FIRST RESPONDER RESPONSE

     In late June Volcano Feugo in Guatemala erupted killing many and decimating villages.  From this disaster, a plea was made for repelling gear for first responders i.e. Bomberos/Fire Fighters to use in rescue situations.  A request for prayer and support to purchase needed equipment was shared.  Soon the financial resources began to arrive and phone calls were being answered.  As the days passed, we waited on God’s provision and a plan to transport the equipment was being developed.  One of the phone calls was from a local fire department desiring to provide equipment.  Arriving at the fire station, it was soon discovered that they had 10 sets of bunker gear they wanted to donate.  I expressed appreciation, but said that was not what we were needing at this time.  Contact was made with our ministry partner in Guatemala concerning a possible need for the bunker gear.  An immediate respond came, “Yes, Yes, Yes, a new fire department is being formed and ten people are in a training program right now to be certified as fire fighters.”  God’s amazing timing and invitation was unfolding!  During the week of August 7-12, four men traveled with repelling gear and a desire to share life and faith with the fire fighters of this newly forming department.  On Wednesday evening we had a time of sharing with the fire fighters a story of physical rescue and the personal story of how we each were spiritually rescued by Jesus Christ.  The group was appreciative of the stories, the encouragement, prayer and the repelling equipment.  The following day the firemen invited us to a training time with several other departments in a nearby town.  The day consisted of classroom training on the nature and characteristics of fire, types of fires and some simple strategies when first engaging a fire.  The classroom session was followed by a hands on use of fire hoses and handling techniques.  When this session ended we returned to the fire station for a mock search and rescue operation.  This was an extremely challenging task and several trainees were overwhelmed by the experience and requested removal from the drill.  To say the least this was very eye opening for the travel team who observed and encouraged the fire fighters.  Many contacts were made and plans are being made to return in 2019 with a team.  This team will be comprised of Christian Fire Fighters who will carry the bunker gear, offer training and share the Gospel.  Please be in prayer for this future team, the new department being formed and for souls to be rescued by the saving power of Jesus!

 

            FYI, the new department received their first fire call at 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning August 14th just two days after their graduation.  The fire was in a carpentry shop as part of a bigger complex which includes a restaurant we enjoyed on Saturday the 11th.  The town is now extremely excited about having the new fire department and for the men and women who now serve as fire fighters.  Once again God and His perfect timing were on display.  What a mighty God we serve!

ROCKPORT MISSION CAMP 2018

    Rockport Mission camp was a new adventure for Stepstones.  Last September discussion and prayer began  about leading youth groups from small churches on an adventure during the Summer of 2018.  As the year progressed their were six churches that were interested.  When the reality of a Mission Camp became evident there where two churches that joined together to take on the adventure.  The camp began on Sunday evening June 24th with a meet and greet time followed by a short challenge and prayer time to begin our week.  Monday through Thursday we rolled out early and drove to breakfast provided by Hands of Hope.  Following breakfast we packed our own lunches, shared a time of devotion and headed out to minister.  We arrived in Rockport for the purpose of helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey last year.  The goal was to cut trees and stumps and clear debris.   The plan quickly changed as we arrived to find property with up to a foot of water standing in the yard.  We learned that they community had received 20 inches of rain in less than 24 hours on Thursday before we arrived.  We finally found a widow lady who had lost her mobile home during the hurricane.  She was in need of numerous trees to be removed and a large amount of debris to be gathered and stacked for burning.  Following this job we continued to encounter properties standing in water.  We finally headed back to the church for lunch and to regroup.  Following lunch we divided into two groups and headed out with a plan.  One group became a fence building team and over the next three days installed several hundred feet of fence for a family.  The second team continued as a chainsaw team and found jobs within the city limits that only a small group could perform and without standing water.  By the end of Thursday the fence was almost complete and 48 stumps and trees had been cut and stacked.  Along the way we were able to encourage some in their faith, share the love of Christ through service and share the Gospel by word and deed.  Each night we would gather for a time of worship through song and the preached word.  Following the worship time each youth group had a time to process the service and the day.  Talk and prayer has begun for Mission Camp 2019.  Where will God lead and where might we be serving Summer 2019?  Even better, who will join the journey?  If you have any questions about participating please contact us.  

 

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GREAT NEWS FROM HAITI

     March 17-24, 2018 was a great week in Haiti!  Six men traveled to work on the Spirit of Truth School in Drouin, Haiti.  Arriving in the country on Saturday the 17th we traveled up the mountain above Port Au Prince the capital.  We spent the night in a mission house next door to a boy’s orphanage.  This was a special treat for me because I saw some boys(now young men) that I had meet years ago.  On Sunday the 18th, the team traveled down the mountain to attend Agape Church in Petionville, Haiti.  This is a church I prayed for as it formed four years ago and have attended a couple of times over the years.  This church has a 6:00 a.m. service and an 8:00 a.m. service on Sundays.  They call themselves a church of small groups because of the rapid growth small groups are the best way to provide discipleship and accountability.  The mission of the church is Chak Moun Yon Moun translated means Each One Reach One.  This church has 2000 in attendance on Sundays, now that is church growth!  After the service we traveled four hours to the village of Drouin to get settled.  Activity soon commenced as the children of the village heard we had arrived.  There was no sitting still as soccer games and teaching the locals to throw a Frisbee commenced. Monday through Thursday the team worked alongside Haitian men to install drop ceilings in 6 classrooms, an office and a storage room.  We also painted all the rooms and the front of the school.  As the transformation took place over the four days, the teachers and students became more and more excited about the freshness of the classrooms and the school.  Teachers from another school in the area stopped by and were in awe of the new classrooms.  Some of the students from the other school asked if they could transfer schools.  Many in the village began asking if we could add grade levels so their children could continue receiving an education without having to travel several hours to a different town.  Tuesday afternoon a gentleman showed up at the school and he is the President of the Haitian Congress.  This gentleman lives in the Grand Saline Region were the Spirit of Truth School is located.  He told us this school is the best school in the region in both facility and quality of education received.  That was great news and brought encouragement to all involved with the school.  Praise God for what He is doing in through and around the school!  Praise God for allowing Stepstones to take yet another step in sharing the Gospel through the school!  There are presently 309 students enrolled in this six room school.  To say the least, overcrowding is the norm.  Our greatest need is to expand the school by adding a three room preschool building and hiring two more teachers.  Please join us in asking God to provide the financial resources to see this become a reality!

STEPSTONES MINISTRY 2017 IN REVIEW

 

Began the year working with five churches preparing them to travel to an international setting.

Two of those churches traveled to Guatemala.  
     There were four houses built for widowed and abandoned mothers and their children.
     Bible Storying was done each afternoon with 25-40 children in attendance.
     It was a privilege in June to visit the first village we worked in around Lake Antilan.  We                    hosted a 2 hour children’s ministry and had mothers, grandmothers and a few men                            PARTICIPATE in the activities.  What a blessing!
    A special opportunity happened during the trip in June and saw fruit produced in July.
    In June after ministering on Sunday night in a men’s drug and alcohol rehab center two of                 the men preparing to leave the facility joined us during the rest of the week as                                   interpreters on the job sites and in translating the Bible Stories.
   When we returned in July one of these men worked with us again while the other                               recovered from sickness.  During this trip we ministered in the rehab center on Thursday                   evening.  When the service was over the two interpreters and 18 other men surrendered                     their lives to Christ.
    For a couple of years, we have been building a relationship and encouraging a pastor of a                     small church in the village of Chitulul.  During June we were able to worship in this church               and had opportunity to preach.  We also discovered a house church and met the pastor                     and now have this second evangelical contact to develop.
    God continues to allow us entry in to Chitulul and deeper relationships and sharing of the                 Gospel of Jesus through Bible Storying is growing.
    Support was raised to supply education for 63 students in Guatemala.  We celebrated                         with six of these students and their families as they graduated this past November.

This year in Haiti.
    We have been praying and working to raise the funds to expand the school in the village                      of Drouin.  The funds have been slowly coming in and the course is set to begin                                the work in March of 2018.  We will continue to pray for and seek the future                                    financial needs to complete this project.
    There are 350 students in the six room school.  Can you say overcrowded!
    For the first time, in the life of Stepstones, support for eight teacher salaries was fully                           funded and needed no support from the general budget.  We praise God for this                               provision!  We will need new partners to achieve this goal in 2018.
    

Domestic Ministry
    Met with three new churches and began a missional journey to one day lead them outside                   the walls of their building all the way to international settings.
    Preached Sunday through Wednesday Revival Services for FBC Broaddus.  FYI, the                           five sermons are posted on YouTube under FBC Broaddus.
    Sorrowfully have preached two funerals.  One for a teenage girl and the other for one of                     my former youth ministry members.
    Responded in Disaster Relief by taking a trailer load of supplies gathered from Center,                       Henderson and Hawkins to Rockport the Friday following Hurricane Harvey.
     Delivered a load of water to Cuero Fire and Sheriff's Departments.  After unloading at                        the Sheriff's Department had opportunity to speak a word of encouragement and                              pray with two deputies and six trustees.  They were very attentive and appreciative!
    Responded with supplies, a shower trailer, laborers, two cook teams and a refrigerated                         trailer filled with meat, ice and water to Sweeny, Texas.
    In two weeks we assisted in cleanout of 20 houses, provided a meal for the community,                       delivered 110 meals to refugees in an RV Park near the church.  Since this time                                 other meals have been distributed in this RV Park and the church has committed                               to continue outreach into this area of hurting people.
    Delivered 1300 pounds of frozen chicken to Rockport for use in feeding teams entering                     the area to assist in recovery.
    Assisted a church in Emory, Texas to make contact and arrangements to travel to                                 Rockport to help in Disaster Relief.
    Before, during and after responding to these needs we moved offices.  We are now                                located at 101 Hurst Street Suite 300 in Center.


Local ministry continues to happen.
     Coaches Outreach Bible Study had 10 coaches participating in two separate groups.                           Four of those coaches moved to different schools during the Summer and we prayed for                      them and encouraged them to go as missionaries to these new fields white unto harvest.
     This Fall we had three coaches participate in the study of David, God’s Champion.
     Uncommon, a Monday night mentoring ministry for Center High School Students                            continues with the students becoming more trusting and willing to share thoughts and                      needs.  There are eight men from three churches committed to investing in the lives of                      the students who attend Uncommon.  There are other groups and businesses who                              provide meals.
    As only God can orchestrate, I was asked by the athletic director to coach the Varsity 7                        on 7 summer football team.  The dates of games and tournaments did not conflict                            with any trips so I accepted and had the opportunity to deepen the relationships                                with coaches and athletes. 
    It continues to be a blessing to serve as chaplain for the varsity football, basketball and                        baseball teams.
 

SPIRIT OF TRUTH SCHOOL IN DROUIN, HAITI

     In October of 2007 a trip was made to a remote village named Drouin (pronounced Dway) on the west side of the country of Haiti.  Drouin is located in the Arbonite Region ofHaiti.  It is a 4 hour drive North West of the capital. It is the rice growing area of Haiti and is prone to flooding and extreme heat.  The poverty, the lack of fresh water, the     mundane diet of rice and maybe a few black beans and the lack of education opportunity made a dramatic impact.  As Stepstones became a reality and incorporated in 2009, a new reality was dawning in Drouin as a school building was erected.  The school has been greatly impacted by Center, Texas.  Metal for the roof was donated by a local business, desks, dry-erase boards, student and teacher desks, and filing cabinets were donated by CISD.  There have been men who have traveled to work on, teach at and around the school from Center.  Eight teachers are presently teaching an increasing number of students.  This six room school houses a little over 380 students.  The class size averages around 50 students. The school day is divided into two sections to accommodate the older students in the afternoon so they can work in the rice fields early in the morning. We are well over capacity and are in a great need to expand the present rooms.  The cost to expand the rooms and remodel with tile, paint, louvered windows and iron security bars will cost $21,000.00.   Stepstones is in need of businesses, individuals, foundations and churches to join us in continuing to provide an education for the children in Drouin.  The only way a   nation can rise out of poverty is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Education.  Every mother and father desires to see their children have a better life than they have had.  This is true in Drouin as well.  Children attend school for free and every day they receive a hot meal.  The students are testing very high on the national tests and have high expectations. The teachers are paid $125.00 per month which is above the national average.  Four more    teachers could be hired if donations of $6000.00 per year were given.  This can be achieved through one time donations or through monthly installments.  Anyone interested in helping meet these critical needs can contact Mike Brister at 936-591-8877, email at mike.stepstones@yahoo.com or send contributions made payable to Stepstones Ministry   International to P.O. Box 1988 Center, Texas 75935.  All donations are tax-deductible.

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2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

Haiti Overview

     One leadership conference canceled due to personal health issue which turned out to be a false positive on a treadmill stress test.  The conference would have been taking place during the time Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti.  Praise God for His divine intervention!

   Assisted 350 kids receive an education by raising teacher salaries for educators.  You can help with teacher salaries by purchasing items  from Smile Amazon rather than the usual Amazon Page.  Register to support Stepstones and a percentage of every purchase goes to support teachers at the Spirit of Truth School in Drouin, Haiti.

 

Haiti Disaster Relief Needs

  We would like to do our part in helping Haiti rebuild following Hurricane Matthew in October.  We would like to assist 15 families build a new house at $5,000.00 per house.  Please join us in praying and giving toward this $75,000.00 goal.

  Each time we hit $25,000.00, enough to build five houses, a team with the necessary skills will be assembled and sent to help build the houses. 

  We would like to ship a container with building supplies, tools and food.  The container rental, shipping cost and customs fees will run around $10,000.00.  Once we have these fees secured, a list of specific items will be shared, gathered and a date for loading the container will be announced.  Much prayer, packing help and sacrifice will be required to see this accomplished.                                                                                                 

Domestic  Overview

High school coaches bible study 5 attending

Baseball team building Saturday.

Began working with two churches in mobilizing them to serve in local community.

Middle school coaches bible study 5 attending.

Sharing weekly devotion with varsity football, basketball and baseball teams.       

Sharing weekly devotion with eighth grade football team.            

Began Uncommon, a mentoring program for high school students — averaging 29 students and 10 mentors each Monday evening.  There are 6 churches represented by the mentors and there are 8 cook teams from churches and businesses providing the meals.                                                                                                    

Guatemala Overview

22 people representing 9 churches.

A third trip was postponed to further develop the team for 2017.

4 houses were built.

Children’s bible storying program each afternoon.

Hosted first youth leadership forum.  A one day event during each trip and had an average of 40 students participate. Representing 11 villages.

Ministry in men’s drug and alcohol rehab center.

Assisted 74 students in their education through raised sponsorships.

 

When was the last time you were a part of something that only God could do?                        

         I’m longing for the day when a group of Jesus followers would join together and approach the throne of grace with boldness for the welfare of others and ask Him to do something that only He can do.  In 2009,  God moved and Stepstones was birthed.  As a nonprofit we have to adopt a budget every year with total reliance on God to provide the resources for ministry.  As we approach 2017, the Board of Directors has the daunting task of setting a budget then watching God’s provision throughout the year and fulfilling the task before us.  As we look back over 2016 and look forward to 2017 we see areas where God has given us relationships and favor.  Our responsibility is to assess the opportunities to make an impact with the gospel among the many needs and abundance of hurting people.  They are in our local community, in our schools, in Guatemala and Haiti.  Some amazing things are happening locally AND IF we had the human and financial resources, an impact could take place in our community that could change the culture. 

 In Guatemala,

There are women who need houses.                                                                                                           Children who need education scholarships.                                                                                                           Men who need encouragement and job training.          

 In Haiti,       

 Teachers need to be paid so 350 kids can receive an education.                                                                    Church Leaders need consistent Biblical Training.                                                                                                Land owners need to be trained in growing cash crops so they can feed their families.                                  Following Hurricane Matthew thousands are without houses, food, clean water and clothes. 

   A conservative budget approach to the needs is around $220,000.00.  A budget to really make an impact in 2017, especially considering the number of churches, schools and homes of communities and people where we have relationships could easily run $1,075,000.00.  Now THAT’S something only God can do!  Our job is to continue seeking God and responding when provisions are available.  It is heart breaking to see so many hurts, needs and opportunities and knowing that we as Americans support a multi-billion dollar industry called storage units by storing material possessions we have not seen or used in years.  What if we followed the leadership of the new born church in Acts, sold stuff and gave it in support of others?  Would people take notice?  Would they see us getting free of things that bind us?  Would they see needs being met and begin asking why? When the why is asked, it would give an open door to share the gospel and declare the EXCELLENCIES OF GOD!  Now, back to trying to see the what, when, how, and where of God’s activity and provision!  Would you consider having a Jesus Garage Sale and getting rid of items and supporting Stepstones Ministry International?  What needs could be met with the money being spent on rental space alone?                                                                                                                                 

MAJOR NEEDS FOR 2017 

Increase in General Budget Donations.  As a nonprofit this is the hardest line item for which to raise money.  It is not glamorous. There are no fun pictures or exciting stories, but, this is a very necessary item that keeps the ministry moving forward and the doors open.  Please pray for an   increase of $600.00 in monthly donations.

We have a new Domestic Line Item this year for local ministry to students, student athletes and coaches.   A minimum of $4000.00 is needed to sustain this ministry.

We will be building six houses in Guatemala requiring a total of $14,400.00.

We are in need of $4100.00 in scholarship funds for students in Guatemala.

We are in need of teacher sponsorships to help pay our teachers in the Spirit of Truth School in Drouin, Haiti.  We need to increase our sponsorships by $600.00 per month.  Any one time gifts or monthly commitments would be greatly appreciated!.

A church or corporate sponsor for the Leadership Training Conference in Drouin, Haiti totaling $4200.00.

 

RESPONDING TO NEEDS FOLLOWING HURRICANE MATTHEW

             After praying through the massive need and listening for the directive from God, we believe He is asking us to respond within our calling to Teach, Train and Take by “Mobilizing The Local Church For Global Impact”.  Our initial response will be two fold in accordance to God’s provision. Anyone desiring to give toward meeting these needs can do so by sending a check made payable to Stepstones Ministry International with Haiti Relief recorded on the Memo Line or attach a note stating what need your are addressing.  Checks should be sent to P.O. Box 1988 Center, Texas 75935.  All donations are tax-deductible. Those who would like to give material items for the container please make contact at either mike.stepstones@yahoo.com or call the office at 936-591-8877. 

            The first response will be to gather resources and teams to build 15 houses.  The cost of each house is $5000.00, thus requiring $75,000.00 for the total response.  When the resources for 5 houses or $25,000.00 has been gathered we will take a team of 10-15 people with necessary skills to work alongside our Haitian Friends to build the 5 houses.  As more resources are provided we will gather other teams to go and serve.

            The second response with God’s Provision will be to send a 40’ container with needed supplies, tools and food.  The shipping cost for one container will run around $10,000.00.  We will only start receiving items for the container once the shipping cost is secured.  An item of prayer concerning this response is a warehouse type facility in Center, Texas where we can store items and out of which we can easily load a container. 

        The following is an initial list of items needed for the container.

               Roofing metal 12’  length                                    400 sheets
                 2x6x12’                                                         240 boards
                 1x4x16’                                                         300 boards
                 ½”  Plywood                                                    15 sheets
                 Rebar  ¼”                                                     400 strands
                 Rebar 3/8”                                                    100 strands
                 Rebar ½”                                                      600 strands
                J-Bolt Concrete Anchors                               400
                Concrete Tie Wire                             Numerous Rolls or Contractor bags
                Metal to Metal Screws 1” length                   300 pounds                                                                   Metal to Wood Screws 1” length                    300 pounds                                                                   16 Penny Nails                                               300 pounds                                                                   Wood Screws 2.5” length                               300 pounds                                                                   15 water filters x 130.00 each                                                      $1950.00
              5 New Diesel generators x 900.00 each                                       $4500.00    
              10 New Dewalt 18v Cordless Drills  x 100.00 each                   $1000.00
              5 New Dewalt 18v battery packs two per pack  100.00 each       $  500.00
              5 New Circular Saws    130.00 each                                            $  650.00        
              10 saw blades for metal  25.00 each                                            $  250.00
              10 rip blades for wood  30.00 each                                             $  300.00
              5 chalk lines    7.00 each                                                             $    35.00                                         5 levels   4 foot long  25.00 each                                                 $  125.00
              5 New hand saws x 20.00 each                                                   $  100.00                                             5 speed squares                                                                         $    65.00
              2 box of black sharpies                                                               $    22.00                                           30  4 person tents    x 75.00 each                                               $2250.00
              Cases of Red Beans            TBD    
              Cases of Pinto Beans          TBD                                                                                                         Cases of Black Beans          TBD                                                                                                         Cases of Rice                      TBD
              Cases of Pasta                    TBD

 

HAITI RELIEF RESPONSE FOLLOWING HURRICANE MATTHEW

 

PLEASE CONTINUE PRAYING FOR STEPSTONES MINISTRY AS WE SEEK GOD’S PLAN FOR MEETING NEEDS IN HAITI FOLLOWING HURRICANE MATTHEW.

 

THE NEEDS ARE GREAT SO RESEARCH AND EVALUATION ARE BEING DONE WITH DUE DILIGENCE SO THAT WE ACT RESPONSIBLY. OUR DESIRE IS TO NOT JUST RESPOND WITH EMOTION OR IN HASTE, BUT WITH A CLEAR PLAN TO DECLARE THE GOSPEL THROUGH THE MEETING OF NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES WITH WHOM WE ALREADY HAVE A RELATIONSHIP.

 

THINGS TO PRAY:

 WISDOM IN HOW TO RESPOND.

GOD TO TOUCH HEARTS TO GIVE TOWARD THE MAJOR AMOUNT OF FUNDS NEEDED.

GOD TO TOUCH PEOPLE TO HELP LOCALLY AND IN HAITI ONCE PLAN IS ANNOUNCED.

 

PLEASE KEEP COMING BACK FOR THIS UPCOMING ANNOUNCEMENT!

HUMILITY, SERVANTHOOD, VISION HAITI

Humility, Servant hood and Vision are the words the men used to describe the essence of their trip to Drouin, Haiti.  Eleven men traveled to Haiti thinking they were going to pour a basketball/playground court for the school in Drouin.  What they actually learned are lessons which will take a lifetime to live out.  Life in Christ is a journey that requires one step of obedience after another.  As we seek God, listen for His voice, watch to see where He is at work and then join Him we grow to learn more of who God is and enjoy Him in a deeper fuller manner.  We are more like Christ when we are serving than at any other time.  During the week of service in Drouin these men wrestled with aspects of humility, servant hood and a God sized vision.  Each day was a further lesson in learning to walk in obedience to these words.  The lessons were learned as we moved rocks by hand, shoveled a multitude of buckets of rock and sand, told Bible Stories to children during their snack time and by hauling buckets of concrete to create the slab.  We were in a laboratory rich with opportunities to die to self and our American ways and simply serve the Haitian workers.  In this laboratory there were failures and successes, but at the end of the trip the consensus was we have to return home to live these words in the places God allows us to walk day by day.