A JAARS Love Story

By Rachel Greco

Clyde and Arlene’s relationship wasn’t exactly ‘love at first sight’, but it was, and still is, powerful nonetheless. It began with a newfound love of the Lord and service.

Arlene and Clyde Sample on their wedding day at JAARS

Arlene always knew about God, but she didn’t begin a personal relationship with him until she was 48. Like the unfolding of spring, the change occurred slowly.

While dating, she had become accustomed to attending church in her local Pittsburgh area. Although that dating relationship didn’t last, God used it to draw her to himself and to prepare her for another relationship he was planning for her.

Almost without knowing it was happening, the Lord wooed Arlene. As his Spirit began bearing fruit in her life, friends noticed. “Everybody [at church] was saying they could see the change in me,” Arlene recalls. “I would be relying on Scripture or looking for Scripture.”

When Arlene first heard her church was planning a summer mission trip to JAARS, she didn’t think she was ready. But the next year, when she attended a luncheon the church held to share their experiences at JAARS, Arlene’s interest was piqued. “I wanted to go and experience it.”

So the following year, Arlene accompanied her church team to JAARS. The JAARS volunteer coordinator invited the church team to her house for dinner and included Clyde Sample, a JAARS volunteer, whose wife had recently passed away.

Clyde and Arlene chatted a bit at dinner—not knowing what God had in store for their future.

Two years later Arlene returned to JAARS with her church team. By that time, the team had bonded with Clyde, who was still volunteering at JAARS. So the team invited him to one of their dinners during their trip. Clyde and Arlene got reacquainted, and he asked her if he could write her via email, to be a source of encouragement since they were both single. Arlene agreed and returned with her church to Pittsburgh.

In the third email Clyde sent Arlene, the tone changed from friendly to something deeper. Arlene showed it to her friend and asked what she thought. “He has feelings for you, Arlene,” her friend said.

The emails continued. Then Clyde attended a Missions at the Airport event and corn roast in Vermont and asked if he could take Arlene out to dinner on the way home.

Thus began a year-long relationship. After many hours of driving and flying from Pittsburgh to Waxhaw, Clyde moved to Pittsburgh and proposed.

Since Clyde had friends at JAARS, including Chaplain John Williams, Arlene suggested they get married there. “He was surprised by this suggestion,” Arlene admitted with a smile.

Gene Scott, Clyde, John Williams, and Jack Boomhower before the wedding

The couple married September 2014 in the JAARS auditorium. But that wasn’t the end of their involvement with JAARS or their longing to help end Bible poverty around the world. Although Arlene was still working in Pittsburgh, they returned many times for long winter weekends to visit friends.

More recently, Clyde and Arlene served at JAARS for a month in February. Arlene retired December of 2019, freeing them to serve together. Arlene enjoyed serving snacks to the students of ICC (Intercultural Communication Course) and listening to the sessions. They both love hearing firsthand accounts of what mission workers sacrificed and reaped from serving overseas for 20-30 years.

Clyde and Arlene don’t know whether they’ll eventually move to JAARS or not. “We’ll just see what God’s will is and where he leads,” Arlene said. “Sometimes God doesn’t reveal everything all at one time because if he did, you would be blown away.”

And who wouldn’t be blown away with how he brought these two servant-hearted individuals together to better serve him and Bible translation?

Please continue praying that we would have patience as we wait to see what God is doing and will do with the current COVID-19 situation. We know he’s doing something that would ‘blow us away’ if we knew it all now!