We live in interesting times; it seems that much of what we have known as “normal” is no longer. While many battle massive wildfires, others deal with hurricanes and mass flooding. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip many in our world with fear of leaving their homes, while others seem fearless and almost reckless with how they live life. Social and societal unrest leads to violent clashes where there are no winners—only victims.

It has been said that purpose is the reason you journey, passion is the fire that lights the way. In this Messenger, you will read the story of Stephanie and Ezra, a mother and her son on a journey together. You will learn about Terry Wilkins, a loving husband and father (and housefather) that committed his life to ministry. You will see that our International ministry took its first trip to the Dominican Republic since COVID-19 halted those trips from occurring. You will see, as an organization, our purpose and our passion are not and have not been compromised. For an organization to stay true to these ideals, we must have a team of people called by God to do His work. I truly stand amazed at our counselors, houseparents, resident coordinators, caseworkers, directors, administrative assistants, vice presidents and so many others that live out their faith in the ministry they are called to.

We are all on a journey. As we look back to the past, we see journeys full of twists and turns, many of which we could not understand while we were in the middle of them. We can remember the proverbial fires and hurricanes that we survived. We can see clearly how the Good Lord protected, provided and taught us when we were at our lowest. But we must also look to the future; yes, there will be obstacles, but we must also see the opportunities. 

What great opportunities await us! I am so very excited to see what God has in store for us here at STCH Ministries. Since 1952 we have “journeyed” down the path that God set before us. That path has been one that was not always easy, but we stayed true to God’s call on us as a ministry. The reason for the journey is our mission: to honor God, to reach hurting children and families with His love and truth and to enable others to join us in this ministry. 

Thank you so much for taking time to read our Messenger, and thank you for your faithful support and generosity. I hope and pray that we all seek God’s direction wholeheartedly and live out an enthusiastic life as we journey together!

Jeremiah 29:11

I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.

Stephanie’s journey toward a secure relationship with her son allowed her to ultimately experience the joy of motherhood while bearing witness to many childhood milestones. This resulted from a direct partnership between STCH Ministries Homes for Children and Homes for Families. These two ministries frequently team up and step in to help mothers, children and families navigate complex situations. Both campuses work to provide a solid ground for residents to regroup, learn and launch into the next phase of life. While Stephanie’s story weaves a tapestry of God’s provision through difficult life circumstances, it began in unpredictability and crisis.

Stephanie was born with Mosaic Down Syndrome. She worked hard to graduate high school and become a Certified Nursing Assistant. Her first son was adopted after birth into a loving family, but when she found out she was pregnant again, she felt a deep calling to raise her son, Ezra.

After Ezra’s birth, Stephanie moved into her mother’s home with her infant. It was during this period of time that Child Protective Services (CPS) was called to the house following an incident. The situation was reviewed, and CPS determined that Ezra could remain in Stephanie’s care if they moved out together.

Recognizing she was at a pivotal crossroads that would define their future, Stephanie carefully considered her options. On one hand, she could allow Ezra to be adopted into the family where her first son resides. On the other, she could begin the arduous process of finding a new community and support system for herself and her son. Saying goodbye was difficult to even consider. She felt a calling to be physically present as Ezra’s mother and wanted him to grow through infancy, childhood and adolescence knowing her love each day. Stephanie preferred the thought of finding holistic support as one family unit. She was running out of time and lacked tangible resources. Waves of uncertainty and doubt were crashing within and finding reliable and immediate help seemed impossible.

The night before Ezra was scheduled to be taken into CPS custody, STCH Ministries was contacted. There were no current openings at Home for Families where both Stephanie and Ezra could seek refuge under the same roof. This was initially difficult to hear, but the team continued their pursuit of a solution. That night, Stephanie learned that the Homes for Children campus had a spot available for Ezra. “We made some phone calls and suddenly, everyone was involved,” said Theresa Klacman, Director of Homes for Families. “Boothe Campus really stepped up to go ahead and take Ezra the next morning.”

The plan was in place with only hours to spare. Ezra would move to Homes for Children with the intention of reuniting with his mother as soon as possible at Homes for Families. “From the beginning, the reunification of Ezra to his mom was the most important thing for us,” said Greg Huskey, Vice President of Homes for Children. Stephanie was at peace with this decision. She trusted the teams from both ministries and knew she had found people who were truly advocating on her behalf and in her best interest.

While Ezra was at Homes for Children, Stephanie had the opportunity to visit him on weekends while keeping an open channel of communication with his houseparents. In every interaction, she remained confident that his environment and care were loving and attentive. She received regular updates about his daily activities, growth and progress, including the day Ezra took his first steps. This was a bittersweet moment as a mother. “Ezra is my world,” Stephanie remarked. She was proud of her toddler for reaching this developmental breakthrough, but it was hard to not be physically present for the occasion. She didn’t want to miss any other firsts in Ezra’s life, and she distinctly remembers this moment as a catalyst for her continual pursuit of personal development.

A month passed, and Stephanie was notified that space was available at Homes for Families. “When I found out that I could be at Homes for Families and have him back, it made me so happy,” Stephanie recalled. The day after her arrival, Ezra joined his mother. It was an emotional reunion with her son, and she felt a sense of peace and excitement for their future. She was thrilled to return to the daily tasks of being a parent. “I have to be here, and I have to be the best I can be for Ezra,” said Stephanie.

While Stephanie remained thankful that she could stay with her son, their time spent at Homes for Families was not without struggle. There were moments where she missed her extended family and wanted to leave, but at the end of the day, Stephanie was grateful to have Ezra back in her arms. When asked about her current journey in motherhood, Stephanie said, “I cry myself to sleep, but it is happy tears, because I finally have my son back.” She envisions a bright future, raising her son while being there for the many “firsts” ahead – from the start of school, to achievements in activities and special holidays together.

Stephanie is vocal about her belief that she is exactly where God has called her to be. She sees His providence through every bump in the road, leading them to Homes for Children and Homes for Families. “I am happy to be here. It’s really helping me to grow and see more of God.” Stephanie continued, “After being here a month, I finally accepted what happened, and I believe everything that has happened has brought me here and given me a second chance at being a mom.”

When mothers ask for help, Homes for Children and Homes for Families work together with compassion and understanding to provide a place to call home. Stephanie does not shy away from noting that asking for help was scary. There were multiple unknowns and questions swirling in her mind. But the unique partnership between these two ministries prioritizes acknowledging these fears and standing in solidarity with families as they make difficult decisions together. Decisions that ultimately shine light into darkness and bring hope and joy that is only found in Christ.

Stephanie’s story illustrates the beauty that results when the entire team at STCH Ministries works together to ensure the best outcome for families. When Homes for Children and Homes for Families collaborate, everyone wins. Children find safety and love while physical and emotional needs are met, and mothers find support and resources during periods of transition. This is exactly what happened for Stephanie and Ezra, and it’s a recurring experience for many other families seeking care and shelter. Where there is uncertainty, peace finds its way. Where there is brokenness, the beauty of Christ’s love breaks through.

Homes for Children laid the foundation of stability and normalcy for Ezra while Stephanie took the necessary steps to process their brief separation. Because these campuses function as an extension of each other, the transition to Homes for Families was seamless. With combined efforts, both ministries provided a loving atmosphere grounded in Christian principles for this mother and son to build a stable and fulfilling life – one step at a time.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38-39 ESV

July 9, 2020, was a day of celebration on the STCH Ministries Homes for Children campus. Six students from Boothe Campus and one student from a local church stood together and outwardly professed faith through baptism. These decisions came after years of support and prayers from their communities. Each student recognized what it meant to be baptized at Homes for Children in front of the people that continuously loved, supported and prayed for them. Here are their stories.

CHRISTOPHER’S STORY
Over the years, Christopher’s walk with Christ developed through church, Vacation Bible School, camp, Disciple Now and the leadership of his houseparents and others on the campus. The unconditional love his houseparents showed him and others in his cottage exemplified Christ’s love for Christopher. While attending Disciple Now 2020, Christopher made the decision to surrender his life and profess faith in God. He remembers the moment, saying, “I was shaking, and I just felt different.” A leader at the event helped him open his heart to Christ, and he felt a true, life change in that moment.

Christopher wanted to show everyone that his life had changed. The opportunity to be baptized on campus in front of friends and mentors was special to him. Since giving his life to Christ, Christopher feels different. Despite his young age, he knows that he can be an example to others. Christopher is working to become more respectful and caring toward those around him. He prays that he will continue to grow in his relationship with Jesus and be a leader within his community.

COLBY’S STORY
Colby’s walk with Christ began before coming to Boothe Campus. He attended church with his grandparents and loved listening to the pastor’s sermons. When Colby arrived at Homes for Children, he started growing closer to God and took steps toward deepening his relationship with God. He engaged in a weekly Bible study with one of the summer interns, learning verses that spoke directly to his current situation and experiences. Colby felt his faith maturing and decided to rededicate his life to Christ and follow through in baptism in front of friends and mentors who supported his journey.

As the summer progressed, Colby was ready to take this next step. He recalled his houseparents’ reaction to the decision, saying, “They were excited. They were proud of me because they knew I stepped over the line of faith with Christ.” The opportunity to be baptized in front of people who care about him made the occasion memorable. “God has a plan for me,” Colby emphasizes. Being surrounded by people that want to see him succeed helps Colby face the difficult days and makes the good days even better.

MOEMOE’S STORY
Recent graduate, Kimani (MoeMoe), grew in his understanding of the gospel while at summer camp with Homes for Children in 2019. During worship one evening, he became overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and started crying. “I heard someone say, ‘I’m watching over you every day, all the time,’” MoeMoe remembers. His housedad approached and prayed with him. MoeMoe quickly turned around, and they embraced in a hug. In that moment, he was not fully ready to surrender his life to Christ, but God continued to work on his heart.

The following year, MoeMoe continued in conversation with the adults at Boothe Campus about Christianity. He attended Bible studies and built a foundation to fully open his heart to God. At the end of the 2020 school year, he fully surrendered his life to Christ and prayed to become a Christian. He wanted to make an outward declaration of the internal decision and asked to be baptized. MoeMoe shares, “Everybody at STCH Ministries played a big part in my life leading me to Christ. It meant everything for me to be baptized here.” He knows that as he moves forward, the decision he made to accept Christ will change his life for the better.

JOSH’S STORY
Josh lived at Boothe Campus until he graduated in 2018. Before coming to STCH Ministries, some of his friends invited him to church, and he started attending the youth group. At this point in his life, Josh had never heard the gospel. Attending church became something that Josh looked forward to, and he started to learn what it meant to be a Christian. One night at a special worship service, he prayed to accept Jesus into his heart. A few months later, Josh and his siblings moved to Boothe Campus. “That’s when my relationship with Christ really started to grow. Here you have all these leaders that genuinely want you to have a relationship with Christ and want you to grow in your faith,” Josh recalls. During the three years he lived at Homes for Children, his relationship with Christ evolved.

Josh is now a leader within the Baptist Student Ministry at college, and he works to help others grow in their faith. During the summers, he either works at Camp Zephyr, a Baptist encampment, or stays at Boothe Campus to mentor children. When Josh heard about the baptisms on campus, he felt called to take the next step in his faith. “STCH Ministries is basically home for me, so growing in my faith and walk with Christ just made it complete to be baptized there as well,” Josh said. He looks forward to helping others in their spiritual walks just like so many did for him.

C.J.’S STORY
C.J., another STCH Ministries alumni, believes he would not have found God without the relationships he built while living at Boothe Campus. When C.J. first arrived at Homes for Children, he struggled to navigate the complexities of his life. He rejected God and did not feel like he needed a Savior. As the weeks progressed, C.J. opened up to those around him and encountered Christ. Deray, another student on the campus, talked with C.J. about the Christian life. One night, Deray asked what was holding him back, and C.J. shared that he did not know how to become a Christian. In that moment, Deray led him in the prayer to surrender his life to Christ, and C.J.’s life changed forever. “It was so beautiful. It was gorgeous, and I have to give it all to God. God gave Deray the strength and courage to help guide me through the prayer,” C.J. shares.

After giving his life to Christ, C.J.’s life changed for the better, gaining hope to face each day. He knows that even when he messes up, God forgives him. “He says that ‘I am here for you.’ That’s the most beautiful thing that God has ever done for us,” C.J. exclaims. C.J. wanted to share his decision with others to demonstrate how far he had come. He was ready to get baptized and knew the best place to experience this was at Boothe Campus. In front of his friends and family, he shared his love for Christ and truly surrendered it all. Following the transformation in his own life, he decided to share his newfound hope and joy with his younger brother, Ian. Little did he know the impact it would have.

IAN’S STORY
Much like his brother, Ian never thought he needed God. When they first arrived at Boothe Campus, he made fun of the children who believed. He wanted to do life on his own. When given the choice, Ian decided to move back home with his family instead of staying at Homes for Children. He thought his life would be better there. As his happiness slipped away, he became angry. This is when he decided to move back to Boothe Campus. Before leaving for Boothe Campus, C.J. talked to him about how God changed his life. Ian listened and realized that he needed Jesus.

After being back on the campus for a few months, Ian decided to talk to some of the housedads about a relationship with Christ. He looked forward to going to church and learning more about becoming a Christian. One day, he approached a housedad about giving his life to Christ. The housedad led him in the prayer to accept Jesus into his heart. Ian wanted to get baptized right away at Boothe Campus and share his decision with those around him. Knowing that his brother was going to be baptized at the same time made the moment even better. “As I prayed the prayer, I felt this cold breeze, and my body just lit up. When I was baptized, I felt the same thing. It was amazing,” Ian said.

While each story can stand alone as a distinct and unique experience, the through-line is the involvement of a mentor. Mentors walk alongside students and discuss what it means to fully surrender their lives – the initial prayer through the outward profession. STCH Ministries is thankful for the houseparents, interns, staff, other children and local pastors that feed into the lives of the students at Boothe Campus. Ultimately, we give all the glory to God for working in the lives of the children that we serve. We know that His plans are greater, and we pray for each of these students as they continue to walk with the Lord.

In the early 2000s, Catherine led a fairly normal life. She was married, lived in Dallas and her family was growing. In 2004 she was pregnant and overjoyed to welcome a new baby to their family. Catherine gave birth in a c-section delivery and was moved to her postpartum hospital room for continued care. During her postpartum stay, Catherine needed intervention for sustained pain, and the doctors prescribed medication to alleviate the discomfort. When she returned home, addiction ensued.

The dependence on the medicine overshadowed her life for 14 years. Throughout this period of time, Catherine checked in and out of rehabilitation facilities. After each visit, she made big promises to herself and to her family that she would stop taking the drugs, but a relapse always followed. With minor life modifications, Catherine hoped she would just get lucky enough to reclaim her vitality, but a predictable pattern developed. This rehab cycle repeated eight times. She was physically and emotionally drained, and her family was exhausted. Catherine was numb to life, and it seemed like nothing could change that.

A moment came where she reached her breaking point. Catherine attempted suicide in April 2018. The family was devastated by the attempt, and her actions drove a wedge between herself and her loved ones. Terrified at the near loss of their mother, her children experienced anger and fear as a result.  Throughout this season of life, Catherine missed out on the daily joys of motherhood and marriage from an inability to form secure attachments. Their familial bonds were so severed, and her husband questioned if their relationship was salvageable.

One day, the mental fog lifted. Catherine clearly recognized the damage from her choices and distanced herself from this lifestyle. It was time to get clean. She distinctly remembers the date June 18, 2018. She said goodbye to her chronic addiction, ready for lasting change. After the drugs left her system, she surveyed the wreckage of her life — from repeated family theft to the loss of their home. The relationships with her husband and three children were completely detached. Catherine lost her husband’s trust, and her children vocalized their doubts.

She reflected on the years with a numb body and mind to keep the pain at bay, but now there was nothing standing between her consciousness and the reality of her personal life. Was this rock bottom? Faith in God was not a priority, so there was nowhere for her soul to turn for comfort or rest. On July 4, 2018, the family moved her to Houston to live with her sister. This was a wake-up call.

Upon arriving in Houston, Catherine was determined to turn her life around. She did not have the tangible tools or resources to execute this life change, but she finally had the will power to do whatever it takes. Within two months of living in the Houston area, she encountered Christ and gained lasting hope, freedom and grace. “God has come into my life and is leading me down the right path,” said Catherine. She was disconnected from her immediate family, but she held to the promises of Jesus – a friend who will never leave. 

Catherine soon found work at The Learning Experience where she discovered purpose and fulfillment while caring for infants. She credits her job for propelling her forward into her healing journey. After experiencing the unconditional love of God through her church, it was a blessing to spend time with babies who show love in a similar way. She was able to bond with families at the daycare and left work each day feeling connected and inspired.

From here, Catherine pursued professional counseling. She was new to Christianity and wanted to be guided by someone with faith-based principles. Her sister suggested STCH Ministries Family Counseling. Their team officed within a local church, and Catherine jumped at the opportunity to engage in counseling that was distinctly Christian. At this point, Catherine had been sober for more than six months. Her sessions began in early 2019, and she was expectant for personal growth. She needed her journey to deliver strategies for compassion and kindness toward herself while clearing the path for restoration in her relationships with family.

Catherine was relieved to learn that STCH Ministries Family Counseling does not assess the client’s ability to pay during the intake process. Each location within this ministry accepts and appreciates donations toward the program, but ongoing fees are not collected after each session. This policy allowed Catherine to breathe a sigh of relief and solely focus on healing without the burden of excessive financial strain.

She quickly learned that her counselor was able to create the right environment for tremendous breakthroughs each time they met. Instead of breezing past the heartache with empty positivity that is often prevalent in mainstream self-help movements, they sat in her grief. This allowed Catherine to feel and process all emotions associated with the loss of her family. From here, they focused on biblical accountability, relevant scripture and her identity in Christ. She felt hopeful again, living a life that looked radically different than before. “I am in a better place now than I have ever been,” Catherine explained. She was in a new city, living a new life and finally seeing herself in a new light. There was hope.

A big takeaway from her counseling sessions was a confidence to have difficult but restorative conversations about her past. She learned practical strategies for apologizing as she worked toward mending the relational wounds within her family. The STCH Ministries counselor gently reminded Catherine that her family wouldn’t become whole overnight, but in each interaction, she was putting in the work for tangible progress to occur. Catherine is proud to say, “I am not the same person I was two years ago. I am a totally different person, and I am happy!”

Catherine spent time working at Academy Distribution Center, enjoying her responsibilities and feeling equipped for each day. Her emotional skillsets, rooted in techniques from counseling, trickled into all aspects of life – including professionally. She was prepared to reach big goals, but when COVID-19 took aim at the U.S. economy, Catherine was laid off from her job. While this was understandably difficult, she referenced strategies from counseling to combat the anxiety and once again held to the promises of Jesus.

Time often brings the necessary space to process tough situations, but healing transpires when people make the choice to seek reliable help. “STCH Ministries counseling saved my life,” Catherine notes. “They helped me heal.” Catherine recognizes that a controlled environment in Houston is integral to her success as she continues to process her past, live in the present and plan for the future. With this in mind, she realizes she cannot move back to Dallas yet. Even from afar, her family sees the positive strides each day, and she is thankful to be on the right track. It brings joy to know that her children grasp the extent of her healing and cheer for continual progress.

Through counseling with STCH Ministries, Catherine learned that Jesus cares about her emotional, physical and spiritual wounds, and He is where healing happens. She is thankful to have a caring support system for when life’s burdens are heavy. “I want to share my story and help change lives,” she says expectantly. Catherine is eager to tell others about God’s grace and the effects of counseling on her life. While she found freedom from addiction before engaging with STCH Ministries, she credits her counseling experience for accelerating her personal development and guiding her family toward healing. With hope for the future and faith in God, Catherine now has the confidence to claim autonomy of her life and love herself again.

In early March 2020, we said sweet goodbyes to our Dominican family. We expected to return in a few weeks for summer mission trips. We had no premonition that the COVID-19 devastation lurked around the corner. At first, we held our breath, certain that life would shortly return to normal. 

Gradually, reality burst our idealistic bubble. The United States locked down. The Dominican Republic locked down a few weeks later as COVID-19 spread like wildfire from the resorts and airports. Airlines cancelled all flights. There would be no summer 2020 mission trips. Long-awaited projects at orphanages and Christian schools were frozen. Hopes for new sponsorships, needs for beds for children, training and supplies for teachers, evangelism and discipleship opportunities—all cancelled. Caught in the same whirlwind of fear and confusion that swirled around all of us here in the United States, our Dominican partners faced overwhelming needs and cries for help. Without the support of mission teams, there were no extra resources. No hands and feet to help. No physical presence with words of cheer and inspiration.

“The Ministry Continues,” became a rallying cry beginning with Eron Green, STCH Ministries CEO. Holding high the banner of faith in God’s promises, we prayed, “God use us. Direct our steps.” The Dominican government mandated a total lockdown, which prevented most of the population from working. The government also lacked resources to provide any kind of income or social services. The priority became, “Feed our children, families and ministry partners.” Our staff on both sides of the Caribbean rallied and worked together as a team. They developed innovative ways to address what became a crisis. From buying huge palettes of food from the Bravo grocery chain and storing it in the Koinonia mission housing, to scheduling families and delivering food safely to ministry sites while observing the required curfew. The safety of our staff and wise stewardship of resources were paramount. As we marched forward in faith, we experienced a miracle similar to the five loaves and fishes. God’s supply lines were already in place. Generous donors supplied the needed funds.

In August we sensed God’s leading to make a return mission trip to the Dominican Republic. COVID-19 numbers were abating. Boots-on-the-ground information from our Dominican partners indicated that we could safely make a trip to the Dominican Republic. Donated school supplies and backpacks had accumulated in our home office while equipment, replacement parts and other provisions were desperately needed. We wanted to encourage our staff and partners by participating with them in feeding families, building beds and assisting directors and teachers with distance learning. Importantly, we also sought to determine if mission teams using face masks and appropriate distancing could safely and effectively do ministry. We sent out an invitation for a Mercy Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic.

The goals to deliver resources and share in ministries were safely accomplished! Twenty-five children’s beds were built. Thirty-five families received a packet of food. Twenty-two teachers and directors from our Christian schools received training. More than two-hundred and fifty backpacks filled with school supplies for the Samuel’s Fund sponsored children were delivered.

To determine how the Dominican partners felt about the mission week, and to hear from the trip participants, could I invite you to take an imaginary trip to the Upper Room at the IBQ Dominican mission site? It was the morning of the last day, and the ten trip participants with our Dominican partners gathered to worship and reflect on the experiences of the last four days. Pastor Rudy began,

We know God is faithful…God is great…because you are here. We didn’t think anyone would come. You are a gift, like a miracle. Thank you very, very much. The world changes, our lives change, our families change, everybody changes but God does not change. God is always the same. That is our hope. ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ You increase our faith by coming on this mission trip. God bless you. Thank you for all.

Pastor Rudy then handed a verse to every team member and asked, “Why did you come on this trip? What has this trip meant to you? How did God speak to you?”

Dr. Francisco spoke up. He talked about his role as a doctor and that he considered the worst-case scenario when he knew a small mission team was coming. He communicated to our office that participants would have to wear face masks and strongly urged no comorbidities. Reflecting on the trip, Dr. Francisco concluded that we have to take precautions, but we also have to rely on God. 

We can do whatever we want, but it is God who is backing us up, who is in control. In this very moment, in anything we do in our lives, He is the one who says, “this is what is going to happen.”  Most people don’t want to come because they are afraid. They don’t want to get out. It took courage for you to come. But you are for us a beacon, showing us that even if there are obstacles, you still have to obey God.

Our other Dominican partners added their thoughts.

Thank you for coming. We didn’t think we would have a mission team to help us during this time. I’m glad we have the God that we have. We know we can trust Him in every circumstance. That is our greatest hope.

Through this coronavirus crisis, we have learned to trust God’s Word. We know that it doesn’t matter the situation, doesn’t matter how hard it is, He will always be there. God will continue to do great things through us. The best thing is—you hear the voice of the Lord; you obey and take action. That’s the important thing to the Lord.

Tina is a schoolteacher who has been on several past mission trips. She spoke about the pervasive fear in the world. She shared that when she received the mission trip invitation, she immediately heard, “Go!” Then she thought about her job, her family. She read on the internet the U.S. embassy recommendation not to travel. She sat on the back porch and read Psalm 91. She recounted the experience:

I heard a voice. “Do you trust me?” A scene flashed across my mind from the movie, Aladdin. Aladdin flew on his magic carpet, held out his hand and invited Jasmine to go with him, saying, “Do you trust me?” I pictured the carpet, and I thought, “That’s the thing. You are stepping out on that carpet, hoping God will hold you up.” For me, that hope was my faith. Of course, I have the fear…but, can I trust Him? At that moment I knew if I didn’t go, I would be missing out on the blessing.

Becky is a pharmacist, and most days she works in air-conditioning with a great team. She remembered that when COVID-19 hit, everyone was terrified in spite of masks and shields. She would have patients hold their prescriptions up to the window because she feared to touch them. But God spoke to her heart about this mission trip. Her college-senior daughter was available to come, and they had really missed the opportunity to serve last summer. She responded, “I will serve doing anything I can do to help.” In the Dominican construction yard, she sweated and got so covered in sawdust that she was almost unrecognizable. But as she hammered, screwed, sawed and sanded those twenty-five beds for children, she said, “I knew I was right where God wanted me.” Becky’s daughter nodded, “What’s the difference between going to the grocery store and coming here? Besides, I felt we did so much more than we did the last time we came.”

Tania is one of our front-line workers. As a nurse, her potential COVID-19 exposure is greater than most. However, she shared that fear was never a consideration for her.

I had a rough beginning during my teens, and I could have been dead a long time ago. But God had a purpose for my life. Because of the COVID-19 fear, all the ministries where I usually help in the United States had been stopped. So, I prayed, “I want to serve you, God. What am I supposed to do?” When the email invitation came for the Mercy Mission Trip, I knew that was for me. Jehovah is my provider, my comfort, my protector. So, whatever He called me to do, I needed to trust. Just get up and go. He would provide. He would protect.

Jeny, a STCH Ministries employee out of Houston, her husband, David, and high school senior, Noah, came as a family. David asserted that others tried to impose their fear on them. They prayed strongly as a family and felt the shield of the Lord was around them. 

We had to serve. We needed to be Jesus’ hands and feet. We determined that whatever others said to us was not going to get into our hearts and minds. And we prayed that God would give us the strength. I’m glad that we were able to live out God’s Living Word—’Go! Be my hands and feet.’ That’s why we are here. And that’s what we did.”

Jeny emphasized that for believers, it is about finding our truth in the Bible. We need to seek God’s wisdom, not the world’s perspective. When we trust God and follow His Word, we are not normal. We are not supposed to be normal. Jeny went on to say, “I expected my usual trip to the Dominican Republic. I knew STCH Ministries was not going to put us in danger. Joanna or Mark would not say, ‘It’s dangerous, but come on in!’” The mission team group laughed in agreement as Jeny concluded,

I got out of this trip just what I expected. I expected to see our Dominican family. I expected to see smiles on them. I expected to be filled up with joy and love. I expected God would provide, and He has. And that’s what we have received. We haven’t been working as intensely, but it’s been great. It’s been refreshing. We have gotten to spend more time with our own family and with our Dominican family. It’s been an amazing blessing.

Summer 2020 did not look like the summer we had planned. Life often happens that way for all of us. But God still has a plan and will use us in Kingdom work. In the midst of adversity, God used STCH Ministries to touch countless lives in new and innovative ways. We came together as a team with our Dominican partners in ways we had never thought possible. The participants on the Mercy Mission trip stepped out in faith—their own magic carpet of hope—and traveled in spite of the COVID-19 virus for the opportunity to change lives and meet needs. We are optimistic for what the future holds in the next few months and as we head into 2021. Circumstances and plans often change. We know God is always the same, for “Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

San Antonio Office
We are excited to announce that we have a new office in San Antonio. This office houses our Family Counseling, Faith & Work and Faith & Finances ministries. Our counseling offices throughout San Antonio and the surrounding area will remain open, and our Faith & Work and Faith & Finances ministries will continue to facilitate classes throughout San Antonio. The office will allow these ministries to expand their reach in San Antonio as they work to heal hearts and share hope.

iCare

On August 6, STCH Ministries Family Counseling hosted their annual iCare Conference. This is a conference for people who help people. Due to COVID-19, the event moved to a virtual platform. Approximately 150 people attended and received training from a large selection of topics including: burn-out for those in ministry, understanding the impact of trauma and potential long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being virtual provided the opportunity to reach more participants, and we are privileged to provide training to those serving in professions and roles which help others.

Terry Wilkins
On July 21, Terry Wilkins went home to be with the Lord after a long illness. Terry’s heart was in serving Christ through ministry. Eleven years ago, Terry and Virginia moved to South Texas to work for STCH Ministries as houseparents on Marshall Ranch. Later they moved to Barnes Cottage on Boothe Campus where they became Mimi and Papa to everyone who stepped foot on the campus. Terry will be missed dearly, and we continue to pray for his family and the STCH Ministries family