MDE entered into a unique business partnership in 2019 with a vision for franchising hydroponic greenhouses in the least-reached areas of the world. This endeavor was called VertaHerb by its founder, Bill Koyl, and would change to VertaFarms. Below is the story of Irina, VertaFarm’s second director, about how business changed her life.
I wanted to go to Bible college—and was already planning to—when Bill Koyl offered me a position with VertaFarms in April 2021. I prayed about it and realized it was a unique opportunity. Little did I know the next year and a half would be the best practical Bible college!
Bill described VertaFarms as an evangelistic team, which both intrigued and concerned me. I told Bill I didn’t have “theoretical experience” and could not be a leader in evangelistic efforts—or in business. I was afraid.
Bill, on the other hand, was bold in his witness. I wanted to be like him.
The job challenged my fears. I did many uncomfortable things because I wanted to be responsible to fulfill the contract. In difficult times, I had no one but the Lord. Some nights I would spend the 25-minute walk home telling Him everything. God met me in those moments and proved His unconditional love and faithfulness.
My fear left when I stopped focusing on it.
Combining business leadership with Christian leadership was a paradigm shift for me. I realized that my purpose in business as a Christian leader is not to prove myself or get ahead, but to become like Christ and draw other people to Him.
As a leader at VertaFarms, I had to work through difficult relationships. I learned the value of talking and speaking my mind on an issue. I quickly decided that if there was a problem, I would not hide it from myself or others involved. That was a valuable new perspective for me, gained through work with the leadership team. We would discuss a problem and then pray together. I still had to work through it, but I felt stronger and more confident.
When the leadership team decided to hire a new director, Dimitri. I questioned his value to the organization. Having a partner to seek counsel and share opinions about the day-to-day business was a new experience. But Dimitri and I learned to rely on each other during the early days of the war and to determine the next steps for the business. I became grateful for the months of problem-solving on my own because they helped me be a more responsible teammate for Dimitri.
All of these experiences were important for my personal discipleship. I needed to be brought out of my comfort zone, and God knew that only VertaFarms could do that for me. He alone was my teacher through each challenge, and now my bond with Him is much stronger than before. I am proud of talking about the Lord because I am part of Him. Now I can start conversations about God without being afraid. I know He is by my side, and I have never felt so brave.
I must have needed this practical Bible college—where God developed a new facet of my soul.