Marcus & Amber Yoars

Echoes from the mission field of Norway

Tag: goodbye

We’re on Top of the World (Almost)!

Though sad to leave our new “family” in Hemsedal, we packed our belongings in a car lent to us by a friend and headed out for yet another crazy adventure in Norway—this time traveling more than 1,500 miles in the dead of winter to Tromsø, where we begin the next phase of our assignment this year.

Our first stop was a bit of a detour in terms of location but turned out to be yet another divine sign of how God continues to lead our journey. For months we’d wanted to visit Norway’s main YWAM base, located in Grimerud, and develop relationships with some people we’d previously only connected with online. So before we traveled too far north, we planned to head there for an overnight stay. Our stay turned into four wonderful days, however, as God blessed us with some amazing new friends and ministry connections—while our car received some much-needed repairs for the long drive from a mechanic on staff. (Hey, working breaks are a good thing when you’re traveling down a mountain on a sheet of ice!)

Driving in Norway in the winter is an adventure; you quickly learn to check weather and highway updates before setting out or else risk being stranded in your car during a storm because of a mountain pass being closed. Yet praise God we hardly dealt with anything other than clear, blue skies (at least during all four hours of daylight) throughout our journey. Indeed, God had a special grace for us during the week—from favor with our accommodations to Brayden and Xander having a blast the entire way (we have THE best boys in the world!).

To be honest, at times it felt as if we were on a true “missionary” journey from biblical times. We prayed and stayed with kind strangers from around the world­—from Eritrea to the Philippines—who became like family to us because of our connection in Christ; we lingered when we felt the Holy Spirit leading us to stay in certain places; and we listened intently in intercession to what the Lord was saying about different places we drove through. In fact, Amber and I quickly realized that God had arranged this trip for greater purposes. Had we not driven, we wouldn’t have had the privilege of literally praying through towns, cities and regions of the nation and sensing the spiritual climate of its different parts.

One of the highlights was crossing the Arctic Circle (see images below), where we stood in the middle of a silent stretch of highway to soak in the reality of being so far north and yet still having hours left in our journey. The sun—have I mentioned we don’t get to see it much these days? :)—peaked over the blanketed mountains and created this unbelievable scene I’ll never forget. In fact, unbelievable became the word of the week as our eyes captured stunning sight after stunning sight. Norway truly is one of the most beautiful places in the world. (And we’ve come to accept that pictures will never do it justice.)

Another unforgettable moment was arriving in a fishing town where we stayed with a fisherwoman whom God is using to spark revival in her community. Despite having a past so rough that the town completely shunned her when she returned, our friend Linda is a walking testimony of God’s redemptive nature. Her stories of how she’s listened to and obeyed the Lord’s every whisper—and then seen Him work miracles—brought us to tears. The Lord gave both Amber and I specific words of encouragement and insight for Linda, and His presence was thick during our time together. She also introduced us to an African family whom God sent as fellow missionaries to Norway, and whom we believe are like generals in the spiritual realm. Though Amber and I have both been deep in “intercessory” and “spiritual warfare” circles, these prayer warriors brought those terms to a whole new level for us. It was especially meaningful to be prayed for, sent out and blessed by these wonderful intercessors before we reached our final destination: Tromsø.

We’re now in Tromsø, where we’ll spend the next few months working with Norkirken Tromsø, a church that’s invited us to help them build a family ministry, mentor some of their young leaders, teach, train and serve however else we can. We spent our first two days in Tromsø unpacking (we’re living with an incredible couple, Kjetil and Live) and getting our bearings around town, but today we met with the church leadership and were blown away by their hearts. They are a unified, gifted and wise team that’s currently facing a challenging crossroads, and I pray that we can come alongside them to truly lift up their arms in the everyday battle for this area. Tromsø is famous as a tourist destination for seeing the Northern Lights, but right now it’s also incredibly dark—both physically and spiritually. We’re excited about seeing the Lord’s light shine even brighter!

Before I wrap up this update I wanted to share with you another faith challenge we have in the coming months. Since we’ve been in Norway, God provided a transition period in which I’ve been able to bring in some income by helping my former employer until they found my replacement. That season ends this month, which means it marks our first of completely depending on those partnering with us on this journey. Though that may be a little frightening in the natural realm, we’re so encouraged when we think of those who have faithfully supported us through these months. Yet without more people coming alongside us, our season in Tromsø—and beyond—could be difficult. That’s not just financially speaking, but also spiritually. 

If you sense God stirring you in any way to join with us, we would deeply appreciate it. We know God is always faithful to provide what we need, and we’re confident in this more than ever—especially as we’ve seen Him supply our every need thus far. Yet we also know how true it is that every little bit counts. So thank you in advance for believing in us and supporting us with your prayers, your donations and your overwhelming love. May 2015 be the year that we—together—see Norway transformed for God, person by person.

Goodbye, America; Hello, Norway!

We’ve finally arrived in Norway—Bergen, to be exact—and are loving every minute of the cool, fall-like weather in summer. In fact, as I’m typing this a beautiful fog silently crawls over the water and islands outside our window. The slow steadiness couldn’t be in more contrast to the pace of our lives since I left my job and we moved out of our house. It’s been a constant yet irregular rhythm with no routine and a million loose ends that needed to be tied each day. Finally, the to-do lists are all checked off (well, sort of) and the airplane tickets now mere stubs.

Yes, after almost two years of dreaming, praying, planning, praying, connecting, praying and preparing—all based on this driving sense of mission God put in us—we are finally here on Norwegian soil. Our first few days have already flown by as we’ve been staying with our dear friends, Lyder and Anne Leithaug, in Bergen. Saturday we ascended one of the city’s seven mountains (prophetic? Nah …) and took in the breathtaking panoramic views of this fascinating coastal city that blends modern and ancient everywhere you turn. Sunday we joined believers at a local charismatic church, Credekirken, took a walk through the neighborhood and fought off jetlag (we’re doing remarkably well so far on this front).

We’ll be in Bergen the remainder of this week, then head down to Stavanger to attend a conference at one of the largest evangelical churches in the nation, IMI Kirken. There we’ll connect with pastors and leaders from around Norway—something we know will be critical to our developing plans this year. We pray the Lord continues to open doors during our time there with divine connections, just as He’s done all along.

But before I get carried away with what we’ll be doing in the coming weeks and months—which we’ll highlight in future blogs—let me capture what we’ve been up to in the last few weeks.

The first half of July didn’t include much sleep as we worked hard to put our house on the rental market and deal with selling, giving away or storing most of our belongings. We headed to family in Birmingham, Alabama, without having a renter, but—praise God!—within a couple of weeks had renters living in our house.

The following weeks were split between Birmingham and East Texas, enjoying precious time with our families and friends—including living in an RV on our friends’ ranch and waking up to the sounds of chickens, cows, horses, dogs and who knows what else. Brayden and Xander had the time of their lives with their aunts, uncles and cousins; Amber stayed busy with family affairs; and unfortunately I had to work much of the time (I’m still working as a freelancer for Charisma, managing the magazine behind the scenes).

By the time we arrived back in Orlando for our final stretch, we were mentally ready to be in Norway; you can only say goodbye for so long until you’re ready to actually leave. But before our Thursday night flight, we were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, thanks to our precious church community. Last Sunday our sending church, One Church, prayed for us and officially sent us out. Obviously, this was meaningful enough for us; but what made it even more beautiful was how the Holy Spirit moved through the morning and made every word, song and part of the worship services point straight to Jesus rather than any person or event. It was as if our sending out was simply an extension of what Jesus really wanted to do that day, which was glorify His name and remind His people of His work not only in Orlando or even the U.S., but around the earth. This had been Amber’s and my prayer all along, so it was even more powerful for us.

That night the Spirit’s seal and blessing continued as a large group of our friends held an unforgettable send-off party for us at the Feeding Children Everywhere offices. There we were surrounded by people who have meant the world to us during our seven years in Florida, and we couldn’t have felt more loved, appreciated and blessed. It was such a humbling experience for us as they prayed over us, offered words of encouragement and blessing, and even committed to supporting us financially. We are truly blessed.

By the time our good friends Martijn and Amy Van Tilborgh, who have helped immensely during our transition and as former missionaries know all about our journey of faith, watched us board Norwegian Air flight 7052, we were beyond exhausted yet overflowing with gratitude. Gratitude to friends who blessed us beyond measure as we were sent off. Gratitude to our family for understanding the path we’re taking. And most of all, gratitude to the Lord for His faithfulness and leading throughout.

This journey is all about following Jesus, and Jesus’ heart is for people. So though I’m sure we’ll miss the “things” we’ve left behind—our home, the convenience of American living, Florida’s beaches—this journey is about people. Thank You, God, that it’s the people in our lives—both those we’ve left and those we have yet to meet—where You continue to reveal Yourself more and more.