OTTUMWA — Mark and Suzanne Tanner will tell you that their walk is not unique, but what they've done with the Lord's direction is very special.
Their ministry has several branches, including world missions, music recordings, books, teaching and radio broadcasts. Each of these offshoots has the same purpose — to give God the glory.
"If I had to sum up my whole life in one word, it would be 'grace,'" Mark said. "Our ministry is a living testament of God's love, mercy and grace in our lives."
Mark began playing guitar at the age of 15.
"I had a vision of being a rock star, to stand on stage and have people glorify me," he said. "I played, I studied jazz (in college), but it was all about me. It wasn't until much later that I learned that the giver of the gift is the one who needs to get the glory."
So he quit playing music for 20 years, in a time he calls walking in darkness. He was homeless, on drugs and frequently in jail. The last time he was incarcerated, he started writing song lyrics. He was tired of sitting on the same bench in the same jail looking at the same trees.
"I told God that I would surrender as much as I knew how. I said, 'Deliver me from this torture, and I'll glorify you.'"
At that moment, the desire to be a worship leader was planted in his heart. He went on to lead the music ministry in the prison, ministering to 2,000 prisoners. He continued to write songs and promised the Lord he wouldn't return unless he was wearing a visitor's badge.
In 2005, Mark came to Ottumwa with his wife, Suzanne. After serving in other churches for a few years, they were led to begin their own ministry, New Heart Ministries International. Under this ministry are several facets that all move together to glorify God.