Thank you for your faithfulness through this year. Personally, it has seemed strange to write of anything we are facing, knowing through the media coverage that everyone is facing challenging times. However, even through the challenges, God is faithful, and we are seeing more and more of His working among us; we trust you are as well.
Throughout the Philippines, the handling of the COVID pandemic this year has varied. For much of the year, our area enjoyed almost zero cases, yet we experienced the heavy lockdowns because of our proximity to areas that were seeing cases. Our area has begun seeing almost daily reports of cases, and a few deaths; but, praise the Lord, it hasn’t affected our quarantine status. In fact, we are seeing more and more relaxing of restrictions, even though there is no “official” change in our status.
One big blessing was that they recently expanded the age group that can be outside their homes to include those 15 years old up to 65 years old. This has allowed several more of our teenagers to return to church and to stay in the afternoons. We are grateful that for several weeks now, we’ve had visitors and even baptisms on Sundays. For a church that, until this pandemic came, was accustomed to seeing weekly baptisms, it is a great shot in the arm!
Our soul-winning efforts are somewhat limited from what we’ve done in the past, as far as organized meetings and transportation, yet we still see people saved weekly and rejoice in the Gospel not being hindered. We have taken time on Saturday mornings to have Bible studies, with the purpose of teaching those who come to be teachers of the same lessons to others. I pray this will expand the number of those who are apt to teach in our church. Afterward, most go out soul winning and visiting, especially visitation to those who are still unable to attend services in person.
We praise the Lord that our visas were extended, but we ask that you continue to pray, as we would still be restricted from returning to the Philippines if we leave, which may be a requirement before our visas could be extended again when they expire this coming June. Please pray for our daughter Allyson, who will be married in March at FBC Hammond; it does not appear at this time that any of us will be able to be present. I would also ask that you pray for my father, who was just admitted to the hospital in California with COVID. The Williams family is still preparing to join us in the Philippines; please pray they will be able to get through all of the requirements to secure their entry.
Our ministry is doing well, and I am amazed at the faithfulness of our church during this year, the strangest year of our lives. We are coming up on our 10-year church anniversary in January, and though we will not be able to have the giant day we envisioned, we still plan to make a special event out of it as we celebrate God’s faithfulness. Thank you for your faithfulness! We wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!