Remaining Vital and Green

“I WANT TO BURN OUT, NOT RUST OUT!” my missionary father often said. Tongue-in-cheek, he added, “Retirement means re-tire—get a new set of tires for the journey.” He may have been inspired by David’s perspective in Psalm 71, “Now that I am old and gray, let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.” David affirmed again in Psalm 92, “Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” (NLT)

Reaching mature adult years with the prospect of retirement; glowing with promise or gloomy with fears? If work and productivity mean worth and value, does retirement mean loss of purpose and identity? Have dreams of freedom and rose-gold sunsets darkened with the possibility of declining health, loss of income and loved ones?

On the positive side, maturity can alleviate the stress of competition, and the ego drive to excel. More time for reflection gives us courage to evaluate ourselves. We can pan the gold out of the silt and pebbles of our mistakes. With the benefit of bonus years, we can dedicate our efforts to more Kingdom work with eternal value.

Since the beginning of STCH Ministries International, family mission trips included senior adults. They led classes in finances, business, Bible classes for all ages. They contributed their skills in medical clinics. They adapted Americano methods to Dominicano realities for construction. As we began “visioning” with President/CEO, Eron Green, about the possibility of mission trips uniquely focused on senior adults, God directed our steps.

Semi-retired, Larry and Carol Westfall proposed, “We would like to come during January, stay in the mission housing at Koinonia, cook our own meals and volunteer for a month.” They had served with their church, Trinity Baptist in Kerrville, for several summers. Although they spoke no Spanish, language was never a barrier. They painted, did maintenance projects, taught English and communicated love and acceptance with smiles, open arms and patience. One month grew into two, and then three months.

In 2018 we received a phone call from James Dickey, a retired optometrist. Passionate about missions, he read about the international work of STCH Ministries on the website. Jim wanted to inspire seniors to leave a legacy. “God has invested a lifetime of skills and experience into us. Now is not the time to quit and sit.”

In God’s perfect timing, in 2019 we received inquiries from San Antonio First Baptist Church and Shearer Hills Baptist Church. They were interested in a mission trip for their senior adults. Assured of God’s leading in this venture, STCH Ministries hosted two weeks of senior adult teams in the Dominican Republic, in February 2020. Although many were inexperienced in missions outside the USA, they possessed a wealth of experience in their walk with God. They were also equipped with willing hands and open hearts to share God’s love with children and families through a large variety of ministry opportunities.

Pre-trip planning allowed each group to collect supplies for sewing projects; pillowcases, curtains and tote bags for schoolteachers. Together, American and Dominican ladies cut, stitched, pinned, ironed, turned and top-stitched. Since sewing machines function in the same way irrespective of their location, they discovered that sewing is a universal language. One person remarked, “Even though we could not speak the same language, we connected through God’s grace and shared our hearts and hands to honor Him through our work together. They even taught me how to say ‘God bless you’ in Spanish!”

While the ladies sewed, others worked in the shop sawing, sanding and drilling. Russell Jerez and his staff had carefully analyzed the group’s capabilities and prepared construction projects accordingly. Although many participants had tackled projects large and small in the past, there were legitimate questions about this kind of activity. “What kind of construction would senior adults be able to do?” The group reported being pleasantly surprised. The projects of building beds, bookcases and desks were easily within the abilities of both groups.

The volunteers found delivering beds for the staff at the Higuey orphanage, installing curtains in their new home, and providing their first-ever pillows and pillowcases immensely rewarding. The blessings overflowed onto two schools as they installed new bookcases and teacher desks, and gifted the brightly colored tote bags filled with school supplies. Wood, screws, paint and sewing efforts communicated to the teachers, staff and children, “You are valuable, and God loves you.”

STCH Ministries vision states, “We desire to show the love of Christ to every child and family…meeting their needs in creative and innovative ways.” Accordingly, both senior mission trips offered multiple opportunities to bless the children in orphanages, schools and in the Samuel’s Fund sponsorship program. Their activities included: building and decorating bulletin boards, installing ceiling fans and painting railings at a school. They surprised the children with a mid-morning snack of apples and frosted flakes. At the Monte Plata Homes, one group created planters out of brightly painted cement blocks. Later, the children were surprised with ice cream after lunch; a rare treat when every penny is pinched to provide essential food and education. One participant stated, “I enjoyed working at the orphanage. It was great to get our hands dirty and work with the kids planting flowers around the trees.” Another couple shared that their favorite activity was taking a group of children to the Children’s Museum. “Their wonder and excitement were a joy to witness.”

In the afternoon, one of the groups dramatized Bible stories for the VBS class. A narrator told the story of Daniel through a translator. Daniel courageously prayed in spite of the threat of lions. Villainous men costumed in white paper robes grabbed Daniel and took him to the king, royally robed with a gold foil crown. Others with paper-lion masks crouched behind benches and growled fiercely in anticipation of their prey. The children watched fascinated, and later could recount every detail of the story.

Some participated in the Medical clinics. Working with Dr. Francisco, they helped package and hand out medication. With the help of young college-age translators, they enjoyed interacting with those who came. As the Spirit opened hearts, they also shared the Gospel. Many patients, especially the little children, came with misery and fear reflected in downcast expressions. Their medical concerns were heard with love and compassion. After prayer with each one, they received needed medications. Eyes crinkling at the corners, and a wide smile spreading across their dark faces, they responded, “Gracias, Dios te bendiga. God bless you.”

In addition to the diverse ministries that these senior groups accomplished, they enjoyed time for fellowship, building new relationships with Dominican brothers and sisters and strengthening bonds between the team participants. “One of my joys was getting up early and drinking coffee under the mango trees on the patio,” one senior reflected. “The trip to the beach was fun and the sunset was just beautiful,” shared another. “We stayed in the Koinonia house on the premises of the IBQ church and enjoyed hot water and air conditioning. The food was always delicious and no one ever went hungry.”

Throughout the trip God spoke to each heart, impressing them individually.

As a person reaches the later years, we want to be productive and follow God’s calling, but we question our worth and our physical abilities. The senior adult trips proved we still have much to give and gain by sharing God’s love at home, in the DR or anywhere God calls us to go.

Everyone in our group felt great about what we were able to accomplish in the short time we were there. We think that we had an impact for the DR people; but we know they had an impact on our lives.

Senior citizens have lots of experience and knowledge that we want to share for Christ. Our DR mission trip with STCH Ministries enabled us to share from our years of experience.

In the DR, when God puts a project on their hearts, they start doing knowing that God will provide in His perfect timing. I felt that they were willing to put their feet in the water as the priests did, carrying the ark across the flooding Jordan River before God acted. They have a faith that knows when God is guiding, He will provide. I pray that I will take this attitude of the DR people to my heart the rest of my days.

We are partners not sponsors. These people do not wait for STCH Ministries or Americans to pay for things. If God has told them to do something, they get started doing it, then watch to see how God will provide. I am thankful that we were able to go on this trip. It was much better than I had anticipated!

For some, it was their first mission trip. Others have served many times. Yet each one was impacted by the love of Christ given and received. Age has no bearing on that truth.

We had dinner with a local family one night. I was in awe of the work God is doing in this young woman’s life through her school that began in a chicken coop and now, through her faithful journey through cancer. Her testimony is one that touched my heart and inspires all who meet her.

It was amazing to see God fit each of us into something that maybe challenged us, and let us use our God given gifts.

As the trip ended, Priscilla Fisher from San Antonio echoed the feelings of many, reflecting on her mission experience,

“Going on a mission trip with seniors was not unlike going to youth camp when I was 16! You travel together, eat together, talk, laugh, pray, worship, work and follow the schedule, while remaining flexible! As a group of mostly retirees, we were very energetic and accomplished all that we planned to do, with the excellent guidance of the STCH Ministries mission team. Everyone stepped up to the plate when needed, which was easy to do for the loving people of the Dominican Republic. We were treated like royalty by our hosts, within a very comfortable, safe environment. The food was absolutely outstanding! This is a wonderful opportunity to live out Christ’s commission to ‘go ye therefore unto all nations…’”

The apostle Paul, the first missionary, encourages all of us no matter where we are in life’s journey, to stay vital and green when he wrote,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2Corinthians 4:16.
STCH Ministries International invites many more seniors to consider a missionary journey in 2021. Find more information and dates at

Finding Purpose

Thank you for taking time to read our Messenger! On May 1st, we celebrated our 68th anniversary as an organization impacting the lives of children and families. What a blessing it is to look back and see how God has led and blessed through the many years. Throughout those years, we have always used crisis situations and scenarios as an opportunity to engage with those in need.

If you reflect back on our roots as an organization, we were solely committed to providing healthy homes for children that needed them. The crisis was clear; children without a healthy place to call home and the need was great. This crisis, and a great deal of prayer, caused Laura Boothe to donate the property for our Homes for Children campus. This crisis, and again prayer, also caused Jess Lunsford to accept the responsibility of leading us as an organization into existence.

Merriam-Webster defines the word crisis as a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention. Interestingly enough, when we face crisis situations, we have two responses; fight or flight. In other words, we can do something about the crisis or we can turn our eyes away and act like it doesn’t exist.

We are all currently looking eye-to-eye with the crisis called COVID-19. This virus has taken lives and livelihoods, not only here in the United States, but around the world. We have had to temporarily adapt all of our ministries to keep our staff and those we serve safe from this pandemic. But I can proudly say, through it all, we have persevered and The Ministry has Continued! In fact, we have flourished and grown. We have created new and innovative ways to conduct ministry.

As we look at the greatest leaders and organizations, crisis has always been a catalyst to find purpose, to ACT! Our purpose or mission statement is very clear and COVID-19 has not changed it: honoring God, reaching hurting children and families with His love and truth and enabling others to join us in this ministry. Our operations may have temporarily adapted because of COVID-19 but children are still being provided safe and healthy homes to live in and all our other ministries are flourishing as well.

I pray for us all that this time of crisis is used as an opportunity to find or reinvigorate our purpose. I pray we all commit in a new way to live our lives in a manner that would please our heavenly Father. So much good can and is coming from this crisis. Take this opportunity to reset and make the changes that need to be made. What will you do?

The Ministry Continues

Amid global challenges to public health resulting in social distancing and economic concerns, God continued to seek to save the lost and care for His own. STCH Ministries remained committed to serving the children and families God brought our way as they dealt with life’s challenges. Throughout the stay home-stay safe period, the STCH Ministries family sought avenues to continue healing hearts and sharing hope.

OVERNIGHT, TRADITIONAL WORSHIP meetings converted into virtual; our pastors and church leaders needed even more prayer and continuous support. STCH Ministries Pastor Care ministry helped churches facilitate digital worship services during the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Tim Williams, Director of Church Relations, consulted with several churches and pastors as they prepared for their first-ever video worship. He led online sermons for churches without pastors and an Easter sermon online.

Family Counseling assisted individuals, couples and families who dealt with increased stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness. Counselors found new ways to work with existing clients and reach out to the general public via a new Facebook Group. The resources for the posts came from multiple sources and delivered help with anxiety, depression, family issues and many other topics related to coping with a crisis such as COVID-19.

The ministry’s professionally trained and distinctively Christian counselors continued to see current clients and accepted new Texas clients through virtual counseling. Virtual counseling utilized private teleconferencing or telephone calls enabling clients to work through their challenges and feel a sense of “normalcy”.

Faith & Work | Faith & Finances provided resources for those looking for life-management applications and Biblical money management principles. The team discovered new ways to encourage, support and train their students, leaders and ministry partners through video streaming technology and electronic communication. Regional teams reached out to students and ministry partners to identify their physical, emotional and spiritual prayer needs. Making those connections revealed one Faith & Work graduate who lost her job due to the repercussions of COVID-19. Our staff helped her connect with employment partners who offered new employment opportunities. Another long time Faith & Work | Faith & Finances volunteer found a job which suited her skills and personality perfectly through connections she made in the Corpus Christi office.

People want to know how God’s Word can help them in the areas of faith, work and finances. In response to that desire, Faith & Work | Faith & Finances launched seven online classes serving English and Spanish speaking participants in April. The response to the classes has been overwhelmingly positive and energizing.

In response to COVID-19, Faith & Work | Faith & Finances staff developed a virtual Learning Center. The website houses a repository of lessons for training facilitators. Ministry directors created video lessons and self-guided workbooks for future use.

STCH Ministries Family Support ministry blessed Maggie, a member of one of our church partners. Maggie, her husband and their three teenage grandchildren suffered when Maggie lost her job due to COVID-19 and her husband’s employer reduced his hours to one day per week. Maggie’s faith in God never wavered and she trusted God to supply their every need. Maggie thanked God for supplying her groceries through the Family Support ministry.

Families in the cottages at Homes for Children adapted to the challenges of a “new normal” with more time together. They committed to a routine of school work, chores and devotions; while enjoying more intentional time together with board game nights, movie nights, video games, dance parties and other fun activities. Houseparents provided life-skills and demonstrated how God works amidst the uncertainty.

Hope Cottage, home to five boys (ages 11-18), added a cooking class to their daily schedule. Each boy chose a day and a meal to cook each week. They used cookbooks or the internet to find a recipe. One of the students selected fried chicken, sautéed asparagus and mashed potatoes. Other meals prepared by students included meatloaf and pork chops. This served as a great learning experience and life-skill for the kids. It gave them new appreciation and gratitude for their houseparents. Besides cooking once a week, each boy led a devotional at dinner time. One of the boy’s devotion focused on “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” -Proverbs 22:1.

All of the houseparents worked to point their children to Christ. On Good Friday, two young girls at Homes for Children accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Their houseparents led them to faith and helped them know how to begin a personal relationship with Jesus. Houseparents enjoyed the wonderful chance to be a part of the biblical guidance and lessons the children learn as they come to the table, not only for dinner – but also for the nourishment of their hearts and souls.

Homes for Families, on the Marshall Ranch Campus, continued to provide single moms and their children a place to be safe. The program prepared to receive two new families who arrived in May. The moms already in the program continued to grow in their faith and life-skills, while children adapted to school work being done at home, not with their teachers in school.

To accommodate all twenty-three of the children on campus together, the childcare facility set up a rotating schedule for the kids of each cottage to spend time there while the moms worked through their daily curriculums. Older students received help with school lessons while the younger children played and enjoyed worship music and snacks. New learning opportunities created closer relationships with each other and a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

STCH Ministries International persisted in the mission of transforming lives as families in the Dominican Republic struggled with a lack of food and supplies. The shutdowns in the Dominican Republic led to a hunger crisis as ninety percent of the people lost their jobs and day laborers could not provide for their families. Our team in the Dominican Republic purchased and delivered essential food items for families in need. One father thanked us and said, “We prayed much and are so grateful for this food delivery. This is a difficult crisis. BUT God moved your heart to help us.”

CLEP (Christian Leadership Education Project) students fulfilled their requirements to contribute a minimum of ten hours a month in ministry to younger Samuel’s Fund children by helping with school work and studying devotionals. Every week, they called two to three children to build a friendship, help with homework and share devotional time. The CLEP students sent weekly reports exemplifying how the Word of God moved throughout the lives of those they served.

“I video chat with my students. We talk about their homework. I encourage their mother because she is very overwhelmed.”

“My student says she is not a Christian because she is afraid of God. I am helping her understand how to have a relationship with Him.”

The COVID -19 virus created inconvenience, change and adjustment. God enabled us to navigate these uncertain times, reminding all of us that He works in mighty ways. He continues to open doors for our ministry through the generosity of STCH Ministries’ partners, donors and prayer warriors. As you give of your time, prayers and finances, The Ministry Continues.

Defining Purpose

Faith & Work | Faith & Finances San Antonio Regional Director, Tim Tolosa had no idea how broken Ivan Baltrani believed himself to be the day Tim shared the Gospel with him. Ivan worked as the Healthy Living Coordinator for the YMCA and helped organize Faith & Finances classes at his location with Blanca Eschbach, Faith & Work | Faith & Finances San Antonio Site Coordinator.

OVER THE COURSE of several Faith & Finances sessions, Blanca and Ivan developed a friendship. Ivan appreciated her kindness and sincere interest in him as a person. That sort of authenticity seemed out of the ordinary compared to many relationships he had experienced. The two shared a commitment to impacting people’s lives in a positive manner. In his role as coordinator for Healthy Living, Ivan taught classes on nutrition and holistic health practices. He often gave Blanca time in his classes to present the Faith & Work | Faith & Finances philosophy because he agreed that financial understanding played an important part in a healthy life. Although Blanca explained the Faith & Finances curriculum’s emphasis on Biblical principles about money as students learned practical skills, Ivan did not understand how the two ideas blended together. As he heard feedback from students who took the Faith & Finances classes, he appreciated the fact that the program helped the participants, “not just financially but emotionally. I realized they created a community culture inside the program,” Ivan said. He went on to explain that learning about the course gave him his first understanding that Christianity entailed more than Bible lessons. The idea that the Bible applied to him intrigued him.

As their professional friendship increased, Blanca encouraged Ivan to attend both the Faith & Finances as well as the Faith & Works courses. He never committed, giving the excuse, “I’m not in the right spot to do that right now.” Although he considered Blanca a close friend, he could not bring himself to change the habits of a lifetime and risk opening up to her. She knew he carried a heavy burden and reminded him that she would be happy to listen whenever he was ready to share his troubles with her.

The troubles Blanca sensed included the abrupt end of a longtime relationship as well as family troubles. Ivan’s father left the family when Ivan was a toddler. His single mom worked long hours leaving then five-year-old Ivan to care for himself and his younger sister. He described his childhood as non-existent as he dealt with abuse and repeated negative assumptions about his future. After a twenty-eight year absence, Ivan’s dad returned to his life and Ivan did not know how to handle the clumsy attempts to reconnect. As personal and professional pressures mounted, Ivan reached a breaking point.

“I worried, stressed out and was not able to sleep.
I became another person,” Ivan described.

Although friends and coworkers encouraged him to step out into new opportunities, his past weighed heavily on his mind. He started his career at the YMCA as a part-time employee and over time worked his way up to a full-time, leadership position. As that dream came to an end, he found he could not hope for anything better.

In November, Blanca set up a training session with Ivan’s training team at the YMCA to share a segment of the Faith & Finances curriculum about handling holiday finances. That day, Ivan met Tim. He first believed Tim to be intimidating and while Ivan contemplated leaving YMCA, he did not feel invested in talking about the future. As they talked after the session, Ivan surprised himself admitting that he needed help preparing his resume and looking for a new job. Tim’s response amazed Ivan. “You know what? I can help with your resume; even write a letter of recommendation for you.” The two agreed to meet the next day.

Tim read over the resume and challenged Ivan to highlight himself and his accomplishments rather than the organization he worked for. Tim gave useful pointers showing Ivan where and how to change the wording on the document. During their interview practice, Tim told Ivan, “You need to start selling yourself and you have to believe in yourself to do that.”

Ivan struggled to believe that someone who barely knew him could see potential in him. The negativity he had accepted from childhood kept him from recognizing his strengths. “My career suffered for it because I did not know how to separate my personal life and my work life even though they are two different things,” he explained. He felt as if his life lay wrecked at his feet and he did not know how to put it back together.

Tim recognized the desperation and anger Ivan felt. Tim got Ivan’s attention when he told him,

“I’m here to help you, to guide you. I want to help you
grow in different ways, as a leader and as a person.”

Tim went on to ask if Ivan would like to get rid of all the stress, burden and pain.

Ivan struggled to understand what Tim told him. “Hearing those words stopped my thoughts. I’ve never had someone who cares about me who will give me the tools I need to succeed in life.” It took several minutes for Ivan to process the fact he had found someone who truly loved him for himself. Two people, including Blanca, willing to put in their time and effort to help him become a better person.

Tim explained God’s love for Ivan, in spite of everything he has done. They searched the Scripture together reading about the redemption God provided through Jesus, His Son. After a while, Tim asked Ivan if he was ready to turn his life over to Christ. He immediately teared up and answered yes.

Ivan listened to the explanation that giving his life to God meant having someone to walk beside him and fight his battles for him. He explained,

“The worst thing I had done in my life was to
try to solve all my problems by myself. At that
moment, I knew I had to do something for myself
and let God walk with me. When I gave my life to
God, all I could think was, I need help.”

After he prayed, he looked up at Tim and said, “Wow! I feel so light! Is it supposed to feel this way!?”

The two men set weekly times to meet for an hour or two of discipleship and prayer. Together, they worked through the study, Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby. ”I feel like prayer has been the biggest thing I have done in my life,” Ivan said. He learned that prayer is a conversation with God, the same as any conversation with anyone. That understanding changed his life.

Ivan still marvels at God’s love for him, sending a mentor who cared more about his personal life than career goals. Today, Ivan counts Tim as a true friend. He enjoys his new job teaching diabetes clinics and nutritional goals through a medical clinic. Because God brought Tim and Blanca into his life through Faith & Finances, Ivan believes he can connect with people to help them make real changes in their lives. “I know my life has a purpose now,” Ivan shares.

Through the Children’s Eyes

Fifteen-year-old Jess is still adjusting to life on the Marshall Ranch Campus. Her mom, Danielle, is in Phase II at STCH Ministries Homes for Families. Sharing a room with her mom and six-year-old sister can create a need for some alone time. Jess says the vast outdoor space of the ten-acre property gives her plenty of room to find peace when sharing a home with others makes her feel frustrated. Jess recognizes Homes for Families works well for her mom. Jess describes the relationship with her mom as better than before. Danielle has more patience now and Jess finds this a nice change allowing Jess to open up and talk more with her mom. Jess has big plans for her future and looks forward to living them out with her mom as a healthy role model.

JESS IS NOT THE ONLY CHILD at STCH Ministries Homes for Families that recognizes that the ministry impacts not only the mothers, but their children as well. The children leave the life they know and move to a place where they know no one. This often presents a challenge for the older kids as they adjust to another change and process how that affects them personally. The situation which brings a family to the Marshall Ranch Campus differs for everyone, but the same motivation drives each family. They want to keep their family together while seeking resolution.

One way to determine how well the ministry meets the goal of ministering to the children is to ask them upfront. Talking with the older children reveals the longer they live on Marshall Ranch, the more they value the opportunity. Most families enter in Phase I where the strict schedule and firm rules provide a structure many are not used to. Phase II continues with both schedule and structure, however the moms have more personal responsibility to begin to practice the skills they have learned from parenting courses. They take this opportunity to build intentional relationships with their children.

Johnson Cottage, where the Phase III families live, houses most of the older children right now. Elijah (9) and his younger sister have been in the Homes for Families ministry for two years now. He says Phase III is by far the best because his mom, Ashley, has a car and they can go off campus to do things as a family. Residents in Phase III enjoy the safety and stability of life on Marshall Ranch, while they manage their lives through either working or going to school full-time.

Elijah loves living on the ranch. He enjoys the playground and basketball court but the best part involves, “having friends in all the houses to play with.” Elijah remembers life before Homes for Families but prefers not to talk about it. He recognizes growth in himself, “I’ve learned self-control and about being mature – although sometimes I don’t act like it.” He explains, “It’s not a problem to be angry or agitated, it’s what you do when you feel that way that’s the problem.” His eyes light up and his smile widens when he talks about his mom. “She has changed a lot lately. She’s been kind and careful.” Above all, he credits his mom for taking him to church and teaching him about Jesus’s love for him.

James (10) and Cameron (9) live in Johnson Cottage with their mom, Felissia and two younger siblings. James started the conversation by saying how happy he feels with the changes in his mom. “She does not do drugs or drink anymore and she treats us better. I’m proud of her. She got a driver’s license and a car; she goes to school and to work. She is getting back on her feet.” Little brother, Cameron echoes James’s feelings and adds having friends to play with every day makes life on Marshall Ranch fun. He sits up straighter and holds a steady gaze to emphasize his next words, “The best part of all is that Mom is good with God, that’s the most important thing.”

Debbie’s children Michael (15), Gabriel (13), Delilah (12), Khloe (10) and two younger siblings all agree that Homes for Families changed their family for the better. Delilah says before living here they did not have enough to eat and she did not feel safe. Khloe remembers long nights worrying about her mom when she left them with another adult. Now, living on Marshall Ranch, they enjoy the change in their mom. “She never leaves us alone anymore, I like that,” Khloe states.

Each of Debbie’s children can see growth in their mom. Delilah believes their mom’s success has to do with finding friends in the other moms. “They help Mom make good decisions. Before we came here, she had trouble with the choices she made. She’s stronger and more confident now,” Michael says. Gabriel adds, “She’s more fun and nicer now that she desires Jesus. I like Him too, everyone should!” He likes the fact that she has started her own house cleaning and organizing business. “I’m proud of her, it takes guts and good ideas to start and maintain your own business. She’s a hard worker,” he explains.

As the family looks toward moving on to Phase IV, getting a home of their own off-campus, they have mixed emotions. The idea of having more space to call their own brings excitement but they worry they will miss the close friendships they have. Khloe describes, “All the families here sort of combine to make one big family and that is fun.”

Michael knows those friendships will remain. He still views former residents Valerie and Brooke as sisters. Their mom, Maria, graduated from the ministry earlier this year. Michael’s favorite part about moving to Marshall Ranch is the youth group leaders and friends he has at church in town.

The first Sunday Valerie and Brooke lived on Marshall Ranch, Michael was baptized there. Later, Michael celebrated with the sisters at their baptisms. Each one credits Homes for Families as the place they learned to trust in Jesus as their Savior and learned the habits necessary to develop a relationship with Him.

“Ministering to children is different than ministry to adults. The children need to feel recognized and important,” explains Ricky Martinez, Homes for Families Activities Coordinator. The staff takes this into consideration and the children who live at Marshall Ranch receive individual counseling. Younger children also appreciate specialized attention from Ricky’s wife, Kimberly Martinez, Child Care Provider.

The staff recognizes when families move into the ministry they feel vulnerable from repeated rejections. As one staff member states, “I want them to know there is someone there, no matter what. They’ve been turned down so many times before – when they come to the ranch, they do not find that. No matter how difficult a child is every family that comes onto the ranch receives grace. We have so much grace to give them. When they fight us, we just love them more. They want us to get mad and give up on them. We tell them, ‘you can fight back all you want, we’re still going to love you and be here for you’.”

Women come to Home for Families with their children looking for the opportunity to try again. That courageous choice often leads to positive changes in thought patterns, parenting habits and spiritual understanding. Witnessing the transformation in their moms combines with the dedication of the staff to create a special place of healing for the children. “God sees the hurt in these kids. He calls us to pour into all of the family every day and we rejoice at the change in the faces of the children,” Ricky affirms.

A Timely Investment

I think we all know that education is critical in our lives. If we don’t learn, we cannot move forward. Think about it. What if we were not taught to walk as a young child? What if we did not know how to read? Not to mention, what if we did not know how to talk or communicate?

LEARNING NEVER ENDS and it is up to each of us to determine the value of the education we receive and how we use it to enrich ourselves and serve others. The value itself is immeasurable and only becomes apparent to others when we move forward using what we have learned.

From the beginning of STCH Ministries, it has been apparent and clear that education is very important. Children living on our Boothe Campus may not have had the chance to graduate from high school if they had not been placed to live in our care. Education is crucial, not just while in care, but when they step into the reality of life beyond the safety of Pettus, Texas.

It is the commitment of STCH Ministries to provide the opportunity for each graduating senior to pursue their dreams and receive the education they desire. This could be going to college, trade school or even choosing to be certified with specific skills so they can grab a hold of life with confidence and stability. Fortunately, in our 68-year existence, donors have been generous with education endowments to provide scholarships. This ensures the resources are available for every eligible high school graduate.

Here are a couple of examples of named endowments:

The Howard K. Joslin Education Fund exists to help graduates who choose to attend a trade school and gain knowledge in fields such as welding, construction, mechanics and more. Before Howard passed away from a plane crash, he and his wife, Cristal had already talked about one day helping graduates wanting to go to a trade school. Howard knew the importance of non-traditional education since he himself went straight into a trade profession. Since its creation, several graduates have been impacted by their generosity.

The Angela Hise Education Endowment exists to help graduates attend a traditional college or trade school. Angela passed away several years ago and her mother, Jo, heard Eron Green, President & CEO of STCH Ministries, speak at a local church describing the importance of higher education and how we are committed to providing this opportunity for every graduate. Jo then decided to endow a scholarship in her daughter’s memory.

Each graduate must comply with eligibility standards required to receive funds from education endowments. These standards include academic and spiritual criteria. The College Transition Coordinator on the Boothe Campus helps to guide each resident during their junior and senior years of high school to prepare a plan for their future. Taking the next step and entering into adulthood is never an easy task for any child. However, STCH Ministries invests in every child in our care, paving the way to a positively supported future.

Due to the sacrifice and foresight of so many to make timely investments years ago and today, STCH Ministries can provide the necessary resources for those choosing to expand their knowledge.

STCH Ministries is forever grateful to those who have established or contributed to endowments to provide education scholarships. If you would like to learn more about how to create an endowment, please contact the Office of Development at or 361.375.2417.