Sunday, April 29, 2012

Prayer Letter - April 2012

 Dear Friends and Family,

If you don’t know the Lord, I don’t know how you cope with the challenges of this life. I’ve been a widow now for over seven years, and I believe because of that, the Lord seems Dearer to me than to some people, and surely Dearer than when my Heavenly sweetheart was here to listen to my woes, and share my burdens. I must several times a day, ask my Father to just give me joy in order to be a blessing to others. And He does.

I want my reports to you to always be uplifting, and on the positive side. But I would be less than honest to make you think the life of a missionary is care-free. I thank the Lord for my Salvation, and for good health to serve Him. I praise Him for my children, all loving and serving the Lord. I thank Him for you, my friends, and for a lovely place to live.

I thank Him for my ministry, where I was able to see several ladies saved these past two months; another gentleman, who was saved from a life of alcoholism; an entire family has been saved, and is faithful in church since I last wrote to you. Our church building is progressing, and one of the men who were saved this past month is giving us a very good price for his labor as a brick mason. What a joy to hear him when he goes past my kitchen door early in the morning on his way out to the property, “Good morning, Sister!”

My daughter in law, Mona, has started a ladies’ Bible class in her home every Thursday evening after ladies’ soul winning, and she is doing a magnificent job holding the attention of both lost ladies, and the ladies and teenage girls in our church.

Things are really coming together for the opening of Compassion Radio station that Tommy feels God would have him start. He has done a splendid job taking over the work while Philip and Liz have been away. We look forward to their return in a few days. The mission in San Lucas that Tommy started is progressing, as well as the new church in Nueva Maravilla, with souls being saved. Another young man in the church feels like God would have him start a work in La Concordia.

On a personal side, in September I look forward to the arrival of two new grandbabies. Please pray for my daughters, Ruthie and Elizabeth, and for the safety of these precious little ones…grandbabies #35 and#36!

My son, David, and his wife, Jolene, and their four children recently moved to Israel, where God has opened incredible doors of service for them. He is serving as tour guide at the Garden Tomb, leading Spanish and Russian speaking groups. Please pray for their safety. While they miss their beloved Ukraine and the people miss them, they are excited to be in this land where Jesus lived.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7    

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tragedies, part 1

“And the sun was darkened,…” 
Luke 23:45 

In the last few weeks I have received news that has darkened my spirit: a young girl in our church was raped; the death of another little girl whose parents are missionaries; news of some huge changes in the lives of people whom I love more than my life; a near fatal accident of my friend; and the news of serious illness of a lady whom I admire.

At least for me, these are tragedies…some I share with dear friends, others in the lives of those I don’t know; and still other tragedies that make me cry every day.

Tragedies…disasters…it doesn’t matter what you call them. They leave us with a feeling of something that has come to an end, whether it’s the purity of a godly young girl; the death of another little girl; or the ministry of others.

Tragedy almost always marks the end of something that up until then brought happiness and joy. Tragedy gives way to mourning, sadness and as our Scripture says, “the sun was darkened,” when just a few seconds before, it was shining. Tragedy always brings changes, and most of the time, permanent changes.

I don’t know how Mary felt the day of the death of her Son on the cross. For sure, she knew even before His birth that He would be born to die. Sometimes I think sudden tragedy is far more painful than those we expected.

I remember the day I received the phone call from my brother that my Daddy had cancer. His death was tragic, but I didn’t feel the same sadness the day of his death on March 11, 1990, as I did the day of that phone call. What a shock! In my mind, and in my heart, I thought Daddy would live forever. At least for me, the months following the day I heard he had cancer were much harder than those following his death. I had time to be alone with him; I told him everything that was in my heart, and we did everything we wanted to do, we went to all the places where we wanted to go.

But when my husband went to Heaven it was sudden. We weren’t expecting it. My children and I weren’t prepared. Although he had been sick for years, I never thought about his dying. For me, the day of his death was a tragedy.

In the past few weeks, I’ve received news of “tragedies” that I wasn’t prepared for. Just like the day my husband went to Heaven, I’ve wanted to go back and “undo” some of the things I’ve done, take back some things I’ve said, but I can’t. There’s no time.

How wonderful that Mary had time to say to her Son all the things she wanted to tell Him, to do with Him all the things she wanted to do while He was with her! She was prepared for that “tragedy” of His crucifixion. Although she suffered as only a mother can, she was prepared, because His death was prophesied.

But what about those tragedies that don’t warn us before their arrival?

I don’t really know what people who don’t know the Lord do in times of sudden tragedies. And although I’ve never suffered some of the disasters that my friends are going through today, with complete confidence, using my personal experiences, observing the lives of others, but above all, using the Word of God, I’m going to offer some words of comfort. If you’ve never suffered a tragedy, one day, sooner or later, tragedy will knock at your door. I hope you will take to heart what I’m going to tell you when it does.

Have you ever gone to bed, and didn’t want to ever wake up? I have. A darkness that I’ve never felt overwhelmed me. Many years ago, my Daddy and I were traveling alone. We visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. As our guide directed us, he warned us that he was going to turn off all the lights. There in the depth of those caves, I remember “feeling” darkness that I had never experienced…you could feel it, as though you could reach out and touch it.

That was the same darkness I felt the day of my tragedy.

Divorce is one of the greatest tragedies a person can experience. Although, by the grace of God, I’ve never felt the effects of that disaster, I had the same reaction a few weeks ago, as a child has when he discovers his parents are no longer going to live together, and that is guilt. How many times have we heard little children say, “It’s my fault my parents don’t want to live together any more.”?

That was my reaction a few weeks ago over some pretty devastating news: “Is this my fault?”

Too late we want to fix broken things. We wish we hadn’t said things we have spoken. But once words are spoken, they’re like eggs: once they’re broken, it’s impossible to return them to their shell. 

We regret lost opportunities which we will never again have. There is finality in some tragedies. Even the sound of the word “tragedy” sounds like the end, the endless “nevers.” What existed a few seconds before is suddenly gone forever.

Besides guilt feelings, and lost opportunities, there is always the question, “Why?” “Why MY daughter,” “Why MY job,” “Why HIS health?”

Tragedy always brings changes, it takes away a certain sense of security, and life is never again the same. Surely the disciples felt forsaken when their Master died. So many people loved the Lord, and they were going to miss Him.

If you’re standing in a heap of ashes left by tragedy:

1. Trust in the Lord. He wants to be your Anchor, your Strength, and the only “Constant” in your life. He doesn’t change. He is Worthy of our trust. Put your trust in Him, and in no one else to save you. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Nahum 1:7 

2. Live today as if it were the last day you would spend with your loved one, because it very well could be. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14 

3. If you love the Lord, all your tragedies are for your good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 How is it possible that the cruel death of the Son of God could be turned into something good? He arose the third day, and said to His disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7 If the Lord had not died on the cross, we would have had to die for our sins. He was our Substitute. He took our place, and if we choose to accept His sacrifice, we won’t have to suffer the tragedy of eternal death when we die. The death of Jesus, the day when “the sun was darkened,” was changed into victory when on the third day He rose from the dead.