Heed the Call is an occasional series profiling local pastors, ministers and missionaries. To nominate a pastor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the first page of every book he autographs, Tore Haavik pens the verse “Mark 1:17-18.”
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed him.”
“It seems like such a simple verse, one so many people have heard many times, but people really need to stop and think about it. A random stranger told these men to follow him and they did. Think about what they left — their jobs, assets, reputations, homes and families,” Haavik said.
The 38-year-old Haavik, a financial adviser for Edward Jones in Decatur, worship leader at Epic Church’s Athens campus and author of the recently released book “To the Ends of the Earth,” knows firsthand the power of God’s call.
Following God’s call, which he described as a “still, sweet voice,” took Haavik from his home country of Norway to Ethiopia, Jamaica, China, Hong Kong, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Thailand.
“My parents are pastors in Norway. I was what you might call the black sheep because I didn’t become a Christian until 14. At 16, I was at a crusade and had a complete heart transformation,” Haavik said. “The next year, I felt Gold telling me to do mission work. He made a clear impression on my heart. He guided me every place I went. When I felt led to go to Jamaica, I didn’t even know where it was. All I knew was what I saw in ‘Cool Runnings,’ and that is where I met my wife Stephanie.”
Haavik performed his international missionary work as a volunteer with Youth With A Mission. He visited orphanages, participated in pioneer missions, which targeted unreached communities, and witnessed miracles.
“I saw blind people be able to see, lame men walk and deaf people get their hearing back,” Haavik said. “One of the most meaningful experiences in Ethiopia was when 10,000 people came out from a jungle to a clearing where we set up a stage. There was nothing around, no houses, no buildings, and all of a sudden, 10,000 people came out from the jungle into the clearing to worship.”
In “To the Ends of the Earth,” released in July, Haavik chronicled one of his missions — a journey to minister to people in Xinlien, a remote village in China.
“God told me to write this book many, many years ago, but I just didn’t have the time,” Haavik said. “Last year, I went to Shakalaka trampoline park with my son and did not act my age and had a serious back injury. After I had surgery in November, I felt God telling me, ‘Remember the book I told you to write a few years back, start writing it.' ”
It was 2002 when Haavik felt God telling him to return to China.
The call came while Haavik was recovering from an earlier back injury he sustained at a security glass factory in Norway, where he worked to earn money for his wedding.
“I was on sick leave. I couldn’t lift anything and God was asking me to go to China. I questioned him, but I trusted him and obeyed. I quit my job and the day I was scheduled to leave for China, I woke without any pain in my back,” Haavik said.
The book documents the next two months and how God directed Haavik to help start a church in Xinlien, a region in northwest China closed off to foreigners for 20 years due to governmental projects based in that area.
“The purpose of the book is to challenge people to follow God when he calls and know God can use anyone. You don’t have to go to seminary or Bible college to do God’s work. I hope readers are challenged to step out of their comfort zones and walk in faith when God challenges them to share the gospel, even if that means going to the ends of the Earth,” Haavik said.
“To the Ends of the Earth” is available on Amazon, at Haavik’s Edward Jones office on Bank Street and Second Read Books in downtown Decatur. Proceeds from the book will go back to funding ministry programs.
The Haavik family moved from Norway to Decatur in 2015 to be closer to Stephanie's family.
“It’s easy for most people to question or ignore God's still, small voice. It's easy to say Why should I go to Jamaica? Why should I go to China? Why should we go to Decatur? It is all about knowing God’s voice, spending time in the word, knowing how your father speaks and acting on it when he calls out to you,” Haavik said.