We hope that with the series “The Harvesters,” you be will introduced to many different followers of Jesus who are striving to make disciples of Jesus out in the world. Whether you’re in the military, a missionary, a scientist, a stay-at-home parent or anything else under the sun. Check out the full series here and may you be encouraged to do likewise in your own “fields of harvest.”
Tell us who and where you are
We are Michael and Rachael Koch, we live in Bogota, Colombia with our two children (we are also hoping to adopt locally in Columbia very soon).
WHO ARE YOU FOCUSED ON IN THE HARVEST?
We’re mainly focused on the people in our neighborhood. Most of the churches in the city of Bogota are in low to mid socio-economic classes, so we’re also trying to start things in some upper class areas where there are few churches. Like many big cities there’s also many marginalized peoples, such as prostitutes, the “recyclers” (those who take out the recyclable materials out of the trash), the homeless, orphans, and drug addicts and right now there’s a huge influx of Venezuelans too, due to the crisis they are having there.
In the last couple of years, my heart has been burdened to serve the prostitutes that frequent our neighborhood at night (it’s a safe neighborhood, but prostitutes come to an area two blocks from our apartment because of a big international hotel there.) I have recently found a team of ladies to pray about this ministry with me and we’re hoping to just start building relationships with these ladies by bringing them hot drinks at night. This will hopefully start in June! I’m so excited because I’ve been praying for some other women who would do this with me for a year, and this morning two ladies responded they wanted to be a part of it!
There is a lot more that can be done in this city, so along with working in our neighborhood we’re simultaneously trying to work with an existing church to try to improve their church health and discipling those believers as well, so they will also be sharing in their everyday lives!
How did living in Columbia come about (is there a story there?)
It’s a little long how we ended up in Bogota, but mostly we felt called to full time ministry. In the journey of finding the “where” we would serve full-time, we have served in a church in Iowa, in an international school in Brazil, in a university student ministry here in the city of Bogota and now with churches with the hopes of church planting here in the city. There was a time we thought we would have to return to the states or relocate again because of visa issues, but it seems like God wants us to stay here in Bogota for now, and for that we’re very grateful! I’m excited to keep growing some roots here!
What is the hardest thing about being in your harvest place?
First of all, we’re foreigners here so we’re still trying to learn the appropriate contextualization in order to proclaim Jesus’ saving grace the best way we know how. We know the message is the same in all cultures, but we also know if we don’t share it well then we know it can lead to unhealthy believers who just add a little Jesus to what they already believe. This is part of the reason why we want to work with existing local churches to help their discipleship and then encourage them to share their faith. Colombians are going to reach Colombians way better than we will be able to, which is why working together is so important!
The second hardest thing about our harvest place is misconceptions people have regarding faith. We hear a lot of, “Once I can get my life together we can study the Bible.” Or “I’m not good enough to be a part of the church.” Many people here believe they must do more good deeds than bad to earn God’s salvation. Even though we try to express that NONE of us are good enough for Jesus’ grace and that we’ll NEVER have our lives together to be able to have a relationship with God, it just seems too unbelievable to many.
Can I say one more hard part? It’s the lack of fruit and the fact that we see others have successful ministries but people don’t call us back or won’t come to our house. It’s so hard to NOT compare yourselves with others! I know we are doing it for God’s glory so it doesn’t matter and it’s GREAT when you hear about other people’s successful ministries. The successes should be celebrated for God’s glory! But this is something we have to remind ourselves of regularly, to not compare our successes to other people’s ministries.
What has surprised you the most about bringing Jesus to people in everyday places?
I think it’s pretty cool how it gets easier every time. I also love how God allows opportunities to bring conversations to spiritual matters if you are willing to take them (and not in too much of a rush or too afraid)!
What has encouraged you the most about your work (in the harvest)?
The most encouraging things have been when we’ve been able to meet that second time with someone. It’s really easy to start a possible connection/conversation that might go to Jesus or the Bible and everything seems awesome! But often when you schedule to meet again it doesn’t happen. People cancel last minute or don’t ever answer your messages/calls. So when we can see someone for the second time and keep talking about deep/spiritual matters it’s super great! Let me share one exciting story that illustrates this!
In February, I met a lady who was selling her bike and we talked about why we’re in Bogota and talked about English classes. Well then life got busy and about a month later I called her up to see if she would want to do a language exchange (where we speak part of the time in Spanish and part of the time in English.) She did, so we met for coffee and had a great spiritual conversation. Then we decided to meet a week later and the same thing happened and she even expressed her interest in studying the Bible. So we’ve been meeting weekly since then in coffee shops, studying the Bible! I live in a city with about 9 million people, and the lady I bought a bike from (in a different part of the city) wants to study the Bible with me?! Only God could do that!
Do you do church in the harvest? How does that look different/the same as what we traditionally see as church today?
Oh this is a little hard to answer. We do church in the harvest but right now the church in the harvest is just in our home with our family of four! We also attend a traditional church on Sunday mornings.
Our church in the harvest consists of singing some songs with the help of youtube, reading scripture and or sharing a Bible story narrative style, and time of prayer. Even though, so far, it’s just the four of us, the kids have been sharing a Bible story most weeks and it’s the most special to me! I love having them be a part of it with us!