Saturday, February 22, 2014

Prayer letter - February 2013

Mission work, like any other work, often follows a routine; like my weekly Bible study, mainly for lost ladies; and my Friday morning ladies’ radio program. But sometimes, right in the middle of routine and normal life, God drops a special, unexpected blessing. Yesterday, while shopping for groceries, I received a call from my daughter, Sarah. She and Jason are missionaries in Jáltipan, Veracruz, about four and a half hours from my home in San Cristóbal. She called to let me know that two of their six children, Kenny and Jacque, were saved that morning. What a blessing to know that sixteen of my grandchildren have trusted Jesus as their Savior.

For over two years now, I have been praying, along with Sarah, for her to be able to have a Pastors’ Wives’ Conference. The Lord laid this desire on her heart to be a blessing and an encouragement to the ladies in her surrounding area. On January 24, God allowed her to see that dream come true. She rented a “palapa”…a tabernacle of sorts…in a beautiful garden setting. It was so well organized. She also invited her sister, Anna, to speak. I was so proud of my two daughters: Sarah is an excellent organizer, and as a mother of six, has been gifted with the virtue of patience. I watched as she calmly drove several van loads of ladies from her home to the nearby conference area, through the pouring rain. Jason entertained almost as many fathers and children as Sarah did wives and mothers. He prepared a delicious spaghetti dinner, complete with salad, French bread, and dessert, for the ladies and their families. Between sessions, the men brought in fresh coffee and sweet bread. There were 53 ladies who attended this first conference, nine of them wives of pastors orfull-time workers, and members of their churches. This was the first conference Sarah had ever hosted. Everything was so lovely. The ladies sat like eager little birds, wrapped in shawls anxious to learn what Anna and I taught.

I saw a talent I didn’t know Anna possessed. She is an excellent speaker, and was able to hold the attention of the ladies.

I love visiting my children’s works. I always try to be a blessing and an encouragement to them, but I always leave feeling like I am the one who was challenged and encouraged. Please pray for Jason and Sarah, and the vision he has for this very unusual work. It’s “off the beaten path,” in a rather obscure area of México. But God has given him and Sarah a burden and love for those precious people.

And this afternoon finds me in Ixtapa, in the home of my daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ulises. Even as I write, he is spending time with the men he is training to carry on the work he started three years ago, and is extending the work my husband left over thirty years ago.

Last month ended with our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast on January 29, where I challenged ladies to balance their lives. To the lost ladies, I spoke about the futility of balancing our sins with good works. Only Jesus can step in that side of the scale.

I’m afraid my mother-grandmother heart was revealed in this letter. You moms will agree with me, that our first and most important ministry is our home.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7


“Set a watch, oh Lord, before my mouth;
keep the door of my lips.”
Psalm 141:3

I’m writing this at the beginning of the New Year, and I have just gone through my very favorite time of the year: Christmas.During that jolly season, my house was full of my children and their families:  24, to be exact. When I’d go into my bedroom and close my door, I would feel something akin to what the captain of an army must feel when he takes possession of a city. I would get this feeling of control over the situation. While I’m in my bedroom, alone, I can relax. This is my space. I can control everything in sight. It’s here that no one makes me angry; here I offend no one. I’m alone; at least while my door is closed. I can take a delicious nap, and while my door is closed, no one bothers me, because all the Mommies have warned my grandchildren: “Mimi is taking a nap. While her door is closed, don’t bother her.”

I’m inside my room, with my door closed. And I just expressed my feelings to you.

But what about my little ones? How must they feel when they get to their Mimi’s door, and see it closed? They know that sooner or later that barrier that separates us will be opened, and their Mimi will come out, and they can go in. But in the meantime, they must feel isolated from me, and I from them.

There are other doors in our lives that are invisible. Just like the ones we can see, they can be opened or closed; and we can find ourselves inside, or outside.

     The door of indifference. As wives, mothers, and grandmothers, and every other relationship a woman can have, at times we have the attitude, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me what you think, or what you need, or what you want.” Sometimes being left outside invisible doors is more painful than it is for my grandchildren to be outside my bedroom doorWe put barriers between us and those we love most. Our marriages and our homes have turned to ashes because of indifference. We all have problems. We need someone who will listen to us. But more than that…someone who cares about what is causing our pain, our fear, or our grief. Sometimes we simply need someone with whom we can share our joys and victories; our dreams and plans. Put yourself on the other side of the door of indifference that you have closed. What do you feel? Reproach? Rejection? Worthlessness? This is what others feel to whom you have shown indifference. We’re busy women, with pressures that our grandmothers, or even our mothers didn’t have. We don’t have time to sit down with our husband over a cup of coffee, and listen to his plans and his challenges. Our children scream at us: “LISTEN TO ME!” And indifference slams the door in their faces. I believe with all my heart that there are young people who take drugs, because when they came to Mom, wanting to talk and share their fears, they found the door shut in their faces. Mom didn’t care about the relationship with her daughter, because the potatoes were not done, and it was almost dinner time. She was more concerned about folding the laundry, than she was about her son who was silently crying, “Mom, I think I’ve gotten into trouble with some bad friends.” Open the door to your husband; invite your child to come into your space. Slam the door in the face of your appointments, and your weekly lunch with the girls, and keep the door open to your daughter.

     The door of self-centeredness. Perhaps this door is the most difficult to recognize, because it is decorated with flowers and ribbons. Self-centeredness is sly. At times it takes on the form of heroism. But this door is thick; sometimes it’s made of iron. It may even have bars of protection. Inside this door lives the great “Me.” This door even has our name written on the outside, so that everyone can tell who’s inside. Pride and haughtiness reign insidethis door. The one who lives here separates herself from those who are not inside her own circle. Did you know there are other people in this world who do not belong to your family, or to your group of friends, or to your Church?Every week, someone appears at my door, usually a salesman selling things I will never buy; or asking for help I don’t have time to give. And because MY family and MYchildren don’t have a need, I turn them away. Ever have a boy rush up to your car while you’re stopped at a red light, offering to wash your windshield for a dime? They really bother me. They’re annoying. The best remedy for your self-centered closed door? Put yourself in the place of the person outside that door. Better still; put yourself in the place of the mother of that young man who rings your doorbell, wanting to sell you something you don’t need.Did you know he doesn’t really want to sell you something you need? He doesn’t care if you have Internet service or not; or that not one more skillet will fit in your cabinet. He has a need, and the only thing you can think about isYOUR need, and those inside YOUR door.

     The door of self-sufficiency. This door, when it is closed, says to those outside, “I don’t need you. I can do everything.” Let me tell you something that I’ve learned in the 70 years that I’ve lived on this earth: I need people. I will never have too many friends. Every person that God puts in my path can be a blessing to me. Why are we that way? Why do we reject the help of others? By the way, teach your daughters while they’re young to let their brothers help them with the door, or to put on their coats, etc. This is the attitude that prevails today: I can do everything by myself, and I don’t need anyone. How many blessings have we missed because we refused the help and support of others? Just like the door of self-centeredness, inside this door reign self-sufficiency, pride, and haughtiness. We refuse to humble ourselves to the point where we must say, “I can’t do this alone. I need your help.”  Did you know that’s the reason a lot of people reject Christ? Jesus died for our sins. He gave His life on the cross in our place, but you’ve closed the door…the door of self-sufficiency, and you’ve said, “No, thank You. I can be good enough to go to Heaven. Or one of these days I’m going to fix my relationship with God so that He will take me to Heaven when I die. I don’t need the blood of Christ to cover my sins, because I am self-sufficient, and I don’t need a Savior.” Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,…” In another passage in Revelation 3:20 the Lord says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Since I’m writing this during the New Year, my personal prayer for myself this year is that I may learn and know more about God than I did last year. The lovely thing is that God also desires that more than I do. He’s ready. What’s more, He’s at the door, and He’s knocking.My Spanish Bible uses the word, “calling.”  What do you think He’s calling out? I imagine He’s saying my name. He’s calling out your name. Do you hear His voice? He will never force open the door. He calls out, but He won’t enter unless you invite Him to come in. And when you do, He’ll have dinner with you, and you’ll have dinner with Him.That means we’ll fellowship with Him. One of the most wonderful ways to get to know someone, and to visit with others is during a meal. Imagine having an invitation from the Lord to go out to dinner! How do we accept that invitation? We accept it by opening the door of our heart to Him; by laying aside our pride, our self-sufficiency, and our self-centeredness. Let me share a secret with you: when you and I open the door to Christ, whether to be saved, or to have fellowship with Him, He helps us to open other doors to our husband, to our children, and to those whom we love most, and who need us.  Have you closed the door to someone? Is someone you love, and who loves you outside that door? What about the Lord Jesus? Have you closed the door of your heart?

Let’s throw open some doors this year, and leave them open!