Across South Texas from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to Houston, Faith & Finances graduates celebrate a deeper, richer understanding of personal finances with STCH Ministries Faith & Finances curriculum. The curriculum uses an interactive format to teach Biblical principles about money. The twelve-week course, divided into four sections, builds a strong foundation to create lasting values and long-term changes in students’ lives.

Participants from diverse demographics gather in public spaces such as a neighborhood YMCA in San Antonio or local churches across the Houston metroplex and other churches in the heart of Corpus Christi. The COVID-19 crisis pushed everyone to find a way to move forward while keeping each other as safe as possible. Some groups decided to pause from teaching and wait until safety measures allowed them to reconvene in person, while others continued learning through online classes taught by our STCH Ministries team.

The ministry appeals to young couples wanting to start their lives together with sound financial practices. Families with established careers and growing children discover spending plans which help them to live simply and give joyfully. Business leaders and retirees learn to prepare for emergencies and the correct steps to take leading to long-term change. The first trimester ended with eighty-six graduates. The second trimester, ongoing now, has classes across South Texas.

Jason Hall, a Location Director at Attack Poverty in Houston, attended the class at The Waters Church because he wanted inspiration to pay off debts. In the first three weeks of the class, Jason began laying a new foundation for his future. “I learned so much about how faith and finances tie together. My biggest takeaway was the fact that God owns everything. That idea made me realize I have lived all my life in a scarcity mentality, hoarding everything. Now I understand I am stewarding God’s money, I’ll never be the same.” He ended the class with a better understanding of how the handling of his money can bring honor to God.

In the second section of the study, longtime facilitators Jim and Patty Ferguson led their group to discover how to set goals and build budgets. Ignite Community Church hosted this course at the Thousand Oaks YMCA in San Antonio. Altogether, participating families paid off $30,000 in debt as they applied the skills taught. Jim reports, “Several individuals in the group developed a spending plan for the first time and realized what their credit cards were costing them. They comprehended, many for the first time, how much little things cost in the long run.” Javier’s family planned to attend the class together, but his adult children’s work schedules did not fit with the class time. Javier found the information presented so practical and applicable that he taught each lesson over again to his children.

Another Houston area group met at Grace Fellowship Church in Sealy.  Moving through the third section of the course, Darrell Jackson, Director of the Houston Faith & Work | Faith & Finances ministries taught students how to integrate sound practices into their budgets.  Due to the information presented about managing debt and taking on loans, a couple decided to accelerate their car payments. “I completed paying off my truck in one year, which saves me $750 per month. Now I own my truck outright,” the husband said. His wife added, “I paid off two credit cards!” Another family paid off their home equity loan before the study ended.

In Corpus Christi, at Calvary Baptist Church, students finished the class studying methods to protect their assets and consider their net worth as they planned for long-term change. As the course wrapped up, members shared their testimonies of growth. Waukeen Vinson summed up how God has proved His faithfulness through the years. He described the internal struggle he fought about paying a tithe as a new believer. Every time his pastor mentioned the topic he felt a stubbornness surge through his mind insisting that the money he earned was his alone. Once he made that decision, he stopped receiving calls to go into work. After three months, he felt desperate. The next time his pastor mentioned the importance of tithing in a Sunday evening sermon, Waukeen prayed, “If You’ll give me a job I’ll tithe. I’ll tithe for the rest of my life. I just need a job.” The next morning he applied for and received a job at the local refinery. The Faith & Finances study reminded him of what he learned then, “It might be my money when God gives it to me, but it is His to use and my job is to listen to Him. It is God who gives and takes away.” Waukeen kept his promise to God. He has tithed faithfully throughout his thirty-year career at the refinery and beyond as a retiree. He applied the skills taught in the class to arrange his finances so that he can continue to be able to use the resources God provided to bless others.

Faith & Finances classes are open to the public and often include participants who are multi-racial and multi-generational. Individuals from a cross-section of society, from the financially secure to those living on a limited income, young families and singles as well as older adults all find the information timely and helpful. If you, like Jason, wonder how your Christian faith has anything to do with your finances or perhaps you need help putting together a workable budget; Faith & Finances may be what you are looking for. Please visit our website to find information about a class near you.

For more information on the ministry or where you can join a class, please go to https://www.stchm.org/ff/.