Marcus & Amber Yoars

Echoes from the mission field of Norway

Tag: KRIK

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!

Finally … an Update!

It’s embarrassing that we haven’t blogged in weeks. I know, I know—we’re not the first missionaries to falter right out of the gate with maintaining a blog. And yes, we have 100 legitimate reasons for that—everything from traveling to working crazy hours to having limited wi-fi where we’re living. But still, it’s embarrassing. (Thank goodness Amber’s kept up on Facebook whenever possible.)

The truth is, when Bible school wrapped up and students left a few weeks ago, we knew we’d still have several major tasks and assignments here at KRIK Høyfjellssenter in Hemsedal. But we had no idea life would continue to be this busy. Yet as it was during the 10-week Bible school term, we’re amazed by how God continues to open doors for us and use us everywhere we turn.

I (Marcus) continue to get invitations to speak, teach and lead worship around town, and it’s been exciting to watch God go deeper with many of those we’ve shared life with over the last few months. I’ve taught more at a local church (Lighthouse)—I still have a hard time calling it “preaching” ☺—and have helped them with worship. I’ve also been discipling a few guys, counseling them through different situations and having the privilege of helping them understand more of what God is doing in their lives. Amber is doing the same with several women and, as usual, she’s been a magnet for countless others.

Yet one of our most exciting and fruitful assignments in the last few weeks has been working specifically with the leadership team at KRIK Høyfjellssenter and helping to counsel them through an exciting yet challenging season of life. Since our first days here, the two couples who live and work at the mountain center, Gudmund and Helene, and Øystein and Synne, have made us feel like family and invited us into their lives. Often it’s easier to share the details of your life—challenges, triumphs, concerns and all—with outsiders who can offer an objective point of view, and that’s been the case with us. We’ve been honored to walk alongside these couples, who make up KRIK Høyfjellssenter’s leadership, by asking questions, listening to their thoughts and dreams, and praying with them. But even more so, we’ve treasured their authentic friendship.

More than a decade ago, Synne had a vision to see a Bible school that would train, equip and send out true followers of Christ from the mountains of central Norway. At the same time, others—including another friend of ours, Øyvind—were involved in bringing that vision to reality … and then some. KRIK Høyfjellssenter celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, yet based on all that happens at this mountain center, you’d think this was a mega-ministry that’s been around for decades. From marriage conferences to Bible schools to youth camps to extreme-sport events, KRIK Høyfjellssenter keeps the calendar full year-round with events that center on a vision to “inspire and equip young adults to know Jesus and follow Him.” (Yes, they reach far more than just young adults—which is part of what Amber and I have been discussing with the leadership team.)

Gudmund, Helene, Øystein and Synne have big dreams for KRIK Høyfjellssenter, yet they also carry heavy loads in leading the ministry. What’s been so exciting for Amber and me is how God sent us during a season when we could help them to reaffirm their vision yet evaluate what it will take to grow—personally, as couples and as a ministry. Though we’re confident God sent us to Hemsedal for many reasons (many of which have been blatant and with evident fruit), if it had solely been to encourage these new friends, that would have been enough for us.

Introducing a New Addition to the Family …

No, we’re not pregnant! :) We are, however, starting our fourth week here in Hemsedal at KRIK Høyfjellssenter, and things couldn’t be going better. God allowed us to quickly make a deep heart connection with many of the students and staff, and that’s been key to what the Lord continues to do here.

Marcus can write more about this next time since there is much to share, but before more weeks fly by (as they already have since we arrived in Norway), I wanted to introduce you to a very special person in the lives of the Yoars family. Kari Henderson (pictured above) is part of “Team Yoars” in Norway, having joined us a few weeks ago in Stavanger. She’s with us here in Hemsedal and has been an incredible help not only as a nanny to the boys (which has given Marcus and me more time to help serve the students and staff), but also in translating (she’s fluent in Norwegian). However, there’s more to the story when it comes to my Kari Julianna, as I call her …

In 1997, I stepped out of my senior year in college (for a year) and by faith moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., to work with a ministry serving the poor and homeless. I had the opportunity to live with the couple running this ministry, work alongside them and nanny for their children. At the time, their oldest son, David, was 5 years old, and Kari was 3. Since then we’ve been family. Marcus and I have watched the kids grow up (including John Markus, who’s now 14) and been part of their lives all these years. God has always entwined our lives in the craziest ways.

Kari’s mother (and my dear friend), Solveig, is from Norway. Though she’s raised her children and lived in the States most of her adult life, Solveig’s career has largely been in Norway as a recording artist. In fact, few Christians in Norway older than 30 haven’t heard of Solveig Leithaug, as she’s known here. In the summer of 1998 I travelled to Norway with Solveig and the family, and from there God truly gave me a heart for this country that led me to pray for the nation and its people for more than 10 years. I’ve travelled to many countries, but Norway captured me in a unique way and I knew I would be back.

Fast forward to 2013 and Kari was graduating from high school. Marcus and I drove to Nashville to be part of the celebrations, and during that time God began to stir our hearts for Kari. We both believed in her so much and knew we wanted to pour into her in the near future. We also saw how amazing she was with our boys, and how much Brayden and Xander loved her. As the doors continued to open for us in Norway, we had a sense that Kari would somehow be part of it, at least for a season. Meanwhile, we were completely unaware that while she was part of a YWAM DTS in New Zealand, God was also putting on Kari’s heart a deep desire to return to Norway.

So here we are, almost 20 years after I nannied for Kari in Norway, and now she’s doing the same for my children. How cool is that?!

God is so amazingly detailed with our lives. (As yet another twist in this story, Solveig was in fact part of Marcus and my meeting in 2001, and she’s been instrumental in helping to connect us with people here in Norway.)

We’re excited about what lies ahead for Kari. God is going to do amazing things in and through her—she’s an incredibly gifted singer and true worshipper. (This week she’s on tour singing with her mom and has already been helping Marcus when he leads worship in different places.) We’re honored to be part of Kari’s journey and are trying to seize this precious time we have with her. Through the years so many people have poured and sowed into us, and I love that we will forever get to do the same thing for others.