God is my Provider

Felessia Ayala found a place to belong when she stopped using drugs to fill the emptiness in her heart. Every attempt to escape her emptiness hurt everyone she cared about. Her road to recovery began when she recognized her life consisted of only pain. STCH Ministries Homes for Families (HFF) supplied the resources she needed to restore her family.

During an attempted suicide, Felessia experienced a dream she believes came from God. Surrounded by absolute blackness, two roads appeared. She also saw God’s hands pointing, indicating the choice was hers to make. Despite the drug-induced stupor, she recognized her destructive path was because of her own decisions. She was not at rock bottom, but she returned to what she calls the “insanity” of addiction and homelessness. When she had exhausted all her options; she realized she wanted to do better, to be better.

Felessia’s mom helped her move into Restoration House Ministries (RHM) in Victoria. RHM’s residential program is dedicated to the service of women who desire freedom from addiction and bondage. One day, during group prayer time, Felessia felt God’s love surround her for the first time in her life. The love and acceptance she had received transformed her, she felt accepted and precious. She responded to God’s grace with surrender – she no longer hid from life nor traveled the road of destruction. Felessia accepted God’s gift of eternal life and forgiveness of sin, which was bought through Jesus’ sacrifice and sealed with His resurrection from the dead. She came to new life that day.

Felessia wanted to move to HFF but the fathers of her children did not trust her with their care. She took the matter to God in prayer and He moved in the hearts of the men. Circumstances changed for one of the fathers and he agreed to return the two oldest boys, James and Cameron, to Felessia on the same day she moved to HFF. Her boys held on to the anger and hurt they felt towards their mom. Felessia knew she had been healed from the past and now it was her sons’ turn. The support of staff, other moms and the parenting curriculum at HFF gave Felessia the strength and skills she needed to listen and allow her boys to express their feelings. The three sat in her walk-in closet, cried and prayed together. The presence of God encircled them and it was in that prayer closet their hearts knitted together as a family.

Three months later, her dream for a restored family came true. Zachary and Mackenzie’s father reached out to Felessia, as he noticed positive changes she had made and wanted to discuss reunification with her and the children. For the first time, Felessia had all four children with her, under her protection.

Felessia is now in the “launching” phase of the HFF program. She works part-time at a local hotel, recently purchased a car and has begun classes at Victoria Beauty College. The decision to become a hairstylist came from a forgotten dream she had as a young girl. Through this process, God has restored her hope and dream for a successful future.

“God is my provider. I’ve learned this through my time here,” she said. As a part of the HFF program, Felessia’s finances, physical needs and spiritual needs were met so she could focus on being a mom. Rebuilding relationships and creating new habits took courage and commitment from everyone involved. Today, Felessia and her family give God the glory for His work in their lives.

The Heart of an Eagle

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The first thing a person notices about Christopher Lee is his infectious smile and contagious energy, which is something that has changed over the years. Christopher came to STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) in the summer of 2012 when he was only four years old. He still remembers the day he came to the Boothe Campus, “I remember hiding behind my housemom’s back; I was very shy.” However, over the years he has come out from behind his housemom’s back and gained the heart of an eagle.

The first few years on the Boothe Campus were not the easiest for Christopher as he was encouraged to learn a new way of life. This included a life with his new houseparents, Terry and Sheila Backen, in Foster Cottage. His houseparents reminisced on how he would run away and Terry would follow him in the van through campus until he was ready to come home. This quickly changed, and Christopher began connecting with his houseparents and the other children in his cottage. Over his seven years at HFC, Christopher overcame these obstacles with help from the other children and the prayers from those around him. He was able to start experiencing God’s will for his life.

When Christopher was in Pre-K, he was picked to be a Peagle Pal. The Peagle Pals are selected to help the Pettus High School mascot during the Pep-Rally for the week. They get to wear a football jersey and run around the gym with the mascot and the cheerleaders. Christopher loved this opportunity and was chosen each year through fourth grade. He was very disappointed that he wasn’t chosen in the fifth grade and decided then that he wanted to be Peagle Jr. when he got to middle school.

In the spring of 2019, as Christopher prepared to finish elementary school and start middle school, he tried out to be the mascot. He was nervous at the cheerleading tryouts but knew that he had the support of his houseparents and the other children on campus. When his name was called after the tryouts he could not contain his joy; he had done it! When asked what his favorite moment since coming to HFC was, he exclaimed, “becoming the mascot!”

Over the summer, he attended cheer camp with his fellow cheerleaders and built relationships he will cherish forever.  He also enjoyed making new friends with people from other schools. He even earned the Spirit Award for the mascots. Because of the experience he had at cheer camp, he wants to work with the National Cheerleaders Association when he gets older. Excitedly, he took what he learned at camp and showed off his new talents at Pettus football games throughout the fall.

When Terry and Sheila look at Christopher today, they no longer see the shy little boy that came into their lives in 2012. They see a young man who has gained the confidence to be who he wants to be. They see the influences from the other children he lived with over the years – the ones who helped him get past his fears and insecurities about living at HFC. Now, he helps other children as they come onto the Boothe Campus by showing them love and encouraging them through the difficult transition. Christopher learned how to spread his wings and fly.


God’s Bigger Plan

In September of 1994, Dale Pogue thought he knew God’s plan for his life. He had been pastoring First Baptist Taft for the last 9 years, and his wife, Ann, loved her job as the school nurse for Taft ISD.  They lived in a nice parsonage and did not envision God calling them to serve anywhere else. However, God had a bigger plan for both the Pogues and STCH Ministries.

Unexpectedly, Dale received a phone call from STCH Ministries President, Dr. Jack Green. Dr. Green wanted to invite Dale to lunch with Vice President, Homer Hanna, and himself. Dale “could not turn down such an invite” so he told them he would be there. He arrived at lunch with no idea what the meeting was about, except maybe to discuss his recent nomination to serve on the Board of Directors. After they finished eating, Dr. Green began to share his dream of a ministry to help strengthen families: a way to help them before they reached the point of separation. He envisioned working with families in the surrounding churches, their pastors and their staff members, despite the individual’s ability to pay. Dr. Green shared his dream but left the how, what and when up to Dale.

Dale left lunch overwhelmed by the fact that Dr. Green wanted him to take over his dream. He had so much to consider; his wife and her feelings, his church, where they would live and his age. “To begin a new ministry at my age was almost unheard of,” Dale explained. “I knew in my heart that it could happen if it was God’s plan for me and STCH Ministries.” Dale shared the proposal with Ann and together their hearts opened to this new challenge. In order to receive approval to lead this new ministry, Dale resigned from the board before he had the chance to serve.

Dr. Green’s dream was set into motion, but it was not going to be an easy task. Dale, under the direction of Homer, started out on the road with brochures in hand to meet with pastors and church secretaries about this new Family Ministry. He had to build excitement for what STCH Ministries was doing and show how it could benefit the people in Corpus Christi. Dale also had to find Christian Counselors to help serve the clients that would be coming to see them. Without funding for full-time counselors, Dale had to get creative. STCH Ministries employees, Diane Gryseels and Lil Abshier, said they wanted to help when possible, but they had their own ministry assignments. God stayed faithful through the process, and showed in many different ways that they were following His plan. STCH Ministries contracted with multiple counselors and they worked on a client by client basis.

God was laying a solid foundation for STCH Ministries Family Ministry. Next, the ministry needed an office space and through God’s provision, STCH Ministries purchased a building at 4438 South Staples in Corpus Christi. The office space was to be shared – one side Family Ministry and the other for ministries already in place. After moving into the new building, Dale started building a library with resources for those in need and planning retreats for pastors and their wives. The staff started seeing clients, some of which traveled a long distance. Dale received a phone call one day from a couple living in a rural area near San Angelo. The couple needed counseling but could not afford what most places were charging. They asked him what the cost of a session would be and Dale replied, “just the cost of gas and meals.” They scheduled a time and Dale met with the couple as a pastoral counselor in Corpus Christi. A few weeks later they called again asking to return to discuss other issues. With tears in his eyes Dale stated, “I was delighted to see them leave with full assurance that their commitment to marriage was real and final.”

In 1996, Joanna Berry was hired as Family Ministry’s first part-time therapist. Joanna was excited about the opportunity because she already worked as a contract therapist for STCH Ministries. She loved the ability to help clients not only through counseling but counseling based on biblical truths. Shortly after hiring Joanna, Dale decided it was time for him to step away from the ministry, and Les Chaney was hired as the director. Les wanted to focus on the family aspect and implemented family conferences for those in the area. This is when STCH Ministries Family Ministry really began to grow.

In 2001, Les stepped down from Family Ministry, and STCH Ministries President, Dr. Jerry Haag, had to decide who would take his place.  Dr. Haag sat down with Joanna to decide the future of Family Ministry. Some began to speculate that it was not a ministry that needed to exist and that time and funding should be spent in other ministries. During Dr. Haag’s conversation with Joanna, she received a phone call from a distraught client. Joanna helped walk the client through their difficult situation over the phone and helped make a difference in their life. In that moment Dr. Haag knew Family Ministry was worth fighting for, and he knew just the person to run it, Joanna.

Joanna was still only working part-time which is what she preferred. Unsure of what she wanted to do, she went home and talked to her husband, John, about the offer. Together, they decided it was time for her to move forward and accept the offer as the director. “All I did was take a step,” Joanna states. STCH Ministries continued to work in God’s will and Family Ministry continued to grow. In 2007, under Joanna’s direction, STCH Ministries opened an office in Victoria and changed the name to Family Counseling.

In 2017, due to the tremendous growth, the leadership of Family Counseling was given to Darin Griffiths who had served as a counselor at the Corpus Christi office for 12 years. When Darin joined STCH Ministries in 2005 there were only 7 counselors, today there are close to 30. He has seen the ministry expand both in numbers and their impact. Even though there are more locations and employees they are still able to stay connected and work together for the good of the ministry. Darin’s dream moving forward is to expand Family Counseling’s outreach through distance counseling over the internet. “Technology is only going to get more advanced so we will need to continue to discover ways to use technology and to expand our abilities to use it,” Darin states.

Dale, Homer and Dr. Green love looking back and seeing how God used people to take what seemed like a small dream and how He turned it into something so beautiful. Dale helped “get the plane off the ground”, but others “took the plane up higher with God’s leadership.” Today, STCH Ministries Family Counseling serves over 800 people a month at 15 different locations. Eron Green, the current STCH Ministries President, says, “The true impact felt through Family Counseling ministry cannot be fully understood and appreciated this side of heaven. So many have been blessed because of Dr. Green’s willingness to follow the Lord’s leading by starting the program. I am so excited to see how Family Counseling ministry will continue to grow and develop.” Over the years, no one expected the ministry to grow the way it did, but God had bigger plans!


Faith & Work: Discover your Why

“Why didn’t I know this? I quit job after job searching for a sense of fulfillment and purpose,” exclaimed a single mom.

“Who am I as a retired person? This course helped to define God’s purpose for this stage of my life,” a retired speech therapist stated.

“As an employer, this course hits all the boxes needed to develop a star employee,” independent business owner.

A business executive in a large oil and gas firm stated, “We all work in environments that are toxic to faith, and begin to develop a split personality—one person at work, and one in our faith-life. This course is teaching me how to speak faith into that work environment in terms of how I react to people, do ethics, resist greed, etc.”

These reactions illustrate the impact of the newly developed STCH Ministries Faith & Work curriculum on diverse groups of participants—sometimes in the very same class. Successfully integrating faith and values into one’s daily work is one of the greatest needs in a Christian’s life. Current research confirms that 75% of adults are searching for ways to make a difference in the world and live a more meaningful life. In a recent Facebook post, one person expressed the emptiness many feel:

“I go to work every morning and come home exhausted, only to get up the next day and do the same thing. Then the weekend comes with two days of relief. But by Sunday afternoon I have knots in my stomach knowing that soon I will have to do this all over again. Is this all there is to life?”

Deeper life crises often spring from an underlying disillusionment with what life holds. Even within the church, Christians sometimes struggle. At times it is as if they are living two lives – the spiritual life, where joy, love and peace are possible, and the secular life, where the demands of work often consume and drain them.

As Vicki Hewitt, writer and editor, expressed so eloquently, “I always desired to honor God in my work, but I was often troubled by the thought that secular work had less eternal value, and God was more pleased with the work I did in the Christian realm.”

There is a great need for spiritual direction in this area, for it is estimated that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work and approximately 2,000 hours in church during their 40-year work life. The reality is – there is very little teaching within the church on vocation as a calling to follow Christ in everything a Christian does. God created human beings in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) and divinely designed us to work (Genesis 1:28; 2:5-8, 15). As the authors of Calling: A Biblical Perspective state, “If God cares about our lives, He must care about our work, unless He intends to ignore the biggest part of our lives.”

Jo Saxton queries in Christians at Work, “We have this one gift of a life, and many hours of it are spent in our workplace. What does it look like to partner with God and what He is doing in the world in your workplace?”

Twenty centuries ago the Christian faith spread from Judea across the known world to Syria and Asia Minor, and then beyond into the heart of Rome. It did not spread primarily through churches or synagogues, but in the marketplaces – in the tents of carpet sellers, in wine shops and bakeries, in the stalls that sold household items or produce and in pens that contained doves, sheep, or goats.

But what about today in contemporary America? Is it possible to integrate faith and beliefs into work environments? Can an accountant, a cashier, an engineer, a carpenter or a salesperson answer the call to follow Christ effectively through their work? In what way can work become an act of worship that fills my soul with a deep sense of meaning and contentment?

Seeking the answers to those questions became the motivation for the new Faith & Work curriculum. In fulfilling the mission to honor God, help hurting children and families and enable others to join us, STCH Ministries had invested since 2007 in the lives of women to help them spiritually, and improve their skills to find a better job. This journey led us through a number of different efforts to meet the needs of both men and women in the workplace environment. In 2018, it became clear that we needed our own curriculum. Staff shared their “boots-on-the-ground” expertise while Vicki Hewitt became editor and contributor. The result was the new STCH Ministries Faith & Work curriculum.

Shameka Dukes, top executive recruiter for an oil and gas company expressed, “The curriculum includes spiritual, Biblical guidance as well as practical and tangible ways that I can get faith into my everyday work-life. It is a holistic training on how to unfold ourselves and how to live authentically in our 90,000 hours of work during our lifetime.”

The ultimate goal of the Faith & Work course is to help people grow in their confidence and ability to become committed Faith-Integrators in their workplaces as they live out God’s calling on their lives. This is what will bring the deepest sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in the life of a Christian worker. Through the application of Biblical principles, people will discover how work can be more than a job. It can become a personal response to Jesus’ challenge, “Come, follow me.”

For eight weeks the Faith & Work course builds on the truth that for the believer in Christ, all work is sacred. Additionally – through teaching, discussion, videos, personal assessments and meaningful activities – the curriculum offers people an opportunity to improve skills, overcome obstacles, become stronger leaders and gain confidence to seek the job that fully actualizes their potential.

We believe that the Faith and Work curriculum will help individuals discover God’s purpose for their lives. They will effectively reflect God at work, in social interactions, community service and ministry efforts. Through good works at work, they will glorify the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). By shining Hope into the dark places of hearts and contemporary environments, they will have the opportunity to “answer everyone who asks for the reason of the Hope within.” (I Peter 3:15)

Both Faith & Work and Faith & Finances curriculum and participant guides, are available without charge. To find out more information on how to access this resource for your work, church or ministry group, please contact the following individuals for current classes as well as the opportunity to receive training as a certified facilitator volunteer.

Houston Area — Darrell Jackson,

San Antonio Area — Tim Tolosa,

Corpus Christi Area — Jimmy Rodriguez,


Teachers Teaching Teachers

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Eight years ago, University Baptist Church (UBC) in Houston, Texas wanted to develop an all-female mission trip. The idea of teachers teaching teachers grew as organizers recognized many of the interested ladies were teachers.

Unbeknownst to the UBC members, this idea fulfilled a long time hope in the heart of STCH Ministries International (International) staff member, Rebecca Dinzey. Rebecca worked as a high school teacher in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR) before joining the staff at International. The more Rebecca worked alongside the Christian schools partnered with International, the greater her hope grew to bring veteran teachers from the States to share their knowledge and experience with Dominican teachers.  She believed her colleagues could learn new teaching strategies and gain inspiration from the Americans’ passion for teaching.

The first team of teachers arrived in the summer of 2012; Kindergarten teacher, Ruthann Mitchell joined the team as a guest of her friend Karol Peters, STCH Ministries Board member. Grieving her mother’s death, Ruthann wanted to honor her mother, Esther Ruth’s, love of missions. Ruthann found the confirmation she sought when the team visited an orphanage and she noticed a baby girl under a mosquito net. Asking to hold her, the caregivers also allowed Ruthann to feed the baby. Wanting to know more, Ruthann asked the baby’s name – Ruth Esther. Hearing her mother’s name spoken as she looked into those innocent eyes, Ruthann knew teaching Dominican teachers was the mission God called her to fulfill.

Ruthann returns each summer, leading other American teachers to share their expertise with the people who have won her affection. “Teaching teachers is like no other teaching I’ve ever done,” she explains. The warm acceptance of the Dominicans and their hunger to learn skills not taught in their country give American volunteers a new appreciation for the education they receive. Ruthann believes her colleagues often do not recognize how fortunate they are to have been taught not just the content they teach but also the skills for how to teach that content.

Teachers in Texas must attend professional development workshops in order to keep their teaching certificate up to date. Tamara Lee, a high school Science teacher in Conroe Independent School District, also considers teaching teachers a special blessing. “Now when I have to go to a workshop, I think, ‘How can I use this in the DR?’ I now see my ‘have to’s as ‘get to’s.” Tamara has taught school for 26 years and has been a part of the teacher’s team with International for 3 years.

This summer’s teaching team brought 12 teachers, 6 construction workers, a teenager to help with Vacation Bible School (VBS) and 38 checked bags filled to the maximum weight with resources, supplies and giveaways for Dominican teachers.  The teachers taught 8 hours per day for 4 days in 2 cities, impacting over 250 teachers representing dozens of schools. The teenager led VBS classes with the workshop attendees’ children, while the construction workers helped finish a roof on an orphanage in one city and helped build a gazebo at a Christian school in another.

The workshop organized the teachers by age groups: preschool/kindergarten, elementary and high school. Grouping the instruction in this way allowed them to teach specific methods according to development levels. Exact plans depend on the specialties of the teachers attending each year. This year, the topics for the preschool/kindergarten group included developing fine and gross motor skills, suggestions for maintaining student interest through hands-on techniques and a variety of group games. The elementary group focused on lesson planning and demonstrating specific teaching styles especially in language arts, science and social studies. The high school teachers, concentrating on academic learning activities and modeling professional collaboration, were encouraged to write down how they could adapt the material presented and discussed their ideas with their peers. This year there were two specialists in the Texas group, a counselor and an art teacher. These two rotated between classes sharing their expertise with everyone.

The first half of the week, they trained educators at Primera Iglesia Bautista in La Romana. The church partners with International to bring the best care possible to their school and orphanage. This was the third time the group has led workshops in the town on the southeastern coast of the island nation. This year, 86 teachers registered to attend the training, more than doubling previous years’ attendance. Wileny, an elementary teacher at a private school in La Romana, planned to add a new feature to her classroom, a word wall.  This is a collection of words and drawings largely displayed on a wall in a classroom, a word wall, provides an interactive tool for students.

The second training took place in Villa Mella, near the capital city of Santo Domingo, at Iglesia Bautista Quisequayana (IBQ), International’s base of operation for all of their work in the Dominican Republic. The team works at this location each year and has developed a reputation for excellence. Many Dominican teachers arrive an hour before the starting time and most returning attendees bring colleagues with them.

In the preschool class at IBQ, the art lessons, group games and the counselor’s presentation dealing with classroom management and troubled children had the Dominicans asking for more of the same. Anauris, a preschool teacher for seven years, committed to learn something new every day and this meeting gave her a new perspective. “Everything looks very different when you are sitting in the student’s seat rather than the teacher’s,” she said. Reviewing her own methods and activities from the students’ viewpoint helped her decide to make some changes in her classroom. Cristina has attended the classes for three years and already looks forward to next year. She keeps coming back because of the way the Americans conduct the classes, the comradery of fellow teachers and the opportunity to learn from others.

Each year, more American teachers join in, more Dominican schools benefit and the Kingdom of God is enriched through the collaboration of teachers teaching teachers. Next year’s trip dates are already on the calendar and Rebecca’s heart is happy. She hears from Dominican friends every year how encouraged and enlightened they feel.  It emboldens them to keep up with new ideas and to work with passion while giving them new techniques using the simplest materials and creativity.  “I know many have changed their style of teaching and have become better at their job,” she states.

STCH Ministries International accepts volunteer teams year-round, and Rebecca would love to see more teacher teams come in the fall and springtime as well. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, please check out our website: or call us at 361.994.0940.


Emerging Butterflies

ELEGANTLY DRESSED young women seemed to float through the festive room as they served homemade lasagna. The colors and sounds inside reflected the blooms and butterflies outside on this early spring day. Guests gathered to celebrate the courageous women dedicated to the ambitious undertaking of rebuilding their lives at STCH Ministries’ Homes for Families (HFF) Appreciation Banquet. Located just outside of Goliad, TX, HFF on Marshall Ranch Campus is currently home to eleven mothers and thirty-one children. These families are linked by traumatic pasts and a determination to be the change that breaks the cycle of a lifetime of bad decisions.

Theresa Klacman, Program Director of HFF, explains the annual banquet. “The families at HFF receive the benefits of the generous nature of STCH Ministries and numerous volunteers in the community throughout the year. It’s important to me that the girls give back once a year and show their gratitude. This event allows the residents and the staff to see just how many people are involved in making this program a success. It’s a wonderful time for reflection and thanking
God for his church.”

In preparation for this event, the girls take a six-week public speaking and etiquette class. They learn how to set a table, how to serve their guests, and what to say while serving. “The whole process grounds us all to gratitude and allows us to say thank you with action to all the people who make this program a success,” Klacman said.

Testimonies from each woman was the highlight of the afternoon. Many of the speakers emphasized the difficulty of acting on their responsibility to be courageous in life.

Judy, a mother of six, spoke of weighing “the pain of change versus the pain of never changing,” In the end, she made her decision to join the program for her children. “I knew I needed to change. I wanted my kids to be – better. I didn’t want my kids to follow the footsteps I did.”

Young Gabrielle did not know how to cook, physically care for her child or even appropriately handle telephone conversations when she arrived at HFF. Her playful grin and spunky confidence accentuate the metamorphosis she is undergoing while living and learning on the ranch. “I could never imagine going back to my old ways,” she affirms. “I’ve learned to ‘throw down’ in the kitchen now. I have discovered things about myself that are new and I have restored old dreams.”

Angelica came determined to “get my life together to be able to raise my son no matter the cost.” A lifetime of betrayal at the hands of her own family left her cautious and judgmental with deep fears about whether this opportunity was too good to be true. Although she is in the early stages of the program, she has a beautiful understanding of the work God is beginning in her. “I would like to say my life is like a butterfly. I was born, hatched, into the world as a caterpillar eating the leaves of plants to survive. Eating and surviving off of the things of the broken world. Right now, I am in the cocoon at HFF. Right now, God is making me into a beautiful butterfly.”

Maria’s migration to Marshall Ranch came for the sake of her children also. She describes life after moving into Phase 2, the Equipping phase, from her daughters’ point of view. “The girls say that they love the new mom I am today. They are very thankful to me for choosing them instead of drugs and finding God. He has shown me how to love myself and others. He has given me peace and patience I never thought I could have.”

Forging a better life for their children may have been the catalyst which began the evolution, but God Himself is transforming these ladies into women genuinely seeking His heart each day. Brittany asserts, “My relationship with God is stronger than it has ever been. I am now a godly woman who can provide safety and stability for me and for my children as I keep God in the forefront of it all.”

Debbie struggled through Phase 1; in fact, she left the ranch to give life on her own another try. When she understood that she had exchanged the likelihood for a future merely to repeat the past, she returned to HFF. Now she is committed to true maturation and pursuing recovery with her whole heart. Her words reflect her decision to move forward. “The more I search, seek, listen and apply His wisdom I find hope and confidence to pass on to my children. They can walk in freedom. A life of forgiveness and restoration, healing from any hurts, abuse, or addiction is only found in Jesus Christ. I look forward to a bright future knowing that He holds my future in His hands.”

Tiffany has just begun studying early childhood education at Victoria Community College and is on the verge of readiness to stand on her own. Looking back, she is amazed to see in herself “the woman I always wanted but never truly believed I could be until now. I am blessed to be a testimony that Jesus can and will change our hearts when we humble ourselves and submit to His authority over our lives.” She continues to expound upon the difference HFF has made; “All the time you put into MY life – has taken me from a pit of hopelessness and led me to freedom and a new chance at life. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good and His love endures forever.”

God is indeed helping butterflies emerge at the Marshall Ranch Campus. Each lady is discovering the beautiful vocation He is preparing them for. Judy plans to work with pregnant teens. Gabrielle writes rap music and desires to become an inspirational singer. Angelica plans to enter into ministry through an organization called “Eyes on Me” to help other young people in similar situations to thrive. Maria plans to become a teacher’s aide. Brittany wants to become a nurse. Debbie is an entrepreneur and plans to open her own cleaning business. Tiffany has been hired through the Head Start program in Victoria where she
will gain valuable experience as she continues her education.

HFF staff and residents optimistically hold fast to what God Himself promises through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6, “I am sure that God who has begun a good work in me will carry it on until it is finished.”


More Than Just a Temporary Home

Excitement, nervousness, and anticipation were all words used by the three seniors Jian, C.J., and Preston at STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) to describe their feelings towards college. For the three of them, attending college was not something that they thought would be possible before coming to HFC.

WHEN A CHILD comes into care at HFC, they are getting more than just a temporary home; they are entering into a family that will love and care for them long after they leave. One way that STCH Ministries extends their love is by providing programs to help prepare them for life after high school. STCH Ministries also provides full college scholarships to the children that graduate from high school while in care and maintain the proper grades while in college. For most children, this is a dream come true.

Support is a big part of what happens on campus to help prepare the children for their future. Their houseparents are there to help them with school work, housework, money management, and other aspects to prepare them for the “real world”. Anna Piprek, College Transition Coordinator for HFC, is there to help with the transition and continues to support them while they are in college. She encourages them to do better and to strive for excellence in everything they do. Anna was fortunate to partner with the Junior Service League in Beeville as the seniors were given the opportunity to explore various professions. “It is my hope that through this program we can provide them with the support, accountability, and preparation they need to succeed,” Anna explains.

As they prepare for college, the three seniors and their houseparents look back at their time with STCH Ministries.

Jian came to HFC a little over two years ago and lives in Brown Cottage on Boothe Campus. “He didn’t have confidence in himself when he got here. He’s super smart so most people don’t know how to take him,” his houseparents, Dustin and Victoria Gordon describe. Since being at STCH Ministries, he has grown in his confidence and the ability to interact better with those around him. “He isn’t afraid to say ‘this is who I am’,” Victoria explains. He has also grown spiritually and physically. He started working out with his housepop, Dustin, and now chooses to work out at least one hour a day. Through the Junior Service League, he was given the opportunity to shadow at BTX CrossFit in Beeville. He shadowed the trainers and learned how they do some of their workouts.

When asked what his favorite part about being at HFC was, he stated, “always having food in the pantry!” So, it comes as no surprise that he is most looking forward to the food in the cafeteria while at college. Dustin and Victoria’s prayer for him is, “that he is armed well enough to defend his religious beliefs and doesn’t get knocked down; that he doesn’t give up on what he thinks he wants and figuring it out.” Jian plans to attend Texas A&M Kingsville to study Computer Engineering.

For Preston, STCH Ministries has helped him grow in his school work and housework. “Without STCH, I really wouldn’t be where I am today, because before I wasn’t really the brightest at school, but now with STCH Ministries I have straight A’s; I tutor after school; I have a scholarship. Incredible!” he exclaims. Preston came to HFC a little over a year ago and lives in Foster Cottage. His houseparents, Terry and Sheila Backen, describe Preston as someone who, “is always doing projects, there is nothing he can’t do.” Since coming to HFC, he has gained the confidence and drive to help out more around the house and with daily chores. “He has learned his value,” Sheila explains. Preston is interested in science and through the Junior Service League, he enjoyed a day of shadowing at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Beeville.

While at school in Pettus, he was part of the Art Honors program and helped tutor ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education) students. When asked how STCH Ministries has prepared him for college, he shared that, “it taught me how to deal with a roommate.” An answer to a prayer for Terry and Sheila is that he will be living with his roommate from HFC next year and they know the two boys will hold each other accountable. Terry and Sheila’s prayer for him as he goes off to college is, “that he will continue to gain confidence and find the right fit for himself; that he continues to seek God and God’s plan for his life.” Preston plans to attend Coastal Bend College in Beeville to study Information Technology.

Preston’s roommate C.J., has also experienced some changes since coming to STCH Ministries a year ago. “I am glad I found STCH because it led me to finding God and Jesus, and ever since then my life has had lots of new doors open, including college.” Over the last year, C.J. has grown as a leader and role model to the children around him, but at the same time, he has been able to experience what it means to really be a kid. While at Pettus High School, he volunteered as a tutor with the elementary ACE students after school. Terry and Sheila shared, “he has an ability to work with kids and help them in different ways.”

C.J. is also interested in physical activity such as working out and was able, through the Junior Service League, to shadow at BTX CrossFit in Beeville. “It was a new experience, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as cool as it was,” he admits. He was also given the opportunity to shadow a photographer as she captured and edited pictures. Terry and Sheila’s prayer for him as he goes on is, “That he would continue to seek the Lord and establish himself. For him to be a blessing to his family without having to give up himself.” C.J. plans to attend Coastal Bend College in Beeville and will be studying Videography.

Graduating and preparing for college can sometimes be difficult. For more than 66 years, STCH Ministries has provided love and support to help make things a little easier as each child transitions either to college or a vocation. Knowing there is a place they can come back to when they need someone to talk to or just need their laundry done helps ease worried minds. The houseparents want their boys to know, “God has a special plan for them and they can do anything they set their minds to; they don’t need to be afraid to GO! And DO!”

Greg Huskey, Vice President of Homes for Children, talks about what this ministry means. “We enjoy and celebrate with our ex-students of their accomplishments. STCH Ministries is a relational based ministry which hopefully and gratefully extends for a lifetime of ministry with our students.” The seniors that are moving on this year may have only been here for a short period of time but for them, this is more than just a temporary home, this is a family.


Expanding God’s Kingdom

The idea of a STCH Ministries medical mission trip over spring break to the Dominican Republic originated in the hearts of a few Baylor University students early in the fall of 2018. They ranged from freshman to seniors and their majors varied—neuroscience, medical humanities, health sciences, biochemistry and others. Their ultimate goal upon graduation was a career as a Physician Assistant (PA). 17 students (from Arizona, Colorado, California, Oklahoma, and Texas) quickly paid their deposits and filled out their applications. Their enthusiasm and perseverance made up for what they lacked in experience.

TRIP LEADER, Anna Kemp, reflected, “I knew I wanted to have a medical mission trip, but at times it was hard not to be anxious. None of the group were close friends, and I was inexperienced on how to organize and lead a trip like this. What can we do at a clinic with no Spanish and little clinical experience? I would pray, and then trust and then doubt all over again. The process was a big faith-builder for me. I had to exercise my faith-muscle!”

In the Dominican Republic, Dr. Francisco Paredes, STCH Ministries staff doctor, began preparations for logistics of food, transportation, pharmacy help, children’s ministry volunteers, and translators which every medical clinic requires. For the group of Baylor students, with limited clinical experience, how could he plan clinics in which both the students and patients would benefit? Michelle Gambrel, a licensed PA, heard about the trip through her daughter who was a participant and decided to go along. Another doctor, Dr. Rebecca Georges from San Antonio, agreed to join the team. Dr. Georges also agreed to present two lectures on relevant medical topics to enhance the students’ learning experience.

As Dr. Francisco continued to plan for the clinics, he knew he would need additional experienced medical professionals for this group. Then he remembered Jammal. Jammal was a faithful Christian in the Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ). As an outstanding high school student, he had been awarded a full scholarship to medical school there in the Dominican Republic. Jammal also spent two summers in the United States to learn English. His ability to communicate in English would be crucial for this unique opportunity. Having recently graduated from medical school, he was treating patients at a local hospital. With Jammal’s help, Dr. Francisco recruited six additional English-speaking Dominican doctors to also donate their time for a week of medical clinics.

The clinics were held in school facilities located in impoverished neighborhoods and villages. Closed for the day to allow medical needs to be met, they converted the classrooms into makeshift doctor’s offices. Each team included a doctor, two Baylor students accompanied by a translator as needed. The team sat behind a table laden with a blood pressure machine, a stethoscope, intake forms and prescription forms. More chairs for the patients on the other side of the table formed the consultation setting.

“Everyone took a chance on us and trusted God that good things would happen,” reflected Ella Heintz from Seabrook, Texas. God answered! In three days of medical clinics, in different communities, they saw over 400 patients. They heard their ailments and together the team of translator, doctor and students diagnosed and prescribed treatment with compassion. Available medicines were provided. Then, “How can we pray for you today?” a team member asked. Bowing their heads, sometimes holding hands, the team voiced a prayer of blessing over the patients’ needs and families. One student shared, “I experienced the reality of God’s kingdom extending all the way from a Baylor classroom to a makeshift clinic in a poverty setting in another country.”

At the end of the week, several other Baylor students shared their impressions.

“It was an incredible experience to be able to work alongside the Dominican doctors all week. Not only did we learn from them while working with patients in the clinics, but we built relationships with them throughout the week. (It) opened my eyes to what it means to serve wholeheartedly under one God.” Miranda Swanberg, sophomore, Health Science and Biochemistry, Round Rock, Texas.

Craig Russell, graduating senior who had already been accepted to PA school, reported, “We shared experiences together and learned from each other’s cultural differences, respecting those differences all along the way. At the free medical clinics that we set up at the schools, the doctors were immensely helpful in explaining to us their mentalities in terms of why they made certain decisions or diagnoses regarding the patients.”

Another student, Olivia Azzopardi, commented that she was impacted by “experiencing the sheer love and devotion for God from a different cultural standpoint! The experience solidified the fact for us that we all serve one God, and have one common purpose in life. I was so blessed to be able to create friendships with them over our common center of love.”

As an experienced PA, Michelle Gambrel shared from her perspective, “Seeing Baylor students pursuing a PA profession and who want to use it for God’s glory was a rewarding experience for me. It made me excited for the future of the PA profession. It also seemed to affect the students, giving them a renewed sense of God’s presence in their lives.”

Every participant concurred that the medical missions experience especially confirmed their sense of calling to a medical profession. “We were serving others, and watching God work.” In the reactions of the team, Anna Kemp sensed God had fulfilled her desire as she began plans for the mission week, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (II Corinthians 4:5)

Spring Break, 2019—a moment in time. Time to re-set priorities, slow down the pace of life enough to hear God, and see the needs of others. Time to strengthen relationships, and develop new relationships with Christian brothers and sisters 2000 miles away. A sacrifice of time and resources in order to serve others. For each student and their families back home, it required a significant step of faith. We hope these moments will live on in each student’s heart, and produce a rich harvest of faith and service to others as God continues to lead them in their journey of life.


Remembering Diane

APRIL 6, 2019, outside of LaGrange, Texas, Diane Gryseels and several family members lost their lives in a tragic car accident.

Diane Gryseels is remembered for her passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ by everyone who knew her. STCH Ministries staff, residents, and clients were all impacted by her life. Diane served over four decades through multiple positions across STCH Ministries, which means only Heaven knows the exact numbers of lives changed by her witness. She began as a caseworker in 1966 fresh from earning her Master of Social Work through Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

In 1968, Diane felt called by God to serve as an international Journeyman Missionary and moved to Vietnam. While there, she met Binh and LoiBeth in an orphanage. Eventually, God brought the siblings to Buckner Orphanage in Texas and Diane became their adoptive mother. Years later, Diane adopted Haylee, another of the children she met during her time in Vietnam.

Diane returned to STCH Ministries in 1972 serving in multiple positions. Her enthusiasm for the organization was the catalyst for her parents to become houseparents on Boothe Campus. Over time, Diane’s influence encouraged many in her family to serve in both ministry and missions. LoiBeth, her daughter and one of her brothers are both missionaries living overseas.

Donna Stewart is one who found a confidant, mentor, and friend in Diane. They met soon after Donna became a Christian and joined Tuleta Baptist Church outside of Pettus, Texas. When Donna’s husband returned to his faith in Christ and the two began to reprioritize their finances and begin tithing, they were challenged by multiple appliance breakdowns and unexpected car repairs. These difficulties were especially daunting as Christmas was fast approaching. Without Donna’s knowledge, Diane orchestrated members of STCH Ministries staff and Tuleta Baptist Church’s congregation to work together to provide a memorable Christmas for the young family. Much later, when Donna learned of Diane’s involvement and +she tried to thank her, Diane was adamant she receive no credit as the most important thing was for the young family to know the importance of tithing and learning to trust God to provide. Donna shares that she has since worked to “pay forward” the kindness that Diane showed toward her young family.

When the opportunity arose for STCH Ministries to expand services to Corpus Christi in 1985, Diane moved too in order to open the new Roberts’ Memorial Children’s Shelter, and she remained the director of that program until it closed. Her personal investment with STCH Ministries continued throughout her entire life and extended beyond the scope of her job description. Gina Diaz is one whose life was impacted by both Homes for Children (HFC) and especially Diane.

In the mid-1980s, Gina and her four young daughters became homeless. While the decision to place her children at HFC was heart-wrenching, she believed they “deserved to sleep in the same bed every night and eat three meals each day.” She felt these were essential elements every parent owes their child, and HFC made it possible for Gina to ensure her children were cared for. Gina wanted to better herself. She was empowered to get a job, find an apartment and enroll in college in Corpus Christi due to STCH Ministries dedication to helping the whole family. It was there that she met Diane. Gina credits Diane’s influence on her life for bringing her back into a relationship with Jesus. “Diane believed in me,” Gina stated. “She had a way of making you feel like you can overcome – no matter what the obstacle looks like. And, I don’t believe she did that just for me.” The two ladies remained friends even after the girls returned to Gina’s custody, in fact, Diane shepherded her through the reunification with her daughters and showed her how to regain their trust.

Tam Campbell, Administrative Assistant for STCH Ministries’ Family Counseling office in Corpus Christi worked with Diane from 1988 until Diane retired in 2010. During that time Diane was the Director of the Robert’s Memorial Children’s Shelter as well as head of both the Foster Care Program and the Adoption Program. The Adoption Program held a special piece of her heart; she placed a lot of babies in Christian homes. After those programs and the Children’s Shelter closed, she worked as a counselor until she retired. Tam feels deeply impacted by Diane, not just as a co-worker but as a friend. “I cannot even count the number of people she ministered to in her counseling practice, because they just numbered too many. Diane was a true servant of God who talked of His presence to everyone and anyone who would listen.”


Transformational Change

“Our goal is transformational change,” stated Theresa Klacman, who leads the Homes for Families ministry on the Marshall Ranch.

“I was a single mom with four children, and Satan made me believe the lie that I couldn’t make it. Now I know that God’s power is greater than any other thing, and with His help I CAN and I AM making it. God has a plan. He never leaves us completely alone. And He had this place (Marshall Ranch) prepared to help me turn my life around,” shared one of our resident mothers.

At Homes for Families, the goal is deep inner healing. This begins with developing a personal relationship with God. Afterwards come the changes in thought-life, as truth replaces the lies they have believed. Then gradually the behaviors begin to change. Love is the primary tool. Resident Coordinators live in the home with the residents and draws heavily on God’s unconditional, inexhaustible love as they work with each lady. In addition they participate in focused Bible studies and relationship-healing topics like Boundaries, Making Peace with Your Past, that integrate Biblical truth with practical guidance on how to handle life differently. Therapy by a licensed Christian counselor is also available. All living expenses are provided without charge so that residents can focus on inner healing, learning new skills like conflict resolution, and repairing relationships with their children. The younger children are cared for on campus, while the older ones ride the bus to the Goliad Independent School District.

Phase I
During Phase I, some of the toughest life lessons that they must learn is the discipline of getting up early every morning for prayer and devotions, getting breakfast, being on time, and getting along with several other mothers and their children in the same house! They take turns with kitchen duties, cleaning, etc. Naturally, at first they revert to the primary coping skill they have seen and used in the past to respond to stress and offense—ANGER! It is a slow process to learn there is a better way. As they grow, they begin to teach their children by responding to them with love and patience as they discipline and guide them.

Phase II
As they progress to Phase II, they earn more privileges like two weekend passes per month, and a small weekly allowance to learn about budgeting and saving as they prepare for life after Homes for Families. They also begin a period of removing obstacles for success when they graduate from this program. As they tackle these hindrances, they must overcome the memories and the fear of past failures. The staff is constantly encouraging them, teaching them to have faith and trust God.

This fall has been a season of celebrations for several ladies as they conquer those fears and overcome obstacles for their future success. Two of our ladies studied, took the driving test, and received their driver’s license. One young mom had legal charges to address from her past. Prayerfully she wrote a letter to the court, confronting the charges with a positive report of the changes that had taken place in her life. Hallelujah around the table when the court dismissed the charges and wished her the best on her future life! Future success requires more education. Two of our ladies begin college and another will achieve a high school diploma in May, 2019. Transportation is needed in order to get a job or enroll in college, and we are grateful for a recent donation of a van for one of our ladies. She had a small car, which she then generously donated to her co-resident. With each success their confidence and their faith in God is strengthened.

Recovery and rebuilding a life is not an easy road, as you can imagine. Setbacks at first are common, and some give up and leave. The door at Home for Families is always open to them, however, when they are ready to begin again on this journey.

Phase III
As they achieve the goals required, they are able to move into Phase III, where they begin independent living. To make that move, they must be within two weeks of enrollment in a college or technical school, or employment. They move to another house on campus, but now there are fewer rules. They begin to take care of their own expenses and manage their own budget. Homes for Families provides a case manager and continues some financial support on an individual basis, especially when they are getting an education. After four to six months of living on campus and managing their lives successfully during Phase III, they can move off campus, either locally or closer to their families or to better opportunities for employment.

We rejoice with each success—a driver’s license, a high school diploma, a job, or a car. But our greatest joy comes from the transformational changes we witness. ”Now I know that God’s power is greater than any other thing, and with His help I CAN and I AM making it,” Felissia shared. She went on to explain, “When I was awarded custody of my children, we had a lot of damage to repair. The older ones especially were so angry because of my past behaviors. So we cried a lot together, and I asked their forgiveness and we prayed, and little by little love began to grow in place of the anger! Now, they also know Jesus, and understand that He is the One who made their mommy change!”

All the sacrifices, all the long hours, the investments of time and resources are counted as nothing in comparison to the overwhelming joy experienced by the staff when transformational change in the heart of a mother reaches all the way into the heart of her children.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]