The Willard family!
The Willards!

We’re Adam, Lora, Matimu, and David Willard and we’ve recently completed our service as missionaries to Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world, located just off the southeast coast of Africa.  As missionaries, we were part of YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Madagascar, pioneering a new work to the unreached Antakarana people in isolated northwestern Madagascar.  Our primary home/sending church in the US is Sanctuary Church, located in Tulsa, OK.

We’ve recently finished pioneering a new work in the area of Ambilobe, the primary geographical center of the Antakarana people.  This effort culminated in handing off the leadership to a mature and dedicated local leader, who is continuing to lead the work we started together in the village of Antanamazava, expanding it with community development initiatives, and training the local disciples to multiply the work further. We spent the previous five years on the remote island of Nosy Mitsio (an important location in Antakarana cultural history), learning the Antakarana language, culture, and way of life, attempting small-scale community development projects with them, and translating a Bible story set into their language.  All of this work is the continuation of a vision that God gave Adam nearly two decades ago to serve God on the island of Madagascar.

We strongly believe in the incarnational reality of Jesus, our God who became a man like us in order to bring new life to the world.  We strive to model ourselves after him, “becoming all things to all people so that by all means we might save some.”  (1 Cor. 9:22)  To us that means speaking the local language (Malagasy) and dialect (Antakarana) and partnering in works with the local Malagasy people that are formed in such a way as to be both recognizable and deeply challenging to the culture they live within.  We work together to spread the Kingdom of God in Madagascar and bring the abundant life of Jesus to those who’ve never known it or even heard of it.

Adam and Lora have lived and worked as missionaries in Madagascar since 2011.  Upon first moving to Madagascar, we completed a half-year of intensive Malagasy language training and now use the Malagasy language to interact and develop relationships on a daily basis and to share the Good News of Jesus.  We’ve also worked with YWAM Tamatave on the east coast of Madagascar, participating in a church-planting Discipleship Training School, lived in a rural village, worked in health/sanitation development, and started multiple Christian fellowships among rural villagers who had never heard the Good News of Christ before.  We contributed a small part to the work of the YWAM Tamatave team, who have started over 45 churches and 30 rural clinics, all of which are led and managed by the villagers themselves.

The previous stage of our ministry included spending five years on the small island of Nosy Mitsio, where we led a team of new missionaries to bring the first Gospel witness that the island has ever received.  The Antakarana people are one of the least-reached tribal groups of Madagascar and historically resistant to outside influence.  Our goal during our time spent on Nosy Mitsio was to see the Antakarana there come to know Christ, follow him, and develop a multiplying church-planting movement among them.   To that end, we pioneered the first efforts to reach the Antakarana on Nosy Mitsio.  We spent our first year and a half alone on Nosy Mitsio, to prepare the way to bring out a team to join us in ministry.  When our team arrived in late 2014, we spent the next two years training our team in an intensive language, culture, and ministry training program (TIMO) and together we developed our plan of ministry and long-term strategy for reaching the Antakarana of Madagascar.

Our team’s ministry efforts on Nosy Mitsio consisted of three primary areas:  We developed an evangelistic Bible story set of 16 Bible stories in the Antakarana dialect, which we often shared several times a week through Discovery Bible Studies in multiple villages there.  We also engaged the community in basic healthcare training and provision in direct cooperation with the local communities of Nosy Mitsio.  As a team, we also shared Bible stories and songs at the local primary school.  The video below shows a great introduction to the Antakarana people and our efforts to reach them during this phase of ministry (all of the footage is from 2013-2016):

On Distant Shores: Church-Planting Among the Antakarana on Nosy Mitsio, Madagascar

Go to our Videos page to see more videos from Madagascar and our work here!

At the completion of the two-year training program at the end of 2016, most of our team members left the ministry to serve in other areas.  We returned to Nosy Mitsio with one other family of teammates for the following year.  However, the team ministry on Nosy Mitsio ended in mid-2018 and we transitioned from there to the town of Ambilobe.  Though the people of Nosy Mitsio have been resistant to the Gospel during the five years we spent with them, many good relationships were built and many seeds were sewn, and what God has taught us and done among them was instrumental in helping us reach the Antakarana elsewhere on the mainland of Madagascar.

Ambilobe is the primary geographical center of the Antakarana people, being the place where their head king lives, it’s the principle market hub for the area, and it’s also the primary crossroads for the major towns and cities in the far north of Madagascar.  We grew a new ministry team in this area, made up of ourselves and national Malagasy Christians.  From this central location, renewed efforts are being made to reach the Antakarana people through holistic community development and a disciple-making movement.

As we’ve made these ministry efforts and demonstrated a life of faith lived alongside our neighbors and friends, we’ve shown the Antakarana people the possibility of life lived with a personal, intimate, loving, and all-powerful Creator, known in Jesus, who is with them in the hardest times, who takes an interest in their quality of life, and who, through his Holy Spirit, can protect and empower them in the spiritual warfare they encounter on a regular basis.  Our vision and our goal has been to see the Antakarana people take ownership of the work of Christ among them and we’ve served as catalysts to a self-sustaining church-planting movement that we believe will continue to multiply throughout northern Madagascar.

Prior Experience and Qualifications:

In addition to our years in Madagascar spent training and leading ministry outreach teams, Adam has a bachelors degree in both French (one of the national languages of Madagascar) and Pastoral Christian Ministries: Missions from Oral Roberts University.  Lora has a bachelors degree in Speech/Theater Education from Northwest Missouri State University.  Previously, both Lora and Adam were certified public school teachers in the Tulsa, OK area, teaching everything from preschool to high school between the two of them.  Adam has also been an adjunct professor at Oral Roberts University and a child welfare specialist for the state of Oklahoma.  Both Adam and Lora are ordained ministers by Emmaus Road Church (a daughter church of Sanctuary Church) in Tulsa, OK.

Both Lora and Adam have also spent two and a half years as US Peace Corps Volunteers in South Africa (from 2008-2010) where they lived and worked in a rural community to develop the local primary schools and educational resources of the surrounding area.  Together and with the help of excellent co-workers in South Africa, they accomplished such projects as creating two libraries, two computer labs, an after-school art program, a literacy curriculum for the youngest grades, and plenty of teaching and training to improve the skills, teaching quality, and effective use of available educational resources of their South African counterparts.

We believe that our skills and our experiences, and most importantly our willingness, have been developed by God to be greatly used in the island of Madagascar, serving him by “knowing God, and making him known.” (The YWAM motto)

To download a print-out version introducing ourselves and our work and a few financial details, to be shared with whoever you would like, please click here:  Willards Ministry Basic Info – 2018.pdf    (To save to your computer, just right-click the link and choose “Save link as…”)

Listen below to a couple of recorded messages from us:

Go to our Audio page to hear more messages from us!

To learn more about Madagascar, click here.

Please visit our “Contact” page for contacting us directly.