Supporting Hope

A young boy living on dirt floors, hauling water for cooking and bathing in a two-gallon can, then walking in baking sun, or clay-like mud
to half-day school. Nevertheless, he dreams of becoming a doctor. In another country village, a truck careens down a hill and smashes
the leg of a child living in poverty. Without medical care she would die of gangrene, or at best her leg will be amputated.

IMAGINE HOPE for these children.

STCH Ministries took root in the middle of brush country outside of Beeville in 1952. Action-based, the vision of healing hearts and sharing hope expanded to nine different ministries including children and families in the Dominican Republic. Hope envisions possibilities beyond despair. Hope excites and inspires. However, hope dims, and the shine wears off of vision when facing
daunting realities: isolated villages, dirt floors, alcoholism, poverty, hundreds of thousands of single moms and fatherless children.

In 2020 when the pandemic hit the Dominican Republic, the country locked down immediately. Government support was nonexistent
for the majority of the population. Food was hard to access, limited in quantity. The STCH Ministries family of donors responded
generously as hope became rice and beans for several months.

As people huddled fearfully in their homes, the government closed schools and ordered distance learning. Without computers and technical support, teachers were discouraged and overwhelmed. STCH Ministries donors responded again with their support. Dominican Republic ministry partners scoured the island to purchase laptops and tablets for teachers and the children in our
orphanages and Christian schools. But how to effectively use them with weak and spotty internet service?

Loyal IT is one of the largest managed service providers of technology in Central Texas, serving over fifty businesses and thirty non-profit establishments. They provide on-call tech support,
unlimited remote support and technology consulting. COVID-19 brought an explosion of technology needs in Texas and around the world. Yet in the midst of all of that, Marco Leal, owner, and Will Krauss, CEO, flew to the Dominican Republic to upgrade internet capacity at their own expense. Recently we asked, “Why? What motivates you?” Will answered,

“I have always found that my faith in God and my fascination for technology and connectivity has helped me wind up where I am today as the CEO of Loyal IT. At Loyal IT we believe we can help Christian ministries focus on their “WHY?” by making their complex technology needs our mission.”

Will went on to say, “One of the things I love the most about our work is that the owner, Marco Leal, is a strong believer and
shares the same values in our walk with God and love for people.”

Marco’s answer was deeply personal.

“I started my first computer electronics venture in March of 2000, and our store was wildly successful. I was realizing my dream come true, when 9/11 and a recession brought catastrophic results. Everything we had accumulated was gone in a couple of months.

In 2002, we decided to change the business structure from an electronics store to a service company. I worked longer hours, even kept the store open on Sunday in the attempt to make ends meet. The situation seemed hopeless. Family life suffered. I questioned God and doubted His presence. It seemed that the more I doubted Him, the more my life would deteriorate. I remember a stranger telling me, ‘My friend, you need to take your will and your life and place it in God’s hands.’ I chuckled and arrogantly replied, ‘How do you suggest I go about placing my life in these invisible hands?’ The message stuck in my head, but I was not ready to try that approach. The feelings of guilt, shame and failure continued omnipresent until I found myself in bed crying out, ‘God, catch me! I am falling!’

If you could combine every amazing feeling in the world and feel them all at once, it would describe what it felt like to fall in God’s hands. My problems did not disappear overnight, but I no longer
felt alone. I simply wanted to serve everyone. With this renewed life and mindset, the following year our business became twenty times more profitable than the six previous years combined.”

Marco summarized, “Today we teach our team members at Loyal IT to go above and beyond in our service. Regardless of whether we are called to serve a front desk clerk, a president & CEO or a volunteer at a homeless shelter, we should serve them all with same level of sincere gratitude.” Will added, “We often recall Matthew 5:41 which says ‘Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.’ Going the second mile and giving amazing service to our clients is what we love to do.”

In November 2020, Marco and Will boarded a plane in Austin and went not only a second mile but 2000 miles. They shared their hearts for service and their talents for technology to improve internet service for many sites. Their support rekindled a strong beacon of hope during a dark time for schools and orphanages in the Dominican Republic. Formerly fearful and discouraged, teachers’ ability to prepare lessons and communicate with their students gave new energy as everyone re-dedicated themselves to the new normal of learning.

Marco and Will reported at the end of their trip, “We love going down to the DR and using our gifts in technology to help the ministries of STCH Ministries. We absolutely love our relationship
with STCH Ministries. We are excited to continue our trips with your team to minister in the fields that God has put in your care.”

Healing hearts and sharing hope is never a one-and-done project. It is like assembling a puzzle, taking hundreds of little pieces to accomplish. Transforming hope into a concrete reality requires support from hundreds of seemingly unrelated individuals and churches and businesses. Volunteers who go on mission trips contribute their piece, those who give donations also help to fill in pieces as we create a picture of hope for children and families.

Together, we reflect God’s love and give hope to each child and family we are able to reach. The young boy who only dreamed of becoming a doctor, today ministers as Dr. Francisco Paredes with STCH Ministries International. Dr. Francisco was able to rescue the child with a crushed leg. Over two months of continual care, he worked with specialists and eventually saved her leg.

Supporting hope involves vision. It continues through God’s leading and calling of individuals. The process requires sacrifice, prayer and trust in God and obedience to His calling. Investment of skills—medical, dental, teachers, construction, sewing and technology—all are part of the great army of God to spread the Good News of salvation and rebirth.