Mark Moyer leads Heartland Youth For Christ. Two days prior to the COVID shutdown in our area, a friend and mentor of his gave him a copy of “The Most Important Hour – A 90-Day Quiet Time Journal,” and said, “I’d like to challenge you to give God the first hour of your day. Before you talk to your wife – before you do ANYTHING – I’d challenge you to give God that hour.”
“When he handed me the journal,” said Mark, “my first thought was that I often don’t have an hour for Pam, who is my wife, so I’m not sure how I’m going to give this a whole hour.”
Just a couple of days later, the COVID shutdowns began to sting YFC hard. Three days later, Mark was in his office praying and thinking, “What am I going to do?”
There on his desk, peeking out from beneath a sheet of paper, he saw the corner of that journal – still in its package.
“I opened it up, and the first words that I read in that journal said, ‘Priorities are what we do, everything else is just talk.’ At that moment, I felt like God was saying to me, ‘The reason you don’t have time for Pam is that you don’t have time for Me.’ That was 131 days ago. Every day since I’ve spent the first hour of my day with God. I seek His Kingdom first, I journal, I read a chapter in the Old Testament, a chapter in the New Testament, and then I might read something else or just talk to Him.”
From that day, just a few months ago, Mark emphasizes that he has seen God do more in his life than in the prior eight years in ministry.
When We Pursue God, He Responds
Youth For Christ has been a tenant in the same facility for three years. YFC was asked to move out in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Mark began seeking God’s face on what they should do – look to rent elsewhere? Own a building?
“We began pursuing a building on the northeast side and I went so far as to ask a church to forgive a $250,000 debt so we could buy it. I knew that even me asking that was a push from God. I believed that God was going to do something. Their response was that they were not going to forgive that debt.”
Rather than becoming discouraged, Mark praised God for answering. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear but “it’s what I needed,” he said. “I knew God had something else, and I was grateful for an answer.”
On the morning that Mark thanked God for answering, he also asked Jesus to lead him to another place. That day became a day of miraculous answers to prayer.
“That same morning, God laid my daughter heavily on my heart about journaling. I asked that He would move in her life the same way He’s moved in mine and that she would begin to journal. And I also asked Him about some bills we had – an $8,000 debt that we had to pay at Youth For Christ from an event that was impacted by COVID.”
Mark felt that God told him to pay $2,000 toward that debt. An hour later, a co-worker came in and said, “We just received a $6,000 gift.” Between the $2,000 that God had prompted and this gift, they were able to pay the bill in full.
“I came home for lunch,” Mark said, “and as I finished lunch and stood up, I saw something laying at my daughter’s feet. It was her Bible, and under it was the journal that I’d purchased for her a year earlier. I went in to tell my wife, and I was starting to get emotional … my wife told me that my daughter had spent about an hour that day in her journal. You can imagine … praying to God that morning … what I was feeling as her Dad …specifically asking for her to experience what I was experiencing, and how that happened on this same day.”
Mark got in his car and was driving down I-380 through Cedar Rapids, emotional. He got off on 1st Avenue and felt that God told him to turn left. “He wanted me to see something.”
Mark turned and saw a building that they had inquired about in December. It was now April. There was a sign in the window with a phone number. He called it, and the voice on the other end said that the building was now for sale.
“Miraculously, during the pandemic, God brought us eight people who gave us the money we needed to purchase this building. For the 66 years that we’ve been in Cedar Rapids, this is the first time we’ve had a home. A building of our own.”
Mark had tried for years to pursue God but without the same level of discipline. “I tried having one hand in the world and one hand on God,” he said. “Matthew 6 talks about going into a ‘secret place,’ and spending time with God, and you’ll find the reward. And the reward is Jesus himself. Once you’ve experienced Him, the way that I have, it takes away all doubt. I would say that, again, it’s not what I testify to the change I’ve experienced in my life, it’s what the people around me will say.”
Arika Mason is the Mentor Life & Volunteer Director at Heartland Youth For Christ. “I’ve worked with Mark for seven years. Throughout that whole time, it was very clear that he loved Jesus. But when he committed to starting every morning with Jesus for an hour, Jesus became his treasure. You can see that in how he talks, how he responds. He’s an activator, so he goes-goes-goes, he’s always starting something, jumping into the next thing. Since this time with Jesus each morning, now, when there’s something to react to, he pauses and says, ‘I really need to go to Jesus for His counsel on this.’ And that’s just so great. His tone has changed – he’s not easily rattled.”
“We’ve had fundraising events that we rely on that have decreased because of COVID and various other things. Any normal person should be stressed because we completely rely on these financial things, and big events are being canceled. In the past, that could rattle him, and rightly so. But now, he’s just so confident that God will provide, and He has, in such unique and creative ways.”
“The timing of this is just so amazing,” Arika continues. “Think of all the things that have happened in our country and community in the past few months! Yet he has not wavered at all in staying on mission. It’s been such an encouragement.”
“God has spoken to Mark in ways that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced. God is answering prayers in unique and timely ways … it’s just been amazing.”
James Mayhew is the Board Chairman of Heartland YFC. Mark and James have worked together closely for years, and the two are good friends. “You know, there are a couple of things that come to mind when I think about what has happened to Mark. Joy, enthusiasm, and excitement. He just seems to be on fire. He’s had a spiritual awakening.”
“In our board meetings, one of the things I’ve always loved about Mark is his intense way of bringing Scripture to life. When we are in a meeting, his willingness to say, ‘Hey, let’s stop for a second and let’s pray and recognize God in this moment.’ Or maybe our conversation is becoming a bit more secular and we can become protective of things like our new building, and Mark has a newfound ability to look at things and say, ‘Hey, this is God’s.’”
James said that you can see the emotion on Mark’s face, you can hear it in his voice, and that inspires the rest of the board and staff “to want to be at our best.”
“One of our cultural attributes at YFC is courageous faithfulness. What I see out of Mark now is this confidence, this boldness, this courageousness – these attributes that have helped him lead the staff but also as a spiritual leader for our board.”
Heartland YFC regular an end-of-school-year get-together that usually occurs in May was delayed because of COVID. We recently held the event, and 10 kids came forward and gave their lives to Jesus. “I believe a big part of that had to do with what’s happened in Mark,” said James, “because of how much emotion God has brought into Mark and the things he had been doing … but now there’s the heart piece.”
His wife Pam said that Mark has more desire to talk about his relationship with God “and our relationship with God.”
“He’s quicker to open Scripture and talk about how it relates to our lives and what we’re going through. It’s encouraged me. I haven’t taken on the discipline to the level that Mark has – I haven’t been as consistent as Mark. And I can really tell the difference on the days that I do spend time with God from the days that I don’t,” she said.
Mark brought up another interesting thing that has happened. “As I’ve shared about this,” he said, “other people have started getting back with me that they’ve joined me in this discipline. One woman texted me the week of the derecho. She said, ‘The first three days were rough because I love sleeping. But on the fourth day, I had an incredible quiet time. And that morning I got laid off from my job. Had Jesus not had time with me that morning, I would not have made it … but my sister and my husband both noticed how I responded to that news, that something was different with me.’ Now there are three people from her church who are doing this.”
Mark says there are still ups and downs, good days and bad. He admits that he doesn’t wake up every morning with a big smile on his face, bounding out of bed. “But every morning when I get up and sit down with Him, He talks with me and He meets with me. It’s Him. He is our daily bread. Jesus is our daily bread.”