Marcus & Amber Yoars

Echoes from the mission field of Norway

Tag: calling

TimeOut 2015 Recap

Psalm 123:6 says, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” I can’t think of a better, more succinct way to sum up our last three months of serving in the Bible school here at KRIK Høyfjellssenter. Indeed, what God has done has left us all—students, staff and leaders—in complete awe and filled with joy. Our God is truly amazing!

When the staff of TimeOut (what the fall Bible school is called) gathered a week prior to students arriving the first week of September, there was an incredible sense of unity among us. God quickly joined our hearts together like family, yet there was also an acuteness in the spirit that was beyond the norm. It didn’t take long to understand more of why that was. This year’s group of students came with an exceptional level of openness and hunger for God, and this was obvious within hours after their arrival.

Whereas it usually takes weeks to cut through walls of emotional protection, hardened hearts or straight-up skepticism, this year’s 36 students were ready for God to transform them by the first day of teaching, which was all about uncovering those things in our lives that we often sweep under the rug. And what made this group so unique was both their genuineness in supporting and loving one another, as well as their willingness to pursue God. In almost every camp or Bible school setting, you’re bound to have a few students who are forced to attend and make it known that they’d rather not be there. And yet even among those who struggled with the many hours of classroom teaching during this year’s Bible school, there were still no bad attitudes to be found.

Because of these and other factors, the staff quickly had a sense that God had raised the bar for this TimeOut compared to other years. He not only wanted to establish a foundation for these students—which is often what happens when many come from backgrounds where they’ve rarely been in God’s Word—but He also wanted to equip them so they could be sent out to transform Norway and beyond.

As in years past at TimeOut, students weren’t allowed to share what they do for a living until Week 3, which helped them get to know each other better without prejudgments and gave room for many to open up with a vulnerability they had never experienced before. Because Amber and I were full-time staff leaders this year, in addition to our responsibilities of teaching and leading worship, we were also given four students each that we would walk closely with and mentor during these 10 weeks. Our groups included everything from doctors to mechanical engineers to social workers to lumberjacks to teachers—truly a beautiful mix!

Some students accepted Jesus as savior for the first time. Others experienced the Father’s unconditional love in a way they never knew possible. Many were filled with the Holy Spirit and received their prayer language. Almost all learned to hear God’s voice and recognize His presence more in their lives. And still others were delivered from demonic influences and set free from lifelong strongholds.

Many of the leaders who have been here for years talked about how what was the ceiling for previous years had become this year’s floor. That was evident almost daily in our “morgensamlings” (morning meetings), during which one or two students would share their testimonies and we would worship and minister to each other. We could sense the Holy Spirit’s presence as students spoke honestly about their struggles and victories in life, and from this place of recognizing God’s grace and love came a deep worship—through songs, words and prayers—that often left us literally floored amid the Lord’s almost tangible presence.

One of the highlights almost every year is the Hjertefokus (“heart focus”) week, in which a team of experienced counselors comes and helps students walk through both teachings and group sessions that allow God to unveil and heal emotional wounds. There is nothing like seeing the Lord set people free, and during this week we once again witnessed radical transformation in several of the students. Some even looked physically different after experiencing God’s true freedom!

For Amber and me, the 10 weeks once again were a beautiful time of God using us—our gifts, our life experiences, our hearts for people—to the fullest. I led worship a few times each week, which was always a delight with the group so eager to experience more of God. I also taught for a couple of weeks on worship, prayer, vision/calling, and what the Bible says about sex and relationship issues (e.g., cohabitation, singleness, purity, etc.). Amber taught—which was first for me to experience—during the last week to get students better prepared for “re-entry” into the real world. And together, we led some teachings on marriage and communication.

Outside of the classroom, however, we stayed extremely busy meeting with and counseling students and staff alike. Some of these meetings left us stunned by Jesus’ faithfulness to reveal Himself and heal even the deepest of wounds. So often we knew that our job was merely to “show up,” and indeed, when we did that in faith, He did the rest.

Before we left the States last year God gave us a vision in which we saw Hemsedal as the hub for what looked like a flight map. Out of this tiny town in central Norway came many “routes,” only these routes were actually trails of fire, with each destination being ignited from the burning fires of Hemsedal. We have continued to see how this vision is coming to pass, but during this TimeOut it became even more of a reality as students were equipped and empowered to return to their hometowns as carriers of His fire. Praise God that He is raising up trail-blazing revivalists that will spread this holy fire throughout Norway!

Things Are Moving … And So Are We!

It’s official: The Yoars family is on our way to Norway! After almost two years since we felt God calling us into full-time missions, we’re finally able to tell others about this incredible journey of faith He has us on. Since this will be news to most of you reading this, we’re excited to share the details of what’s been going on, where in the world—literally—we’re headed and what we’ll be doing.

About two years ago God began working on our hearts in that beautiful, life-altering way that only He can. We sensed a longing like never before to abandon everything and “go” in His name, even though we had no idea where we needed to go to or what we should do. As we sought the Lord more, the calling to be overseas missionaries deepened as He helped us connect the dots between our upbringings, our past experiences and the skill sets He’s equipped us with. In particular, I (Marcus) began to have my eyes opened to the legacy my parents left me from their nearly 35 years as missionaries in Hong Kong and how that has shaped the way I see the world.

While we walked through this process under the counsel of our church’s pastor and his wife, God brought some amazing confirmations that we were walking in His will—everything from how our children reacted to the possibility of us leaving Florida to supernatural affirmations that He would provide. In fact, during one weekend we had at least five couples approach us and, without knowing our situation, tell us that if we ever went on the mission field they would love to support us. Yet probably the greatest sign has been the supernatural peace we’ve had that, despite all the unknowns of our journey (and there are many!), God is with us. We’ve certainly needed that as we’ve counted the cost more. In the natural, it’s scary—I’m leaving a great job and career, we’re putting our house up for rent and we have no assurance of financial security. Yet we’ve jokingly said in recent weeks that even if we end up homeless in a few months, we know God will still provide—and we mean it! When you’re walking by faith, what else matters but following Him in obedience?

So what exactly are we doing? We hope to leave for Norway in August, depending on what happens over the next few weeks. First, we need to raise funds (again, we’re just now getting to share the news!); and second, we’re waiting on some things to line up regarding our visas. Either way, the doors of opportunity continue to open for us, and they include: teaching young adults at a Bible school in Hemsedal; developing a family ministry and mentoring young church staff at a church in Tromsø; and training missionaries and assisting staff at various YWAM (Youth With a Mission) bases throughout the country. Outside of Norway, we’ve been in talks about helping to develop a Bible school in Scotland and a missionary training center in Turkey, though these would likely be later. So though we are Norway-bound, it’s possible the “land of the midnight sun” will simply be a catalyst for future assignments. We know much will unfold once we get there, and others have already confirmed that half the journey is in leaving. Besides, if we had all the answers and knew all the details, where would the faith be?

Because of that, our first year will be an exploratory one in which we’ll be “scouting out the land.” We will spend the time getting to know the culture and language, and most importantly, building relationships with people as God continues to open doors and connect us with churches and ministries around the nation. Our goal is to come alongside and serve whoever may have need of our skill sets–and from what we’ve encountered so far, there are plenty of people for whom this is an answered prayer.

As we step out of the boat, we know this is not a journey we can do alone. We need help. In fact, a couple of months ago, God gently took me aside, so to speak, and reminded me that just as much as He’s called and anointed Amber and me to go, He’s called and anointed certain people to send. I had grown cynical with “partner” letters always asking for money and didn’t want to go the same route. Yet the Lord quickly showed me that there would be times in the future when we would desperately need the support of those joined with us on this journey—and that how much money they donated had almost nothing to do with it.

Would you consider supporting us however you can? Whether that’s committing to intercede for us on a regular basis over the next year or supporting us financially on a regular basis, we’d be honored if you join us either way as we begin our journey. (For prayer support, click here; for financial support, click here.)

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we find out more. We’ll be blogging and posting updates as plans unfold more, but regardless, we’d appreciate your prayers in the meantime. May God continue to grace us with His wonderful presence as He goes before us every step of the way.