In June of 2018, two brothers were placed on the Boothe Campus because their grandmother, who was their caregiver, was experiencing some health issues. They said goodbye to their family, friends and the life they knew and moved to a place where they knew no one and had no expectations of what was to come. “They were quiet and a little uneasy,” their housemom shared. “You could tell they wanted to interact, but they were very cautious.” What the brothers did not know was that there were people praying for them, for their family and for restoration and healing to begin.

“Reconciliation and reunification with family is the hope for all the children that come to STCH Ministries Homes for Children,” Greg Huskey, Vice President of Homes for Children stated. Specific prayers that God will provide healing, restoration and peace among their family or that God will open the door for them to become part of a new family are a part of everyday life. For the two brothers, C.J. who is 14 and Jonathan who is 9, it would take a year and a half for their family to be restored and for the boys to be reunited with their family.

Their story started four years before they came to Homes for Children, when their grandparents, Marsha and David, became caregivers for the boys, due to some unforeseen circumstances within their family. The grandparents were blessed to be able to take the boys in and to start caring for them. In 2016, Marsha experienced a severe car wreck that caused major medical issues. A few months later, David had surgery for his kidneys, and started dialysis treatments. Marsha and David prayed for a way to continue caring for the boys through this difficult time.

Marsha and David started attending a local church a few years before taking the boys into their care. They did not understand why God was calling them to be at that specific church, but they knew when they walked in that God wanted them there for a reason. As medical issues continued to worsen, members of the church shared with them about STCH Ministries Homes for Children. Marsha saw it as an answer to their prayers. “We didn’t know God’s plan when we started at the church, but He did,” Marsha recalled. “He knew we would need the support of the church, and STCH Ministries.”   

For months, Marsha and David prayed about God’s plan for the boys. They felt God telling them that the Boothe Campus was where the boys were supposed to be, but that did not make the decision any easier. “When we took them there and left them there, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” David remembered. Tears filled both the grandparents’ eyes and the boys’ eyes as they hugged and said their goodbyes. This would be the start of restoration and healing for all of them.

As the boys settled into their new way of life they started to see the positives. They saw God moving in their lives as they interacted with the other children on campus and opened up to their new houseparents. Church is a major part of life at STCH Ministries and the boys enjoyed going to church with their houseparents. C.J. loved the youth group and started to see his relationship with God differently. “I have grown closer to God and seen Him move in many different ways,” C.J. stated.

As their time on the Boothe Campus continued, the relationship between the brothers grew as they remained each other’s constant. The boys also continued to strengthen their relationship with their houseparents and the other children in their cottage. Their houseparents, Sheila and Terry Backen, worked with the boys and helped in the healing process. “The Backens are angels!” Marsha exclaimed, “they were wonderful with the boys and we see such a difference in them.”

Becoming more independent is something that children on the Boothe Campus learn to do. They learn to take pride in their chores, to help with meal preparation, to take care of themselves and to be more respectful. The daily chores make them take ownership of the cottage they live in and teach them to be positive even when doing something they may not want to do.

Counseling is another huge aspect of the Homes for Children ministry. Many children come to the Boothe Campus in need of someone to help them and talk with them as healing begins. The child’s caseworker also plays a vital role in the healing process. While the brothers were healing on the campus their grandparents were healing at home. Marsha and David received the medical help they needed to better interact with the boys. At the same time communication began to improve within their family.

Marsha and David prayed when they placed the brothers that it would not be a permanent thing. They wanted the boys to be home with them when the timing was right. When approved, children in care are able to go on home visits throughout the year. C.J. and Jonathan were allowed to go home with their grandparents on some weekends and holidays. Every time they would return to campus Jonathan would ask his grandparents, “When will be the time that we get to stay at home with you?” This broke their grandparents’ hearts because they wanted that time to be every time.

They could feel God working and felt that Christmas of 2019 would be that time. Working with the caseworkers and other STCH Ministries’ staff, they prepared for the reunification of their family. The boys reacted to the news with both excitement and sadness. Going home meant leaving their friends and their houseparents on the Boothe Campus. “Children leaving is hard every time, but it is a little easier when you know it is in God’s timing,” their housemom shared. This was God’s timing.

A few days before Christmas, David came to Boothe Campus and helped pack the boy’s stuff up. They were going home and staying there. Since being home, Marsha and David have seen a difference in the way the boys interact, not just with them, but with other adults in their lives. They are more respectful and more willing to help out around the house. Marsha and David plan to lean on support from other family members. The family is currently looking for a church with a strong youth group to help C.J. and Jonathan continue to grow with God. The boys are also able to continue seeing a STCH Ministries’ counselor for help with the transition. God answered the prayers of many when He completed the reunification of this family.

For more information on STCH Ministries Homes for Children go to https://www.stchm.org/homes-for-children/.

As an orphan in a remote village on the border of Haiti, Robert appeared destined to live an insignificant life, constricted by poverty, isolation, lack of education and family support.  He heard about Jesus through children’s Bible classes and became a disciple, a learner, of Jesus’ ways.  Dominicans and Americans invested in him through children’s Bible classes, medical clinics and construction projects.  Soon, he was chosen by a Houston family for a Samuel’s Fund sponsorship.  In addition to repeated visits with him while on mission trips, they encouraged Robert through facetime and emails while STCH Ministries’ staff also discipled him. After graduating high school, he moved to the capital city, Santo Domingo, for University, where he joined Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ).  His sponsors continued to invest in Robert’s life through a CLEP scholarship (Christian Leadership and Educational Program).  Soon, Robert fell in love with a beautiful Christian girl.  As an orphan in that culture, moving in together seemed a normal next step.  The discipling process (learning of Jesus’ ways) continued as staff and Robert’s sponsors intervened to encourage pre-marital counseling with IBQ’s Pastor, Pastor Rudy.  Soon, a wedding was planned, complete with a borrowed wedding dress and a traditional marriage supper prepared by STCH Ministries International’s cooks.  Although Robert had no family or resources, over thirty-five Christian brothers and sisters from the church witnessed and celebrated this marriage.

Numerous individuals, both Americans and Dominicans, invested in Robert; changing his destiny. The Apostle Paul wrote that one plants, while others water, but God gives the increase.  Today Robert is educated, married to a Christian wife and shares his faith with others through his life and his church.  His future children will have the opportunity to grow while learning about Jesus, with the potential to impact countless others for Christ.

Salvation is first, a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ. However, we are not only saved FROM the penalty of sin but also to BECOME disciples, lifelong learners of Jesus.  Jesus’ last words reveal his priorities, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus spent three years, approximately 1056 days, focused on teaching twelve disciples.  In our numbers-focused American culture, the method that Jesus employed would not have earned Him recognition or promotion in any business that we know of.  It’s all about mathematics; how much money did it cost, and how many numbers, clients, projects were accomplished?  Were Jesus’ methods a failure?

Today, we know that through those disciples, Jesus changed the world. When the disciples heard Jesus say, “Go and make disciples,” they had a clear picture of what to do.  Jesus invested His time training and teaching the twelve disciples.  Compassion for the least of these was His trademark; feeding the hungry, healing the sick, blessing children.  He spent His time with tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes and many more.  These activities did not distract from His mission, they were the means by which He accomplished His mission.  He wedded the Gospel message to loving your neighbor, feeding the hungry and meeting needs.

There are many creative ways in which mission trip participants use their talents in this process.  Sometimes they present seminars for school teachers and share school supplies to under-resourced teachers.  Many of the public-school teachers must manage up to fifty students in a classroom without any helpers. One might ask how teaching classroom management, or creative teaching methods for math can be effective methods of sharing the Gospel?  These teaching seminars inspired our Dominican staff to meet with Christian principals in an effort to encourage and support them.  They have a two-fold goal; communicate to the community a better understanding of the purpose of the Christian school, and help teachers apply Biblical integration in the classroom.  Samuel’s Fund Director, Rebeca Dinzey, wrote, “This is a great opportunity to bring the gospel to our communities.”

Small actions can encourage the discipleship process in the life of a child.  One sponsor purchased a guitar for a young student.   As he learned to play, he began to lead worship in the youth services.  Alex Castillo will soon become Dr. Castillo when he graduates from medical school.  Uncounted numbers of American mission trip participants, as well as the IBQ church, have invested in Alex’s life.  He has been counseled through difficulties by the STCH Ministries staff, both Americans and Dominicans.  His sponsors paid for his education all the way through medical school.  As a Christian Leadership and Educational Program (CLEP) scholarship recipient, he disciples younger Samuel’s Fund children, through Bible studies and teaching English. Recently, he presented a study to Samuel’s Fund boys on the human brain and the Creator God who designed it.

Construction projects provide another opportunity to meet needs and intentionally invest in the discipleship process.  The Berroa twins, hyperactive, incorrigible little boys, accepted Christ at a children’s camp.  Adult believers needed a lot of patience and perseverance to continue to work with these boys since learning about the Bible was not high on their list of priorities.   As they grew, they became interested in construction projects because they wanted to learn English from Americans. They were discipled as they experienced a Christian testimony lived out through hammers, saws and paint by Americans and their Dominican peers.  Today they share with others while they attend college.

Francisco lived in a two-room home on dirt floors when he came to know Jesus and was discipled through Bible classes, VBS, mission teams and the church. Today he ministers as Dr. Francisco Paredes with STCH Ministries International in the Dominican Republic.  He leads and organizes medical mission trips in collaboration with small chapels, Christian ministries and schools.  Patients hear the Gospel and experience the love of God while their desperate physical needs are met.  Countless dozens have come to faith and been discipled by the local ministries where the clinics are held.

To be effective, the primary goal of all mission trips must follow Jesus’ recipe for success: “Go and make disciples…teaching them to observe all I have commanded.” Matthew 28:19-20.  Short-term mission trips must be more than entertaining, sight-seeing, painting or constructing buildings for schools and orphanages.  They must be more than delivering food to a hungry family, coloring a craft project in a VBS class or sewing a dress. They also need to be more than sharing the Four Spiritual Laws or other soul-winning formulas.

The Dominican Republic is a small country, only one of 195 countries.  What is the most effective way to evangelize the Dominican Republic, or any other country? On a short-term mission trip, can individuals coming from a different culture and speaking a different language effectively evangelize through a narrow focus on sharing the Gospel? Is it possible to weld the Gospel message to discipleship, relationship-building and teaching?  Working in partnership with local ministries, can we empower local individuals to evangelize, disciple and build Jesus’ kingdom in their own neighborhoods?

A personal relationship with God through faith in Christ is a priority.  STCH Ministries International’s mission trips integrate sharing the Gospel in partnership with local ministries while teaching and meeting needs in creative ways.  These collaborative partnerships with national churches and individuals ensure that the seeds sown in an admittedly short mission trip week will be watered and cultivated.  STCH Ministries International’s short-term mission trips are not about a one-time event, but a part of a long-term process of investing in qualified Dominican leadership so that the work of discipleship can be accomplished.  Jesus said, “GO!” STCH Ministries invites you to “COME”, and invest your life and resources with local ministries in making disciples.

Happy New Year from the STCH Ministries family and thank you for taking a moment to read our Messenger!  Here at STCH Ministries we love to partner with fellow believers to witness God at work.  We partner together in a variety of ways with families, children, organizations, churches, hospitals, universities, orphanages, schools and the list goes on.  The needs are so great!

As we partner, we start with prayer.  It is our desire that we are 100% in the center of God’s will in all we do.  We have a team that prays as we plan to take children into care.  We pray for and over those that are seeing our counselors. As a ministry to children and families, we understand the need to join together in prayer for all those in which we serve and partner. As we pray together, we are laying the foundation for what God wants to do through us!

The apostle Paul references, in Colossians 2, the “whole body” and growth due to the support and unity provided by the “joints and ligaments”.  Paul is referring to our head being Christ and how as believers we are a support system for one another by being the joints and ligaments.  Just like Paul’s reference, we here at STCH Ministries are being the earthly joints and ligaments each and every day to children and families coming from places of great need.

It is so exciting to see these support systems forming for those that we care for and many times they are support systems for each other!  We have young adults from our Homes for Children program that are roommates in college.  We have mothers and their children from our Homes for Families program that have developed a loving and supportive community together.  Once those we minister to begin to become the joints and ligaments for others, it is amazing to experience!

Early this year, I had the privilege of joining together with a group that attended one of our International Vision Trips.  This Vision Trip was to the Dominican Republic where we have been ministering for over 10 years.  The trip was attended by pastors and their wives, board members, donors, STCH Ministries staff, etc.  One of the trip highlights was dedicating an orphanage in the small town of Higuey that we were instrumental in constructing.  To hear the testimonies of their leaders and how they had labored, and prayed for over 20 years for this project to become a reality was tremendously inspiring.  How blessed we were to be there for the dedication!

I also want to take a moment to thank you for your partnership.  We are not able to do the work God has called us to do without your support.  We are so blessed by you sharing your time, talents, treasures and prayers with us and for us.  Together we are stronger!  We stand together with those we serve, we stand together with our ministry partners and we stand together with those that give so generously to make our ministry possible.  How Blessed we are to have one another.

Together for Him!

Chris Harriman believed he had the world when he married Rachel in 2000. The two met online in 1999 and discovered they shared similar upbringings. What they did not see coming was that Chris’s fear-driven compulsion to work as many hours as possible and Rachel’s codependent impulses to please the people important to her would drive a wedge between them.

After the couple married, they lived a simple life in a small apartment in Victoria, Texas. Rachel enjoyed being a wife and worked hard to establish a home. The year 2003 brought a medical crisis, a brain tumor Chris had received treatment for returned and required surgery. With Rachel by his side, Chris made a full recovery and their family soon grew by two girls and a boy. Determined to provide well for his household, Chris found a new job at a nearby chemical plant. Like many young families, the Harrimans enjoyed successes and faced struggles as they settled into a routine.

As the years passed, the two continued the business of daily life: work, church, friends, children, even occasional date nights. The connection between them faded and resentment found a foothold. Chris’s absences from family events and church activities pushed Rachel to depend on friendships at church for companionship. Chris grew to resent the time Rachel spent with her friends and she came to resent the impossible drive to keep everyone happy. Arguments and bitter silences replaced the affectionate atmosphere of a once happy home.

An exceptionally bitter argument over Rachel’s plan to go on a cruise with friends and Chris’s adamant refusal to allow her to, delivered the final blow to Rachel’s tolerance. Exhausted from a lifetime trying to please everyone and attempting to live up to the image of the perfect wife, mother and friend, Rachel could not fight anymore. She asked Chris to move out. Scared and furious, yet committed to his marriage, Chris refused. Rachel did not want a divorce either, but she felt they had reached an impasse.

A friend recommended STCH Ministries Family Counseling to Rachel. Chris reluctantly agreed to go along to sessions; he worried about his family’s and friends’ response to seeking outside help. The two met with Vince Porter, STCH Ministries Counselor, in the Victoria office.

In the beginning, Chris’s attendance was sporadic – work being his main excuse for not attending.  Rachel applied herself to the process and the truths she uncovered about herself. She grew up in a happy home, with four siblings and loving parents. She recognized having brothers with special needs made her family different from others, but she did not think about how that affected her outlook on life. As a young girl, she wanted to alleviate some of their struggles through not causing any more difficulties. Only after working with Vince did Rachel realize the coping skills she acquired as a child contributed to the problems she faced in her marriage.

Prior to therapy, Rachel had not heard the word codependency. Vince explained to her that it presented as an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner; she recognized patterns in her own life. “I did not have a definition of who I was and what I liked and what I didn’t like. I thought it was rude to be direct or to have a decisive opinion about something.”

Rachel pieced together other aspects of her personality that led to the trouble in her relationship with Chris. While she often considered herself a victim of Chris’s overprotective nature, she understood that nature originally attracted her to him because it felt familiar.  She grew up in a home where the idea “father knows best” governed the family. Therapy allowed her to examine her childhood, identify patterns she saw modeled there and identify things needing change as an adult. Rachel learned the importance of assessing her likes, dislikes and setting boundaries. She attended a Celebrate Recovery group, as well as Codependents Anonymous meetings.  She found a sponsor who helped her to maintain the new margins she had created. As Rachel matured into the person that she believed God designed her to be, she found she did not want her marriage to end, yet worried Chris would not accept her changes. Encouraged by both Vince and her sponsor, Rachel prayed for Chris’s heart to soften.

Chris did notice the changes in his wife.  That combined with the tensions exposed in the sessions with Vince, amplified the underlying dread which colored his world. The meetings intensified his desire to save his marriage; he knew to do so would mean he must dig deeper into his own issues. He agreed to meet with Vince. Intense conversations and a commitment to change helped Chris identify the fear that plagued him. The perpetual question, “what if” controlled his thoughts. “What if the tumor comes back? What if I lose my job? What if…”

Chris made plans, organized situations and micromanaged every aspect of life. He nearly lost his marriage and family and saw how his behaviors contributed to the troubles they experienced. Vince’s challenge to seek what he would change in himself opened the door to honest examination. “In the beginning, I went because I didn’t want to lose something. I know now there was a purpose to it.”

Chris learned from a young age that hard work and financial security measured a man’s success. This idea took root and a dangerous experience at work increased the worry he carried. Vince helped Chris to acquire new thought patterns and gave him tools to combat the fear. Chris learned to let go of his fear and trust God to be in control.  One day at a time.

While accepting a difficult truth is the first step, both Chris and Rachel recognized that complete healing took time and continued effort. They each saw positive changes in the other and recognized the improvement God brought through counseling and commitment to their marriage vows. The couple now enjoys a deeper relationship, with openness and communication. Each confessed guilt and released shame that defined their lives before counseling, and both desired a closer relationship with God and one another.

Their new house, which is under construction, represents tangible evidence of the heart changes the couple experienced. A beautiful home on a country lot exemplified their dream come true for many years, yet, the “what ifs” kept them from taking the steps to turn dreams into reality. Chris gave God the glory for changing his heart; although the temptation to worry still exists, he chose to trust that God is faithful to complete the good works He began in those who love Him (Philippians 1:6).

Chris summed up their experience, “At first, I wished we hadn’t gone through that but now I see how it has made us who we are today. What the devil tried to make into a mess has helped us to become what God wanted us to be. I hope this is not just for us. I hope God uses it to encourage others.” 

Fortino Guzman, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista el Buen Pastor Ingleside, maintained the conviction that believers must be good stewards of all God gives them, including handling money. For 24 years, Pastor Fortino has led his congregation to live in such a way as to leave a biblically-based, positive impact on their community. These principles weighed heavily on Pastor Fortino’s heart as he prepared for the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas in McAllen in June 2019. There he found STCH Ministries Faith & Finances ministry, a nine-week study teaching families and individuals how to overcome financial obstacles. The opportunity to understand practical issues of money management based on biblical principles taught in Spanish excited Fortino. Finally, he knew how to equip his congregation to impact the generations to come.

Through the study, ten families learned to create a budget, set goals for saving and discovered how to avoid new debt while managing existing loans. Jeny Guzman, Pastor Fortino’s wife, shared that most people operate within the thought that they deserve to buy whatever they want, never considering God’s expectations. She learned the popular idea that money buys happiness is a lie. “This class has taught us the importance of discipline; we have to be responsible for everything God gives us to show others true happiness comes from Him.”

Jeny realized, “responsibility demands sacrifice.” The importance of working together to stay within the family budget led the couple to commit to meet their financial goals. Each found habits needing a change. Jeny decided to run the laundry machines only when she has a full load to save money on energy, water and detergent. Pastor Fortino promised to turn out lights when he leaves a room. Making these lifestyle changes allowed them to become more available to serve as a blessing to fellow believers when the need arises.

Newlyweds, Alejandro and Fatima Mendez, the youngest couple in the class, were surprised to learn God cares about financial decisions and that the Bible speaks clearly on the subject. Alejandro shared that he feels most people would benefit from the Faith & Finances class. He explained the importance of knowing what pleases God. “The more money we have, the less we think about it – we forget what money is truly for.” Together, they reduced their spending and created a monthly spending plan and a plan for saving money too.

Three generations of the Chapa family attended the meetings. Neither Rafael nor Enedina were Christians when they got married. Rafael came to Corpus Christi from Mexico in 1990 to work in the oil industry where he could earn a good salary. Earning a decent wage gave him a sense of accomplishment. The young couple did not understand how to manage the money they received; they never established good spending habits. Enedina spent much of her free time shopping, because she could. After they gave their hearts to Christ and started to tithe, they understood God had kingdom purposes for their money. Rafael began working as a welder. As he matured in his walk with Christ, his employers recognized his trustworthiness.  They promoted him to Shift Leader, then to Foreman and finally a Superintendent in his company. He expressed great expectations for the future as the family managed their finances according to the principals of the Bible. Through the Faith & Finances study, Enedina developed the habit of only going to the store when she had a list of actual needs in hand. Two of the couple’s three adult children attended the study as well. “We are leaving a legacy, teaching our children that the Word of God applied to our finances can impact people’s lives,” Rafael reflected.

Miguel and Conchita Martinez, leaders in the church, have been married for 50 years. Miguel kept careful control of the family’s finances even before placing his faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, he discerned the importance of money after he began to tithe regularly 48 years ago. Their children learned well from Miguel to follow God’s plan in all things. Their adult kids never considered the possibility of not tithing. When Pastor Fortino first introduced the Faith & Finances class to the congregation, Miguel did not pay much attention to the idea. Conchita’s suggestion they attend together caused him to wonder why they needed to listen to someone else teach them what they already managed well on their own. She reminded him that believers never learn in a vacuum, “The Lord teaches us so we will pass the blessing along to the whole church; God blesses our obedience when we care for the community.”

STCH Ministries’ commitment to partner churches continues long past the final class. Yesenia Acosta, Administrative Assistant for Faith & Work as well as Faith & Finances Corpus Christi, moderated the class at El Buen Pastor.  She will continue to follow up with class participants after three and six months to encourage them to continue with the action plans that they put into place. Pastor Fortino will host another session of Faith & Finances in 2020. Alejandro and Fatima along with Miguel plan to become mentors for other Hispanics in their area who take the course. Rafael, Enedina and Jeny will soon take the facilitator certification class to lead their church family  and any others wanting to understand Biblical money management principals. “We are a church with a future,” Jeny said. “It is important that we leave this fingerprint, this teaching, for those who are yet to come.”

For more information about Faith & Finances, please visit: https://www.STCHM.org/faith-finances/

STCH Ministries reaches hurting children and families with the truth of God’s love through every ministry we pursue. The magnitude and scope of our mission requires us to partner with other organizations, so much so that enabling others to join us in this ministry is written into our mission statement. The Greater San Antonio Church Health Initiative, Unicity and Faith Fosters Texas are some of the groups we serve alongside. These enterprises help pastors, parents and children in the foster care system. Working together, we all extend our reach and bring hope and healing wherever the need exists.

STCH Ministries’ partnership with The Greater San Antonio Church Health Initiative makes a difference in the lives of pastors who bear the burdens of the front lines of ministry. The Church Health Initiative was born out of the desire to help improve community health by addressing the daunting needs of pastors. The Baptist General Convention of Texas received a grant in 2018 from the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio to do the work.  Ben Hanna, son of former STCH Ministries Vice President Homer Hanna, was selected to lead the effort. STCH Ministries, an early partner in this effort, encouraged several staff members to take part in a steering committee that focused efforts on how to improve the spiritual, emotional, physical and financial health of pastors.

The Church Health Initiative now provides one-on-one coaching relationships, financial help, retreats and groups to encourage pastors to pursue greater health in every aspect of their lives. In November 2019, thirty-two couples attended the first “Pastor Strong Retreat” at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort. STCH Ministries Director of Faith & Finances | Faith & Work, Darrell Jackson, led a breakout session on financial health. STCH Ministries Director of Family Counseling Charny Beck and her husband, Randy, led another session on emotional health. Both sessions earned high ratings in the participants’ written evaluations of the retreat. Family Counseling Directors, Dosely Antongiorgi and Lorraine Turner were on hand and available for individual counseling.

Parents operate on the front lines of family preservation. In August of 2018, STCH Ministries Family Counseling San Antonio partnered with the organization Unicity to train others to lead the evidence-based parenting curriculum Raising Highly Capable Kids. Through the spring of 2019, we trained 130 community leaders in churches, businesses, school districts and other organizations as facilitators. Now, in the middle of our second year in partnership with Unicity, we hope to double the number of people trained to teach this curriculum. 

Parenting can be difficult, challenging at best; we want to encourage parents in San Antonio to support each other in safe spaces with support resources from the local community. The Raising Highly Capable Kids curriculum teaches parents to use “The 40 Developmental Assets”, the 40 building blocks every child needs to grow and mature, as a framework for raising their children. Research shows the more of these assets a child has in their life, the more likely they are to engage in healthy behaviors, while moving away from unhealthy behaviors. As parents develop and maintain these assets, they feel equipped to provide their children with the skills to become healthy, caring and responsible individuals. When parents or families need extra help, professional counselors are available to assist the families with the appropriate connections in the community. STCH Ministries’ commitment to strengthening families is carried out through teaching Raising Highly Capable Kids alongside Unicity.

There are over 34,000 foster children in Texas creating a staggering need for more foster families. In 2019, the Baptist General Convention of Texas launched a foster care initiative called Faith Fosters Texas to build collaboration between faith-based, like-minded organizations to recruit foster parents to assist the least of these in our state. Involvement from churches is a key component in finding the families necessary to serve the many children needing a place to call home. Faith Fosters Texas recruits churches and provides the resources they require to build a healthy foster care ministry in their church to help secure foster families.

STCH Ministries’ involvement in the collaboration helps to ensure families and their children receive support, equipping foster families to thrive. Through Family Counseling, Faith & Work and Faith & Finances, STCH Ministries can minister to both parents and children of foster families.   

If you would like to know more about how you or your church can become involved in Faith Fosters Texas, please go to www.faithfosterstexas.org

STCH Ministries endeavors to fulfill our mission engaging in every level of society. Healthy pastors create strong communities which call for healthy families. Parents are the key components to maintain resilient families and we believe every child deserves the love of a committed family. In pursuing our mission, we achieve our vision to show the love of Christ to each child and family to whom we minister. We pray that God empowers these partnerships and brings us more in the future.

Felessia Ayala found a place to belong when she stopped using drugs to fill the emptiness in her heart. Every attempt to escape her emptiness hurt everyone she cared about. Her road to recovery began when she recognized her life consisted of only pain. STCH Ministries Homes for Families (HFF) supplied the resources she needed to restore her family.

During an attempted suicide, Felessia experienced a dream she believes came from God. Surrounded by absolute blackness, two roads appeared. She also saw God’s hands pointing, indicating the choice was hers to make. Despite the drug-induced stupor, she recognized her destructive path was because of her own decisions. She was not at rock bottom, but she returned to what she calls the “insanity” of addiction and homelessness. When she had exhausted all her options; she realized she wanted to do better, to be better.

Felessia’s mom helped her move into Restoration House Ministries (RHM) in Victoria. RHM’s residential program is dedicated to the service of women who desire freedom from addiction and bondage. One day, during group prayer time, Felessia felt God’s love surround her for the first time in her life. The love and acceptance she had received transformed her, she felt accepted and precious. She responded to God’s grace with surrender – she no longer hid from life nor traveled the road of destruction. Felessia accepted God’s gift of eternal life and forgiveness of sin, which was bought through Jesus’ sacrifice and sealed with His resurrection from the dead. She came to new life that day.

Felessia wanted to move to HFF but the fathers of her children did not trust her with their care. She took the matter to God in prayer and He moved in the hearts of the men. Circumstances changed for one of the fathers and he agreed to return the two oldest boys, James and Cameron, to Felessia on the same day she moved to HFF. Her boys held on to the anger and hurt they felt towards their mom. Felessia knew she had been healed from the past and now it was her sons’ turn. The support of staff, other moms and the parenting curriculum at HFF gave Felessia the strength and skills she needed to listen and allow her boys to express their feelings. The three sat in her walk-in closet, cried and prayed together. The presence of God encircled them and it was in that prayer closet their hearts knitted together as a family.

Three months later, her dream for a restored family came true. Zachary and Mackenzie’s father reached out to Felessia, as he noticed positive changes she had made and wanted to discuss reunification with her and the children. For the first time, Felessia had all four children with her, under her protection.

Felessia is now in the “launching” phase of the HFF program. She works part-time at a local hotel, recently purchased a car and has begun classes at Victoria Beauty College. The decision to become a hairstylist came from a forgotten dream she had as a young girl. Through this process, God has restored her hope and dream for a successful future.

“God is my provider. I’ve learned this through my time here,” she said. As a part of the HFF program, Felessia’s finances, physical needs and spiritual needs were met so she could focus on being a mom. Rebuilding relationships and creating new habits took courage and commitment from everyone involved. Today, Felessia and her family give God the glory for His work in their lives.

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The first thing a person notices about Christopher Lee is his infectious smile and contagious energy, which is something that has changed over the years. Christopher came to STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) in the summer of 2012 when he was only four years old. He still remembers the day he came to the Boothe Campus, “I remember hiding behind my housemom’s back; I was very shy.” However, over the years he has come out from behind his housemom’s back and gained the heart of an eagle.

The first few years on the Boothe Campus were not the easiest for Christopher as he was encouraged to learn a new way of life. This included a life with his new houseparents, Terry and Sheila Backen, in Foster Cottage. His houseparents reminisced on how he would run away and Terry would follow him in the van through campus until he was ready to come home. This quickly changed, and Christopher began connecting with his houseparents and the other children in his cottage. Over his seven years at HFC, Christopher overcame these obstacles with help from the other children and the prayers from those around him. He was able to start experiencing God’s will for his life.

When Christopher was in Pre-K, he was picked to be a Peagle Pal. The Peagle Pals are selected to help the Pettus High School mascot during the Pep-Rally for the week. They get to wear a football jersey and run around the gym with the mascot and the cheerleaders. Christopher loved this opportunity and was chosen each year through fourth grade. He was very disappointed that he wasn’t chosen in the fifth grade and decided then that he wanted to be Peagle Jr. when he got to middle school.

In the spring of 2019, as Christopher prepared to finish elementary school and start middle school, he tried out to be the mascot. He was nervous at the cheerleading tryouts but knew that he had the support of his houseparents and the other children on campus. When his name was called after the tryouts he could not contain his joy; he had done it! When asked what his favorite moment since coming to HFC was, he exclaimed, “becoming the mascot!”

Over the summer, he attended cheer camp with his fellow cheerleaders and built relationships he will cherish forever.  He also enjoyed making new friends with people from other schools. He even earned the Spirit Award for the mascots. Because of the experience he had at cheer camp, he wants to work with the National Cheerleaders Association when he gets older. Excitedly, he took what he learned at camp and showed off his new talents at Pettus football games throughout the fall.

When Terry and Sheila look at Christopher today, they no longer see the shy little boy that came into their lives in 2012. They see a young man who has gained the confidence to be who he wants to be. They see the influences from the other children he lived with over the years – the ones who helped him get past his fears and insecurities about living at HFC. Now, he helps other children as they come onto the Boothe Campus by showing them love and encouraging them through the difficult transition. Christopher learned how to spread his wings and fly.

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In September of 1994, Dale Pogue thought he knew God’s plan for his life. He had been pastoring First Baptist Taft for the last 9 years, and his wife, Ann, loved her job as the school nurse for Taft ISD.  They lived in a nice parsonage and did not envision God calling them to serve anywhere else. However, God had a bigger plan for both the Pogues and STCH Ministries.

Unexpectedly, Dale received a phone call from STCH Ministries President, Dr. Jack Green. Dr. Green wanted to invite Dale to lunch with Vice President, Homer Hanna, and himself. Dale “could not turn down such an invite” so he told them he would be there. He arrived at lunch with no idea what the meeting was about, except maybe to discuss his recent nomination to serve on the Board of Directors. After they finished eating, Dr. Green began to share his dream of a ministry to help strengthen families: a way to help them before they reached the point of separation. He envisioned working with families in the surrounding churches, their pastors and their staff members, despite the individual’s ability to pay. Dr. Green shared his dream but left the how, what and when up to Dale.

Dale left lunch overwhelmed by the fact that Dr. Green wanted him to take over his dream. He had so much to consider; his wife and her feelings, his church, where they would live and his age. “To begin a new ministry at my age was almost unheard of,” Dale explained. “I knew in my heart that it could happen if it was God’s plan for me and STCH Ministries.” Dale shared the proposal with Ann and together their hearts opened to this new challenge. In order to receive approval to lead this new ministry, Dale resigned from the board before he had the chance to serve.

Dr. Green’s dream was set into motion, but it was not going to be an easy task. Dale, under the direction of Homer, started out on the road with brochures in hand to meet with pastors and church secretaries about this new Family Ministry. He had to build excitement for what STCH Ministries was doing and show how it could benefit the people in Corpus Christi. Dale also had to find Christian Counselors to help serve the clients that would be coming to see them. Without funding for full-time counselors, Dale had to get creative. STCH Ministries employees, Diane Gryseels and Lil Abshier, said they wanted to help when possible, but they had their own ministry assignments. God stayed faithful through the process, and showed in many different ways that they were following His plan. STCH Ministries contracted with multiple counselors and they worked on a client by client basis.

God was laying a solid foundation for STCH Ministries Family Ministry. Next, the ministry needed an office space and through God’s provision, STCH Ministries purchased a building at 4438 South Staples in Corpus Christi. The office space was to be shared – one side Family Ministry and the other for ministries already in place. After moving into the new building, Dale started building a library with resources for those in need and planning retreats for pastors and their wives. The staff started seeing clients, some of which traveled a long distance. Dale received a phone call one day from a couple living in a rural area near San Angelo. The couple needed counseling but could not afford what most places were charging. They asked him what the cost of a session would be and Dale replied, “just the cost of gas and meals.” They scheduled a time and Dale met with the couple as a pastoral counselor in Corpus Christi. A few weeks later they called again asking to return to discuss other issues. With tears in his eyes Dale stated, “I was delighted to see them leave with full assurance that their commitment to marriage was real and final.”

In 1996, Joanna Berry was hired as Family Ministry’s first part-time therapist. Joanna was excited about the opportunity because she already worked as a contract therapist for STCH Ministries. She loved the ability to help clients not only through counseling but counseling based on biblical truths. Shortly after hiring Joanna, Dale decided it was time for him to step away from the ministry, and Les Chaney was hired as the director. Les wanted to focus on the family aspect and implemented family conferences for those in the area. This is when STCH Ministries Family Ministry really began to grow.

In 2001, Les stepped down from Family Ministry, and STCH Ministries President, Dr. Jerry Haag, had to decide who would take his place.  Dr. Haag sat down with Joanna to decide the future of Family Ministry. Some began to speculate that it was not a ministry that needed to exist and that time and funding should be spent in other ministries. During Dr. Haag’s conversation with Joanna, she received a phone call from a distraught client. Joanna helped walk the client through their difficult situation over the phone and helped make a difference in their life. In that moment Dr. Haag knew Family Ministry was worth fighting for, and he knew just the person to run it, Joanna.

Joanna was still only working part-time which is what she preferred. Unsure of what she wanted to do, she went home and talked to her husband, John, about the offer. Together, they decided it was time for her to move forward and accept the offer as the director. “All I did was take a step,” Joanna states. STCH Ministries continued to work in God’s will and Family Ministry continued to grow. In 2007, under Joanna’s direction, STCH Ministries opened an office in Victoria and changed the name to Family Counseling.

In 2017, due to the tremendous growth, the leadership of Family Counseling was given to Darin Griffiths who had served as a counselor at the Corpus Christi office for 12 years. When Darin joined STCH Ministries in 2005 there were only 7 counselors, today there are close to 30. He has seen the ministry expand both in numbers and their impact. Even though there are more locations and employees they are still able to stay connected and work together for the good of the ministry. Darin’s dream moving forward is to expand Family Counseling’s outreach through distance counseling over the internet. “Technology is only going to get more advanced so we will need to continue to discover ways to use technology and to expand our abilities to use it,” Darin states.

Dale, Homer and Dr. Green love looking back and seeing how God used people to take what seemed like a small dream and how He turned it into something so beautiful. Dale helped “get the plane off the ground”, but others “took the plane up higher with God’s leadership.” Today, STCH Ministries Family Counseling serves over 800 people a month at 15 different locations. Eron Green, the current STCH Ministries President, says, “The true impact felt through Family Counseling ministry cannot be fully understood and appreciated this side of heaven. So many have been blessed because of Dr. Green’s willingness to follow the Lord’s leading by starting the program. I am so excited to see how Family Counseling ministry will continue to grow and develop.” Over the years, no one expected the ministry to grow the way it did, but God had bigger plans!

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“Why didn’t I know this? I quit job after job searching for a sense of fulfillment and purpose,” exclaimed a single mom.

“Who am I as a retired person? This course helped to define God’s purpose for this stage of my life,” a retired speech therapist stated.

“As an employer, this course hits all the boxes needed to develop a star employee,” independent business owner.

A business executive in a large oil and gas firm stated, “We all work in environments that are toxic to faith, and begin to develop a split personality—one person at work, and one in our faith-life. This course is teaching me how to speak faith into that work environment in terms of how I react to people, do ethics, resist greed, etc.”

These reactions illustrate the impact of the newly developed STCH Ministries Faith & Work curriculum on diverse groups of participants—sometimes in the very same class. Successfully integrating faith and values into one’s daily work is one of the greatest needs in a Christian’s life. Current research confirms that 75% of adults are searching for ways to make a difference in the world and live a more meaningful life. In a recent Facebook post, one person expressed the emptiness many feel:

“I go to work every morning and come home exhausted, only to get up the next day and do the same thing. Then the weekend comes with two days of relief. But by Sunday afternoon I have knots in my stomach knowing that soon I will have to do this all over again. Is this all there is to life?”

Deeper life crises often spring from an underlying disillusionment with what life holds. Even within the church, Christians sometimes struggle. At times it is as if they are living two lives – the spiritual life, where joy, love and peace are possible, and the secular life, where the demands of work often consume and drain them.

As Vicki Hewitt, writer and editor, expressed so eloquently, “I always desired to honor God in my work, but I was often troubled by the thought that secular work had less eternal value, and God was more pleased with the work I did in the Christian realm.”

There is a great need for spiritual direction in this area, for it is estimated that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work and approximately 2,000 hours in church during their 40-year work life. The reality is – there is very little teaching within the church on vocation as a calling to follow Christ in everything a Christian does. God created human beings in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) and divinely designed us to work (Genesis 1:28; 2:5-8, 15). As the authors of Calling: A Biblical Perspective state, “If God cares about our lives, He must care about our work, unless He intends to ignore the biggest part of our lives.”

Jo Saxton queries in Christians at Work, “We have this one gift of a life, and many hours of it are spent in our workplace. What does it look like to partner with God and what He is doing in the world in your workplace?”

Twenty centuries ago the Christian faith spread from Judea across the known world to Syria and Asia Minor, and then beyond into the heart of Rome. It did not spread primarily through churches or synagogues, but in the marketplaces – in the tents of carpet sellers, in wine shops and bakeries, in the stalls that sold household items or produce and in pens that contained doves, sheep, or goats.

But what about today in contemporary America? Is it possible to integrate faith and beliefs into work environments? Can an accountant, a cashier, an engineer, a carpenter or a salesperson answer the call to follow Christ effectively through their work? In what way can work become an act of worship that fills my soul with a deep sense of meaning and contentment?

Seeking the answers to those questions became the motivation for the new Faith & Work curriculum. In fulfilling the mission to honor God, help hurting children and families and enable others to join us, STCH Ministries had invested since 2007 in the lives of women to help them spiritually, and improve their skills to find a better job. This journey led us through a number of different efforts to meet the needs of both men and women in the workplace environment. In 2018, it became clear that we needed our own curriculum. Staff shared their “boots-on-the-ground” expertise while Vicki Hewitt became editor and contributor. The result was the new STCH Ministries Faith & Work curriculum.

Shameka Dukes, top executive recruiter for an oil and gas company expressed, “The curriculum includes spiritual, Biblical guidance as well as practical and tangible ways that I can get faith into my everyday work-life. It is a holistic training on how to unfold ourselves and how to live authentically in our 90,000 hours of work during our lifetime.”

The ultimate goal of the Faith & Work course is to help people grow in their confidence and ability to become committed Faith-Integrators in their workplaces as they live out God’s calling on their lives. This is what will bring the deepest sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in the life of a Christian worker. Through the application of Biblical principles, people will discover how work can be more than a job. It can become a personal response to Jesus’ challenge, “Come, follow me.”

For eight weeks the Faith & Work course builds on the truth that for the believer in Christ, all work is sacred. Additionally – through teaching, discussion, videos, personal assessments and meaningful activities – the curriculum offers people an opportunity to improve skills, overcome obstacles, become stronger leaders and gain confidence to seek the job that fully actualizes their potential.

We believe that the Faith and Work curriculum will help individuals discover God’s purpose for their lives. They will effectively reflect God at work, in social interactions, community service and ministry efforts. Through good works at work, they will glorify the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). By shining Hope into the dark places of hearts and contemporary environments, they will have the opportunity to “answer everyone who asks for the reason of the Hope within.” (I Peter 3:15)

Both Faith & Work and Faith & Finances curriculum and participant guides, are available without charge. To find out more information on how to access this resource for your work, church or ministry group, please contact the following individuals for current classes as well as the opportunity to receive training as a certified facilitator volunteer.

Houston Area — Darrell Jackson, djackson@stchm.org

San Antonio Area — Tim Tolosa, ttolosa@stchm.org

Corpus Christi Area — Jimmy Rodriguez, jrodriguez@stchm.org

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