A Second Chance at Life

Choices are one of God’s many gifts to us. We choose to take paths that lead in different directions and result in different outcomes. While our choices cannot thwart God’s sovereignty over our life’s journey, we maintain a freedom to make choices that lead toward or away from His presence. One woman in particular is familiar with this concept. Danielle’s choices–mostly driven by traumas–led her to Homes for Families. This choice, however, is without regret.

PRIOR TO MOVING to the Marshall Ranch campus, Danielle struggled mentally, emotionally and spiritually. “My life was falling apart, and I needed to change. I was really suicidal; I felt like I was very alone and hopeless,” she explained. Danielle developed trust issues at a young age, and her caretakers hurt her deeply. “They were supposed to protect me and care for me,” she recalls. This caused a distorted view of God’s character. Like many hurting people, she turned to alcohol and heavily relied on pills to numb her pain–all while trying to raise two daughters.

Danielle’s face lights up when she speaks about her children. She describes Jess, 16, as artistic and fun but still a little shy, while Alexi, 7, is really fun-loving and outgoing. Since moving to Homes for Families more than a year ago, God softened their hearts as a family unit. She reveals that “Lexi’s personality has blossomed, and Jess has come out of her shell and is more receptive and open.”

Danielle heard about STCH Ministries from a friend, Theresa Klacman, Director of Homes for Families. She encouraged Danielle to apply to move onto the campus and begin getting her life back in order. Danielle is inspired by the support she receives at Homes for Families and says that the facilities and programs provide “a safe and supportive place for me to get my life back on track.” She continues, “Being able to study God’s Word and apply it to my life has made a difference in the way that I think and behave.”

Danielle even admits she discovered her child-like self again. One of her favorite memories is from a day the STCH Ministries staff set up a bounce house on campus. At first, she thought it was just for the kids, but then she joined some of the other mothers inside the inflatable structure. “We had so much fun on it!” she remembers.

That is not the only way Homes for Families impacted Danielle’s life. “I have hope; I don’t have depression, and I don’t have anxiety. I have my struggles, but I’m able to cope with them in a much healthier way than before,” she explained while choking up. “It has brought me into a deeper relationship with God. Coming out here and letting God heal those hurts and wounds and talking with the counselor about the traumatic things that have happened to me—I’ve seen God bring me into a deeper, more loving relationship with Him.”

Facing the future is something she can do now. She says the biggest lesson learned while at Homes for Families is that she can forgive herself, and she knows she is worthy of that. Danielle hopes other mothers who are on the fence about getting help from STCH Ministries will just take the plunge and do it. “It’s a choice you will not regret,” she exclaims. Homes for Families is above and beyond what she envisioned. She is able to heal from the trauma, let God’s Word speak into her life and forgive and love herself. This discovery has in turn impacted her kids’ lives, too. They understand they can forgive, experience joy and are worthy of a life that they want. “Seeing all the other women at Homes for Families and how God moves in their lives, gives me extremely huge hope” Danielle says with confidence.

Danielle recently moved into Phase III on campus, which calls for her to hold a full-time job or be in school fulltime, attend church regularly and attend monthly counseling sessions through STCH Ministries. She currently has a job, but she is hoping to go back to school. “I’ve always been drawn to nursing or the medical field,” she reveals. Danielle also expresses interest in possibly receiving a degree from a trade school. She looks forward to stability, helping people and providing for her daughters as a single mom. Danielle proudly says, “I’m excited about the future.  I can’t wait to see what doors God opens up and the direction He wants me to go. I’m seeking it, I’m asking Him for it, and I know He’s going to take me to it.”

Danielle’s choices led her to this moment of rebirth in the Lord. Christians who discover God at a later stage in life can choose to be ashamed of their past or learn to embrace it. For Danielle, she says, “I used to be ashamed of my testimony, but God showed me how he can use it to help other people.”

That’s the beautiful thing about giving our lives to Jesus; He does not turn His back on us even when we slip-up. Instead, He turns our mistakes into lessons that we can teach to others.

Finding Connection in Community

Isolation, anxiety and financial strain swept through our communities this past year. Many people experienced the effects of interrupted careers, financial instability, canceled plans and physical distance. A recent report from the Pew Research Center indicates that “onein-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started, a third have dipped into savings or retirement accounts to make ends meet, and about one-in-six have borrowed money from friends or family or gotten food from a food bank.” It appears that the effects of this collective trauma are real and long-lasting.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH The Chalmers Center, STCH Ministries offers a unique course designed to alleviate the burdens of economic struggle. The Faith & Finances course exists to equip financially vulnerable individuals with money management strategies that connect Jesus’ redemptive work to all aspects of personal life. While the course focuses on the holistic integration of faith and healthy financial habits, students also experience intentional relationships in spiritual community. As Christians, the desire for community is hardwired within, and our souls are created for relational closeness with God and others. While most students walk into the classroom as strangers, they leave as confidants, accountability partners and close friends.

During the 12-week class, instructors introduce the conceptual idea that God’s plan for personal finances is greater than our expectations. The course content is highly interactive and pairs biblical principles with financial literacy. Students walk away feeling equipped with the necessary tools to overcome past mistakes, manage debt, spend wisely and save for the future. While some groups meet virtually and others meet in-person, relational bonds form across a diverse spectrum of demographics and life experiences. With faith as the common thread, course participants create meaningful connections that translate into tangible support outside of the classroom.

Throughout 2020, Faith & Finances class locations remained active, and students experienced real life change. Here, you will read the stories of two women, Lynne and Brandy, who recently completed the course in different cities, with different meeting formats and different financial needs. While these women hold unique life experiences and their stories do not directly intersect, both women found acceptance, encouragement and support through this community.

Years ago, Lynne experienced relational connection within Christian community. She lived in Ohio and felt blessed within her career, finances and friendships. While no immediate needs required drastic financial savings, Lynne’s personal choices reflected a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. But when her employer closed its doors, she began freefalling into an unstable world. From here on out, Lynne struggled with her faith and finances. Anxious thoughts crept into her mind, and before long, isolation and fear gripped her life.

While Lynne experienced relational abandonment with close friends, she remained connected to her aunt and uncle. Recognizing her desperation, these relatives walked alongside Lynne as mentors and prayer partners. With no signs of improvement, Lynne’s uncle suggested that she attend a STCH Ministries Faith & Finances class. The group planned to meet virtually, and while Lynne was initially hesitant, she agreed to participate.

As Lynne counted down the days until the course began, her anxiety swelled within. She found it easier to isolate than participate in community. The journey toward being known by others presented emotional difficulties as she held tight to distrust and cynicism. Lynne nearly backed out hours before the first class began, but she gathered her courage and accessed the online portal.

To her surprise, Lynne experienced an overwhelming sense of peace during the first meeting. The people were diverse, and the group felt like a safe space. But vulnerability did not come easily as Lynne tried to reintegrate into community. As time passed, the group found commonality in shared stories of struggle and glimpses of hope. The more someone shared their story, the more it inspired others to do the same. This process allowed Lynne to internalize a truth—she is not alone.

The group’s facilitators presented financial concepts in a way that everyone understood. They used skits and anecdotes to break down difficult theories. She learned that small budgeting changes can add up and make a big impact on personal finances. Lynne expected to learn about budgeting, saving, spending and eliminating debt, but the course exceeded expectations. “The first time I heard ‘Jesus makes all things new including money and relationships’ I understood it, but by the end of class I could feel it. It became my own belief,” said Lynne.

Lynne recognizes that her instructors and classmates nurtured her own growth mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Today, Lynne is surrounded by the healthy relationships that developed within the Faith & Finances class. These friendships span socio-economic backgrounds, races, ages and stages of faith. The group found meaningful connection through communal learning, prayer, growth and fellowship. For Lynne, the Faith & Finances class was the final piece of the puzzle at just the right time. “Hearing others rise above their stories gives me courage to rise above mine,” noted Lynne. “We started out as strangers, but by the end, we were brothers and sisters.”

Not only did Lynne personally adopt the suggested financial management strategies, but the course allowed her to become more generous in giving to God. “It’s worth it. It is hard and time consuming, but it will change your life in more places than just in your wallet.” Lynne continued, “The more you put into the course, the more you get out of it.” STCH Ministries Faith & Finances class served as the catalyst that made a major difference in Lynne’s financial stability. By the end of the course, she committed to seek God first in all aspects of her life.

STCH Ministries prioritizes this class by offering options for attendance as well as full access to materials regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. While Lynne intentionally encountered community through digital avenues, many others engage through in-person gatherings. Brandy’s story toward financial and spiritual wholeness began when she decided to attend a Faith & Finances class at her church in Corpus Christi, Texas.

As a mother of two adult children that she proudly raised in a single parent household, Brandy became highly familiar with paycheck-to-paycheck spending. After moving to Corpus Christi from Nacogdoches, Texas, Brandy struggled to find fulltime work and an independent living arrangement. She worked part-time at the Walmart pharmacy while sharing a home with her cousin. The realities surrounding Brandy’s recent move proved to be more difficult than expected—physically, emotionally and financially. 

When her local church announced registration for STCH Ministries’ Faith & Finances course, she decided to finally take her personal spending habits seriously. Eager to meet others on a similar path, Brandy made a commitment to engage with the instructor, students and course materials each week. During the first gathering, she internalized the phrase, “you save, you give, you spend.” This financial prioritization changed the way she approached paychecks each month.

Throughout the duration of the course, Brandy took control of her finances with confidence. As new strategies and tactics filtered through her life, Brandy took bold steps within her career and living situation. She found a full-time job within a hospital and negotiated her position for a higher hourly wage. With financial grounding to stand upon, Brandy found an apartment with a reasonable monthly rent and moved in with her adult son.

“During the Faith & Finances class, I learned how to budget, make necessary cuts, save for a rainy day, the importance of reading the fine print, how to avoid gimmicks and differentiating between wants and needs,” said Brandy. She recalls the years living paycheck-to-paycheck, and she’s proud to now experience life in a different way. Today, Brandy frequently shares helpful practices with family and friends that include budgeting worksheets and a cash envelope system for all purchases. She is passionate about her journey toward financial freedom while encouraging others to register for the class.

Brandy credits the Faith & Finances course for her spiritual and financial transformation. She admires the instructor’s consistent vulnerability and holds tight to the principles that help integrate her faith and finances in a tangible way. Brandy is now a greeter within her church’s volunteer ministry where she faithfully serves every Sunday. She loves giving back to her church, and it brings real joy to her life. As a daily practice, Brandy reminds herself to prioritize necessities over wants while centering her Christian faith in all things. “Faithfulness in everything,” Brandy explains. “In personal finances and the rest of my life.”

There is hope, and there are resources for individuals who feel trapped in financially difficult situations. STCH Ministries is proud to play a role in fostering faith and financial wholeness within communities throughout Texas and its surrounding areas. When global events feel helpless, God’s faithfulness continues. When economic decay intrudes, God’s promises sustain our souls. And when the act of taking the next step to engage in community feels difficult, messy and uncomfortable, God’s peace surrounds our hearts and minds.

Article resources: “Economic Fallout From COVID-19 Continues to Hit Lower-Income Americans the Hardest.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (September 24, 2020) www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/ economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-incomeamericans-the-hardest/

Building Christian Leaders Through Missions

NAOMI ARIZA WAS JUST A CHILD when she became involved with STCH Ministries’ mission teams. “I didn’t know anything, not even a word of English, but they let me hang around doing little things to help. They loved me and helped me to grow into the person I am today. Everything I know—my values, how to work and even my English—I learned at the feet of Jesus through their guidance.” In the past, Naomi and her four siblings lacked basic necessities, often going to sleep not knowing if there would be food to eat in the morning. Today, Naomi is a lovely young lady majoring in chemistry at one of the top universities in the Dominican Republic, through the CLEP (Christian Leadership Education Project) scholarship. She is a leader in the IBQ church, helps with children’s ministries and is a wonderful translator.

Naomi served as part of STCH Ministries’ staff with the recent 2020 Christmas mission team to the Dominican Republic. With gritty faith, twenty-one people overcame obstacles, like passport delays and COVID-19 fears. They resolved to serve children and families devastated by the pandemic.

The team delivered groceries to needy families, constructed desks and cubbies for the Villa Altagracia school, and shared the gospel as they distributed tracts up and down neighborhood streets. Children’s ministries included singing, games and a Bible-story drama. A day at the Higuey orphanage capped off their week as they rotated between painting walls, fitting the boys with new shoes and building relationships with the children.

STCH Ministries International has led similar mission trips in the Dominican Republic since 2007. In addition to children’s ministries, they have hosted pastors’ conferences and training for teachers and orphanage caregivers. Most teams have participated in construction projects, some ambitious as a new school building or as useful as school furniture, beds and playgrounds. Regularly, groups deliver food, targeting the neediest families.

Each team arrives and then leaves a week later. What is the cumulative impact of their efforts? A few days of construction, sewing, playing games, baking cupcakes, holding babies, shoe fittings and delivering groceries. What is the lasting value of these mission trips? Sharing the gospel through each activity, teaching, loving and discipling.

We surveyed dozens of parents, students, pastors, school educators and orphanage leaders. Their audio interviews, expressed in their unique Dominican style, are transcribed and represent only a few of the many responses we received.

Ondina is our head cook for our mission teams who regularly brags about her food. She said, “It’s a great privilege to work for STCH Ministries. It moves me greatly, like wow! When I see the mission teams joining their efforts and hearts to help, it gives me energies for my work. I see how hard they work, even the small children work, and it is contagious to the rest of us. During the pandemic, the ministry has been a special blessing, frequently supplying groceries, medical help and clothing to us.”

As part of the kitchen staff, Maria Luisa spoke about the impact on her life, when a mission team rebuilt her squalid home. “God calls us to serve Him, but often we are divided between working to exist and working for God’s kingdom. The team left their comforts and worked to improve my housing so I can serve God better. Their sacrifice reminds me of what Jesus did when He left His place beside God to die on a cross for us.”

Mission team participants often choose a child to sponsor through the Samuel’s Fund program and the Christian Leadership Educational Project (CLEP). Countless donors have invested themselves generously and consistently in these children. Scarlett is one of the CLEP students, and she responded, “In my consideration, I see that STCH Ministries is a holistic ministry that helps with physical needs, spiritual needs and education. The base of everything they do is Jesus. In medical clinics, at VBS, even if it’s diversion, it’s still about sharing the gospel. I translate for them, and it has helped me to grow. And the economic help also reflects God’s hands. STCH Ministries has provided my college education through the CLEP program. During the pandemic, I became seriously ill, and we didn’t have food either. They were there to meet our needs.”

One of the most lasting impacts of a mission team is the efforts they pour into the orphanages. Ramon and Juana Prensa responded from Monte Plata. “The groups are extraordinarily beneficial because they love our children. Their repeated visits build relationships and help to teach and disciple them. The teams come to us as a gift from heaven, not only a monthly donation, but also unexpected grocery purchases. They helped built the transition home for young people aging out of the home and met the need for computers to enable distance learning during this pandemic. Above all, the sponsorship of our children has been a source of strength and encouragement for us as leaders to continue to serve God.”

Nieves, the director of the Higuey boys’ home, reflected, “In our timeline, there is BS and AS—Before and After STCH Ministries. After God, the mission teams have had the greatest impact on our ministry. Today, we never have to run around desperately begging for a chicken to feed them. We are able to pay our staff, instead of putting them off. Our boys see how hard they work. As the director, I have been impacted spiritually by their example. The simplicity, the humility with which they serve, has inspired me to keep on serving.”

Raquel has worked with our mission teams for over ten years in her school. “Next to God, I am thankful for STCH Ministries. We had a dream to evangelize our community, our families and children and then to teach them in a school. He has used mission teams to accomplish this dream. New buildings, teacher training and supplies and child sponsorships. When schools shut down because of the pandemic, we had only one resource for online teaching. Only God. Now we have a computer laboratory. Glory to God in the highest! How He has blessed us! I am very sure that STCH Ministries is actually a blessing to the entire country of Dominican Republic. Because when a child leaves here, he spreads the greatness of God through his education.”

Their answers triggered an imaginary time-lapse video. A chicken coop morphs into a beautiful school building as cement block stacks upon block, and one mission team follows another. Young Alex holding his guitar fades, then dons a doctor’s coat. Elementary children transform into university students working as mission team translators. Dark and angry Franklin blurs, then smiles, embracing his wife and baby as he describes his job designing web-based programs for Dominican Republic customs. He gives God the glory as he expresses his gratitude for STCH Ministries, his sponsor and the opportunity to get an education.

As the Christmas 2020 mission trip ended and 2021 began, we stood on the rooftop at the IBQ compound. We watched the tropical sky as night swiftly blotted out the light. We reflected on the fog of uncertainty and turmoil all around the world which has heightened a pervasive atmosphere of anxiety. As Christians we may question, “How then shall we live? How shall we respond?” More than ever before, we need to invest wisely our small “cup” of resources in the lives of others and to hear with a sense of urgency Jesus’ words echoing down the hallways of time, “As long as it is day, I must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4

Independence and Normalcy in Transitional Living

LEARNING TO DRIVE, going out with friends, getting a cell phone, accepting your first job offer—all of these are normal rites of passage for teenagers, and it is no different for students at STCH Ministries Homes for Children. Students on the campus who are at least 15-years-old can join the Transitional Living Program. Through the program, they take driving lessons, receive a cell phone, gain more independence and can even apply to work off campus. Students strive to be a part of this program.

The Transitional Living Program includes basic life-skills training and the opportunity for students to practice those skills as they work toward living independently. There are three levels in the program with greater independence at each level. To enter Level 1, the student must have a valid Texas driver’s permit, receive recommendations from a houseparent, caseworker and administrative staff member and be willing to cooperate with staff. Once on Level 1, the student can take driving lessons with a houseparent, receive a cell phone and have two nights out each week with approval. “I love being able to go out with friends and having more freedom,” said Laura, 16.

Once students complete driving hours, receive their driver’s license and show responsibility, they can look toward Level 2. One of the main qualifications for Level 2 is they must have adequate funds to open a checking account. Students on the campus receive allowances, and when they start the Transitional Living Program, their allowance increases. Houseparents teach students the importance of saving money and budgeting. Caseworkers sit down with the students to make sure that their accounts stay in good standing. The ability to open and maintain a checking account is important for independent living once they leave Boothe Campus. 

The highest level of the Transitional Living Program is Level 3. Level 3 is for high school seniors who receive letters of recommendation from three staff members. Students on Level 3 experience the greatest amount of independence. They are allowed to go out any night of the week and earn the largest amount of money. Students on Level 2 and 3 are able and encouraged to get a job off campus. Any money that the student makes goes into their account, and they are responsible for how the money is spent.

In August 2020, Homes for Children received a donated vehicle from Christopher Rohlfing—a generous and thoughtful gift—to be used as the transitional living vehicle. This vehicle is used by students on Level 1 to practice their driving with their houseparents, while students on Level 2 and 3 can reserve the vehicle to drive to school, work or to go out with friends. Currently there are seven students in the program, so they must communicate and work together to ensure that everyone is given a chance to use the vehicle when needed. The program also helps students learn how to care for vehicles with tutorials in changing a tire and checking the oil.

Students can also save money to purchase a vehicle of their own. They are required to carry insurance on the vehicle and maintain it properly. Two students currently in the program have worked hard to purchase a vehicle of their own and continue to work hard to maintain it. “I love that Homes for Children lets me have my own truck. It’s a big responsibility, but I love rising to the challenge,” said Amber, 17. This is a huge accomplishment for any teenager, and STCH Ministries is proud of their hard work and dedication to get to this point.

Applying for and receiving an offer for a job is a lifechanging moment for teenagers, and students at Boothe Campus are no different. Two of the Transitional Living Program students currently work to save money for a vehicle, college and other personal items. “I am very thankful that STCH Ministries gives me the opportunity to work and learn the important life skills that come from having a job,” Drae, 17, shared. “It is also nice to have my own money and to learn how to manage it.” Drae works at a local fast food restaurant while Edna works at a local country store. Both students love the opportunity to earn money for themselves and the feeling of responsibility that comes with a job. “It is awesome to have the experience of a real job while still living within the comfort of Homes for Children,” Edna, 18, stated. “It means a lot to know that I have them as a support system.”

Being in the Transitional Living Program is a privilege and comes with more responsibility. “Being in the program means you have your act together,” Laura stated. On top of the required recommendations, the students hold more responsibilities which they must maintain to stay in the program. One requirement is the students must maintain passing grades in all subjects. School remains a priority for all of the students on the Homes for Children campus, and those in the program set an example for others. Students in the program are also required to help prepare at least two meals in the cottage each month. Learning how to cook is a skill that will help the students once they graduate and leave Boothe Campus. Church is also a requirement. Those in the program are required to attend chapel on Wednesday nights and church on Sundays. Their spiritual walk is the most important part of their growth.

Homes for Children works hard to ensure that students never feel like they missed something. They help pay for class rings, invitations to graduation, senior pictures and other activities that high schoolers encounter. “Normalcy is key for these students,” Greg Huskey, vice president of Homes for Children shared. “We don’t want them to leave here feeling like they missed out.” Students appreciate the help that they receive from STCH Ministries.

Growing up is challenging. Earning more independence and responsibility while still being in the safety of the campus can help prevent students from struggling after Homes for Children. “God has given us an opportunity to share His love with the kids He has brought to us. The Transitional Living Program is an opportunity for us to give our kids a skill-based foundation, coupled with the message of Christ Jesus on which they can build their life on, long after they leave us,” Timothy Hadley, Boothe Campus director, stated. STCH Ministries Homes for Children puts emphasis on the long-term benefits of the Transitional Living Program and wants to see every student that passes through Boothe Campus succeed in life long after they leave.

Sharing Hope – Christmas on Campus

As 2021 begins, we at STCH Ministries are excited to see how God is going to move through our ministries this year. Sharing Hope will be a way for you to stay connected to all that God is doing through STCH Ministries. We want to say THANK YOU for your continued prayers and support and look forward to sharing these stories with you.

Christmas at Homes for Children

Due to COVID-19, Christmas looked and felt a little different on our Homes for Children campus. Groups that would normally come out and host a party for the children had to get creative. One group from The Church at Creek’s End in Spring, Texas loaded up a charter bus with gifts, donations and youth ready to share the love of Christ. Cottages sat on their front porch and watched as the group sang carols, acted out the Christmas Story and delivered gifts.

Homes for Children was blessed by many different Christmas sponsors this year including Cedar Grove Baptist Church, the VFW and many others. We could not do what we do without the support from all of the amazing sponsors that make Christmas special for the children.

Homes for Families Christmas

Christmas is always full of fun, laughter and excitement for the mothers and children on our Homes for Families campus. In December, the Cub Scouts Pack 226 from Yorktown Christian Academy blessed our families with Christmas gifts and the children enjoyed the opportunity to open the gifts and show off their new toys. Three members of Danbury Baptist Church also brought gifts for our families and enjoyed some time of fellowship with our Phase I and Phase II moms. The moms enjoyed the fellowship as much as their children enjoyed the gifts. 

They were also blessed by gifts from Marathon Oil and the Blanco Baptist Association. We are thankful for all of our Christmas sponsors for making Christmas a special time for these families. 

Homes for Families Childcare

During the day, the younger children whose moms are in Phase I or Phase II, attend childcare on the campus. Recently, two volunteers took time out of their day to put together an activity table for the children. The children couldn’t wait to try it out and to start working on their motor skills by working with whisks and pompoms and learning about healthy snacks. “We learned apples are fruit, some apples are red, apples are good for us and apples taste good!” explains Kathy, the Homes for Families Child Care Assistant.

The new activity table is a great addition to their daily schedule. It provides a productive learning space while keeping the toddlers in one safe spot. “They can focus on the activity and we can focus on them collectively”.

We are thankful for an amazing staff at Homes for Families that love to see the children grow just as much as they love to see the mothers grow.

 

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and commitment to STCH Ministries and those we serve.

Want to get involved? Our website has a great list of opportunities for you – click to see where God leads you: Connect Me!

Thank you for helping STCH Ministries!

Living Intentionally in 2021

Goodbye 2020. Flickering hopes for a better 2021 compete with dire predictions from pastors, politicians, the economy and health officials. How shall each of us respond?

The Houston First Baptist Cypress family mission team, joined by the Kemp family from Allen First Baptist chose not to wait for a future time to serve. Ignoring fearful “what-ifs,” they focused their eyes on Dominican children and families most cruelly impacted by the pandemic. As one participant shared, “I don’t want to put life on hold. In 2021 I want to trust God in new ways and live intentionally for His kingdom.” 

Masked and COVID-weary, the team easily passed through Dominican customs on December 26, 2020. They gave a hallelujah shout-out that not one of the mountainous pile of suitcases was lost or delayed! Mounting their bus, they rode to the IBQ mission compound down streets jammed with cars, as motorcycles zipped dangerously in between. Crowds of people drifted on streets and sidewalks, and clustered on the corners with no apparent destination. People competed for the chance to sell food, water and household items at every intersection. Others desperately squirted water on the windshield of passing vehicles, hoping for a paltry tip of pesos—food for today their vital goal. Unemployment is critically high, largely due to the devastation of the tourism industry.

In spite of negative circumstances on both sides of the Caribbean, the Christmas team purposed to live out the Gospel message, “Joy to the world, the Lord HAS come!” Through words and deeds, and in PRESENCE, they communicated that “neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today, nor our worries about tomorrow (not even a pandemic) can separate us from God’s love.”

During the varied ministries, appropriate COVID-precautions were observed—pre-screening, limited group size, masks and outdoor activities. The team delivered groceries from Texas Baptist Hunger Offering to needy families. Construction of desks and cubbies for the Villa Altagracia school took place in the open-air workshop on site. At Villa Altagracia they participated in an Evangelism walk through the neighborhoods, distributing tracts and rejoicing with those who responded. Children’s ministries included singing, games and the Jonah story shared through drama. After presenting the drama, participants switched places with Dominican children and coached them through the same drama, making the story and the lessons doubly impactful.

We shared our customary meal with Dominican families by inviting them to fellowship with an American family at the IBQ compound. Decorated tables were set up under the zinc roof in separate corners of the church, and the Americans served the Dominicans. The fellowship was delightful and personal.

During the day at the Higuey orphanage, the team rotated between painting walls and building relationships–singing, playing games, baking and frosting cupcakes, blowing bubbles, holding them, loving as Jesus’ disciples. While fitting them with new shoes, they also shared the Gospel with each boy.

At the conclusion of the trip, one mother concluded, “There are many reasons to be discouraged by COVID and current events, but God is greater than all of these things, and our time in the DR reminded us of this.”

STCH Ministries and our Dominican partners are grateful for the investment of this Christmas mission team. Although we face a lot of unknowns, we know God’s Word never fails, and He is ultimately sovereign. May we respond by living intentionally in 2021 as Christ-followers, knowing that whatever we invest in Kingdom ministry is never lost.

 

Bendiciones,

Joanna Berry
Joanna Berry
Vice President of Family and International Ministries
STCH Ministries

Celebrate God’s Faithfulness in Pictures

If I had to pick two words that defined STCH Ministries International during this COVID-2020 year, I would have to choose perseverance and flexibility.  Perseverance to overcome obstacles, take calculated risks while exercising appropriate protocols, replace fear with faith in God’s provision and faithfulness.  And flexibility.  In the past we depended on mission teams to meet many needs of children and families, and to support the ministries of orphanages, schools and churches through our presence, resources and “sweat equity.”  Without mission teams, our STCH Ministries partners stepped forward and organized, distributed responsibilities, substituted in-person for WhatsApp, Zoom, phone, email and text and continued to serve.

At the same time, the STCH Ministries family of donors responded to the increased needs—food to feed children and families, computers to aid distance learning.  Eron Green captured our call to action and service during this time with, “THE MINISTRY CONTINUES.”  Click on the link below to see a short video of all that was accomplished, and celebrate our God who “always supplies our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.”

May your Christmas be blessed and the New Year welcomed, with an eternal perspective.  ”God is still on the throne, Almighty God is He, and He cares for His own through all eternity.”

Bendiciones,

Joanna Berry
Joanna Berry
Vice President of Family and International Ministries
STCH Ministries

Click here to view the video!

The Ministry Continues – Peace Like a River

We hope you had a wonderfully blessed and thankful Thanksgiving! We know it may have looked a little different this year – but prayerfully you still remained grateful to the Lord for He is Good! 

“And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”
1 Chronicles 29:13

We are gratefully blessed because of you.
Thank you for helping the Ministry Continue!

 

HOMES FOR CHILDREN

Through your generous contributions, our students are able to participate in many different activities in school such as athletics, UIL, showing animals and so much more!

Recently two of our teen students, Laura and Seth, from our Homes for Children campus showed their steer and heifer in Cameron, TX.

We are so thankful for the opportunity our students are given to take part in 4H due to supporters like YOU!!

 

FAMILY COUNSELING

The impact God makes on our lives – when we invite God into our lives – is life-changing.

A client of Family Counseling recently shared an encouraging message with one of our counselors. The client expressed her thankfulness by explaining how God used the counselor’s words as a way for God to intervene and allow healing.

I just wanted to share with you that God spoke through you yesterday.
I really felt His “peace like a river” wash over me by the end of our session.
Thank you for allowing Him to use you.
This is why I feel so strongly that the spiritual aspect of counseling
cannot be left out, and am so grateful to be working with you.

This is a wonderful reminder that God intervenes and speaks by using others to do His Will. And when God intervenes, lives are impacted.

STCH Ministries would not be able to counsel and minister to those we serve, without the help of supporters like YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


GIVING TUESDAY IS HERE!

The stories we share with you, and so many others – are a reminder of how God uses others to carry out His Will

STCH Ministries is thankful for you, your prayers and your support.

As the busy holiday season begins it’s easy to get consumed with shopping, traveling and year-end deadlines.

Will you please consider taking a moment today – out of your busy schedule – and share an act of HOPE? Today is the annual day of giving, #GivingTuesday.

 

Thank you again for your continued prayers, support and commitment to STCH Ministries and those we serve.

The impact you make changes lives, you are helping to share hope and heal hearts through your prayers, gifts, involvement and more!

Thank you for helping the Ministry Continue!

Chosen to Serve Through Technology

As Covid-19 cases diminish in the Dominican Republic, the aftereffects send shock waves through the entire social, economic, and educational systems. The newly elected government threads their way between the needs of school children, panicked parents, unprepared teachers and administrators. They delayed the new school year to November, and mandated distance learning. Paper, pencil, chalkboards suddenly became inadequate tools. Computers, internet access, learning platforms—all inaccessible to impoverished teachers and children.

 

 







STCH Ministries donors became angels, (messengers sent by God). Within a few weeks more than 65 computers and notebooks were in the hands of the teachers, and available for children in the tutoring room and orphanages. Teachers worked to adapt to virtual lessons, and struggled with spotty internet signal, and limited band width when several computers were online at the same time.

 

At Raquel’s school, teachers were grateful for the computers, but definitely frustrated as they tried to meet the needs of their students. They moved around to hallways or perched on stair steps, sat on the floor, or crammed together in one room for best internet reception. 

 

Raquel, never one to stare at a problem for long, began to search for ways to improve the situation. She bought a device that was supposed to boost the signal—didn’t help. She considered a router, but couldn’t afford $35.00. Raquel prayed. She told the teachers that by the following Monday they would have a solution. Her daughter, Michell asked, “But, Mom, how are you going to do this?” More prayer.

In Austin, God was already answering those prayers. Marco Leal and Will Krauss, owner and president of the Loyal IT firm, and STCH Ministries staff boarded flights for the Dominican Republic. We hoped they could review and make suggestions to improve. However, Marco and Will came with two huge bags of equipment to RESOLVE, not just review. Much of the high-tech equipment was donated by Austin Retina Associates and Central Texas Eye Center, who also wanted to help. God never does anything halfway!

 

They toured and assessed the problems, while speaking a third language, besides English and Spanish…granular control, access points, 48 watts to 5.8 gigahertz, 8 Port, 12-Port, maybe a 24-port Switch, Packets, and TCIP/IP Transmission Control Protocol. Russell reported, “We installed outdoor-rated Network cable for durability, one Access Point on the second floor of the school, which will boost Wi-Fi signal to all of the second floor of the main building and some of the second building as well. This was the first of 3 Access points along with a switch that will manage the 3 Access Points. Plus another device that will grant us access to their Network via the Internet….with greater speeds of data transfer and a higher number of devices connected.”

Raquel may not have understood the words or the concepts. What she DID know was that God had answered her prayers. Tears welled up in her eyes, and rolled down her cheeks. Giddy with excitement, the next morning she shared in the teachers’ amazement when they turned on their computers and saw that they had internet access. In addition to the work at Raquel’s school, the team traveled to the school at Villa Altagracia to do similar work, and then returned to the headquarters area at the IBQ church to significantly improve the internet capacity there. We are grateful to Loyal IT and to all of our Ministry Partners in schools, churches and orphanages who do such amazing work for God. An old poem states, “God chooses whom He uses.” We are honored to serve with others whom God has chosen for this work.

 

 

 




 


Bendiciones,

Joanna Berry
Joanna Berry
Vice President of Family and International Ministries
STCH Ministries

The Ministry Continues – We’re Hiring!

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your
good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
” Matthew 5:16

STCH Ministries has a beautiful story with testaments of lives being impacted over the last 68+ years of history. This is only possible due to God’s Favor over our ministry and those He’s placed among the ministry to do His work.

Thank you for being part of our story


It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of former STCH Ministries President, Dr. A.J. “Jack” Green.

Dr. Green was born on August 3, 1931 and passed November 9, 2020. He served as a pastor for many years in churches throughout Texas.


STCH Ministries was blessed by the life and vision of Dr. Green, and his legacy will live on through the ministries he helped create and strengthen.

Dr. Green started working for STCH Ministries in 1973, only the 2nd President in the 21 years since its founding, and he went on to serve for 25 years.

The love and dedication that he had for the organization, the children, the families and God’s Will helped STCH Ministries grow and expand their reach to affect more lives. In the years after he left STCH Ministries, you could find him with a STCH Ministries cap on his head and a smile on his face. He continued to be a presence at STCH Ministries, going to Board Meetings, working with the ministries and praying for the future.

We are deeply saddened by the news but know that Dr. Green’s legacy will live on through the lives that he touched. Please continue to pray for his family


Have a Heart for Kids?

Do you and your spouse have a heart for ministry and a love for children? STCH Ministries Homes for Children is seeking special couples to serve as Houseparents on our beautiful campus located in the heart of South Texas.

Houseparents must understand and support the mission of STCH Ministries and its programs and faith tradition. Houseparents play a front-line role in this ministry.

To learn more about this opportunity click: more information.


‘Tis the Season to Smile!

The holiday season is upon us! If you’re looking for a safe and convenient way to stay away from crowds, but your Christmas and shopping lists continue to grow… Amazon is a great place to start!

When you shop through Amazon Smile, a portion of your sale will be donated back to STCH Ministries. So you can double the gifts you’re giving this year, without hitting the stores!

Click here to shop through AMAZON SMILE and STCH Ministries receives a portion.
(This is available all year long.)


Thank you again for your continued prayers, support and commitment to STCH Ministries and those we serve.

The impact you make changes lives, and there are so many different ways you can get connected and make an impact with STCH Ministries.

Our website has a great list of opportunities for you – click to see where God leads you: Connect Me!

Thank you for helping the Ministry Continue!