Marcus & Amber Yoars

Echoes from the mission field

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.

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.