We hope that with this series of interviews, “The Harvesters” you will be 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.”
Introduce yourselves for us!
We are JD and Michelle Buchholtz. We live in San Antonio, Tx where JD works as a construction project manager and Michelle is a stay-at-home mother to our 3 kids.
What type of people are you reaching for Jesus?
Our intention was to reach unchurched people and internationals. Our desire is to meet with the lost and those who have felt rejected or uninvited to the church buildings, as well as disciple internationals who would in turn catch a vision for reaching their own people group!
However, as we continue to seek the Lord as a community, we currently are engaging mostly with neighbors and co-workers that profess Christianity and go to a Sunday church services, but didn't know how to personally follow Jesus. How is that for God’s plan vs. man’s?
So while we still pray for internationals (and have made some really cool friendships with those from China, Jordan, Iraq, and India) to realistically answer the question “what type of people are you reaching” we must reply it’s simply anyone willing to engage in spiritual conversations, anyone with interest in reading the Bible and exploring who Jesus is, and anyone figuring out how to follow Him. We are trying to be faithful to pray and engage those around us, and then let God bring the people to us.
How did that come about (is there a story there?)
Back in 2013, we started a home group in Florida when we realized we knew people who wanted to deepen their relationship with Jesus but had been hurt by a church community and didn’t have anyone to walk them through discipleship and a purposeful life with Jesus. They were willing to join us in our home and dig into the Bible even though they were uncomfortable attending a traditional church service.
We had both come from vibrant, discipleship-focused legacy church backgrounds and at first it was hard to understand people’s painful experiences in church. But as we started to meet with people and have spiritual conversations, we began to see a sub-population all around us of people willing to get to know Jesus but not wanting an American cultural-church interaction. This began our journey of searching for those on the fringes of the cultural Christian society and adopting a house-to-house model of church.
God kept us moving from base to base with the Air Force until He sent us to San Antonio in 2016. There we were introduced to Brett and Abigail Wilson, who were on our side of town meeting house-to-house for church time. And, what an incredible two-year journey of encouragement and training in the house-church model! When it came time for JD to be relocated with the Air Force two years later, our friends Troy and Katie Stevenson approached us with a more long-term teaming effort in San Antonio.
We asked God to have the Air Force move us across town (instead of across the country) to be closer to them if He wanted us to partner together. Within only a few weeks after that prayer, JD was given a position at the base across town, closer to the Stevensons! Since then, we have been teaming together looking for the unreached and internationals, but also finding others along the way.
What is the hardest thing about being in your harvest place?
Apathy – most people feel “good” with where they are and aren’t interested in pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ. We have had to engage with a large number of people to find a few who are truly interested.
Consumerist Christianity – even when interest is peaked and some are curious about “house church” and what that means, many leave after realizing there is very little pizazz and we aren’t offering any special programs. Since Jesus is our main attraction, if that isn’t enough for them, we have nothing else “attractive” to offer.
Incorporating our young children – The simple, in-home format of church means our kids see the church in action, but can also create distractions and challenges. Including them in age-appropriate portions of our gatherings, but also giving them a place to play during the other times without distracting those attending, is a hard balance. We continue to seek the Lord on how to best incorporate our young children.
What has surprised you the most about bringing Jesus to people in everyday places?
Two things continue to surprise us: the Bible is TRUE y’all! And the Holy Spirit is mysterious! Okay, those shouldn’t surprise anyone because Jesus said it, but we continue to be amazed at how the commands and promises of God play out in our everyday lives.
Yes, people can still be healed. Yes, the Lord God Almighty is still speaking to his people through his Holy Spirit. Yes, Jesus can flip someone’s life upside down, (or right side up!). The things that surprise us most about bringing Jesus to people is that He continues to be faithful, He continues to speak, He continues to uphold His promises.
We are constantly amazed that the Lord simply wants two things: He wants us to love Him with everything we are, and He wants us to love those around us with His same love. We are still in just as much awe of these commands today as we were 15+ years ago when we first started abiding by them. What’s surprising? GOD is surprising! We serve an incredible King.
What has encouraged you the most about your work (in the harvest)?
Fellow laborers. Hearing how God is moving around us, seeing how the Kingdom of Heaven is advancing locally, nationally, and around the world, is incredibly faith building!
We are not alone. We are not the only ones struggling through how to do this, and God is using us all with all our weaknesses and hang-ups so that, if we submit to Him, He bears fruit through us!
Hearing of success, failures, break-throughs, and Kingdom moments from those around us and around the world builds our faith. Seeing fellow harvesters laboring and hearing their testimonies helps us overcome as well. It is amazing to see how God uses such different people and methods to advance His kingdom, and we can learn from each other as we pursue Jesus Christ.
How does church in the harvest look different/the same as what we traditionally see as church today?
We are becoming more convinced “doing church” is not a single weekly meeting or event. To really serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in the body of Christ, we were not able to just have one meeting a week, or even just one type of meeting throughout the week. We are currently engaging in four different ways as a church body.
We have an outreach Bible reading time in one of our homes where anyone who has any interest can show up, read, and learn about Jesus with us. Second, we have accountability time in small groups (man to man, woman to woman) with those who are committed to following Jesus in our daily lives. Third, we have a time for those who are committed disciple-makers to gather in one of our homes, encourage each other, do an in-depth Bible study, pray together, and worship together.
These first three events give us an opportunity to see who is hungry for more; gives us time for practical application, accountability, and follow-through; and gives us depth of relationship and strategy together, respectively. But we also try and keep flexible time each week to respond as a body to the needs of each other (times of prayer or physical help), to the needs of the people around us (hosting events to meet neighbors or helping with moving or other physical needs), and to just do fun things together. These ways could easily be broken up and done completely differently than what we have settled on and we know this is not the perfect or final answer. But this is working well for us in this season.
Thank you, Into the Harvest, for letting us share our journey. And for all those reading this: follow Jesus – learn to abide in Him – and He will make you fishers of men!