Wednesday, December 27, 2017


I think of my Preacher as one of those people whom you think you’ll never be without, and who will always be there for you.  Humanly speaking, he’s the anchor in my life, now that my husband is in Heaven.  He’s the one person I can always count on to be perfectly honest with me, encouraging me when I need it, but exhorting me when I need a little push in the right direction, and reprimanding me for my shortcomings.

You never have to guess where you stand with Bro. Vineyard.  He’s not one to try to score points with anyone, even if it means hurting your feelings.

And when you first meet him, you immediately make a decision:  you either love him, or you hate him.  There’s no middle ground. He can conjure up feelings of being annoyed with the way he preaches, or he can amuse you with his homespun stories about his boyhood.

He can be gory, and obnoxious, using very explicit illustrations in his sermons.  He can embarrass his wife, but there is never any doubt where his passionate love lies.  This lovely lady named Jo Ann is definitely the lovely “bride of his youth.

He’s tough.  My Preacher was a Green Beret.  He’s not afraid of rattlesnakes, or scorpions, or gangs, or presidents or kings.

But he will get choked up while he’s telling the story of someone who has suffered, even if it was over a hundred years ago.

He will take on any challenge, whether spiritual or physical.

He keeps going when he’s “sick unto death.”

He has a passion for the lost, for the Jews, for missionaries, and for young men who are potential preachers.

But the greatest attribute I can think of to describe my Preacher is Shepherd.  At least it is for this sheep.

The Lord is my shepherd, but I can’t see Him.  Although I can feel His presence and His nearness, I’m not a spirit.  I’m still human. So my Heavenly Shepherd gave me another shepherd that has a voice I can hear. I’ve cried over things his voice has told me, I felt conviction for my sins, I’ve listened amazed at his adventures, over his vivid illustrations, and laughed with him when he tried to sing.

His voice is a military voice.  When he speaks you are prone to stand or sit at attention.  He speaks with authority, and you feel confident as you carry out his “orders,” or his advice. And as John the Baptist, he is also “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” as he speaks out in favor and on behalf of the Jewish people.

He has used his voice for over thirty years to warn his sheep not to stray from the fold, while he seeks those who are lost outside.

My Heavenly Shepherd has hands, hands that were pierced for me on the cross.  My earthly shepherd’s hands have pounded crooks, gang members, pulpits and desks.  They’ve fired machine guns, and they’re karate-trained hands, so they’ve broken 2X4’s.

But they have also reached inside his pocket, and taken out thousands of Gospel tracts for the lost, and thousands of dollars for missionaries, orphans, and widows.

They have shaken other hands, hands of lawyers, presidents, kings, rabbis, generals, war heroes, and those of countless preachers known around the world.

But they’ve also shaken Tom Sloan’s trembling hands, and as they did, my earthly shepherd spoke words of encouragement and admiration to him.

My Heavenly Shepherd’s feet led him along the shores of Galilee, and they were nailed to the cross.  My earthly shepherd uses his feet to carry him across the ocean and around the world ministering to the needy, helping the hurting, defending God’s chosen people, preaching the Gospel, and encouraging missionaries.

But the most precious thing about my Preacher is that I know he loves me, and he would never do anything to harm me, my children, or my ministry.  I believe he would give his life for us.  He has faith in me.  He has confidence that I can do things beyond anything I ever dreamed I could do.  And he encourages me and challenges me to reach my full potential.

“I love you, Preacher.  Thank you for being a wonderful Shepherd.  May our loving Shepherd carry you through this valley, and bring you safely to the other side, and back to us.”

One of your sheep.
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Prayer Letter - December 2017

Is it possible that another year is coming to an end? I hope you can look back over the past 12 months, the blessings and tragedies, the failures and victories, and pray as I do every year about this time: “Lord, help me to learn something through each of them.”

On October 12 I traveled to San Francisco, CA to attend a Mission Conference in the North Valley Baptist Spanish Church, where my son, David is pastor. My son in law, Ulises Martínez, was the speaker for that Conference. He and my daughter, Elizabeth, are doing deputation in preparation to go to Israel as missionaries. While I was there, I was honored to speak twice to my daughter in law, Jolene’s College ladies’ classes.

On the 19th, I flew to Portland, OR where my  friend, Cathy Flores met me at the airport.  I got to speak 7 times in their Ladies’ Conference, and after one of the sessions when I gave the invitation, a young lady was saved. An added fun part of that trip was getting to spend time with my nephew, Jonathan Ashcraft’s wife, Jenny, who was also one of the speakers, and their precious baby girl, Megan Georgiana. “Thank you, Lord for allowing me to mix family time with my ministry.”

At our last Prayer Breakfast of the year, on October 25, there was another lady saved.

I know many of you are anxious to hear the results of our Annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet on November 17. One hundred ladies signed our guest book. My son in law, Ulises, did an amazing job as he spoke, and 6 precious ladies were saved when he gave the invitation…one of them the wife of a former mayor of our city. Thank you for your prayers, and financial contributions to this event!

November 20-22 found me in Ixtapa, where I participated in the Pastors’ Conference, hosted by the church Ulises founded. I got to teach 2 ladies’ sessions. On the evening of the 22nd, as part of the conference, there was a Thanksgiving Banquet…thanking the Lord for giving me the joy of living in Mexico for 57 years.  Although Ulises is no longer the pastor, an amazing young man whom Ulises won to the Lord and trained, has taken over the ministry there. Ulises and Elizabeth will be here until January, and then they will continue their deputation in the USA.

After teaching the last session of the ladies’ conference in Oregon, on Saturday, the 21st, I turned on my phone, and there was a message from one of my sons: “Dr. Vineyard just passed away.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. How thankful I was, as I remembered back almost 13 years ago, the day after my husband’s funeral. Two of my sons accompanied me as I went in for my appointment with him, just to get some direction for my life as a new widow. I was glad I was doing what he advised me to do: “Billie, put yourself at the disposal of pastors and their wives, to speak to wives and young ladies.” “Thank you, Father, for the life of Dr. Jim Vineyard.”

I am sending a tribute I wrote to my former Pastor, Dr. Jim Vineyard, written almost 11 years ago, just before his surgery. (Click here to read.)

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Prayer Letter - October 2017

Do you ever wish you knew what the future holds for you…what lies around the corner of your life? Sometimes I think God is Merciful to keep certain things from us. I never dreamed the last time I wrote my prayer letter, what would happen September 7, a few minutes before midnight. I was awakened by my bed shaking, my house rattling, things falling and breaking. Thankfully my bedroom is close to my back door, and I was able to get out of bed, and literally hang onto my door to keep from falling. Like all tragedies, it seemed like it would never, ever end. The earthquake that shook San Cristóbal measured 8.4, and lasted for two minutes. A young man from our church and his sister, who live a few blocks away came and stayed with me until 4:00 the next morning, as we waited for aftershocks. Three people lost their lives, two of them close to our Pastor’s house. He was up all night trying to comfort those who were suffering.  I’m sure, though, that you’ve already read about this, or seen it on the news, as well as the next one that rocked Mexico City 12 days later, and claimed many lives.

And I’m sure, especially if you’re in ministry, that it doesn’t surprise you to hear that my living room was full of ladies for prayer meeting the next night, and in my Sunday school class the following Sunday, 2 ladies came forward for assurance of Salvation when I gave the invitation. The church was full that morning. I told one of the ladies, who hasn’t missed a church activity since then, not to let it wear off. “Stay faithful to the Lord, even after the horror of what happened that night settles back into normal.”

I am delighted to report that I got to win a sweet Indian lady to the Lord on Soul Winning.  Please pray for Andrea. Two of my precious grandchildren were saved recently: Elisa called me August 22 all the way from Mississippi, where her parents, Jason and Sarah are raising up a work among Hispanics. “Mimi, I got saved last night.” And a video that my daughter in law, Jolene, sent me of Micah on September 19: “Mimi, I got saved Sunday night.” “Thank you, Lord, for Jason and Sarah, and for David and Jolene…and for the Salvation of Elisa Faith and Micah James.” I have 40 grandchildren, 4 are in Heaven. Of the 36 living, 30 are saved. The other 6, I’m sure, will one day be saved when they are old enough to understand.

Our Prayer Breakfasts are being well attended every month. We recently had 10 ladies from the police force to attend, and hear a Bible lesson, and the Plan of Salvation. And a lady from our church won a gentleman to the Lord at our recent monthly visit to the Nursing Home.

Please, please take seriously the Prayer Request List for our Annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet which I am enclosing. This event, as well as any endeavor to see souls saved, must be bathed in prayer. Thank you for yours.

Last night we closed out a weekend Conference. There were about 200 in attendance and last night at the closing invitation, 12 young people came forward surrendering to full time service.

Isn’t it just the most wonderful thing to get to serve the Lord? Thank you for being part of this amazing work.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Prayer Letter - August 2017

If I could sum up my life in just 4 words, they would be, “I have been blessed.” And I’m sure you could say the same about yours. The past two months have been busy, challenging, and rewarding. Since I can’t decide which of my blessings has been the most rewarding, I’ll just tell you about them in the order in which they occurred.

On June 8, I returned from Israel with my daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ulises and their three children. They continued their deputation, raising support to return to that little country to serve the Lord there.

The next day, I flew to Jackson, Mississippi, where my daughter, Sarah, her husband, Jason Knabb, and my 6 precious grandchildren met me at the airport. My 10-day visit there was filled with their new ministry activities. I was over-joyed to see how God is opening up very unique doors of ministry to the hundreds of Hispanics in that area. We drove through an entire neighborhood occupied by Hispanic families who are in need of the Gospel. Sarah had her first ladies’ meeting while I was there, and invited me to be the speaker.  Please pray for the Knabb’s and this exciting new ministry.

From there, I flew to Chicago, and once again, as I have for the past ten years, was honored to speak to 9 different ladies’ sessions in the annual Fires of Evangelism Family Conference hosted in the Bethel Baptist Church, Pastor Elmer Fernandez. I do not take this, or any of my invitations for granted. I go to be a blessing, but always leave having been the one blessed.

I returned home on June 23, and began a series of lessons on Israel to the ladies here, from the countless things I learned during my three-week visit there. At our Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast on the 28th of June, we had eleven ladies from the police force present, and one of those ladies was saved. Two more ladies were saved the following Sunday.

One of the highlights of my year is getting to be in charge of Vacation Bible School. However, I have very little to do with it. My part is organizing, preparing my lesson to teach every morning in the general assembly, leading the songs while playing my accordion, and supervising. The people here do the hard work…they prepare the promotional material, the material for the crafts, and deal one on one with the children. This year we had a record attendance of 219, and there were 23 children saved, and 2 mothers. One little boy who was saved, was getting ready for Bible School one morning when he said to his mother, “Mom, I’m saved and you need to do the same.” To which she responded, “And how do you do that?” “Well, you bow your head and ask the Lord to forgive you and save you.” She answered, “Can you help me?” So he prayed simply, “Now Lord, here’s this lady that knows she’s a sinner and wants to get saved.” He led her through the prayer and the following Sunday morning she was present for the graduation exercise.  One of the teachers asked her if she got saved. “Yes,” she said, wiping the tears. Please pray that God would use Dario’s life in a very unique way to lead many others to Him.

See what I mean by being blessed?

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Prayer Letter - June 2017

Greetings from Israel!

I could write a book about all the things I have seen, learned and felt these past two and a half weeks since our arrival in this beautiful little country!  In 2008 I spent five days here with my son, David. There are still precious memories I hold dear to my heart from that visit.

Actually, my second trip here began on May 12. I flew from Chiapas to Chicago, and enjoyed a wonderful weekend with Pastor Gerardo Andrade, and his wife, Bethsaida. I was invited to speak at their Mother-Daughter Banquet on the 13th. One of the ladies who attended was saved after I spoke.  I enjoyed teaching her in the ladies’ Sunday school class the next morning.

Monday, I flew to New York City, and Tuesday afternoon met my daughter and her family at the airport. It was a happy reunion. Four months ago they left their home an hour from mine, and started deputation. The purpose of this trip is to let God speak to their hearts, showing them His exact plan for their lives and ministry here. And here we are, less than a week away from our departure, and I have been amazed, and at the same time comforted at the people with whom God has put in their path…six key men who know first-hand how they need to prepare to serve the Lord and His chosen people here.  I use the word “comforted” because I was invited to join my children on this trip so that I could see where they will be living, their lifestyle, etc. A few things still worry me, but the comfort I have felt outweighs my lack of faith. God will provide and God will protect. I have given my children to the Lord.

When we fly back to New York City on the 8th, I will have been here for three weeks…long enough to see, learn and feel unforgettable sights, facts, and emotions.

The first of April, it was an honor to speak twice to ladies from each of the two congregations my son, Joel pastors in New Mexico. I have come to love Living Water Baptist Church.

During my brief opportunities that I have had to connect to the Internet, and receive messages from home in Chiapas, I am thrilled to report that during my absence a man was saved, who is the husband of a lady who accepted the Lord in my ladies’ weekly Bible study several years ago.  Also the daughter of one of the faithful ladies in our Church was saved. This past Wednesday at our Prayer Breakfast, there was a record attendance of 37 ladies, including 13 women from the police force, and the mayor’s wife. The best part, though, was that when my daughter, Anna, finished speaking and gave the invitation, a lady was saved.

Our ladies continue with their hospital and nursing home ministries.  I could speak also of the 2 young people Pastor Albino recently baptized; and the progress of the church building the men are working on; and the completion of a semester at Bible college of two of our young men.

Sometimes I think I must be God’s pet.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

Prayer Letter - April 2017

If you were to walk into our church on a Sunday morning, you probably wouldn’t notice her. She would look like the other Indian single moms who attend our church.  What is so special about Micaela? She has raised three daughters and a son alone, who faithfully serve the Lord. Her son attends Bible College, and one of her daughters is the wife of our pastor.

But what I would like to tell you about Micaela is her love for the lost…especially for the people in her native village. She rides the bus there often, and gathers family and neighbors in one of the houses, and shares the Gospel message with them. Several of her family members have been saved.

Recently Micaela received a phone call at 2:00 a.m. from her nephew who was suicidal. Our church had been praying for him. He called to say, "I don't want to die; I want to live. But if I live, I need Jesus. Can you help me find Him?" Micaela led him through the plan of Salvation and he said, "Tía I'm kneeling in the street, and praying for Jesus to come into my heart. I'm giving my life to God."

So why do I love working with ladies? There are those saved in my ministry who will possibly never attend a church service, or become pastors’ wives. While my desire is to see every one of them serving the Lord, my joy comes from two sources: I have done what the Lord wants me to do, and the rest is up to the Holy Spirit. And they will have a home in Heaven when they die. But at the same time, like my husband would say, “I’m looking for another Micaela.”

In the month of February, I was invited to teach ladies in two different sessions in a conference at Mount Hebron in Monterrey, where my nephew, Jonathan Ashcraft is pastor. What a joy it was to spend a wonderful week with my brother, Tommy, his wife Brenda, and their children and grandchildren for the first time in several years.

On March 3, I flew to San Francisco, and participated in the Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference of North Valley Baptist Spanish Church where my son, David is now pastor. It was an honor to speak twice to different ladies’ sessions; I also gave my testimony on Sunday morning, and my daughter in law, Jolene, asked me to speak to her college ladies’ class the next morning.

On to Fallon, NV on the 10th, I enjoyed playing for the services of the Victory Baptist Church mission conference, where my son in law, Steve Miller is pastor. It was one of the best mission conferences I have ever attended, and their Faith Promise went far beyond what they had set for their goal. On Sunday morning, Steve baptized a family of four…the result of their bus ministry! That night, Steve asked me to share my testimony. What a joy it was to teach the ladies in Ruthie’s Thursday evening Bible Study.  It goes without saying, that both in California and in Nevada, I enjoyed getting to spend time with David and Jolene, and their 5 children; and Steve and Ruthie and their 8 children.

I am writing this from Chaparral, NM, and am having a wonderful time with Joel and Margaret, and my two granddaughters. I really have to move fast to keep up with them and their different ministries here. Lord willing, I return home to Chiapas on April 7.

I don’t know what else the Lord could do to show His love for me!

Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Prayer Letter - February 2017

The relationship I have with most of my readers is missionary – church. But even the church is made up of people who have other relationships. Outside my relationship with the Lord, the most important role I play in this life is that of mother/mother in law/grandmother. So you will see some of that in this prayer letter.

On January 19-22 I spoke 5 times to ladies’ sessions in a Family Conference in Tehuacán, Puebla, hosted by Pastor Fidel Palomo, and his wife, Verónica. My son in law, Ulises Martínez, and my daughter, Elizabeth also participated.

On the 24th, Ulises and “Fizzie” drove me to the bus station, where I waved good bye to them and their three children from the bus that would take me to the airport in Mexico City, for my return home to Chiapas. It would have been just another good bye, except for the fact that this would be our last visit for a long time, as they headed out for deputation.

Ulises and “Fizzie” have literally left all, to serve the Lord. To my surprise, they told me last summer that they had surrendered to go to Israel  as missionaries…surprised, because God has blessed their ministries in Ixtapa…too many to number in this letter. Ulises is an architect and built Fizzie a beautiful house. The pastor and his family that Ulises won and trained, will live in her dream house, and take over his works.  As I waved good bye to them that afternoon, I realized: every material possession they now have, is in their Van.

I’m getting adjusted to their not living an hour away; that phone call: “Mom, we’re coming up to take you out to lunch, and spend the night.”

So this is a prayer letter, in every sense of the word: please pray for my children as they do deputation; and for me as I give my children to the Lord. May He fill this void in my life with my service for Him.

How thankful I am for the joy of staying busy, every minute of my waking hours. I am surrounded by those in my church here, who love me, and see that I am taken care of. And thank the Lord for my daughter, Anna, and her husband, Andrés and their 3 children who live only two hours away.

Another Mimi moment: I have received three wonderful ‘phone calls since the first of the year: three of my little grandchildren, Caleb, Mark, and Olivia called with the same message: “Mimi, I just got saved.” I thank the Lord for my children, who are raising my grandchildren in such a way that they accept Him as their Savior at an early age.

A young deaf man recently accepted the Lord during a hospital visit of two ladies from my Sunday school class; and a young woman was saved when I gave the invitation at a baby shower where I spoke.

Lord willing, the first of March, I will begin my travels for the year. The Lord is so Good to me…putting kind people in my path everywhere I go. May He put someone in your path today who will be a blessing to you, and to whom you can be a blessing in return.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7