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September 25, 2020
Dear Praying Friend,

I found myself walking the streets of my neighborhood (safely ensconced in my face mask, of course!!!) praying what has become a recurring theme for me—“Lord, please grant progress from these quarantine restrictions that cut us off from human contact.” The Philippines now has the longest lockdown in the world. Our church and school have not met physically since March 15, with no apparent likelihood that normalcy will return before 2021.
But our lives and ministries are focused on people! What do we do? How can we do better? And what do I do when I just really miss seeing other people!? Hence these themes churning up and recurring in my regular prayers.

As I return home, I started chatting with three friendly men from the local government office. They sat down to breakfast and I was able to join them and read through one of our tracts. It was a precious and refreshing chance to get to share the gospel.

An hour later one of my students arrived—the first time I’ve seen a student in person since March! We grabbed a milk tea together and had a fabulous time of fellowship.

That evening, I had another quality conversation with a man often in our neighborhood. We’ve been gradually building a relationship and had some excellent evangelistic talks about faith and the meaning of life. I know things are happening in his heart; I’m praying that this will lead to much more.

So God answered my prayers. In other ways also, the lockdown in our neighborhood has opened up new relationship opportunities. That we are all locked together has created more of a community on our street. We’re praying and excited about where this may lead. Sarah has also had increased opportunities to build relationships with ladies both in our neighborhood and online.
The sign reads "wear a mask to be sure you are safe from sickness."

Status of the Quarantine

As I mentioned, we have been under lockdown for six months now and the government has stated plans to quarantine until a vaccine is widely available. Other parts of the society are now opening again, but three elements remain that strongly impact us:

  • Churches cannot functionally meet (the limit is 10% of capacity).
  • Schools may not meet at all.
  • Everyone below the age of 21 is barred from leaving their neighborhoods. With four humans that fall under that age, we are grateful for a ground-level apartment with a sidewalk; we have recently also allowed the kids to run with us on the street in the evenings. The lockdown gave us space for the boys to finally learn how to bike–lemonade out of lemons.


Ministry continues, with the usual sturdy Filipino flexibility. Our church meets entirely online and Joel enjoys preaching a few times each month. We have also begun classes again—this semester Joel is teaching Bible Doctrines and Daniel and Revelation.
A surprising highlight was organizing a Saturday block class on teaching the Bible to children. Joel and Sarah each taught a 3-hour session, as did Ruth Potter and Tiffany Parks. The response was extraordinary with over 100 attending. You can watch the class sessions here. Please pray that the ideas would take root now while ministry to children is either remote or not at all.

Another undeserved delight has been an extended series teaching (through Zoom) at one of our supporting churches. This turned into 11-sessions on the theology of each NT book. In the process, I enjoyed creating a 15-week study guide for reading the New Testament. You can download that here. And once again, I am happy to offer any of the conferences below to our supporting churches or others if that would be a help.

I also enjoyed taking two doctoral missions classes on Islam and on Cross-cultural Communication. Both classes have been immediately profitable for our ministry. As the classes were night-shift, we were very thankful for great health for all and no crises.


Finally, we are grateful for grace for our children to flourish. 
  • Joy (2) now has a good grasp on English and is using it to fully express her humanity and personhood. She keeps us on our toes and laughing!
  • Caroline (5) has learned how to read and finished both the Big Picture Story Bible and the Big Picture Story Bible. She always has a sweet, ready hug.
  • Zachary (7) has now finished the Old Testament for the first time and is on track to finish the Bible in under one year. His motion is almost constant, and he loves adventure.
  • Jeremy (almost 9) finished a several-month study of 1 John. His final project was to present the theology of the book to our family. And he did a great job! If there is anyone around our home besides our family, he will bask in their presence even if they are not really able to talk.
We have missed being with other people, but there is no downside to the time we have had together. We have had outstanding conversations, both as a couple and as a family. These children are a delight to our hearts; we pray for God to help them to increasingly love and fear Him with all their heart for all their days.

Thank you so much for your prayers! We need them, and we pray for you.

Joel and Sarah,
Jeremy, Zachary,
Caroline and Joy Arnold

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