I'm back!

Glad to be home!
My sabbatical is finished, and Laurie and I are glad to be back in Dinuba at New Life Community! We've come home rested, energized, and full of experiences, insights, and joy. God is at work all around the world, and absolutely at work right here.

On July 1st we left LA for Istanbul, Turkey, where we met up with a Christian college group for ten days of touring western Turkey and the Greek island of Patmos. The whole point was to see where the churches had been when the Book of Revelation was written by John while he was exiled on Patmos. They're still digging up parts of those towns and finding churches from that time period. They've already found 25 churches in Laodicea, which was told in Revelation that they were lukewarm. They must have read that and gotten busy sharing the Gospel!
Hagia Irene (Istanbul), site of the 2nd Ecumenical Council
Our class in Sardis at the largest synagogue outside of Israel.
The streets of Ephesus
Our boat at the dock on the island of Patmos.
From Turkey we flew on July 10th to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in Africa. My cousin and her husband have been missionaries there with African Inland Mission for 35 years. We stayed with them in their home and joined their missionary team and local pastors for times of prayer, study, planning, singing, eating, home visits, a tour, an afternoon on the Indian Ocean just a few minutes from their village, and finally a safari and river cruise before flying home.
What impressed me most was the "Umoja wa Kanisa" (Unity of Churches) that have come together to research and lead outreaches in the villages of the Kilwa district in Tanzania. Through their cross-denominational work they have planted churches in 21 of those 70 villages in the last 5 years alone!
Unity of Churches pastors' prayer & planning meeting
High school boys singing at the afterschool Bible class in the public school.
Laurie and ladies preparing dinner in a local pastor's home.
With Pastor Alex's boys at their house.
Preaching with my cousin at the AICT church in Ruhatwe, Tanzania.
Elephant herd with little ones in Selous Game Reserve.
The last 5 weeks of the sabbatical were spent in the US. Laurie went back to work in Visalia thje first week of August, while I worked to complete a Certificate in Church Revitalization through Church Answers. I read lots of books, participated in a regular forum for pastors, talked with several pastor-coaches from across the US, and traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit Mosaic Church, its staff, and its non-profit Vine and Village. There's so much to learn from others!
I also realized just how special we are at NLC. Lots of churches reach out to their communities, but it is the rare church that is willing to be transformed through such ministry. We are indeed a diverse family of faith and that is all for God's glory, the One who is already uniting us with all things in Christ Jesus. I've truly missed you and the experience--challenging as it is sometimes--of being a new life community.
Thinking of you while working on this Sunday's sermon in Little Rock, Arkansas
Thank you so much for the opportunity to travel, rest, learn, and grow as your pastor but also as your brother in Christ. We're glad to be back and ready to walk together with you through all God has for us as church in Dinuba.
See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark

Mark Isaac


Ken Sawatzky - September 1st, 2022 at 7:52pm

It is great to have you back. You both have been missed.

Sonya Morgan - September 1st, 2022 at 8:28pm

Welcome home! Glad your sabbatical was good for you and Laurie! Thanks for sharing photos and learnings. See you Sunday!

J. Inez Ruiz - September 2nd, 2022 at 3:48pm

Thank you so very much for all that you do Pastor Mark! So glad you're back! Your wisdom speaks volumes. Thank you for representing NLC on your journeys! You are AWESOME!

peggy z - September 3rd, 2022 at 6:38pm

We are so very glad you're back. We plan on seeing you both tomorrow!