Unforgettable Moments

The Comical and the Inspirational

On a mission trip, God speaks individually to each person—through laughter, in singing or in a child’s eyes, during painting, playing, devotions on the rooftop, or a food delivery.  In early June, Hunters Glen Baptist from Plano joined First Baptist from Kenedy to serve together in the Dominican Republic.
Sunday morning at IBQ church was “a picture of heaven,” reported Marcia.

The Spanish and English words of hymns sung at full volume,
gave new meaning to the ancient words,
“This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!”
One afternoon the group gathered groceries and visited the humble zinc-roofed home of Meisy Mercedes, a sponsored child living with her grandmother. “How can we pray for you?”  Her response? Not toys, or clothes, or an Iphone. “Pray that my family will be complete in Christ, that my grandmother will accept Jesus.”

Ladies took turns sewing curtains for Raquel’s school.  Some would measure, others would cut, and others would sew.  But no matter how diligently they worked, the curtains weren’t coming out the same size. Frustration turned to laughter when they compared their measuring tapes—tapes marked 60 inches were different lengths!

Meeting their sponsored child in person provided special memories.  Celine Alvarez cried with joy and disbelief when she was told that her sponsors wanted to meet her.  She had been sponsored for 7 years by the children’s ministry of Hunter’s Glen.

On the opposite end of those emotions was Enmanuel.  Tina’s family have been sponsoring for 2 years, and they knew that Enmanuel was misbehaving and failing in school.  Imagine his surprise and embarrassment when his sponsor showed up, speaking Spanish, and talked with him about his behaviors. “I’ll be back next year to check on you!”

The group traveled to the Higuey boys home, and spent two days with them.  Building a porch, painting, sharing devotional time along with a mountain of pizzas—but their most precious memories were loving and playing with 25 boys.
“I was reminded that God is always good, always faithful.”  “I was blessed to see love in action.” “ I was nudged to invest in our youth at home.” “I met a child that needs a sponsor.”  God spoke personally, and willing hearts responded to His call.

Thank You!

Thank you for your generosity in 2021! We have been unbelievably blessed to have your generosity – especially in such difficult and challenging times as this past year. We have persevered by faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, and He provided donors like you!

Your prayers and support changed 9,478 lives throughout Texas and internationally. Through our different ministries, you made a difference:

HOMES FOR CHILDREN provided 130 children a nurturing and encouraging place to call their home.

HOMES FOR FAMILIES gave 86 moms and their children a safe place to heal, restore and start a new chapter in their lives. Additionally, we added Bluebonnet Campus to serve the needs of moms and children.

FAMILY COUNSELING also grew! We added a location in the Rio Grande Valley. Through our 16 locations throughout Texas including Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio and Victoria
– we have helped 2,790 individuals. We were able to provide Christian Counseling services through online and in-person sessions, along with participation in classes and seminars.
Additionally, 19,289 COUNSELING SESSIONS were provided to individuals, families and couples.

COLLEGE STUDENTS received scholarships, books and housing to prepare for their successful future. 16 young adults are on their way to new adventures!

FAITH & WORK provided 140 men and women the ability to discover God’s purpose for their lives and how to fulfill that purpose.

INTERNATIONAL missions impacted 5,497 disadvantaged children and families by sharing the gospel and ministering to their needs.

PASTOR CARE walked alongside 110 pastors and their families to help strengthen and replenish their hearts and relationships.

FAITH & FINANCES helped 684 men and woman master Biblical principles concerning their money.

33 people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

The Spirit of Giving

Growing up, Christmas was always a time of excitement and wonder as everyone anticipated what was under the tree and suspected the surprise of others when they opened their gift from you. The lights, the brisk weather and the sounds of Christmas brought to the community and people could always be counted on from the perspective of most people. Especially celebrating the birth of our Savior and understanding the real reason for Christmas.

However, as I grew up, I quickly realized Christmas was not the way I described above for everyone.      Many were without the joy I experienced and Christmas presents were not as plentiful or even present at all. Little did I know and fully embrace this fact until I began to work with children and families. Here I learned that some children and even adults experienced Christmas for the first time much older than myself.

At STCH Ministries, Christmas is made possible year after year by so many including individual sponsors, churches and businesses to ensure the experience of joy and celebration. For many years, countless people, church groups and others volunteered their time and sometimes limited resources to provide gifts, parties and activities so the children and families on our Boothe Campus, Marshall Campus and Bluebonnet Campus would have the full experience of what Christmas has to offer.

It’s mind-boggling at times to fully understand the love and deep devotion that people possess to provide for the needs of our children and families. While there are many, one family comes to mind as being fully devoted to caring for children and families and it reaches back four generations. Four brothers, Ben, Dale, Dean and Mack Davis had the privilege of meeting Dr. Jess Lunsford while he pastored First Baptist Church, Beeville as they owned a construction company and were working on the church’s steeple. Only years later, when Lunsford became the leader of South Texas Children’s Home (STCH), he called upon the Davis brothers to build the first cottages, a pool and the first chapel on the Boothe Campus.

During this time, Ben Davis’s daughter, Bennye Jane, learned about STCH and developed a life-long passion to support its work along with her brothers Dwight and Duane. The two brothers remember working with their dad on the campus as the cottages were being built. The Boothe Campus was etched in their lives as an organization of hope and restoration as children called the campus their home for many years.

Even many years later, their love for STCH Ministries goes beyond most things as Bennye Jane Arnold, along with her husband Jim, instilled their love for children to their three sons Bradley, Randall and Jonathan. The Arnold family has continued to support STCH Ministries through sponsoring the annual Golf Classic each year, providing a box suite at a Corpus Christi Hooks baseball game and has financially supported various efforts for the benefit of Boothe Campus.

Ms. Arnold continually says “The children’s home has a special place in my heart and I will always help the children as long as I am able.” For the last four years, the complete Arnold family decided to not purchase gifts for each other at Christmas time but to sponsor children on the Boothe Campus, this idea came from Ms. Arnold herself. The Arnolds understand that it is more of a blessing to give than to receive. Bradley Arnold said, “We want to provide gifts for those in need as we don’t need anything.”      The family pulled their resources together and sponsored thirteen children this year.

The Arnold family hopes to be involved for years to come and possibly generations to come as Ms. Arnold’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are involved in the spirit of giving at Christmas. Thank you to the Davis family and now the Arnold family for making a huge impact on the lives of children and families in many ways.

In addition to the Arnold family, Christmas is made possible by many others as well. In 2021, a special thanks to the following for showering the campuses with parties, gifts and love during a time when children need normalcy, truth and love.

Integrating Faith in Every Type of Work

Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom can be overlooked as an occupation. While many stay-at-home moms know their work is vital, there are times the lack of validation can make them wonder, “Is there purpose in my day-to-day work?”

With the rise of the pandemic, the percentage of stay-at-home parents has increased throughout the country. Whether by preference or out of necessity, more and more parents are staying home full time with their children. In a recent article comparing states with the most stay-at-home parents, Texas made the third slot at 3.5 percent. *

Melanie, a wife and mom to four boys — ages 10, 7, 5 and 3 — worked as a Licensed Vocational Nurse for over a decade before deciding to become a stay-at-home mom. Most LVN shifts are 12-hour shifts at a time. While as an LVN, Melanie only worked 3 days of the week and was off for four. However, she shared, “I thought, since I am with them for four days, I can’t really be missing out on too much.” Yet just a few weeks into her new role as a stay-at-home mom, Melanie realized, “I missed out on a lot. Now, I’m just so appreciative of this time to see them grow and blossom.”

Melanie has now been at home with her children full time for over a year. Leaving her LVN job was “hard, new and scary,” Melanie admitted. But after taking the STCH Ministries Faith & Work course, she has now found a deep purpose in her daily work as a mom and homemaker.

Melanie and her family attend Summit Church in San Antonio, Texas. There she took the Faith & Finances course where she met, Tim Tolosa, Director of STCH Ministries Faith & Work | Faith & Finances. At the conclusion of Faith & Finances, Tim mentioned that the Faith & Work course would soon be available and Melanie’s interest piqued.

STCH Ministries Faith & Work touches on a lot of different topics over an eight-week period, such as Identity and Purpose, Effective Communication, Being a Faith-Work Integrator, and much more. Integrating her faith into her work was something Melanie thought she could learn now and use later. However, after completing the Faith & Work course she shared, “I had no idea I could use it now.” Melanie has been able to take the topics discussed during the Faith & Work course and learn to apply it with her children at home.

Before starting STCH Ministries Faith & Work, Melanie thought that only while at a paying job outside of the home could one really make an impact for God and His Kingdom. She shares, “I thought serving His Kingdom entailed having this super high position, a title, clocking in and out of a job, etc.” She goes on to say she never equated that to being a stay-at-home mom, raising a family or to taking care of the household.

Though she currently has no job out in the workforce, Melanie decided it was important for her to take the course and learn something new. “Knowledge is power, right? It can’t hurt me. I can definitely add it to my tool box,” Melanie thought, as she enrolled in the class.

After completing the eight-week course, Melanie exclaimed, “It definitely changed my outlook on being a stay-at-home mom.” She shared how STCH Ministries Faith & Work helped to validate her work in her home. “This is a calling and it made me more thankful for this,” Melanie shared.

“[God] gave them to me knowing I am capable and able to help them.” Melanie shared in regards to her four children. As a stay-at-home mom, extending grace when there is conflict as well as teaching and encouraging her children to share their faith with friends at school are just some of the truths she has learned from the course.

When asked about future plans to return to her LVN career, Melanie confessed, “I do miss it, I definitely love interacting with adults and the profession of nursing.” If she ever goes back, the truths Melanie learned through STCH Ministries Faith & Work will certainly go back to the workforce with her.

Melanie realized that one can work hard and serve God’s Kingdom “right in your own household with your children.” She continued by adding, “He gave you these children, so your job, your service, is raising them and doing so as well as you can.” Just as many jobs out in the workforce require sacrifice, learning to work well with others and extending grace and forgiveness when resolving conflicts, so does being a stay-at-home parent.

STCH Ministries Faith & Work does not simply equip participants with ways to follow Christ effectively through their everyday vocation, but it is also a way for participants to grow in their faith over all. “My faith journey has definitely taken an upswing,” Melanie shared. She  expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of STCH Ministries Faith & Work, “I’m just so blessed and thankful… because I’ve really taken a lot from it and it has really helped shape me and encourage me.”

When asked how Melanie would encourage other stay at home moms struggling to find purpose in their everyday work, she shared “I see them. I hear them. I know their daily struggles.” Even though it seems like there’s no glory in being a stay-at-home mom, “this course definitely gives you that right to feel that your position has glory in it and that you are called, you are seen and you are wanted.”

STCH Ministries Faith & Work is open to anyone looking to learn how to discover God’s purpose for their life and how to fulfill that purpose through their work. That work could be out in the workforce or, like for Melanie, in the home. If you are considering taking Faith & Work or Faith & Finances classes, check out more information at http://www.stchm.org/life-skills-training/.

* https://www.parents.com/news/places-with-the-most-stay-at-home-parents/

Healing Generations

From a young age Alexus faced difficulties from all angles, but one thing kept her moving forward, a desire to have a relationship with her heavenly Father. She grew up knowing about God and would pray for Him to remove her from her bad situations and give her strength to move forward. At the age of 12, Alexus moved into foster care and spent a little over a year at Hill Country Youth Ranch where she grew in her relationship with the Lord. “That was where my faith grew. I already had God in my heart and I prayed to get out of that situation and He answered that prayer. Being there He led me closer to Him. He put me where I was supposed to be,” Alexus shared. After she left foster care, she attended three different middle schools and five different high schools before graduating. She never felt rooted anywhere. She longed for the feeling of “home”.

After graduating high school, Alexus moved between Corpus Christi and Victoria searching for a place to belong. Surrounded by negative influences she clung to the love of God and worked to stay strong and not give in to temptations from situations around her. “I knew God had a purpose and it’s my daughter, even before I knew her, before I knew I was going to have her,” Alexus shared. In February 2021 Alexus would finally hold this purpose in her arms. She would get to see the reason she fought so hard to not give into temptation in front of her.

In November 2021, Alexus faced a difficult choice, staying in an unhealthy situation or finding somewhere else to raise her sweet baby girl. Through what she can only explain as “a sign from God” she learned about STCH Ministries Homes for Families. A lady passing by and overhearing her situation told her to call Homes for Families director, Theresa Klacman. Alexus, filled with fear and anxiety, called and Theresa worked diligently to quickly find a place for her. Theresa understood the urgency of her situation, she did not have a choice outside of getting out of her apartment immediately. Theresa met Alexus at her apartment the next morning and helped her move her things to the Bluebonnet Campus, after she made sure she received a good breakfast. “When we got there, they first took us to the bedroom and I cried because my daughter finally had a real crib,” Alexus shared. She finally felt at home.

Alexus did not move to Homes for Families at Bluebonnet Campus simply for herself. She saw the difference it could make in her daughter’s life as well. Alexus summed up the purpose of STCH Ministries Homes for Families perfectly when she shared, “This is a place of healing. I knew in my heart that it was everything that I needed to become a better mom for her. She deserves a healed mom not one who is broken. Her growing up watching me deal with that stuff, she’s going to accept it in her future and I don’t want that.” Alexus saw and understood the affects her lifestyle would have on her daughter and wanted to make a change.

In 2010, STCH Ministries started the Homes for Families ministry on the Marshall Campus in Goliad. This ministry provides a place to help single moms and their children. Here the moms receive the care they need to get back on their feet, heal and take care of their children. At the same time, it is a safe place for their children to grow alongside them. Over the years the Homes for Families ministry has grown and countless lives have been changed for the better.

In 2020, Bluebonnet Youth Ranch in Yoakum reached out to STCH Ministries to discuss ways to help children and families in need. STCH Ministries met with Bluebonnet Youth Ranch’s board of directors and staff multiple times to find the best course of action. After several meetings, both organizations agreed the best route was a partnership between the two ministries with the goal being to care for children. Because of the increasing number of broken families and single mothers with children in Texas, STCH Ministries decided to use the additional campus as our second Homes for Families location.  As statistics indicate, “Single motherhood has grown so common in America that today 80 percent of single-parent families are headed by single mothers — nearly a third live in poverty.” *

STCH Ministries and Bluebonnet Youth Ranch announced their partnership on July 9, 2021. Shortly after the announcement, the first mother and child stepped foot on the Homes for Families at the Bluebonnet Campus. The mother and child found STCH Ministries staff on the campus with open arms and hearts ready to greet them. Over the first six months, the campus welcomed multiple mothers and their children.

Alexus’ story is just one of many stories of how God is using Homes for Families to affect the lives of two generations, both mothers and children. In 2021, STCH Ministries Homes for Families welcomed 24 mothers and 62 children to the two campuses. The addition of the Bluebonnet Campus will enable STCH Ministries to reach even more families in 2022. If you are someone you know needs help, visit www.STCHM.org/hff today. If you would like to visit the Homes for Families at the Bluebonnet Campus join us for our Open House on May 21, 2022.

Tragedies, Miracles and God’s Plans

Life is harsh for children living in poverty. For 10-year-old Danilsa, life was about to get a whole lot worse when an out-of-control vehicle exploded into their palm-board dwelling and crushed her leg. Isolated in the tiny village of Hatillo, Dominican Republic, medical help was limited.  Injuries of this kind commonly resulted in amputation.

Dr. Francisco Paredes understands this kind of poverty. Born in a public hospital, he lived in a wooden house with dirt floors—two rooms, a bedroom, a kitchen and an outhouse. He remembers, “We had three beds—one for my parents, one for the three boys and a small twin for my sister. From the time I was eight-years-old, I walked five-times the length of a football field (500 meters) to get water every day. I waited in a line with my mom and dad, filled 20 one-gallon buckets, then carried them home two-by-two another 500 meters. All of this for me was a normal and happy life.”

Life changed drastically when Francisco’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. During the long process of her illness, a man from the Baptist church (IBQ), came to visit and pray for her. They began to attend church, where Francisco and his mom accepted Christ, followed by the rest of the family within a few years. Francisco was chosen for a Samuel’s Fund sponsorship. Church members supported the family in many ways, and even poured a cement floor for them. In spite of surgery, and chemotherapy, his mother passed away. Life became increasingly difficult as Francisco became caregiver for his younger siblings. Hunger frequently stalked them. He continued to attend school and church. He took English classes and dreamed of becoming a doctor, an impossibility for a poor child. Resigned to life as a day laborer, he began to work installing cables after high school graduation.

However, God had a different plan for Francisco’s life. As David affirmed in Psalm 138, “The Lord will work out His plans for my life.” Through a series of miracles, he qualified for a government scholarship to study medicine in Cuba. He endured many hardships, including hunger, but ultimately graduated and was licensed as a doctor.

About the same time, the Bravo grocery corporation gifted a medical van to STCH Ministries equipped with state-of-the-art ultrasound. Dr. Francisco became Medical Director for STCH Ministries to impact the abortion rate, improve maternity outcomes, and provide medical care for our Samuel’s Fund sponsored children and families. The need grew and spread to orphanages, Christian schools and churches. In addition to the family of faith, the clinics provided an outreach into the communities.  Medical care and medications, given without cost, introduced many to the grace of God offered freely through Christ’s sacrifice.

When the pandemic began, medical needs exploded. Mired in poverty, many had no options for medical care. However, God, who sees the future as clearly as the past, led Dr. Francisco to add Dr. Analiel Pichardo to the medical staff in October of 2018.When Manuel Castillo (Alex), sponsored by the CLEP program, graduated from medical school he also began to give back to the ministry. With the addition of Pedro, a former taxi driver, to chauffeur the van, and share the Gospel with waiting patients, the team responded to the overwhelming medical needs.  The combination of love, skillful medical care, prayer and the Gospel message lived out in word and practice was life-changing and life-saving.

Cynthia Sosa is a pastor’s wife. She shared, “For me personally, this ministry has been a great blessing in the tutoring room, in the preschool, in the Church and in this community. When I got sick with COVID-19 my pressure had risen, and thanks to God, I could receive the medication. It is my prayer that the Lord will continue to bless this beautiful ministry in the love of Christ.”

Angeline added, “The medical clinic teaches me every day that God’s love for me and my family is great. My daughter even told me that she wants to be a doctor because of how the doctor is with her. May God continue to bless the doctor and everyone in the South Texas ministry who makes this possible.”

Pastor Ruben Diaz shared, “The medical clinic has been a big blessing to our ministry. We did a medical clinic in a poor area where we do ministry, called Los Humildes. That opened the doors to many homes where we can now go and share the Gospel.”

Bianela was especially grateful. She acknowledged that only God gives life, but recounts that when she brought her father to this medical clinic, I found out he was suffering from very high blood pressure. “After God, you are saving lives.”

Although the increased needs are great for medication funding, and volunteer medical help from the United States, a person’s ability to pay does not determine their access to this ministry—an inviolable STCH Ministries principle. We have been blessed by God’s provision through generous donors and trust God will continue to provide every need. As the number of patients increase, so have the costs of medication and service delivery. In 2018 the average medication cost per patient was $6.33. In 2021, the cost increased to $7.66.  Although that doesn’t seem like a big difference, it means a 20% increase per patient. Just in the last 6 months, the purchase price of medications has increased 39%. Another complicating factor is the lowered number of mission teams who frequently bring donations of over-the-counter medicine and vitamins—both expensive in this culture.

Danilsa was only ten-years-old when the accident occurred on October 30, 2017.  Rushed to the only near-by facility, she spent 17 days there. She was then released to go home with a partial cast, an open wound and a 15-day follow-up appointment. Since she was a sponsored child, Dr. Francisco was monitoring her situation and he became concerned. Experienced in the inadequate medical treatment available to poverty-level patients, he decided to take her for more x-rays. The x-ray proved what he had suspected—the bones were never set properly, and he also feared infection.  When Dr. Francisco showed the x-ray to an orthopedic doctor at the Hugo Mendoza Pediatric Hospital in Santo Domingo, he was told that since this case did not qualify as an emergency, according to protocol, it must be treated via consult. Unfortunately, they were full until next year.

Using personal connections that he had developed, Dr. Francisco pursued help from other doctors. He remembers, “After some negotiation we were put on the consult schedule for Tuesday. However, the doctor could only see 10 patients per day and already had 22 on the schedule. We were given number 23.  I knew that the patients would be seen in the order of arrival. The next morning, I left home at 3 am, drove to Hatillo, picked up Danilsa at 4 am, and arrived at the hospital by 5:30.  We were first in line!”

The doctor diagnosed a life-threatening infection, cleaned the wound properly, removing a significant amount of infection, which already had a disagreeable odor. Dr. Francisco immediately purchased the correct antibiotic. For the next 2 months, Dr. Francisco would carry Danilsa back to this hospital every two days to clean and inspect the wound until the infection was gone. Today, Danilsa is an active, cheerful teenager. Faithful in church, performing well at school, her mother reports she is helpful and compassionate—a blessing to many. 

Dr. Francisco and Danilsa are only two of the countless children who are born into poverty, live in isolated neighborhoods on one of the small islands in the Caribbean Sea. To the outside world they appear to have no special merit or value. But God created them in His image on purpose, for His purpose. “God will work out His plans for my life,” the psalmist affirmed. God’s plans for these children, and many more, involve STCH Ministries. His love moves the hands and feet of our staff, and awakens the compassion of generous donorswho give boys like Francisco, and little girls like Danilsa, hope and a future. This incomprehensible God gives incalculable value to those He created in His image. His un-understandable love carried Christ to a barn, and then to a cross, to accomplish His plans for our redemption. Knowing all of this, why should we marvel at the lengths to which God will go to work out His plans for our lives?

Faith Over Fear

As I write this, I am in a public car in North Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on my way to the airport to head home from our 2022 International vision trip. The trip was a tremendous opportunity for the group to see how God uses the willing to accomplish His purpose. The drive was a quiet one inside the car. Pedro spoke no English and my Spanish is less than adequate for conversation. But outside the car, the city was abuzz with activity. While the sun had yet to rise, it didn’t slow down motos and those selling items on the street trying to earn a living. As Pedro drives, many thoughts flood my mind about the trip and God’s protective grace. It was such a blessing to reconnect with our Dominican staff and their families. Our in-country team is really the heart and soul of our ministry there. They are all so dedicated to their call. My mind also recalls conversations with our partners, witnessing the growth of their ministries, and believing in what is to come in the future. What a blessing it is for STCH Ministries to be used to grow God’s work through these dedicated partnerships.

The trip participants were a great mix of folks from various parts of Texas and with varying connections to STCH Ministries. We all came together to make a trip during uncertain times with the Omicron variant running rampant. The group was able to see and participate in dental clinics, medical clinics, build and deliver much needed beds to a partner orphanage along with many other exciting activities.  Most importantly the team was able to get to know each other, to better understand STCH Ministries and to also learn much about those with whom we choose to partner.

To even make this trip, we all had to put fear aside and move forward in faith.  You see, fear is a normal emotion we feel because it typically keeps us safe. One of the most common fears documented is Acrophobia or the fear of heights.  It is interesting to try and understand fears– many are very logical and others not so much. The typical reason someone might fear is due to a traumatic event connected with said fear. While in other cases like Acrophobia, it may be the result of a traumatic experience. One could reasonably say that this fear may have evolved as an adaptation to an environment in which a fall from heights posed a significant danger. In other words, if you are on top of a tall building and you fall off, you might harm yourself.

While fear is real and, in many situations, healthy, we must make choices that show we choose faith over our fear. Having faith in the face of fear and uncertainty is much like stepping off the ledge of a building and allowing God to grow our wings before we hit the ground. Hebrews 11 is an awesome chapter to study to see what scripture says about fear. The chapter begins by telling us in verse one that faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. If we put our trust in God, He will sustain us in the face of fear. I encourage us all to not allow fear to make our decisions for us, rather move forward in Faith!

Hebrews 11:6

New Life Version

6 A man cannot please God unless he has faith. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is. That one must also know that God gives what is promised to the one who keeps on looking for Him.

One Life

A family group from First Woodway Baptist Church, joined a group of pre-PA students from Baylor to give Spring Break, 2022, a special meaning—for themselves and for over 350 children and families in the Dominican Republic.  Arriving at the Las Americas airport, any lingering COVID-concerns were swept away in the flood of excited, “Welcome!  Bienvenidos!” from the STCH Ministries Dominican partners.  Mountains of luggage were hurriedly pushed through torrents of rain to load on the bus.  The aroma of arroz con pollo, plantains, and salad awaited as they arrived at the Quisqueyana Baptist Church, mission headquarters for the week.

The diverse group was hosted by STCH Ministries (formerly South Texas Children’s Home), a BGCT supported ministry since 1960.  STCH Ministries International has been actively serving children and families in the Dominican Republic for 15 years, and through the heritage of one student’s great-grandparents, they have been connected with the Dominican Republic since 1947.  STCH Ministries customizes the ministry activities of each mission team according to their gifts.  This week included four medical clinics with the pre-PA students, a day at an orphanage, plus repair of a rotting palm-board house, VBS classes, and food deliveries to families and widows living with food insecurity.

Sunday afternoon Maria Luisa, a widow for many years, was surprised and grateful to receive the food offering.  She brushed away tears, took several deep breaths and willingly shared her story.

“I was married, with a baby boy just a little over a year old, when my world was shattered by the accident that killed my husband. I didn’t have a personal relationship with God, although I knew about Him. Darkness closed in. I spent months in deep depression, barely able to care for my son.  Desperate, I asked a distant relative to take me to church. There, at the Quisqueyana Baptist Church, I met the Savior and began a long healing journey. At first, I grew angrier with God as I began to read the Bible. ‘You have all power! You could have prevented the accident and my husband’s death! Why?’ my broken heart continued to cry.
“God’s purpose, I read, was to show the glory of God.  It didn’t really make sense and it didn’t take away the loneliness and pain that filled every waking hour. But somehow, it brought a tiny ray of hope into my dark world.  Maybe there was some purpose for my life?  I began teaching a children’s Bible class in my home.  Children, and then neighbors began to attend.  As time passed, many others became believers.”

Maria Luisa’s eyes were bright with joy as she shared that today almost every home in her neighborhood has passed from death to eternal life by faith in Christ. “My husband’s death brought me to Jesus, and the changes in my life brought Jesus to my neighbors!”

The team also shared the love of Jesus to over 350 individuals through medical clinics. Their medical needs varied from common colds and viruses, high blood pressure and related illnesses, many types of tropical fungi and skin lesions.  Approximately 75% of their needs could be met in the clinics through the doctor’s advice and medicines, while more serious cases were given appropriate referrals to specialists.
The students reported they were impacted by the opportunity to share God’s love through the practice of medicine.  As one student said, “I felt we were showing God off, by the way we loved and ministered to the needs of many who had no other options for medical care.”  Another student reported, “We watched the doctors take time with each patient, and listen compassionately to their complaints.  I want to be the kind of PA that takes time with my patient and shows genuine interest and values them.”
Throughout the week, in many diverse ministries, team members were blessed and challenged in their own lives. They were empowered to see the impact of their efforts in the lives of children and families.
Throughout the week, in many diverse ministries, team members were blessed and challenged in their own lives. They were empowered to see the impact of their efforts in the lives of children and families.

“Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
One life.  The impact continues.

A Beautiful Example of God’s Grace

FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES, a full day of activities is much more exciting than a day of chores or just sitting around the house. This past August, our kids at Boothe Campus experienced a day to just relax, play and be a kid. Buffco Production, Inc., an E&P oil and gas company based in East Texas, generously provided four water inflatables, a dunking booth, lunch from Chick-fil-A and ice cream from the On the Mooove Creamery for everyone to enjoy at Homes for Children.

This partnership materialized in a very unique way, and both organizations believe their joint work will
last a lifetime. Buffco first connected with STCH Ministries through Mr. Howett. Before his passing, Mr. Howett deeply supported STCH Ministries and personally worked to further its mission. Eleven years ago, Buffco acquired rights to develop a portion of Mr. Howett’s property in Zavala County. Following this deal, the company learned about STCH Ministries and its mission through a friendship between Gary Jones, STCH Ministries vice president for land management and Mr. Howett. After Mr. Howett’s passing, Buffco pursued STCH Ministries as a charitable initiative, and a strong partnership formed.

In 2014, Frank Buffkin, president of Buffco, and Jason Moore, chief operating officer at Buffco, decided to plan something big for the children at Boothe Campus. The event started as a Fourth of July party where Buffco could spend the day giving the children an unforgettable experience. In the end, the impact on Jason and the others from Buffco proved to be just as great if not more. Jason shares about his experiences below.

“I think it was the impact on all of us that attended the first event that solidified our desire to maintain that relationship in a more active way. I think we expected something special just given Mr. Howett’s devotion to the program, but I did not expect to see and feel something so tangible and such an obvious example of God’s presence at our first visit. God tells us that we are to protect and love children and to see that at work, in action, has never become less moving. We walk away from the event each year simply feeling like we have received such a blessing even to have a small part each year in serving the kids. The staff, the parents, the children that are always so gracious and thankful, it is truly a humbling experience at each visit. To see God’s call on his people to meet a need and see that need being met so compassionately is something awesome in the very truest sense of the word.

Over the years, participation in the event has also had the same impact on many industry partners who have stepped in with us at the event. Donald Callaway and his wife, Terra, and the crew at Legacy Safety have shared the same sentiments and desire to be a part of the program in the same way. It’s always an honor for us to be able to bring new industry partners along to witness this beautiful example of God’s grace.

First and foremost, we thank God for the relationship with STCH Ministries that we have today and will also never forget how that was born from Mr. Howett’s generosity and devotion to this amazing mission.”

Seeing truly is believing, and STCH Ministries is thankful for the generous support of Buffco and others who help fulfill the mission of serving children and families. The impact of our partnerships certainly goes both ways. The staff and children at Boothe Campus embody the same sentiments as Jason in being thankful for the great day of fun and ability to make new memories. Buffco and Jason’s shared goal is to provide the thrilling experiences but also provide for everyday needs. This year, they decided to assist with back-to-school supplies and clothing for those living on campus.

For Christopher, a 13-year-old who has lived on Boothe Campus since before this event began, says, “I like Buffco. I look forward to them coming each year because of the water slides and Chickfil- A. They are the GOAT–greatest of all time.”

Each year, this event is penciled in before the dates are even solidified due to the anticipation of children and staff. Benjamin Brewer, student ministries coordinator for Boothe Campus, exclaims, “Buffco brings so much excitement! It’s one of those days that builds with anticipation. What they provide for our campus is awesome, they bring so much joy and fun to our kids by creating such an awesome family experience. There is nothing more fun than seeing our kids smiles when they play on the waterslides and run around and have fun. I truly love and appreciate them for loving our kids so well. Awesome people!”

STCH Ministries is thankful for the Buffco team for their unwavering support for the fun day of activities as well as the support in other ventures. It is because of numerous partnerships that STCH Ministries can provide so many opportunities for everyone in our nine ministries.

Thank you to Buffco Production, Inc. and many others for your unending love and support. You are making a tremendous impact in the lives of so many people within our community and also serving as a beautiful example of God’s grace. If you are interested in getting involved with STCH Ministries visit, www.STCHM.org/get-involved today.

Building Healthy Churches Through Strategic Partnerships

Healthy pastors lead to healthy churches. This concept is the driving force behind STCH Ministries Pastor Care. The ministry was designed to strengthen and replenish the well-being of church leaders by providing confidential counseling for ministry families and pulpit supply when time away is needed. So when Texas Baptists approached STCH Ministries Faith & Finances to partner and provide training for pastors and churches within the convention, it was an easy decision.

STCH MINISTRIES originally taught financial courses within the Jobs for Life (now Faith & Work) curriculum, but they quickly realized that the program could reach a wider audience on its own. The team reached out to the Chalmers Center to create a partnership where STCH Ministries could teach the curriculum and train class facilitators. In 2016, STCH Ministries taught Faith & Finances as a twelve-week program for families, youth and church members to learn what the Bible says about managing money. In 2020, Faith & Finances served 524 individuals through classes primarily taught in the Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio areas. Texas Baptists recognized the need for pastors themselves and their congregations to receive financial training and reached out to STCH Ministries Faith & Finances to partner together.

The proposed partnership would “provide financial literacy education to Texas Baptists pastors and churches across the state that is affordable, faith-based, easily understood and proven to be effective.*” Texas Baptists agreed to pay for the cost of the certification and curriculum with grant funds from the Lilly Endowment through the Center for Ministerial Health, Financial Health area. The African American Ministry, Inter-Cultural Ministry, Church Starting Team and Texas Baptists en Espanol would approve pastors and designated church leaders for facilitator trainings. STCH Ministries would teach the classes as a ten-week condensed class for these pastors or their designated leaders and combine them with the facilitator training. This would allow pastors and church leaders to turn around and facilitate the classes for their own congregations.

At this point, the Chalmers Center had not created a Spanish Faith & Finances Facilitator Certification Course. STCH Ministries staff worked with the Chalmers Center to create a new Spanish
Certification Course and finalized the material in October 2021. Nick Holguin, a volunteer facilitator from San Antonio, launched the Spanish Facilitator Course for the pastors and church leaders from Texas Baptists. This will be the first class to complete the new Spanish Certification Course on the Chalmers website in November 2021. Thanks to this collaborative effort, the Spanish Certification Course will be available for all of the Chalmers Center partners worldwide.

The Faith & Finances directors all have pastoral backgrounds, so from the beginning they understood the impact the programs could have on churches and the kingdom of God. They knew from experiences with other Faith & Finances classes that when pastors and leaders stand behind the course, the congregation will also be more committed and involved. The widespread buy-in has helped in the teaching of the classes. “Pastors know the concepts, and it is a lot of the things they are teaching and have been teaching for years, and to hear another pastor expound on those areas and offer additional insights and frame it in the way the Chalmers Center has laid out the curriculum has been really helpful for a lot of them. It has been exciting,” shared Darrell Jackson, pastor and Faith & Finances director in Houston.

Even within the first few weeks of the classes, STCH Ministries received very positive feedback from individuals taking the class.

“I am really enjoying the class so far. The class will have great value on our church in which I will be ministering too. The benefits of the class will be for me to teach what I have learned in the class, such as learning to budget, which involves keeping a daily log on the money they spend daily. I plan to use the Faith & Finances material to help put more money into our church myself and to teach the church on how to budget more and to get more from the money they make.” – Alethea Russell co-founder of City of Hope Project in Dallas, Texas

“I believe every church should have a financial seminar at least once a year. The benefits to our memberships would be invaluable in learning the stewardship of God’s money and our responsibilities in its use. I plan to use the Faith & Finances materials in holding classes for our congregation, the faith community in my city and the community as a whole. I think that the materials can and will be used during stewardship month in our church.” – Pastor Billy R. Ashley, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church of Midland, Texas

“The Faith & Finances class provides good information for Christian families, and it helps to eliminate erroneous concepts about money and our relationship with money. The impact this class can provoke is to teach families to supply for their immediate needs, as a result, to learn to be better stewards of the goods that God provides them and reciprocally contribute in a better way to the kingdom of God.” – Pastor Eduardo Carrasquillo from Centro Cristiano Moreh in Killeen, Texas (Translated from Spanish)

“I am grateful for Texas Baptists work in Texas generally and with Hispanics specifically. I pray that the Faith & Finances resource is a blessing that reverberates through Texas Baptists in the coming years.” – Jesse Rincones, J.D., Executive Director, Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas (Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas)

“When my wife and I learned about STCH Ministries Faith & Finances, and especially the opportunity to be trained as facilitators, we wanted to help our church and the community get healthier in their finances as well. Many thanks for your efforts for us, and for our Master, and for investing your time in us.” – Pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Belton, Texas (Translated from Spanish)

“Brothers in Christ. I am very grateful for this Fe y Finanzas class that we are receiving. This class is helping me in managing my personal finances. This class has challenged me to strictly control my expenses. I told sister Yesenia that after finishing the Fe y Finanzas class, I will teach this class in my church. Many of my members have problems with their finances. They no longer see another option for getting out of debt. I believe that the Lord has shown us a way of how we can help the Church.” – Pastor Dario Bá Xuc from Bautista Emmanuel Guatemala (Translated from Spanish)

STCH Ministries is excited to see how this partnership with Texas Baptists will continue to grow. The initial agreement is to teach the facilitator course to pastors and church leaders of 100 Spanish speaking churches and 100 African American churches, but STCH Ministries directors do not want to stop there. They are looking forward to reaching other pastors and church leaders across Texas, the United States and internationally. With the ability to teach by Zoom, the possibilities are endless. On top of these classes, their goal is to teach individuals in all walks of life and are always looking for facilitators to join the team. If you are interested in serving or want to attend a class, visit www.STCHM.org/ff.