Today is the last day of the How We Met series and for this piece I had the pleasure of interviewing a friend of mine whom I admire so much. Here is the story of how Barbara met Rene.
Barbara grew up with the call of God on her life. She always had a heart for the lost from as early as she could remember and by the time she was in High school she yearned to do missions work internationally. One day after a missionette’s Bible class she overheard some of the elders of the church discussing sending a team to Mexico to build a church and Barbara could hardly contain herself.
I want go! I want go! she pleaded with her parents in the back of the car on the way home from church. Her parents agreed that she could go on the mission’s trip, but she would need to find a way to come up with $700 in order to pay her own way. Barbara prayed and saved every last dime of her babysitting money (which was $3 an hour at that time). Eventually the money trickled in confirming that this was God’s will.
Barbara loved every bit of ministering in Mexico, especially working with the children. One day while sitting down for a meal with the team there was a knock at the door and that’s when she saw her future husband Rene for the first time. She didn’t know if it was the hot temperatures, exhaustion, or maybe it really was the Lord that put a halo around that handsome young man. Rene was there to translate for the Americans and Barbara was immediately smitten.
They hit it off as friend right away, but their time together was short and Barbara had to return back to her everyday life in Cincinnati. On the way home she cried, and no it was from not teenage infatuation, it was because she had fallen in love with the country and had a deep desire to minister to the people there. She knew from that first visit that God was calling her to be a teacher and to work with Children and that somehow it included the Mexican people.
Every year she returned to Mexico and became more dedicated to the church there. She also learned more about Rene and his love for Christ. They both continued on with their lives separately, but they maintained a friendship that grew with time.
On Sunday nights they would talk for one hour and at that time it cost a dollar per minute for long distance calls. So Barbara would pay her mom $60 every week. There were often a lot of complications because of the language barriers and misunderstandings. For example when it was Rene’s turn to call Barb, she waited anxiously beside her phone and after 15 minutes went by she began to get nervous. Did he forget? Has he moved on? were some of the thoughts going through Barbara’s mind. She picked up the phone just to make sure it was working and as she heard the dial tone her heart sank. An hour later she gave up.
It turns out Rene was doing everything in his power to make contact with his one true love. However he did not have a phone so he had to go to neighbor’s houses to beg to borrow theirs. When that didn’t work out he desperately searched for a pay phone, but with no success. His heart broke when he couldn’t reach Barbara. He was starting to feel like she was the one that God had chosen for him. He couldn’t imagine life without her.
When Barbara was away in college about 7 years after they had first met they found themselves in a relationship whether it was acknowledged out loud or not. They both began to pray and seek God about marriage and soon after that Rene came to the states for a visit.
Barbara says about that time together “All I know is that I asked God to show me something… to give me a confirmation, and he did.” As they talked about their dreams and their love for the Lord their hearts were bound together.
A year later after they finished college they became engaged. Barbara worked three jobs and paid off all her debt so that she could move to Mexico. The next step was marriage, but the question was where?
If they married in the states they would have to worry about a fiancé visa and some other legal matters and Barb still felt like Mexico was where God had called her. So she sacrificed her dream wedding surrounded by friends and family to pursue the vision that she always had in her heart for Mexico.
A few people came to Mexico for their Spanish ceremony. Barbara still wasn’t quite fluent in Spanish. In fact, for the vows you respond with “I accept” only instead of saying I accept Barb said “I except” to this day her family gives her a hard time that she was commited, but with exceptions.
For their fist years of marriage they served in Morelia Mexico and taught English at Christian schools. Barbara was speaking Spanish like a native in no time. They eventually felt like they needed to go back to America though. So they sold everything in order to cover the costs of the immigration process. When they crossed the border they had nothing but two suitcases and a Chihuahua. Then in 2003 they started a Spanish speaking church and began bilingual community outreaches in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area providing medical and practical relief for those in need.
For their 10 year anniversary everything came full circle as they renewed their vows. This time the ceremony was in english and they were also able to dedicate their two children that they had recently adopted from Mexico.
Their heart will forever be connected to God, to each other, and to spanish people of Mexico.
Barbara Roche has a BS in elementary education and although she isn’t currently teaching in a conventional way she homeschools her two children Miguel and Lesly. Her and her husband Rene Roche are the pastors of Iglesia Herencia Divina a spanish speaking ministry of Heritage Fellowship where they have people from over 14 nations represented in their congregation. They lead many bilingual community outreaches on a weekly basis including going into men’s and women’s prisons. Barbara and Rene just celebrated their 16th anniversary.