He is usually always looking to help and make life easier. He was having a bad day just the other day and came to an event and saw that some of us were running around busy, he put away his own stuff and helped us before he relaxed! He even said thank you for letting him help.”

When Jonathan first came to STCH Ministries he saw the people on campus as strangers. He saw God as a stranger. Through building relationships with staff and other students, Jonathan found a spiritual family. More importantly, these relationships allowed him to see God’s love for himself and as a result, Jonathan developed a true relationship with Him. Through this time, the leaders around him saw his potential and continued to pray and support him. Jonathan is forever thankful for the support from spiritual leaders that continue to pour into his life and hold him accountable. He is excited to see how God continues to use him as a leader on campus, in school and in life.

A Remarkable Transformation

IT IS OFTEN SAID that God is a God of second chances, but could God indeed wipe clean a record and give a young mom of two a new life? Could He answer prayers, provide healing, guidance and complete transformation?

When Allyson needed it most, God wiped her slate clean and gave her a second chance. Facing addiction, felonies, prison time and CPS charges with the threat of losing her boys, Allyson found herself at her breaking point. With such a difficult record, Allyson felt there would be no way out and no chance at a fresh start for her and her family, or the hope of a brighter future.

Realizing it was time for a change, Allyson quit her addictions cold turkey and applied for the STCH Ministries Homes for Families program. On bond and while fully detoxing, Allyson and her two boys – her oldest eleven years old and her youngest just months old – arrived at Homes for Families Marshall Campus in Goliad. “I ran here with my tail between my legs,” Allyson recalls. “I was like, ‘Okay, God. I’m done. I surrender.’”

Homes for Families is a ministry for single mothers and their children facing a crisis. Homes for Families is designed to help transition them into successful, independent living. As families move through the different Phases of the Homes for Families program, staff on campus help address their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Allyson learned early on that the process would challenge her. When reflecting on Phase I, Allyson remembers giving her resident coordinators a hard time as she was still accustomed to diverting back to unhealthy coping mechanisms. However, with the constant encouragement and love of her leaders, Allyson began to soften and open her heart to God. Allyson described herself early on in Phase I as a “depressed mother who hated [her]self.” She knew the effect this had on her relationship with her kids. “I wasn’t able to love my kids the right way because I didn’t love myself.”

Jesus loves you” was a constant reminder Allyson’s leaders would share. With time, she came to believe the good news of God’s love for her. As Allyson surrendered more to God each day, He transformed her by renewing her mind, exchanging her survival techniques of codependency, blaming others and rebelling to being more self-aware, forgiving, gracious and transparent.

“I remember He gave me 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ (NIV). That Scripture got embedded in my heart. It is HE that cares for me,” she shared.

Allyson has worked through each phase of the Homes for Families program with significant progress and impact. She entered Phase III at Homes for Families in January 2021 after working her way through Phases I and II of the program with her two boys in tow. “Phase II helped me discover what God had in store for me and helped me walk out all that I learned in Phase I.” Allyson also shared how much her relationship with God continued to grow during Phase II. “I was addicted to the chaos,” Allyson confessed. However, being at STCH Ministries “where things are calm and people are understanding,” as Allyson described, allowed her to untangle her thoughts. “My mind is quiet now; I can hear [God] so clearly now,” she added.

Allyson admitted that transitions can be challenging for her, having experienced trauma, but after feeling more settled, personally and spiritually, God began revealing to her the ways He wanted to use her and the plans He had for her life. Those plans led her to apply for college. Allyson is now pursuing her Associate of Science and hopes to enter the field of Counseling or Social Work. She would love to help others, as she has been helped, and see others break free. Allyson is also now a student worker in the Library at Victoria College.

Nine months into the program, the unexpected happened for Allyson. She was informed that her judge, impressed with her progress and the parenting courses she took while at STCH Ministries, dismissed all charges against her. “I was a mess,” Allyson confessed, “but God showed up for me every step of the way.”

Earlier this year, Allyson also learned that all her charges were fully expunged from her record. A feat that takes work to achieve. “I thought there’s no way He could just wipe that away… and He did,” she shared in awe. As Allyson and her children continue to move forward, they will now be able to do so without her past hanging over them.

Despite her freedom from addiction and victories, the enemy still tempted her. Not long ago, she shared with her case worker that the enemy’s temptations to leave and get her own place were persistent. “I had a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms and running was always one of them.” But God stepped in with a word from 1 Kings 19. The story of Elijah and the cave spoke powerfully to her. From that passage, she concluded that STCH Ministries was her ‘cave’ “until HE is ready to call me out with a gentle whisper as He did Elijah,” Allyson shared.

Since joining the program in May 2020, Allyson has experienced a remarkable transformation. “I have gained so much confidence as a mother, sister, aunt and now as a student and an employee.”

The fruit of Allyson’s surrender and obedience to God has also impacted her children’s lives. Her oldest son is now 14 and her youngest is 3. At first, Allyson admits that her oldest son resented her for “dragging him through [her] mess.” But in the same breath, Allyson rejoiced at the change she had seen in her son and their relationship. “STCH Ministries had the best counselor work with him and work with me to reach him at different levels that I have never been able to reach my son in.” Allyson exuded pride in sharing how far along her son has come and how God has restored their relationship.

In speaking to other moms considering Homes for Families, Allyson makes it a point to remind them that it won’t be easy. “You will still face challenges, but you will learn to meet these challenges sober and with God.” Allyson expressed gratitude that she was taught to take responsibility for herself and her children. “Once you allow spiritual leaders, counselors and mentors here to help you break down those strongholds, the freedom you experience is so rewarding,” she concluded.

The goal of Homes for Families is deep inner healing. There is no doubt that Allyson and many other families who have journeyed through the Home for Families program have experienced just that. We serve a God that sees us in our brokenness, sees us in our “mess” and sees our track record, yet He still loves us. He can clean our slates, give us a fresh start and bring us to a place of healing and transformation. “This is my haven. I feel safe at STCH Ministries. I love that feeling that God’s in control. It feels good.”

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” Acts 3:19 (NIV)

The Joy of Paying it Forward

“WE ARE ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN CHICKEN!” Denise Martinek, owner of the Chick-fil-A location in Calallen stated. “Our employees are at the heart of everything we do.”

In 2019, Denise moved to the Corpus Christi area to manage her first Chick-fil-A location and chose the Calallen area. Once established, she searched for a chaplain to enhance the overall well-being of her employees. Friends recommended Pastor Raul Elizondo from New Life at the Cross, and after interviewing and mutual prayer, Pastor Raul volunteered to fill that position. Denise also recognized a need shared by several employees for financial management skills. Pastor Raul recommended STCH Ministries and the Faith & Finances class.

Faith & Finances is uniquely positioned to teach basic financial principles and their impact on relationships. It begins with the fundamental truth that Jesus is making all things new, including our money and our relationships. Whether in a family, in a church or in a marriage, financial issues can cause stress, resentment, jealousy and even depression. However, with knowledge and correct application of key principles from God’s Word, wise financial management strengthens relationships. Individuals learn how to make a spending plan that works, manage debt and loans, improve their credit scores, set goals, prepare for the future and overcome past mistakes.

For eight weeks, the faith-based class was offered on Sunday afternoons in the empty Chick-fil-A restaurant. A diverse group of 16 individuals enrolled, including a father and son, a single mom and her oldest daughter, while younger siblings played outside, joined by Denise and her manager. For those who volunteered to attend, a small incentive was given for perfect attendance.

Jackie Caldwell, a certified STCH Ministries facilitator, agreed to teach the class, supported by Jimmy Rodriguez, director and Alicia Tijerina, site coordinator. Jackie’s background made her the ideal person to lead this one-of-a-kind class. Retired after 38 years as a teacher and administrator with the school district, Jackie also leads Enlightenment Counseling, a resource for training and professional development for the work environment. Her years of experience have convinced her that effective teaching must be interactive. “What the students DO, they will understand and remember.” In every lesson, the students participated in an activity that reinforced the financial principles they were learning.

Some of the activities included a Wheel of Fortune game, fill-in-the-blank as a team, drawing a picture that represents core teaching and “pay it forward” with a bag of gold coins as they shared with another person. Every participant made a list of their priorities, and each week they evaluated their expenses to eliminate one thing that didn’t fit their goals. They learned from each other and grew in their ability to trust and support one another.

A core principle emphasized during each class was, “God wants to use our money to accomplish His purposes in this world.” As the restaurant owner, Denise shared that she prayed, “Okay, God, how do you want me to do this?” God’s answer was confirmed during the graduation celebration as employees shared what they had learned, their wins and the impact of the class.

“I never realized the impact of finances on my relationships.”

“I had enough money, but I was just wasting it in small and bigger ways.”

“I redirected my passion for coffee by purchasing a frother, buying locally and sharing it with others.”

“It works! It works! For the first time, I was able to start a savings account.”

“I never went to church before but during this class, I decided I needed the teaching and support of a church family.”

In Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Faith & Finances partners with churches and community organizations to connect people with God’s plan for their finances. The “battle of the budget” is not one confined to low-income families. The insatiable appetite for more, conflicting interests and priorities coupled with inflation are all exacerbated by the pressure of time. When next month’s paycheck is spent before the month begins, how do we get off of this treadmill? A re-assessment of God’s plans for our finances can lift our eyes above the immediate to an eternal perspective. As one doctor’s wife reported, “I knew I should tithe 10%, but I always thought the rest was mine to spend. Now I realize that God owns it all, and He wants me to be a good steward of these resources.”

Churches are often frustrated by efforts to reach people outside the church walls. Unfamiliarity, prejudice or fear of commitment seem insurmountable obstacles. Following Jesus’ example in Luke 14, they are able to minister to the needs of hurting people by offering “bread” to satisfy the hunger of their lives. Faith & Finances is uniquely positioned to help churches set a banquet table of strategies based on Biblical principles. Members can invite those “lamed” by life’s circumstances, and teach practical life skills, find support through the church and grow in their personal relationship with Christ.

First Baptist Church in San Antonio became aware of a large number of Burmese refugees in their community, and the daunting task that each person faces—language, jobs, housing, schools, culture, faith. Where to start to be the hands of Christ for them? Among other outreach efforts, FBC sponsored a Faith & Finances class for Burmese pastors and leaders. At graduation, they shared, “We had to escape for our lives, then live in a refugee camp for years. Banking? We don’t understand how you do that! Now, thanks to STCH Ministries, we can help our communities in their own language with their finances.”

Oak Hills Church in San Antonio has partnered with STCH Ministries Faith & Finances to integrate and undergird their discipleship and mentoring programs. The principles of Faith & Finances have brought dramatic life change to the initial 19 students, coupled with additional follow-up support from the church that encourages debt repayment and savings contributions.

Desperately understaffed, community organizations call to ask, “Can you help us reach this community?” In Houston, we have teamed up with Attack Poverty, a Christian non-profit that empowers individuals to break the power of generational poverty. San Antonio Hope also addresses the root causes of poverty to help the community become holistically sustainable. They have incorporated the Faith & Finances course into their offerings.

In Corpus Christi, an increasing number of classes are held for parents of children in public schools. School administrators recognize the chaos of the family system that inevitably impacts their finances. Since the teaching is faith-based, the classes are held after school and often in nearby venues—apartments and fellowship halls of nearby churches. With little or no teaching available in the traditional school curriculum, they hope that a faith-based curriculum might offer a lifeline of strategies to support the change that is so desperately needed.

In every city, the opportunities and ministry sites for Faith & Finances are unlimited and increasing. The Faith & Finances ministry staff cannot begin to meet those needs without the assistance of trained and certified facilitators, like Jackie Caldwell. When asked why she dedicated the time to teach, Jackie said, “It’s about paying it forward. I didn’t grow up knowing what I know now about finances. I see the joy of students reaching their goals, and I feel God is pleased!” Please pray for this need of more facilitators and visit for more information if you would like to serve in this ministry.

When Anger Meets Christian Counseling

IT IS NEVER EASY to open up about the struggles we face or the hardships we’ve experienced in our past. For Karen, the decision to be honest with herself about her need to seek Christian counseling came when she could no longer live with the anger inside her. Karen knew her growing rage was not helping her or the loved ones that needed her.

The stress, fear and isolation felt by the events of the global pandemic in 2020 were difficult for Karen. “I was in a really bad depression,” Karen confessed, as she described a time when she wrestled with God and suicidal thoughts. Karen told a decisive moment she experienced in the middle of that difficult season: “I was yelling at God saying, ‘If you are going to save me, then you’re going to have to save me now. I am done. I’m tired. I don’t want this life anymore.’ Immediately after that, my doorbell rang. A man I had not seen in about 45 years was on my doorstep, and I asked him why he was at my door, and he replied, ‘God told me to check on you.’” It was clear to Karen at that moment that there were some things to take care of and she began counseling sessions with STCH Ministries.

As Karen began meeting with Lisa from STCH Ministries Family Counseling, sessions revealed other struggles stemming from childhood pain and the abuse and trauma she experienced in her first marriage. “I learned why I reacted to things [that happened in the past], and I have learned to forgive all of that,” Karen admits. Growing self-awareness allowed Karen to recognize her people-pleasing tendencies. She shares how these tendencies led her to believe, “I must have done something for them not to like me; what can I do to fix it?” Most importantly, Karen saw that the horrifying things that happened to her reflected those who hurt her, not something she caused due to her shortcomings.

“I’m a good person, I always have been, but I allowed people to tell me I wasn’t,” Karen said.

Sessions continued, and her counselor recommended EMDR techniques to help Karen face her past trauma and begin fully recovering from it. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a structured therapy that encourages the client to focus briefly on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. EMDR therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and PTSD symptoms.*

Karen’s appreciation of the therapy she received increased because, “in facing a lot of bad memories in my past [with EMDR], I was also able to make room for good memories, memories that I had forgotten.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these [bad] memories and resume normal healing.*

Karen’s counselor also helped her decide on a safe place early on where Karen could go to in her mind when she needed it most. “It was my grandmother’s kitchen; right outside her window, there was a big, beautiful pecan tree,” Karen described. “I was given techniques and tools that if stress or anxiety would come over me… I could go to this place, take a few deep breaths, and face whatever it was.” Something she had never considered doing before. “I just didn’t know you could do that. But I know it now, at 63 years old,” Karen admits.

Though some of the exercises practiced and techniques offered were new to Karen, she shared, “I was willing to give it a shot because I knew in my heart of hearts, I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I didn’t want to be miserable anymore.”

Another reason she could fully trust her counselor’s guidance toward healing was because of STCH Ministries Christian foundation. “I wanted someone that was going to be aligned with my beliefs,” Karen stated. While she knew Jesus was her Savior, Karen sought professional help to aid her in “getting out of the way of myself,” as she would describe it, and allowing God to work in her life.

Her daughter also began to notice and appreciate the evident change in Karen. “It’s really nice now to have one of us be calm,” Karen’s daughter once told her, as they both had held anger and immense hurt towards people in Karen’s life. “Initially, I went so I could see what I could do to make myself better for her,” Karen expressed, “and that has certainly happened in the long run.”

Nearing the end of her therapy, Karen abruptly lost her job. As disappointing as unemployment news is to bear for anyone, Karen said, “I did not worry about it for one minute, which I find amazing!” Karen added how, before, news like this could have easily led her down a bottomless pit in her mind and filled her with fear.

In addition to having gained suitable coping mechanisms in light of losing her job, Karen shared how she was now confident enough to stand up for herself and fight for her rights to unemployment due to termination without a cause. “I would have never spoken up [for myself] like that before,” Karen admitted. “I would have taken it, and I would have tucked my tail between my legs, and I would have gone home and agonized over ‘what was wrong with me?’”. Now, a renewed sense of worth and self-awareness has helped Karen navigate life’s ups and downs differently.

Knowing all that Christian counseling has done for her, Karen continues to reach out to those around her as an advocate for receiving help and learning new ways to process both past and current experiences. Karen often shares with her friends and family that are facing hard times, “I much rather you learn what I learned at your age than wait until my age.”

Counseling helped Karen overcome her struggles like she never thought possible. “It’s amazing. I couldn’t explain it when I started the process, and I cannot explain it now, but I know it works,” Karen said confidently. “I feel light. I’m not carrying around the anger anymore; I’m not carrying around the fear,” Karen shared.

“I believe in it, and I know the big difference it made in me,” Karen concluded with tears in her eyes.

If you or anyone you know is seeking help, please visit for more information.


Bearing Burdens

Why is helping people becoming more difficult? This is a question I seem to ask myself daily. One might surmise that fewer folks are interested in getting help. Another view might be that with an
increase in need, more families are “falling through the cracks”. We could also look to the dramatic polarization that we seem to be witnessing in so many aspects of society as a whole. While I believe these statements contribute to an increase difficulty in helping people, I want to focus more on the “helpers”.

We all, to some degree, are helpers. Now the manner in which I describe a helper is simply someone that is available to another in their time of need. Through our willingness to help we should build relationships with those in which we help. Once this relationship has been established and needs have been met, the world and society can be changed in enormous and eternal ways. The idea or concept of a helper is intricately interwoven throughout Scripture. The Hebrew word for helper is “ezer” (pronounced “ay-zer”) which speaks of God’s strength, power, protection and being a rescuer.

It is vital to understand no matter your role you can be an eternal “rescuer”. You might be reading this as a stay-at-home mother, a construction worker, a landscaper or as a retiree (to name a few) and wonder how this applies to you. I want to say to you no matter how you see yourself, God has a grand purpose for your existence. Please pursue what God has for you with all your being, He will use you to bless others. God will use your time, talents and treasures to be a blessing to others.

It is also important to see ourselves as ones that need help. At different times we all need a rescuer. We must remember that our Heavenly Father is the ultimate Healer and Rescuer but He uses us to be His hands and feet. In Galatians 6, Paul talks about the concept of “bearing one another’s burdens”. Paul instructs the Galatians (and us) to bear each other’s burdens so that the law of Christ can be fulfilled. What a great responsibility and honor to serve God through the burdens we all face together! Paul never told us that this “burden bearing” would be easy.

Thankfully, we also learn throughout scripture that we are to cast our burdens, our anxieties and our worries on Him. The way I like to think about the burdens I see and experience is that I should
transfer those burdens to my heavenly Father so that He can use me in these situations. I am afraid too many times we remember we should bear one another’s burdens but we forget to give those burdens to God and failing to do so is a sure recipe for burnout.

Do you see yourself as a helper in light of the definition shared above? Take a moment and ponder how often you help someone on any given day, week, month or year. I would suggest you are more of a helper than you ever thought possible! Also, check your heart and see if you are becoming overwhelmed with the weight of your responsibility as a helper, if so reach out to us, we would love to help!

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, He will support you! God will never let the righteous be shaken!

Moving from Social Anxiety to God-Given Confidence

IN HIS BOOK, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, Francis Chan wrote, “But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” 14-year-old Reese felt God’s call to move from a place where she felt comfortable to a place of uncertainty and anxiety. She put her trust in God and with Him, her parents and STCH Ministries Family Counseling, she made it through and came out stronger on the other side.

While in 2nd grade, Reese’s family prepared to move from Katy to Fulshear in Texas. When she learned about the move, Reese started exhibiting behavior that caused concern for her parents. They sought help from school counselors and friends. They discovered the behavior she exhibited was caused by anxiety but did not understand how someone so young could experience anxiety in this way. Reese attended school in Fulshear for a few months after the move, but her mom felt the Lord stirring in her heart to homeschool Reese. Reese enjoyed the comfort of homeschooling, and it helped relieve some of her anxiety caused by social interaction. Her family attended church regularly and her mom, Alli, noticed the same behaviors resurfacing as she interacted with other students over the years.

Six years after she started homeschooling, Reese shared with her parents how she felt God calling her to attend public school again. They discussed it and decided she would attend public school for her 8th-grade year. Going back into public school created severe anxiety for Reese, “I went the first day and it went pretty good, but then afterward I kind of freaked out because I think it all hit me that it was so different. I didn’t want to go the next day because it was freaking me out so bad.” Her parents could see something was wrong so they were prompted to contact STCH Ministries Family Counseling in Houston.

In the first counseling session, Alli and her husband, Ronnie, met with Paris, who would be Reese’s counselor. They discussed the behavior they witnessed and Paris shared they were all signs of social anxiety and that many young children experience anxiety in this way. “As parents, we were like wow, that’s a real thing and we approached it differently. I felt so bad but the Lord is so gracious and we were able to talk to her and say that we didn’t realize that that was a real thing, but it was,” Alli shared. After receiving answers and making a game plan, the time came for Reese to start counseling. She recognized what she dealt with as social anxiety and prepared herself to begin learning more about coping with it and growing through it.

Even though she prepared herself, Reese experienced nerves going into counseling for the first time. Paris worked to ensure Reese felt comfortable talking to her and built trust with her in the early sessions. After building a strong basis of trust, they started doing role-play exercises. Paris helped Reese consider what other people may be thinking or feeling to help put her at ease. She taught her conversation starters and then practiced them with her. Reese took what she learned in counseling and put them into action at school.

Reese accepted challenges from Paris, including the 100 conversations challenge. With this challenge, she needed to start 100 conversations by the end of the school year, which was right around the corner. At the end of the first week, Reese initiated 15 conversations at school. As the weeks went on, she added to her numbers until she reached 70. By that point, the conversations happened so naturally that she forgot to keep counting. She finally felt confident and the anxiety started to diminish.

Toward the end of the school year, Reese casually told her mom after school one day about a girl she had started to become friends with. The two girls even exchanged numbers so they could reconnect before school started in the fall. Alli held back tears as she looked back at the transformation Reese experienced from the beginning of the school year to that moment. Her daughter carried herself differently and showed a confidence she had never witnessed before. Reese started to feel better herself and looked forward to the summer.

Reese’s church decided to spend one week of their summer serving at STCH Ministries Homes for Children. She felt excited leading up to the week but also some anxiety about traveling to a new place and meeting new people. During their week on Boothe Campus, they hosted Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the younger children and games and other activities for the older children. For Reese, the interaction with the younger children came easy, but when it came to students her own age or older, the anxiety crept back in. Reese and her family started attending this church in November 2021 and the relationships she had already built helped her feel confident going into the week. She also thought back to the many counseling sessions with Paris as she prepared for the trip.

Once on campus, Reese’s anxiety started to lessen with the support of her friends. She led VBS worship on stage and started conversations with others on campus during their activities. Most importantly, she continued opening up to her friends from church. This huge step for Reese was made possible by prayer and counseling. Alli also attended the trip; she sat back and watched as her daughter acted as the hands and feet of Jesus. Alli knew a year ago, Reese would have never interacted with others this way. Her fear and anxiety would have hindered her from making friendships and spreading God’s love. Reese no longer let her anxiety define her. Coming home from the trip, she reflected on the change she saw within herself but knew more challenges stood ahead.

As summer came to an end, Reese prepared for her freshman year of high school. The night before the first day of school, the enemy used her anxiety to speak lies to her. Memories of last year started flooding her mind and she started to get discouraged. Her parents, armed with compassion thanks to their counseling sessions, began speaking truth over her. They assured her, “God is within you, you will not fall. With Him at your right hand, you will not be shaken. Be strong and courageous, He is with you wherever you go.” Armed with these words, she knew she could make it through her first day of high school.

During the summer, Reese connected with the friend she made at the end of her 8th-grade year. Having a friend made her feel a little more at ease about entering this new season of life. Alli shared, “she walked into 9th grade with confidence, not in her ability, but what He did, can, and will continue to do in and through her!” The coping techniques she learned through counseling helped her confidence. The challenges given to her by Paris allowed her to make new friends and see herself in a different light. Her parents’ new understanding empowered them to encourage her in the way she needed. God called Reese into a situation where she did not feel comfortable but He came through, gave her the tools to move forward, and allowed her to share her story for His glory through it all.

Created on Purpose for a Purpose

LAURA STORY, a contemporary Christian singer and composer, uses the phrase “the aching of this life” to describe the problems swirling about us in our world1. Anxiety, depression, burnout, isolation, discouragement and disenchantment, lostness—the list is endless.

The search for a solution ranges from substance abuse and suicide to abandonment of family and faith to the Great Resignation or constantly switching jobs, and more recently, “quiet-quitting”— just doing the minimum to get by and not get fired. Perhaps the cause and the solution are embedded in the word, purpose.

Just how important is purpose for our lives? Research has consistently linked purpose to heightened levels of emotional and mental well-being and overall life satisfaction. A Yale University
School of Medicine study linked individuals’ experiences with depression to a declining sense of purpose. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, wrote, “Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” From the beginning, we were created with an innate need
for meaning and purpose in life. The STCH Ministries’ mission of “healing hearts and sharing hope” influenced the development of

Faith & Work, a curriculum that guides individuals to discover their God-given purpose, develop a vision for their future and acquire the tools to fulfill their goals. Faith & Work classes use a 10-week curriculum to focus on the critical intersections of work, values and a meaningful life purpose from a biblical perspective. Before time began, the eternal God planned to accomplish his purposes in Christ through us as we work. Work existed before the fall when all things were towb, the Hebrew word meaning excellent, pleasant and agreeable (Gen 1:22). God designed us to reflect his image in our ability to create, cultivate and care for our planet and the people who inhabit it.

Sin changed all aspects of God’s design; work that once produced abundance became “painful toil.” Even worse, sin broke our relationship with God and with others. The human companionship we need was infected with the “aching” of this life—anxiety, fear and shame. The resulting internal and external conflict changed how we work and why we work into burdensome
and unproductive toil.

How do we recover work that is good, pleasing and agreeable, even if those words do not describe our work environment? Dorothy Sayers challenged us to reject “the notion that a man’s life is divided into the time he spends on his work and the time he spends in serving God. He must be able to serve God in his work.” In Christians at Work, the Barna Group reported that the average Christian will spend 90,000 hours at work, and only 2,000 hours in church. When we understand the sacredness of work and discover our unique giftings, work becomes an expression of worship,
adding a holy purpose to any job.

Faith & Work classes use practical methods to examine our identity and the experiences that shaped us, good or bad, in light of biblical truth. Interactive tools help to highlight aspects of personality, spiritual gifts and core values that equip and motivate us in our labors. Equipped with such self-knowledge, we can dig into how to express our faith through teamwork, effective communication and overcoming challenges in the workplace. Finally, we look at specific ways to integrate faith and work so “people may see your good work and give glory to the Father” (Matthew 5:16).

When we see our job as an opportunity to accomplish God’s purpose in this world, it impacts the quality of our work, our relationships with co-workers and even our families. Faith & Work provides intrinsic motivation for how we work and serve others, found in the love of God expressed through Jesus.

Kevan Etheridge is an excellent example of how participants learn and grow as a result of Faith & Work. Kevan had a background in home remodeling, which prepared him for his role as Facilities Manager for The Warrior’s Refuge, a homeless shelter for military veterans. Through a Faith & Work class, Kevan came to incorporate faith in his day-to-day life and expanded his service to veterans. He took advantage of growth opportunities provided by his employer, becoming a specialist in equine therapy for PTSD victims. Now pursuing his certification as a licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, Kevan attributes the advances in his career and self-esteem to the concepts he learned in Faith & Work. Aware that God’s plan encompasses every part of his life—home, family, church and work—Kevan is thrilled at the prospects for his future and the blessings he has received.

STCH Ministries continues to expand how we offer both Faith & Work and Faith & Finances courses. A major advance has been translating all the course materials and teaching into Spanish, opening opportunities across Texas, the United States and internationally. In addition to in-person classes offered in the Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio areas, we also provide live Zoom and hybrid formats. Some exciting conversations are underway with potential ministry partners in the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas. We invite our readers to join us in praying for more great teachers to facilitate classes in English and Spanish as God opens new doors.

Millions of people are re-evaluating their relationship with work and seeking more meaningful lives. Faith & Work groups, under the direction of a trained facilitator, provide the opportunity for significant life change as individuals discover that they were created on purpose for God’s purposes. There is no better time for individuals, churches and community groups to take advantage of the Faith & Work courses provided by STCH Ministries.

For information and registration for future classes, please visit:

1 “Blessings” on the album Blessings, Laura Story, 2011
2 “Why Work?” Letters to a Diminished Church, 1942, p.8. Christians at Work (2018), p.17.

Finding Joy in Reading

THE “SUMMER SLIDE” is described as the loss of learning most students experience while on summer break. “Summer slide,” “brain drain,” and “summer learning loss” all describe the phenomenon that occurs when students “turn off their brains” during the summer months*. Researchers and educators concur that about two months of reading skills are lost over a single summer. The statistic only skyrockets with each higher-grade level. With its Summer Reading Program, the O.B. Vaughan Library at STCH Ministries Homes for Children Boothe Campus is committed to encouraging students to continue learning during the summer.

The old saying often goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” With that in mind, most local libraries offer the community a summer reading program and free book access. STCH Ministries’ Vaughan Library is no different. Open for extended hours during the summer months, the library on campus celebrated its tenth anniversary of offering the Summer Reading Program to all the students at Homes for Children.

Each year, the reading program kicks off at the start of summer break, and Homes for Children students are invited to compete based on their grade level. While the program is meant to encourage students to continue reading throughout the summer, the reading program is not mandatory; however, students love being able to compete. STCH Ministries librarian, Mrs. Perkins also creates a theme for the reading program every year to help increase excitement. Over the years the themes have included Dr. Seuss, Carnival Fun, Treasure Chest and more. This year the theme was God’s Masterpiece. With this theme, Mrs. Perkins encouraged students to create artwork to display in the library throughout the summer. She also hosted a celebration on campus where students could create masterpieces out of food. The biggest goal of this summer’s theme was to remind every student that they are God’s masterpiece no matter what they have been through.

Throughout the summer, rewards are given to students as they reach certain reading milestones. For every two hours of reading initialed by houseparents on a student’s reading log, they receive a reward. Rewards include candy, soda, other treats, small toys and stuffed animals. These small incentives help students continue to be excited to log more reading hours. “Students that participate in the reading program are always excited to read; they beg to read,” one houseparent shared. A total of 478 hours of reading were completed by the 47 student participants this year.

The Summer Reading Program hosts a reward recognition for all participants at the close of summer break. Top readers within each age group are recognized, including the top 12 readers out of all the age groups combined. This summer’s overall top reader was a middle schooler named Jade. Mrs. Perkins noted that Jade, “read almost half her hours while the library was open.” Mrs. Perkins went on to share that each time Jade entered the library this summer, she chose to read over getting a turn on the library’s computers, as most of the other kids often do.

Jade’s housemom, Robin Fisher, shared how the reading program’s motivation to read has helped the girls in their cottage to “have a healthier respect for reality and doing the work to be entertained instead of always being focused on technology.” The access to books the library provides is vital to help prevent learning loss over the summer amongst the students. “The fact that they’re asking to pick up a book instead of getting on the computer or watching television is huge,” Fisher added.

Jade first arrived at Homes for Children Boothe Campus in 2020. Each year she’s been at STCH Ministries, she has participated in and placed in the competition. In her first year, she totaled 42 hours and placed 1st in her age group. This summer, Jade surpassed her previous record of 42 hours and was also recognized as the Top Reader of the entire program with a total of 54 hours.

Participants of the Summer Reading Program demonstrate commitment, responsibility and integrity, as they are encouraged to complete reading logs honestly. Potentially influencing their peers to read is another excellent benefit of the program. If a student reads to another student, they both get to include that time in their reading logs, older to younger or younger to older. Reading together encouraged students to continue their reading all summer long.

The reading program can also lead students to want to read outside the program. Jade realized reading did not have to be a chore and that she actually enjoys reading. This new excitement for reading has led to her wanting to continue to read, for fun, outside the Summer Reading Program. She also began sitting with her houseparents in the evenings as they started reading the Bible in a year. She loves following along and hearing Bible stories as her houseparents read aloud. “If you ask Jade right now, her favorite part of the Bible is 1 Chronicles because of all the silly names in it,” Robin shared.

The Fishers admitted that, before the summer reading program, they would invite the girls to join them in their evening Bible reading, and most declined. Once the reading program started, Jade joined them every night. Due to Jade’s eagerness to join the Fishers in their daily Bible reading, other girls in her cottage began to join them too. “The reading program has impacted this cottage for His glory,” Robin excitedly shared. The summer reading program increased overall reading in the Fishers cottage, leading to the enjoyment of family Bible reading each evening.

Jade entered the 7th grade this school year with all the benefits of having stayed in her books all summer long. Children who read four or more books over a summer perform better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who don’t.*

Learning does not have to come to a screeching halt each summer. Encouraging students of all ages to continue reading while out of school can reduce the “summer slide” immensely. Jade is just one example of how summer reading programs, library access and encouragement from houseparents can help make the transition from one grade level to the next easier. Mrs. Perkins is already at work preparing for next summer’s reading program, anticipating an increase in the number of participants. She prays that more students find new joy and peace through reading.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)