IN 1997, STCH MINISTRIES PARTNERED with Crossbridge Fellowship to bring the light of Hope to a community of transients and homeless individuals in downtown Corpus Christi. Their future was dark and constricted by violence and poverty. Pastor John Contreras recently communicated his perspective on the Faith & Finances and Faith & Work programs: “These classes have been a powerful tool to connect people’s needs with the answers God has for their problems. The world advertises, ‘Buy our services, and our product will change your life.’ STCH Ministries freely invites, ‘Take this class, and God will change your life!’”
Angie Rodela, a new member of Crossbridge, recounted her experience saying, “I was a single mother of five children, and I was just ready to throw in the flag.” Five years ago, she signed up for a STCH Ministries Faith & Finances class and then followed up with the Faith & Work class.
“These classes gave me a biblical aspect on everything in my life. I started believing how the Lord will meet me at the top, not the bottom. I learned how to get out of debt, how to start a savings plan for things like emergencies, how to manage and maintain money and much more. Faith & Work made me stronger in the workforce. I learned how to make a resume, how to look for a job and how to approach an interview head-on with confidence. Now, I am a general manager for Laredo Taco Company, making more than enough. Most importantly, I found my purpose in life.”
The STCH Ministries Faith & Finances classes have provided a critical level of support for Pastor Raul Elizondo’s ministry at New Life at the Cross Church, located in Robstown, Texas. He observed that poverty thinking was generational and endemic to the culture. As a result, Christians and most churches lack faith and a vision of God’s limitless resources.
“Most of our people were in survival mode with their finances. They lacked knowledge of the most basic Biblical principles. No budget—just survive. No understanding of the cost of credit. In 2018 STCH Ministries began to teach the first Faith & Finances class. Originally planned for 10- 15 people, over 70 individuals showed up to take the class. The results in their personal finances and their family relationships continued through several more classes as they lived out their faith through their finances. Instead of selling ourselves out to the limits of generational thinking and cultural norms, Faith & Finances promoted a healthy and joyful view of finances. It empowered our families.”
The principles learned provided a tremendous foundation when they began construction on a new church facility. Soon after, the pandemic struck. Many people lost income and the bank backed out of their loan. The practical faith principles they had learned sustained them through these difficult trials. God was faithful and together with months of all-consuming work, the beautiful, new facility became a reality.
Pastor Raul summed up the experience: “Faith hurts,” he said. “It’s not the ‘Via Easy.’ Following Christ’s steps is often the ‘Via Dolorosa.’ All growth comes from pain, suffering and stress because we don’t grow if we are comfortable. However, the support and knowledge we received through STCH Ministries Faith & Finances classes helped us learn to trust God with our finances. It has brought amazing joy and opportunities for New Life at the Cross.”
San Antonio Hope is one of many non-profits who are strengthened and supported by STCH Ministries on a continuing basis. Key staff have trained and certified SA Hope staff to teach classes and provide curriculum and materials without charge. Faith & Finances staff continue to offer encouragement to SA Hope facilitators as they teach three to four classes each semester and work with individuals overwhelmed by life’s challenges. At graduation, each individual is presented with a STCH Ministries certificate and a gift celebrating their achievement.
“I know what it’s like to fail,” shared facilitator Ruby Ann Sanchez. “God began to change me through the Faith & Finances class. I broke an addiction to bingo. I was sitting there, when I thought, why am I here? I don’t belong here anymore!” Many graduates of Ruby’s classes also shared their stories. Gloria is a grandmother raising her grandchildren. She summarized the impact of the class on her life succinctly. “It’s budgeting mixed with faith! Now, I’m helping my three grandchildren. I opened a small account in our bank for each of them and I’m passing on how to manage their money.”
Strong Foundation, led by Jim and Carolee Gipson, offers housing and a seven-month program that assists families to find a job as they participate in Bible teaching, counseling, marriage, parenting and Faith & Finances classes. Operating by faith without any government funding, Strong Foundation depends heavily on volunteers. STCH Ministries reinforces the mission to homeless families to help achieve financial health, renew faith and hope for the future. In addition, Jim shared, “The Faith & Finances material is relatable and evangelistic. More Jesus, everything else will follow.”
Tyrone and Chimere Davis from One Church, Houston, shared that both had been involved in secular positions of leadership and frequently felt the tension of how to live out their faith in a corporate environment. Faith & Work gave them usable tools to combine their true calling as Christ’s disciples with their vocation. “It took down walls,” they reported. Today Tyrone and Chimere work full-time in their church and STCH Ministries continues to follow up and provide materials annually to train and disciple new leadership.
Meeting the needs of immigrant and refugee populations developed a niche for the Faith & Finances classes. In the Houston area, Blaine Hooper was uniquely prepared by several tours as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. He felt God’s call over three years ago to begin Refuge Church to reach the large number of immigrants who have resettled in the Houston area. Blaine was motivated to share Christ’s love, to help this population flourish as God’s created ones. Visibly passionate, he asked, “They come to America and literally have never met anyone who follows Jesus. How will they hear? Our goal is to welcome them and empower them to flourish. We want to go beyond alleviating poverty, to help them overcome trauma, address issues with legal aid and access medical help. Faith & Finances courses have been a lifesaver. It has attracted people to church where we use English, Farsi and French to share the Gospel through meeting needs with a kingdom emphasis—a specific call to believe.” STCH Ministries and Refuge church—working together and doing the Gospel well.
In San Antonio, First Baptist Church has fostered an outreach to the refugees from Burma. Faith & Finances taught a class to the leadership of the Burmese churches who meet in four different locations, using four different languages from the hundreds of dialects spoken in Burma. Budgeting and banking were challenging concepts for individuals accustomed to surviving day to day.
Countless personal stories continue to be written every day through these ministries:
“Because of Faith & Finances, I want to use the money I have saved to be a missionary to others.”
“I used to buy impulsively; now I hold back.”
“I learned about living simply and humbly.”
“We have been blessed as a family and now we are thinking about getting a smaller home and using the finances to bless others.”
“Faith & Finances makes you see your resources as God’s money.”
Pastor Ken DeKoning from Waldron Road Baptist Church summarized the responses from many pastors and ministry leaders: “Our people have flourished as a result of these classes. This is a MUST course for your people. People simply don’t know God’s principles.”
Faith & Finances and Faith & Work: sharing the Gospel through meeting needs, working hand-in-hand with churches and community ministries to bring hope for the future and shine light in dark places. If you want more information about Faith & Finances or Faith & Work visit, www.STCHM.org/FW.