Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prayer Letter - August 2011

4 year-old Camila, whose mom I led to the Lord, waits to receive her diploma from VBS.

Dear Friends and Family,

Just when I think my ministry responsibilities have reached their limit, God puts another “opportunity” in front of me.

A few months ago, God sent a young couple to our church. He was saved several years ago, but she is a new Christian. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as spending time with newborn babes in Christ, and Yessica is as vibrant a new Christian as I’ve ever been around. But more than that, she and Wilber are the reason for my brand new ministry: They’ve invited me to teach in their Bible Club in their neighborhood, and last Saturday at their second meeting, there were 98 in attendance, and 15 children were saved. It’s a delight to watch many of those children file into church on Sunday mornings as they bring them in on their van route. Do I have time to squeeze one more activity into my already full schedule? “Mom, we can take turns teaching if you like,” Anna offered. My response? “I love this, and I don’t want to give it up!”

Working with children keeps me young…or at least, thinking I’m young! Vacation Bible School…my 27th, since we started in our living room many years ago…saw a high attendance of 174, with a total of 31 professions of faith. I taught children this year, whose parents I taught many years ago.

But I still have a tender heart toward the ladies in my Sunday school class, and our ladies’ monthly prayer breakfasts. It has been my delight to have won three ladies to the Lord in our church, and I sometimes wonder if those ladies would have had more years to offer to the Lord had they been saved in someone’s children’s class when they were little girls.

June 12 was a Red Letter Day for our Church here, as we dedicated the land purchased for our building. Please pray for the Lord to provide for its construction, as we are rapidly out-growing our present facilities.

The month of June also included a trip to Chicago, where I spoke six times in Spanish at a Family Conference. Upon my return, Ulises and Elizabeth picked me up at the airport, and I took a sentimental journey to Ixtapa, where I attended their services the next day. I even made a new surrender to the Lord, to go anywhere He wanted me to go. So precious were the memories made more than thirty years ago…I could close my eyes and almost see a young doctor and his little family headed out to a village in their pickup to share the Gospel. Please pray for this “new” work, which actually began more than 37 years ago.

I ask you to start praying for our Annual Ladies’ Banquet which will take place on November 18. But you can do more than that: Pastor Corders, and the good people of Amistad Baptist Church in Del Rio, TX, have already asked me where to send their check. This is what I told him: Make it payable to Windsor Hills Baptist Church for Billie Sloan Banquet. Am I being presumptuous? Take it from one who knows: You can’t out-give God!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One of a Kind!

“...that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
I Corinthians 1:10

Most family and marital problems, most problems in the church wouldn’t exist if we would only learn one truth: WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT! WE’RE UNIQUE!

You’re one of a kind!

One of the favorite pastimes of my husband, who suffered with Parkinson’s disease the last 24 years of his life, was to go to town, and sit in the van and drink a Coke while he watched people pass by. Consequently, since I spent most of my time with him, it continues to be one of my favorites.

I remember one time, we were sitting outside Best Buy near Dallas, and our children had gone in to make a purchase. My husband suggested that he and I play a little game while we waited: “See that Jaguar parked over there?” (He once told me that if he had remained in the USA, and continued to practice pediatrics, instead of coming to México as a missionary, the car he owned would have been a Jaguar.) He continued to explain our little game: “Let’s see who can guess the owner of the Jaguar among the customers who leave the store.” I don’t remember who won the game, but what I do remember is that every person who walked out of that store was different…unique one from another, at least in their outward appearance.

I love to “study” people…not from our van as I did years ago, because my husband is in Heaven, and I’m the one who runs my errands now. But I watch people in air ports, on planes, while I wait in line at the grocery store, at the bank, and at Burger King. Sometimes I even play a little game by myself: “I wonder why that young man is buying diapers…Could it be that his wife is sick? Or dead? Is he a single Father?” Imagine! That’s the way gossip gets started!

Of all the lines where I’ve waited, of all the people of all ages and nationalities, that I’ve studied, my observation is this: NO TWO PEOPLE ARE ALIKE! They’re all different!

WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT! Each of us is one of a kind!

That’s the way God made us. Why do we have a problem with that? Yes, we do!

The problems begin when we try to change others to be what WE think they should be, so that they fit into OUR mold, 0UR plans for their lives.

If you’re a mother of young children, among your many responsibilities is to discipline, teach, instruct, educate and train. But guess what! Every child is different. My husband and I raised eight children, and not two of them are alike. Each one has his or her own personality. A baby has his own personality at birth. She’s equipped with certain tendencies, a definite temperament. The great job of a mother is to observe those characteristics, those temperaments, and train that little girl in such a way that she will develop those good qualities, and control the negative ones, or at least direct them in a positive way. For example, if you have a very aggressive little girl, at the same time you must train her to control her desire to always have her way, you should also direct that temperament in a positive way: for example, captain of the kitchen cleaning team!

If you work with children in a school, or in church or any other similar organization of children’s events, you should also apply these principles in dealing with children.

But what should you do about changing adults? What about your adult relationships, your teenage children, your husband, your married children?

1. DON’T TRY TO CHANGE THEM! The greatest challenge you will ever face is to change someone to fit your mold. Do you know someone like that? Of course, we all do. There are wives who are always trying to change their husbands so that they are hard workers, more responsible, more aggressive, and more ambitious. Not only do they have an impossible mission, they make life impossible for those around them, especially their husbands and their children. But also that wife, who always wants to change her husband, and her children, is one more frustrated woman, who is never satisfied. She doesn’t know how to appreciate the positive qualities of her husband, her children and others. Perhaps she’s a woman who always notices another woman’s things...even another woman’s husband and her children. “Why don’t you spend time with your children like my neighbor’s husband does?” “Or (God forbid) like my Dad does with his grandchildren?” One of the greatest mistakes a woman can make in her marriage, or in her role as Mom is to compare her husband or her children with others, “Your brother always made A’s in Math…”
2. ACCEPT OTHERS, just like they are. One day, sooner or later, you’re going to realize that the only way to live in peace is to accept people, things, and situations that you can’t change. I don’t like being short. I’d love to be taller. I struggle in the super market and on planes with things out of my reach. I always, always have to ask for help getting things down and back up, whether it’s my carry-on, or cans of Carnation milk. But even though I sometimes wear high heels, I’ll never be able to change the fact that God made me a little shorty. So I’ve learned to accept being shorter than most of the people around me. But guess what! I’ve met the nicest people because of my “disability.” In the grocery store I always have to wait for a tall lady or man to appear, and kindly ask them to reach the Diet Cokes for me. I’ve found that people are anxious to help a little short lady. It gives them a feeling of having done a kind act at the end of their day. I’ve never asked a gentleman to help me store my carry-on, that at the time of our arrival, he didn’t remember to get it back down for me. My short stature has turned out to be a blessing…because I’ve accepted it. Many times when a person feels our approval, he responds in a positive way. Instead of saying, “My husband always leaves his dirty clothes on the floor,” if you accept your role and privilege as his helpmeet, your task will turn into a ministry instead of a job you don’t feel you deserve. And guess what! Maybe when you quit complaining, God will work a miracle in his heart, and your sweetie will start putting his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. What person in your life, what situation is driving you crazy? Accept him or her or it. Maybe you’re sick. You’ve done everything possible, you’ve gone to doctors, and you don’t improve. Accept your illness. God can turn it into a blessing, like He did with my stature. There are women who are missing out on so many blessings because they refuse to accept the people God has put in their lives, because they want them to conform to the way they want them to be. Just as there’s no one else like you, there’s no one else like your husband, or your mother in law. But until the day you accept the people whom you will never be able to change, you’re going to have a miserable, frustrated existence.
3. GOD ACCEPTS YOU just like you are. And thank the Lord for that! Think about yourself for a moment…your weaknesses, the mistakes you’ve made in life, your failures. God doesn’t reject you because you’re not perfect. What’s more, He wants us to give Him our mistakes…the Bible calls them “sins.” There are people who reject the opportunity for happiness and peace, because they won’t accept themselves. They won’t admit they’re weak, incapable of changing themselves. God’s not that way. God accepts us, just like we are…sinners, undeserving of happiness or of a home in Heaven. But until we accept ourselves, just like we are, sinners, we’ll never be able to change our relationship with God.
4. ACCEPT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. He accepts you. But that is of no value to you until YOU accept HIM as your Savior. God accepts you just like you are…weak…incapable of saving yourself. But you have to accept that fact, surrender to Him, realizing that without Him you can’t go to Heaven. Not by works that you might do will you ever go to Heaven when you die, but by what He did on the cross for you, dying in your place for your sins. He’s the only One who can change you. You don’t like yourself? Have you tried everything and failed? Of course, you’ve failed, because you can’t change yourself. Just as we have to accept situations in our lives, we must accept ourselves just as we are, just like God sees us: SINNERS, without hope of ever changing ourselves. But God can change you, if you accept Him as your SAVIOR. He made you one of a kind…that’s how special you are to Him!