Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prayer Letter - December 2013

“For unto us a child is born,...” Isaiah 9:6

Are you pleased with what you did for the Lord this year? As we end 2013, looking back, I agree with the song writer, “I wish I had given Him more.” But what little I did get to do for the Lord is so satisfying, I hardly know how to begin to tell you.

Counting my blessings is so easy for me: the Lord gave me a darling little granddaughter, Mackenzie Grace, born to David and Jolene Sloan on November 22. “I pray the Lord will use your life in a wonderful way, Precious Princess.”

I’ll never forget the date of this year’s Banquet, which came on the day of Mackenzie’s birth. But besides that, this was the largest Banquet we have ever had, and when Pastor Henry González gave the invitation following the message and the clear plan of Salvation, seven precious ladies lifted their hands for salvation, two being leaders here in our city.

Another unexpected blessing: last year our Church opened a mission in the little town of San Lucas. The Lord seemed to have closed the door, there being no place to hold the services. But the wife of the former mayor there attended the banquet, along with her husband, Don Jorge. At the closing of the banquet, my son, Tommy, asked the mayor to come up on the platform with him. Don Jorge said, “Tonight I promise first God, and then Pastor Thomas, that if you will come back to San Lucas, I will provide a place for you to have services again.” I had personally prayed for San Lucas every morning, even though the door seemed to be closed. I am still rejoicing over answered prayer.

My weekly ladies’ Bible study in Dali’s home around the corner from my house is a blessing to me. One of the ladies who attend is a military wife, and she was able to accompany me to the Military Base here, and visit the General’s wife. And in my last class, a precious lady was saved!

What a joy it was for me to get to attend the first service in Xalapa, Veracruz, on October 6, where my son, Philip and his wife, Liz have started a church. The Lord is opening doors for what is sure to be a thriving work. God has laid a prison ministry on Philip’s heart. I pray every morning for that to be a big part of this new work.

Another first service was held in Berriozabal on November 1. Wilber and his wife Jessica have moved there, and made their home where God called them.

I can’t wait until my next prayer letter to let you know that after I finished this, little Gabriel Robert Joel was born to Philip and Liz on December 12. “Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful 39th grand-treasure!”

And thank you to my children, Ulises and Elizabeth, and the churches under his care for the 53rd Anniversary celebration of my living in México, 46 of those years as a missionary. They arranged for several of my out-of-town children to join in the celebration, and the ones who couldn’t attend called me during the service, while the ushers presented me with beautiful bouquets from each of them.

Undeserving as I am, I am thankful for honors lavished on me, as it shows how much I am loved. Not a word of complaint from you, Sloan, for the rest of your life!

Thankfully yours,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayer Letter - October 2013

Just when you think your ministry has reached a plateau, the Lord opens another door of service. You will never hear me complaining about that. My hairdresser, who was saved at our Ladies’ Christmas Banquet last year, asked me to start a weekly ladies’ Bible study in her home. Please pray for this precious lady, and for the opportunity for us to serve the Lord together.

Radio Compasión (Compassion Radio) celebrated its First Anniversary on September 4, with an overflow attendance. The men put a tent outside the door, and with the loud speakers, no one missed the service and the message. We are already reaching into Central America.  Please pray for the Lord to provide the money to purchase the transmitter for the new tower addition to the network of Compassion Radio Ministry, located on top of Tzontehuitz Mountain.  I’m no technician by anyone’s standards, but I understand this will extend the broadcasting capacity to double, reaching many more states in México, and even further into Central America. This 24-hour a day ministry is bringing new people into almost every service. My son Tommy has trained a young man in our church, and he has almost completely taken over this amazing ministry.

I love my home, and hate having to leave, even for a few days. But I can’t deny the pleasure it gives me as a missionary/mother to be invited by my children to participate in their ministries. Going to Ixtapa once a month and teaching the ladies’ Sunday school class in Ulises and Elizabeth’s church is such an honor for me.

Philip and Liz are now in Xalapa, Veracruz. Xalapa is a beautiful college town, where Ulises obtained his degree as an architect. But it is also needy for the Gospel. Please pray that the Lord will open the door for them to begin a solid work there.

Our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfasts are mainly for the purpose of praying for the special ladies who will be honored at the Christmas Banquet in November. But the Lord also gives us surprise blessings each month. The mother of Erica, a young lady who died of cancer right after getting saved at our Banquet three years ago, was there for the first time. Please pray for Margarita to soon accept Jesus as her Savior.

Wilber was ordained a couple of weeks ago. He is the young man whom I mentioned in my last prayer letter. The Lord has laid it on his and his wife, Jessica’s hearts to start a new work about two hours from here.

We are in count-down mode as it is about a month away from our annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet, November 22. Lots to do, but everything seems to fall into place every year in time for this special event. Please keep that evening in your prayers.

I know I’ll have to edit some things out of this letter, because of its length, but it won’t be our service last Sunday. As part of Tommy’s birthday celebration, he invited the orphans who participate in our Banquet every year. Their pastor preached, and shared the tragic, incredible stories of some of the children. I listened through tears and was moved beyond words at the amazing work Pastor Carlos and his wife, Yara are doing with these precious children. I certainly want to have a part in this fruitful ministry.

Thank you for having a part in mine.
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

Monday, October 7, 2013


I wrote this back in February, and I still need this lesson as much as I did back then...

“I made a covenant with mine eyes;”
Job 31:1

This morning, I’m enjoying my favorite time of the year. Here in my little town, in the month of February, we begin to enjoy the loveliest season, when we’re saying “Good Bye” to the cold winter days. When I get up in the mornings, I love opening the windows of my house. But I’ve noticed something here lately: they’re a little dirty. It’s time for me to begin my routine spring cleaning.

God has given us “windows.” What’s more, He’s put them in our bodies. They’re our eyes, and our ears. All kinds of information and knowledge enter through these “windows” of ours. People who are deaf or blind need to use different methods so that these “cloudy windows” can allow entrance to information and knowledge.

Have you ever considered how little control we have over these “windows” of our body? For example, maybe in your home you don’t listen to worldly music; it could be that you are careful with what you watch on TV. But if you go to the mall, and there is wild music playing there that isn’t pleasing to God, you can’t avoid its entering into your ears. Although we can close our eyes, at times there are images that suddenly pass before our eyes unexpectedly, leaving an unforgettable impression.

There’s a children’s chorus that goes something like this, “Be careful little eyes what you see…Be careful little ears what you hear…” Actually, that children’s song could be a prayer for us ladies. Just as the Psalmist David says in Psalm 141:3, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” it would be a good idea to do what Job did with his eyes in Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes;”

Has it ever occurred to you how many images enter the windows of our eyes every hour? What we do with those images is what’s important. While there are things we can’t control, we can control the way we react to those images.

What do you do with the things you hear? While we can close the windows of our eyes, or look the other way, at times we have no control over the things that enter into the windows of our ears. By the way, have you noticed in the past months how many people use earphones? Could it be because they’re so considerate of others that they don’t want to be a bother? Or is it because they don’t want others to hear what they’re listening to? For example, ever seen anyone in Wal-Mart, or in line at the bank, or behind the wheel of a car talking and talking as if they were talking to themselves? No. They put these things into their ears, or hook them around them, so they don’t have to use their hands. That way they can drive without putting others in danger. Or they can load their shopping cart and talk at the same time on their phone. Those are just some observations I’ve made perhaps because I’m a little behind the times in modern technology. It still looks strange to me to see kids…and adults…be-bopping to the sound of nothing.

Through the windows of our eyes and our ears we receive much more information than we did ten or twenty years ago. That’s why we need to care for them more than before; we need to keep them cleaner.  It may even take more work, more time to be careful of what goes in.

I.                    The window of our ears. Now, it’s obvious that we should do certain basics to keep this window clean. You and I can control what we watch on TV, or inappropriate glances at men. But what about what you see on the Internet? I thank the Lord for modern technology, and what little I know about using it. But I must watch the time I spend in front of my computer screen. Usually, if you see me sitting at my computer (by the way, I’m writing this on a program called “Windows”) it’s because I’m working. 90% of my ministry consists of preparing lessons and answering e-mails. I have to discipline myself to turn on my computer. Sometimes when I’m going to make a short weekend Conference trip, I give myself a little vacation, and leave my laptop at home, because it represents my work, besides the fact that it’s a hassle to get it through airport security. There is a very well-known Web Site on the Internet where you can go and know, let’s say, what your friend on the other side of the world is doing at that precise moment. And double blessing if she’s your daughter or he’s your son! But I’m afraid that ladies who would never watch a soap opera, will spend time chatting, sharing gossip, instead of caring for her responsibilities as wife and mother. While I thank the Lord for this marvelous method of communicating, I’m afraid we know too much. My husband always said, “The less I know about someone, the better.” I sometimes think we ladies suffer illnesses that ten, twenty years ago, we didn’t even know existed. I’m amazed at the intelligence of some women. I was married to a pediatrician for 35 years, and I don’t know half the diseases my friends know, because they’ve investigated symptoms, remedies, and causes of diseases I’ve never even heard of. We know too much for our own good about things, even though maybe they’re important, or they don’t affect us, or maybe they do, but what do we gain by knowing them? What can we do to change them? The information we gain over the Internet worries us, stresses us out, and lets us know about things we’ll never be able to change. While I’m all for wisdom, and caring for our health, and going to the dentist twice a year, eating nutritious food, resting, etc.; and I agree that we should never ignore abnormal symptoms, we are traumatized by all this accumulation of knowledge. Supposedly the Internet should be a relaxing activity. But how many things did you see over the Internet today that brought you peace? Did something you see make you want to read your Bible more, or love your husband more, or be more faithful to church and to your responsibilities? Sometimes when I go to my computer I pray, “Lord, please don’t let me get any frightening news.” Be careful of the time you spend in front of your computer on the Internet. The windows of our eyes see things that cause covetousness. How easy it is to go shopping today without even leaving our home, without going to the bank to withdraw money, or even getting dressed! With one Click, we can put products in our shopping cart that if we had to go out, or hand over dollar bills, we would never purchase. We reserve tickets, hotels, cars, and cruises. All these details that I’ve observed about the Internet, we women who are in ministry are doing, the same as wives of laymen; women of affluence, as well as the college student who can barely pay her tuition. Technology has reached the most remote corners of the world. The culture where I live consists of Indians, farmers, simple people. But it’s very rare to see an Indian without a cell phone, and even cell phones have Internet access. By the way, do you know what your children are seeing in the messages they send and receive? Have you noticed that one of the qualities of the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 is that she watches over her family? Protect your children from things they shouldn’t see. While you are responsible for their physical growth and care while they’re small, you are also responsible for their spiritual growth if they still live in your house. Protect your husband. In Proverbs 31, the Virtuous Woman protects her family. Verses 15, 18, 21, and 27 suggest that she watches over her family. We see phrases like “She riseth also while it is yet night…” “her candle goeth not out by night.” “…all her household are clothed with scarlet.” and eateth not the bread of idleness.” These phrases tell us that she gets up early, and at times she stays up late. She’s concerned about the security of her family, and she’s not lazy. The Virtuous Lady of Proverbs cares for and protects her loved ones. I believe that if she lived in our days she would protect her husband and her children from cursing, and blaspheming, and music that dishonors God.  Our eyes are the windows which allow things to enter that affect our minds. Ask the Lord to put His angels around them.

II.                  The window of our ears. Perhaps this window is much harder to protect than the one of our eyes. It’s possible to close our eyes, or look the other way to avoid harmful things from entering. But what about our ears? Even though we might cover them up, we can’t completely avoid cursing, gossip, and jokes that might dishonor God, negative comments about our pastor, or music that is displeasing to the Lord. So, the only thing we can do is to be careful of the way we respond to these negative entries through the window of our ears. The sad thing is that many times they enter without warning. A few weeks ago I was on a plane. We were waiting to get off, and there was a group of men standing in the aisle beside my seat. They had visited my state here in Mexico. I’m ashamed to say that they were Americans. They were making inappropriate comments in English about the women here. There was absolutely nothing I could have done so that those comments didn’t enter the window of my ears. Perhaps they thought no one on the plane spoke English; but it’s most likely that they didn’t care if they offended bilingual ladies who were sitting close by. I have gotten on public transportation that had the radio on to a station that played English songs. The driver didn’t even know what the lyrics said. On occasions I’ve asked the driver to turn off the music, because it was offensive to me, and I didn’t want my teenage daughters who were with me to hear it. We should protest when it’s possible, as the Virtuous Lady would have done, to protect our windows, and those of our family. But besides the negative things that we can’t avoid, I’d like to focus on those we can control. For example, what do you do when a friend or a lady in the church comes to you with a bit of gossip? How can we respond to someone who starts to criticize our pastor, or our husband? Are you like a sponge, ready to absorb every drop of the delicious bad things of an acquaintance, or a friend? When someone starts to criticize the pastor, or his wife, do you jump at the chance to deposit your juicy news that you’ve been saving for just the right moment like this? What should we do when someone comes to us and starts criticizing or gossiping? There are three things we can do:

A)     Go get the person who is being criticized
B)      Defend her/him
C)      Turn around and leave the presence of the person who is putting garbage in the windows of your ears.

It is a wise woman who protects her eyes and her ears from material impurities. But even wiser that woman who protects the windows of the eyes and ears of impurities, not only her own, but also those of her husband and her children.

So come on, ladies, and do some spring cleaning with me, starting with our windows.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Prayer Request List for Ladies' Banquet

November 22, 2013

  1. Wisdom and discernment in all the plans and decisions to be made.

  1. Extra strength for the girls and me as we plan and make preparations.

  1. For the wife of our City Mayor to be able to attend, as well as First Ladies of neighboring towns.

  1. For the wives of the former mayors, and military wives to be able to attend. 

  1. For extra finances for the cost of the Banquet, Hotel reservations, and plane reservation for our guest speaker.

  1. Preparation of the special music, and choice of each song.

  1. For our guest speaker, Henry González, as he prepares his message for the evening, and for liberty as he preaches.                               

  1. For the Hotel staff to be reached with the Gospel.

  1. That the Lord would prepare the hearts of the ladies who will be attending, and for many to be saved, who will be an influence to others.  We have had ladies saved in every banquet for the past twelve years, including four former First Ladies, and three military wives.

Note:  This Banquet is an annual affair, and will be attended by ladies, who for the most part are unsaved, and who either because of religious preferences, or pressures from home, do not attend our Church.  The Lord laid these dear ladies on my heart several years ago, and I am as burdened for them as I am for the ladies in my Sunday School Class.
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Prayer Letter - August 2013

Greetings from the little town of Ixtapa, where my husband and I lived back in the 70’s for five years. It’s interesting how life makes a full circle: after 35 years, here I am again, but this time visiting the work of my son in law, Ulises Martínez, and my daughter Elizabeth. The only thing I’ve observed that is keeping this work from growing more is the lack of funds. I’m investing money into this work, and I feel like I’m a part of it, although I live an hour up the mountain from here. My investment just keeps drawing more and more “dividends” in souls being saved, and men being trained by Ulises. Daily, almost hourly, he disciples them in everything from constructing a children’s home, to preaching in the courtyard of hospitals, to conducting services at the wake of a young man who was killed two days ago. (Five adults were saved when the invitation was given.) He meets with them at the church every morning for 5:00 prayer meeting, and then teaches them doctrine and homiletics. He is truly building men of character.

But I suppose you would like to know what his mother in law has been doing for the Lord. The month of June ended my travels for the year, as I taught seven ladies’ sessions in the Family Conference of Fires of Evangelism in Bartlett, Indiana, Pastor Elmer Fernández. I had such a good time with my 15 year-old granddaughter, Karla. It was her first time to fly, and we experienced everything from canceled flights, feeling a strong tremor in the middle of the night from our hotel in Mexico City (earthquake city), and almost turning over in a storm right before landing in Tuxtla. But we truly made unforgettable memories, and she was a blessing beyond words to her Mimi.

The week we returned, I got to go to Tuxtla, the capitol of our state, and was honored to teach a group of dear ladies in the Leadership Conference of missionary Dan Morris. He and his wife, Debbie, are friends of many, many years. Their beautiful daughter, Christina, is a vital part of their ministry now, as she is serving alongside her parents.

Our prayer breakfasts in June and July were well attended, with new ladies in each meeting. What a blessing to have my daughter, Elizabeth, as our guest speaker in July.

Last weekend, I attended the first anniversary service of the church in Nueva Maravilla across town, that Pastor Rodolfo, and his son, Wilber started. When the invitation was given, I was able to lead Paty, a 12 year-old girl to the Lord. It truly is a “Maravilla” (marvel) what the Lord has done. They have several adults, and a fine group of young people who form a choir. During the service, Wilber had me stand with another lady. He said, “I want you ladies to see the result of your labors tonight.” He reminded Micaela and me that this church actually began from the children’s ministry we helped to start. Micaela donated benches, and would bring treats for the children. We had the Saturday morning classes outside under a tent, and Wilber told of the time they had to lay down boards and tiles for me to walk on, and stand on while I taught and played my accordion when it rained. You never know where the small things you do will lead! Be faithful, Sunday school teachers and Moms!

Please begin to pray for our November 22 Ladies’ Christmas Banquet. Our guest speaker this year will be Henry González. He and his wife, Tammie, who is my niece, are missionaries in the country of El Salvador.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MY KIDS AND ME - Chapter 17

“When I was a Child”

Are you young enough to remember the details of your childhood? Well, I’m sure there are few ladies reading this book who are older than I am. But I can still remember vivid details of my childhood. I’ve never studied up on this, but I wonder why there are minute details of when I was a child that are as vivid as though they had happened yesterday.

I have a picture in my mind of the sandals my cousin, Becky had when I wasn’t yet 5 years old. I can close my eyes and see the green, red, yellow and blue straps; and I liked them so much that just before my Uncle Paul pulled out of the drive after their visit, she took them off and gave them to me.

I can remember what it felt like to crawl up into my “Mammie’s” lap…the name everyone called my maternal grandmother…and the security of hearing her heartbeat as she held me close, and rocked me to sleep in her squeaky rocking chair. I couldn’t possibly have been more than four.

I remember smells…and sounds…and verses I quoted in a Christmas play. I remember the face of my first grade teacher, and the name of the little boy who got me in trouble by passing me “love” notes.

And I remember feelings I had…when I was a child.

I remember feelings of love, and fun, and excitement.

I remember joy over seeing my baby brother for the first time, and I remember getting my first reader…both on the same day!

But I also remember negative feelings… I remember the feeling of almost terror the day I missed the school bus; and the wonderful sight of Granddaddy waiting for me in the drive when my teacher drove me home; the feeling of regret when I would disobey; anger when my brother wouldn’t help me with the dinner dishes; sadness the day Granddaddy died; fear when seeing “Santa Claus” walk into our living room on Christmas Eve, even though he was a neighbor everyone called “Heavy.”

But perhaps the greatest emotion carried over from when I was a child is this feeling of rejection…this outside feeling.

Ever felt left out of things? Do you ever feel like you’re not young enough, or old enough, or good enough? There are few feelings as strong as those of not feeling accepted. We all want to be loved and admired and included.

When I was a child, I was a preacher’s kid. Back in the 50’s, that wasn’t the respectable position it is today. I can remember hearing so many times the cutting words, “Oh, you can’t do this, because you’re a preacher’s kid.” I wanted to run away, even though Daddy would comfort me by saying, “Being a preacher’s kid doesn’t mean you can’t do certain things…if you were a deacon’s kid, or a mechanic’s kid, it still wouldn’t be right for you to participate in those activities.”

But this is a book about MY kids…and me. What did I learn from them regarding being left outside?

I have a son whose birth order is right in the middle of four girls. And just to add to his misery, he is the youngest of four boys. Because of this, he was too little…or so his three brothers thought…to be included in their activities. He didn’t want to be included in the activities of little girls. So talk about being outside! He should be writing this chapter!

Do you have a child in a difficult position because of his birth order, or her size? Or maybe it’s their lack of the ability to achieve.

Well, this is not a book of advice on how to raise children, is it? Remember my promise to you at the first of the book?

But looking back, if there is something I could observe, as if floating on a cloud above my life back then, and if I could have shouted down some words of advice learned over more than ten years of my non-child-rearing days, it would be the same advice I would give to anyone coping with feelings of “not good enough, or old enough, or young enough, or brave enough.”

Learn to accept.

Isn’t that simple? Learn to accept yourself and others, whether it’s your sister in law, or your 15 year-old son.

God does. We are “accepted in the beloved,” aren’t we?

Always trying to change your hubby? Well, neither is this a marriage manual, but are there attitudes toward your husband that sometimes make him feel like he’s outside your circle of activities, or friends or family?

I believe if I could go back over my life, thinking of all my relationships, not just as a Mom, but as a wife, a sister, a mother in law, I would be more accepting. Even now, there are people in my life I wish I could change…not exchange; but I find myself wishing they were more considerate; or more involved in certain activities; or less aggressive; or not so demanding of my time.

I wish they didn’t complain as much; I wish they were more outgoing; I wish their hair was shorter; I wish they wouldn’t take themselves so seriously.

That pretty much sums up my attitude of an almost-lifetime.

How sad!

Makes me wonder how many hours of enjoyment I’ve missed.

I don’t want to spend another day wishing for changes. I want to “…put away childish things,” and accept others just the way they are…

just the way God does me.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”…

Ephesians 1:6

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prayer Letter - June 2013

Words fail me to express the joy I feel this afternoon to be writing this from my beloved home in Chiapas. After two months of traveling, I am finally home! One more trip to Chicago, and I’m through traveling for this year!

I never want to turn into a grumpy old lady, always complaining about my lot in life. So, although I got tired and weary…and homesick…during the months of April and May, I must emphasize the blessings I received while I was away. Where do I start?

Well, first of all, two personal blessings: within a week, during the month of April, I received the happy news that I have the births of two little grandbabies to look forward to in the coming months: David and Jolene are expecting their 5th baby, and Philip and Liz will be blessed with their fourth little one. Personally, I’m praying for girls this time, since I have 20 grandsons, and only 17 granddaughters.

Since my April letter, I have spoken 32 times in various ladies’ meetings:  Chaparral, NM, where my son, Joel and his wife, Margaret serve. The little apartment behind their house literally provided an “oasis in the desert” during my travels. Then it was on to the Dallas area, where I spoke to the ladies in Bro. Francisco Mendoza’s church. His wife, Jessica, and the ladies there treated me royally. While I was there, I was honored to get to attend Open Door Baptist Church, and see Pastor Robert Ross and his sweet wife, Cathe. I was invited to speak to their teen girls that afternoon.

I got to attend the Missions’ Conference in Immanuel Baptist Church in Decatur, TX, where I enjoyed fellowshipping with Pastor and Mrs. Horton, and the precious members there. A few days later, I flew to Guadalajara to speak in a Conference for Bro. Bob Murillo, and his sweet wife, Joy. My brother Tommy Ashcraft was one of the speakers. Although our visit was very brief, it was one of the highlights of my trip.

A new experience for me was the interview via Skype by missionary wife, Laura Consford. She and her husband, Joe, are missionaries in Africa.  It was fun getting to relate to her my experiences from over fifty years of living on the mission field. This is a very unique online ministry called “Missionary on Fire.” (You can listen to that interview or read it by clicking here.)

There were two ladies saved where I spoke for Silvia Campana in Ciudad Juárez on May 10; and during my travels, I was able to personally counsel with three ladies from different churches. The unusual and blessed thing about that is that all three ladies took my advice, and I was able to see changes in their relationships.

I had so much fun in Haines City, Florida, where I spoke to ladies in Pastor Jorge Armendáriz’ Church. His wife, Karina drove me to the lovely house where I stayed, and enjoyed living in the lap of luxury during my visit there. I got to meet Karen Gaudette, the other speaker, and we stayed there together, and had as much fun as a couple of teenagers.

To end my trip, I flew to Mexico City, where beautiful Rosie Ramírez and a lady from her church picked me up at the airport, and drove me through the rain to Cuernavaca. She and her husband, Pastor Alejandro Ramírez outdid themselves catering to all my needs. My daughter, Ruthie joined me there; and I was able to see my friend, Francie Taylor, who was also a speaker, and meet her beautiful young friend, Cindy.

What a blessing it is to serve the Lord…all of us in so many, many different ways.

Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prayer letter - April 2013

For the PDF printable version of this letter, click here.

Dear friends:

I’m writing this from 41,000 feet above sea level, somewhere between Los Angeles and El Paso.  I really can’t honestly say I enjoy leaving my home in Chiapas, but as long as I’m invited by pastors and their wives who think I can be a blessing to their ladies, I will do my best to do so.

It was my honor to have spoken at the annual Ladies’ Conference in Montecito Baptist Church, Pastor Ezequiel Salazar, April 5th and 6th in Ontario, California.  I also got to meet and spend special time with Mrs. Francie Taylor, and Mrs. Jo Jo Moffitt.  Thank you, Hermana Miriam, for inviting me, and for treating me royally.

From Ontario, I flew to San Jose and not only did I enjoy special time with my son, David, Jolene, and their four children, but I got to see first hand a couple of days of their routine as I followed them around, mainly on the campus of Golden State Baptist College, where they are serving with Pastor Jack Trieber.  I was honored to get to speak for a few minutes in David’s Israel class, and then teach his mission’s class.  But one of the highlights of my three day visit was getting to lead an 85 year old Panamanian lady to the Lord in her hospital room, possibly on her death bed.

In my beloved San Cristóbal, in the month of February, two sisters of one of the faithful men in our church were of them after hearing a message on one of the broadcasts from our radio station.

What a joy it was to be able to fly to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in February, and speak in the Ladies’ Conference of Bro. Mike Casillas.  I made precious, unforgettable memories with him and his sweet wife, Linda.  Also, I was honored to get to share my testimony in the Sunday evening service in the church of the late Pastor Hernán Cortes.  It was a blessing to see his two sons carrying on the work of their father.

At our February Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast, the mother of our city mayor was present.  She is serving as her son’s First Lady, since his wife prefers being a stay-at-home mom to their little children.  I like that!

It was also a blessing to get to speak at a ladies' breakfast March 23 in the church of Bro. Dan Morris, and spend special time with his wife, Debbie.  They are dear friends and co-laborers of many, many years in the capitol city of Tuxtla, about an hour from San Cristóbal.

By the time I write my next prayer letter, I will have spoken to ladies in New Mexico, Texas, Guadalajara, Ciudad Juárez, Florida, and Cuernavaca.  Then it’s Home Sweet Home to Chiapas until June, when I fly to Chicago for a Family Conference.

Thank you for your prayers for my safety, for strength, and especially that I will be a blessing to precious ladies, as they always are to me.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two New Grandbabies

My two newest grandbabies, whose pictures have not yet been shared here:
(picture taken of Emily at 4 months of age)

Emily Ruth Martinez
Born August 31, 2012
6 lbs. 13 oz.
Born to Ulises and Elizabeth Martinez

 Thomas Gregory Lopez
January 18, 2013
Born to Andrew and Anna Lopez

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Prayer Letter - February 2013

Two months of this New Year have flown by. Time is a treasure God gives to us, and one of my desires for 2013 is to spend mine in such a way that lives will be changed, and God will be glorified.

The months of December and January were busy ones for me:

Besides the fact that 5 of my children and their families (30 altogether) were here for Christmas, on the 6th – 8th of December, I was invited to participate in a Home School Conference in my son in law, Ulises Martinez’s church in the little town of Ixtapa. What a blessing it was to sit outside in the cool mornings, and enjoy a relaxing breakfast that the ladies had prepared before beginning the sessions! Truly this is one of the most thriving, remarkable works I have ever seen.

Here in San Cristóbal, on the 15th, I was honored to have been invited to speak at a Widow’s Breakfast. Do you think God has a special purpose for widows? I’m thankful He does, and I shared those honors with my friends, using Ruth and Naomi as examples for us.

What an amazing ministry our radio station has been! Every week people, and at times families, visit our church because of having heard the broadcasts. Alicia was one of those ladies who not only attended my Sunday school class on December 16, but was saved that morning. One of the highlights of my week is my Friday morning program for ladies.

What a Happy Birthday gift I received on December 30: my son, Tommy, got to baptize his and Mona’s little daughter, Esther.

It is a joy to have Tommy come in during the week, to tell me of the men he has led to the Lord: like a man whose wife has been attending for a while. He came out for Saturday morning visitation, and went into Tommy’s office and was saved. Fifteen minutes later, he was out with Tommy and the men on visitation!

On January 18, God sent Andrés and Anna, my daughter, a precious gift: little Thomas Gregory, named after his two grandfathers, was born. Thank the Lord for my 37th grandchild!

At our Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast January 30, we had a new First Lady to attend. She is the wife of a former mayor of a little village where our church started a work last year. Her heart was touched that we would honor those ladies in special ways. The wife of an army colonel also made the same comment.

Things accomplished? No, I have only shared ways God has proved His faithfulness in the work here, and in my life. I do so little for Him, Who gave His all for me. But I long to do more for Him this year than I did last year.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"There is a Place"

“And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord:”
Genesis 19:27

As I sit here this morning, my mind occasionally wanders across the hall to where my daughter is sleeping. “Will this be the day?” is the question we all seem to be asking each other…her siblings, the ladies in the church, and me, her Mom! You know the feeling, if you’ve ever awaited the birth of a baby…when will he/she come?

And while we all feel excitement, there is a bit of anxiety on Anna’s face, because she is a detailed person, and wants everyone to be in their place when her little boy decides to make his appearance. To comfort me, more than her, actually, I told her the other day, “Anna, when your time comes, God will have everyone in their place.”

When I think of Abraham, I think of an elderly gentleman, way past my age.  We don’t know about Abraham’s youth.  We meet him in Genesis 11:26, when he was known as Abram.  I’m not a Bible scholar.  All I know about the Bible I’ve learned by reading it, hearing it preached and taught, and studying it.  I hesitate at times, for that reason, to write lessons and devotionals because I fear making applications that don’t really apply.  But when I’m reading my Bible, and a lesson or a truth comes to me, it begs to be shared.  And so I share this simple, plain truth with you.

I’m sitting at my little desk in my bedroom.  This is the place where I do my writing, while my daughter in law, Mona, is remodeling my office down the hall.  I also e-mail.  But I have a special e-mail place.  It’s in the corner of my living room, in my recliner, of all places, with my computer placed in front of me on the coffee table, which isn’t really a coffee table at all.  It’s a bigger-than-a-coffee-table table.  But it serves its purpose perfectly, because I can easily accommodate my books, pens, and my computer.  It’s here that I get the best internet connection. This corner of my living room also has tall windows all across the wall facing the morning sun. So I love pulling back the curtains, and letting the sunshine warm my little corner of the world while I work.  That’s my e-mailing place.

So here I am writing this devotional about something so practical, so mundane that you would hardly relate it to anything spiritual.  But it is.  At least it is for me.  I want to help all my readers, just as I have been helped by this truth.  “There is a place where you should be.”

Do you remember what had transpired shortly before Genesis 19:27?  The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had just been destroyed by fire and brimstone.  Because of Genesis 18:22, one can assume that standing before the Lord was a regular occurrence in Abraham’s life.  “…but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.”  I believe Abraham had a certain place where he met God on a regular basis.

There is a place where I meet with the Lord.  It seems to be the perfect place for me to sit while I drink my coffee, and have my prayer time every morning.  I’ve tried other places, and sometimes I’m forced to move out of my special place to another one, when I’m away from home.  But if I’m in a home, or a hotel, or a mission apartment for a few days, I find another special place, just perfect for my prayer time.

But this is the truth I learned recently, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you have something to do, and you don’t know how to start, get to the place where you would be if you knew what to do.  If you know what to do, but you don’t want to undertake a task, or if you don’t want to carry out a responsibility, get to the place where you would be if you wanted to work.

I’m a morning person…a very early morning person.  I am a mom, a grandmother, and a homemaker. But I’m also a writer.  If you’ve never written, perhaps you don’t know that the kind of writing you’re reading right now has to be inspired, or you won’t read it.  I have deadlines.  I have lessons to teach to my Sunday school class, and to ladies’ sessions at conferences, and my monthly prayer breakfast, and my weekly ladies’ radio broadcast.  I’ve experienced writer’s block, a time when absolutely nothing comes to my little mind.

But I’ve learned this great truth, and I’m going to share it with you.  This is what I do:  I get to the place where I should be, right here where I am.  Sometimes I take a while getting my desk cleared of all my work from the day before.  I turn on my computer.   While it’s warming up, so is my brain as I get my coffee and settle in my chair.  My aim is my desk.  Just by simply being in the place I should be is a great start.  Get to your place, and tell the Lord, “Lord, here I am.  I’m in the place where I should be.”  And He’ll help you complete that pile of ironing, or that homework, or He’ll guide you as you knock doors.  But you have to be in the place.

Writing calls for quiet and concentration.  In order to speak to your heart, my words must come from mine.  At least for me, writing is a spiritual activity.  I ask the Lord to prepare my heart for the writing task ahead.  But moving the body to a chair, or a street, or putting up your ironing board and plugging in your iron is a very physical no-brainer activity.  Put yourself in the place you should carry out a certain activity, and the Lord will guide you successfully.

If you’re a mother of little ones, teach this principle to your children while they’re still young. Ever heard the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place,”? That’s a great principle to apply when your house is a mess.

This may not seem like a great revelation to you, but it could be; and I would hope it is.  For instance, do you hate getting up in the mornings like I do?  If you apply this truth from Abraham of old, it will be a great motivator.  If you’re under the cover, and you should have your feet on the floor, it’s obvious you will never be in the place you should be until you move yourself out of bed.  At 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, who’s going to be reasoning?  I know. But as Dr. Jim Vineyard said one time, “Move your body, and your brain will follow.”

Are you trying to diet?  I’ve heard that successful dieters have a certain place to eat.  It’s not in front of the TV or at their desk, or in bed.  Most people who are disciplined enough to avoid food at those three places are probably disciplined enough to control their food intake, also.

Think of something you don’t want to do, something you dread maybe every day.  Tell yourself, “All I have to do is get myself to the place where this activity should take place,” and then just simply get there.

I hate shopping for groceries, for several reasons.  I can think of a million things I can be doing at home, for one.  But I also know the consequences of going to do laundry, and the detergent container being empty.  So I know this is an important chore in my life.  I’ve found that if all my morning routine revolves around simply getting myself out the door, and into the car, once I’m out the gate, I actually enjoy my little outing.

Up until now, this has been a motivational speech.  “How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Want to do Them.”  But there’s a more serious side to this lesson.

Are you in the place where God wants you?

My place when I was a single young woman was at home with my parents.  I enjoyed helping in the mission work, and being Daddy’s secretary.  I enjoyed teaching, and I loved visitation and soul winning.

But once I was married, my place was with my husband.  If you’re a mom, your special place is with your children, in your home.  I know ladies who spend more time outside their home than inside it.  And they’re never happy.  They’re always looking for new activities outside the four walls of their own home.  Unless you’re a single, working mom, you should spend more time at home than away from home. And even at that, there are many ways a woman can earn money from inside her home.

When our children were small, my husband and I lived in a little village for five years.  We lived outside the little town, up on a hill.  We would drive through the main street, which wasn’t paved, up the hill to our home, which was also home to fifty young men.  We lived for most of those five years in a little travel trailer, until we wrecked it, and moved into a section of the dorm/chapel building.  I have stayed for six weeks without leaving the property.  My husband would make a trip once a week to the nearest town and bring in supplies for the week.  I don’t remember being bored and I don’t remember feeling unfulfilled.  I took joy in caring for my children, and my simple little home.  I stayed busy as busy could be cleaning, cooking, washing, and preparing my children’s Sunday school class.  There were no pressures, no one to compare myself or my children or my husband with.  There was a place where I was supposed to be, and I was there.

I’ll have to admit the hardest years of my married life were the first few years we lived in the mountain valley I call home.  But because I was in the place where God wanted my husband to be, I was also where He wanted me to be.

It isn’t good for a husband to live and work in a place apart from his wife.  I know military obligations make the exception for this.  Sometimes I read of an evangelist who must travel, and be away from home for weeks at a time.  It’s always a blessing to hear that although perhaps the living conditions are not as delightful as one’s own home, he manages for her and the children to travel with him, so that she can still be in the place where God wants her, at her husband’s side.

Three simple steps to un-complicating your life, and living it more pleasing to the Lord:

1. Acknowledge this principle: there is a place where you should be.
2. Arrange everything in your life toward getting there.
3. Get there.
4. Do what you should do once you’re there.

I’m a very simple person, and I have simple ways and simple thoughts.  Sometimes my life gets so complicated.  But things suddenly fall “into place” if I go back to this one basic truth:  be in the place where you should be, carrying out your tasks and responsibilities.

I once heard a great preacher make this statement:  “I’m glad there is a place where I should be, a time I should be there, and something I should do after I arrive.”

There is a place for you, too.