Monday, April 27, 2015

Prayer Letter - April 2015

How I wish you could follow me around and share in all the exciting things God has done for me these past two months. Three ladies have been saved in my different ministries…one in my Sunday school class February 8…and I am seeing significant growth in new believers.

I got to visit with Ulises and my daughter, Elizabeth in Ixtapa the week of February 9-14. Besides all the activities that keep them busy, the last day of my visit they had a special dinner in their home for their pastors and their families. What a joy it was, not only to enjoy special fellowship with them, but to think how God is using these men through the faithfulness of Ulises and Elizabeth. Pray for them as they continue to train new men to serve God full time. On March 15, their church in Chiapa de Corzo celebrated their 6th Anniversary. 

I left my beloved San Cristóbal on March 6, and flew to California to attend the Pastors’ Conference at North Valley Baptist Church, where my son, David and his wife, Jolene serve on the Golden State Bible College staff. I enjoyed attending a few of the English services, and hearing the challenging messages; but most of my time was spent in the Spanish church where David helps Pastor Eduardo Calderón.  I was privileged to speak three times to the Hispanic ladies. I don’t need to tell you that the highlight of my trip was the time I got to spend with David and Jolene, and their five precious children who have grown so much since the last time I saw them a year ago.

On the 13th, I traveled to El Paso, and two days later I got to attend the 15th Anniversary service at Living Water Baptist Church in Chaparral, NM, where my son, Joel is pastor: one church, two congregations: English speaking, and Hispanics. The guest speaker was Abram Saenz, a young man who was saved in the church there in 2002. He went off to Oklahoma to prepare to be a commercial airline pilot. But after receiving his diploma, he felt the Lord would have him serve full time. Two very special guests were present that day: a couple of gentlemen over 90 years old, both World War II veterans. One was saved in the church there last November, on his 93rd Birthday! While I was there I was privileged to speak four times, both in English and in Spanish. I always enjoy being with those precious people, and watching how the work grows from year to year.  Needless to say, I enjoyed special family time with Joel, Margaret, and my two beautiful granddaughters.

On March 26, I traveled to Sahuarita, Arizona, where Pastor Oscar Galván and his wife, Elinor, invited me to speak in their 17thannual Spanish Ladies’ Conference. When I gave the invitation after one of the sessions, two ladies were saved.  I spoke seven times during my visit, including teaching in Chapel at their Christian Academy. It was an honor to meet Elinor’s parents, Bro. Richard and Marilyn Pfaff, who have faithfully served the Lord for many years. 

I met a young man from Guatemala as I boarded one of my two planes bound for home. I spent special time with him after landing, and got to witness to him, and share my life’s testimony.  He asked me: “All these years you’ve served the Lord, have you ever regretted it?” I immediately answered him, “Not one minute! There’s nothing like serving the Lord.” 

And there isn’t!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Prayer letter - February 2015

It’s Monday morning, and I’m wondering where to start to brag on the Lord…let’s see. The most wonderful blessing He gives to me is found in Lamentations 3:22, 23: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” “Thank you, Lord, for a brand new week, and another chance to try to please You better than I did last week.”

How do I sum up His blessings to me and my ministry in few words, so as not to take up too much of your time? I’ll do my best.

It was an honor to be able to participate in my daughter, Ruthie Miller, and her husband, Steve’s first Ladies’ Christmas Banquet in Querétaro, on December 4 of last year. There were two ladies saved, and it was a blessing to have had as their special guest the judge (magistrate) of the Supreme Court, and her husband. She was visibly touched, as I asked her to come up and say a few words. I told her I would pray for her every morning. It just happened to be her birthday, and the ladies from the church sang “Happy Birthday” to her…actually a birthday hymn we sing in our churches here. During the mealshe asked me if I actually would pray for her every morning.  I assured her I would, and I do.

Do you remember my mentioning our new special guests at our banquet here last November? They were the eleven policewomen who attended. On January 28, five ladies from the police force who had just finished their night shift, went home and showered, and attended our first monthly Prayer Breakfast of the year. Estela was saved at our Banquet, and she told me during breakfast that she prays with her group before they go out. Estela’s baby is due in a few months. 

In 2010 for the first time in the history of our city, we had a lady mayor. She was also present that morning. She raised her hand for Salvation when I gave the invitation, but she couldn’t be convinced that she could know for sure that she would go to Heaven when she dies. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to work in her heart. 

I never take for granted the invitations my sons and sons in law extend to me to teach the ladies in their churches. On December 28, I enjoyed teaching the ladies’ Sunday school class in Ixtapa, where Ulises and my daughter, Elizabeth serve.

What has the Lord done for you that makes you want to serve Him better this year than you did in 2014? Well, let’s get busy and do it!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Cycles"

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14

A cycle, according to the dictionary, is a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order. 

For example, our automatic washing machines go through cycles. First, is the filling cycle; then the agitation cycle; after that the spinning cycle; next the first cycle is repeated to fill the machine for the rinse cycle; then follows the last spin cycle.

We take out those clean clothes, put in more dirty ones, and the cycles repeat themselves, over and over again.

In the book of Joshua, chapter 1, we read about the death of Moses, and Israel’s new leader, who took Moses’ place. A man named Joshua became the new leader of millions of Israelites who had left Egypt from bondage, toward the Promised Land.

To a certain extent, we can compare this situation with our own lives…just as Moses had died, 2014 has died. It’s in our past. It’s buried. We will never ever see it again. Joshua could never again say to Moses the things he wanted to tell him, because Moses was dead. And so it is with us, we can’t change those negative things we said or did in 2014. The only leader that the children of Israel had after the death of Moses was Joshua. The only thing you and I have, friend, is 2015. We will never have another opportunity to go back and “dig up” the corpse of 2014.

Did you know that no one saw Moses die? No one saw his body. Perhaps there were times when Joshua didn’t know what to do. We can just imagine Joshua saying to the Lord, “Lord, do you suppose Moses really died? Is it possible that he may still be alive? Could we maybe go back and look for him, so that he can help me with this problem, to help me make the right decision?”

No! They would never again see Moses, because he was dead.

Friend, 2014 has died. We can’t live it over again. It’s time to bury it.

What’s keeping you from doing that?

Life also has cycles. The lesson today is this: we must close cycles. It is a blessing to be able to enter into a new cycle…a New Year.

Let’s compare our problems and our failures to the life of Moses, and 2014 with the desert. Joshua is going to represent us. The time came when Joshua had to realize that Moses didn’t exist anymore. No one saw him die. In the last chapter of Deuteronomy, verse 6 tells us that God buried Moses. And in the last part of that verse we’re told, but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” What you and I should do with our problems, with last year’s failures is:

1. Realize that the desert is in the past. Joshua had to decide to leave Moses in the desert where he had died, where God buried him. What problems or sorrows did you go through in 2014? Maybe you’ve tried to change situations, relationships in your life, and you can’t. It’s causing you even more sorrow, regret, insomnia, physical problems. Let God bury it. If you will give your “Moses” to God so that He can bury him, you won’t be able to find him. Did you commit a sin, or several sins in 2014, that you feel have caused irreparable damage? If you have confessed them, and if you’ve done everything you know to restore the damage, God has forgiven you. Psalm 103:12 assures us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” I have found such comfort in the words of Jeremiah 50:20, “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” Just read Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” And what about I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And Micah 7:19He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Maybe you can’t. Tell the Lord to take your sins, and put them under the ground. Or even better, As far as the east is from the west,…”
2. Realize that new opportunities to serve others lie ahead of you. Joshua 1:2  “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” Moses would have been a hindrance to Joshua, dragging his stinky body through the desert. Did you know there may be corpses in your life? One is called remorse. The other is called guilt. While you are dragging those corpses from 2014, you are hindering your effectiveness as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, and as a child of God. You can’t fulfill your responsibilities; these corpses produce “stinky” negative attitudes, which in turn, affect others.
3. Determine that your strengths are going to focus on things that really count. Joshua 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Did you make mistakes in 2014? I did. We all did. Ask God to forgive you, and focus on the future.
4. Close out the cycle of 2014, with all its corpses.
a) Realize what you did right.
b) Accept what went wrong.
c) Learn from what you did right, and keep doing it; and what you did wrong, and don’t repeat it. Balance the books, just like a businesswoman does at the end of the year.
d) Just do it; start all over again; have a new vision.

God also gives us a new day every twenty-four hours. Days also represent cycles. Lamentations 3:22, 23 says, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” We can apply this same “cycle principle” every morning. It isn’t necessary to wait another year to start all over. We can do this every morning.

Tomorrow morning get up and thank God for another opportunity to serve Him better today than we did yesterday.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chapter 20 - "It's Too Late!"

I’m not a young mother any more, and my children aren’t little. They’re all grown, happily married to wonderful spouses, with precious children of their own. They all serve the Lord, and I believe this cycle will repeat itself in the future: my grandchildren will prayerfully marry men and women who encourage my grandchildren to love and serve the Lord, who will in turn teach my great grandchildren to do the same.

I hope I haven’t painted a picture of perfection for you. Our families are anything but perfect: we have been through struggles, and failures. Some of my children don’t agree with me on the way we raised them. In fact, there have been many, many times in recent years, when I’ve wondered: “Have my children looked back on their childhood, and their teen years, and seen how many mistakes their father and I made? They’ve probably…I hope…sworn not to make those mistakes with their children. 

So, I guess I’m addressing those of you who have passed those child rearing years. And I ask us this question: “Is it too late?” Well, yes, it is as far as those years go…years that now seem like a vapor. 

This chapter actually isn’t only for mothers who have passed their child-rearing years. It’s for everyone who has looked back on an unpleasant experience, and thought to herself, “Oh, if only I had a second chance!” But going back and un-doing our mistakes is like trying to put an egg back in its shell once it’s broken: you can’t do it.

But I think I have hope for us this morning, as I sit in my very quiet, child-free house: I have hope for those of us who were too strict, or maybe not quite strict enough. There’s hope for those things that come back to our memory…time spent on those things that didn’t really matter a hoot; failure to spend time on others things that really, really did matter. 

What about the negative things I said to my children when they were growing up? What about the positive things I didn’t say about their silly little accomplishments? Can I ever erase my failures from my mind and from my past? Of course I can’t.

But let me share some mothering things that I’ve learned in my forty-plus years in this career: 

1. I’m a sinner. I’m not perfect. God knows I wasn’t a perfect wife, and not even in my wildest imagination, was I a perfect mother. My husband was a sinner, too, and we made little sinners. We live in a sinful world with other sinners, and we’re surrounded by sinful influences. In no way am I excusing myself this morning by blaming my failures on my nature. I know mothers who have never read their Bible, who did a splendid job at mothering. I don’t even come close to their admirable qualities. And they didn’t even know the Lord as personally as I do. But in some small way, I hope to remove some of the negative feelings about past failures if I can, by letting you know why we make mistakes. 
2. While we can never go backward in life, I do believe God does close old doors, while He opens new ones. If you are the mother of adult children, maybe you have done things in your past which have actually harmed relationships. May I say something here? If your children are still small, you probably look at us older mothers, like I used to do thirty-five years ago and think, “Oh, if only I didn’t have diapers to change, homework to patrol, and baths to supervise…” Well, believe me, that day will come so quickly, you won’t even realize it. Just enjoy the simplicity of your career now. Perhaps the biggest boon of having small children is that they don’t judge you. You can pretty much get away with anything, and they will come running to you at the end of the day, and hug you. Young children usually don’t hold grudges. Big children do. Unless you know the tragedy of not being forgiven, you don’t know much about suffering. How do you cope with the burden of “sins unforgiven?” I don’t know. I haven’t really figured that one out yet. But I have found comfort in knowing that God does forgive, because He is God. Children are people. They are sinners, and they haven’t completely learned the art of forgiveness. They hurt. And when we are the cause of that hurt, perhaps the hurt has gone far beyond the capacity to forgive. Have you done everything you know to restore broken relationships? Still no forgiveness there? Don’t let it destroy your joy. Take courage in the fact that God does forgive you. Then just back off, and leave it in His hands. If you’ve confessed your sin to the child you have failed, and if you’ve asked for their forgiveness, then confess it to God, ask Him for forgiveness, and rest assured that He will forgive you. You cannot control people’s emotions. Forgiveness is an act of the heart. And the heart is sacred territory, where only the Holy Spirit can tread. Especially if that child knows the Lord, trust Him to take control as only He can. Then just claim that joy that you lost, and don’t let the devil rob you of the happiness God wants you to have. Another thing I would like to say here is this: no matter how much you are hurting, remember that child who cannot forgive you is suffering more than you are. Holding grudges always, always hurts the grudge-holder more than the person who does not receive forgiveness. If you love that unforgiving child, and I know you do, pray for healing in their heart. There is no way a person can have perfect peace and joy as long as they have an unforgiving heart. By the way, do you have an unforgiving heart? Has one of your children done something to hurt you that goes beyond your forgiveness? Shame on you. Ask God to take that hurt. Give it to Him, and ask for His healing. You do unimaginable damage to relationships when you refuse to forgive. You can forgive, yes you can.
3. Learn from your past mistakes, or balance the books. I am by no means condoning the things I’ve done wrong in my life. I never want to encourage a ho-hum attitude toward sin by thinking, “Oh, well, God knows I’m a sinner, and I’ll never be perfect. That’s just the way I am.” Never! But the past is in the past. We can’t change it, but we can learn from it. Just like a businesswoman balances her books at the end of the year: what brought a profit? What caused losses? What did I do in the past to harm relationships? What did I do right? What did I do that brought me closer to my children? What did I do that drove them away? I must analyze my actions, and my attitudes. I still have children who love being with me. I must never take that for granted like I have taken past relationships. I must guard my mind, my words, my attitudes, and my heart. I must treasure those moments that I once took for granted. I must place my priorities in order. People, not things, not time, not even ministries, are what count most, and I must place them at the top of my list. I won’t bore you by confessing my failures, but you know yours. Bow your head right now, and ask God to show you where you have failed in the past, and ask Him help you to look forward to the future; ask Him to help you not only to avoid doing or saying or thinking the things that destroyed wonderful relationships; but also ask Him to turn every negative into a positive…where you didn’t listen, be absorbed in what your loved ones are saying to you, not only in words, but in expressions, and in attitudes.

So is it really too late? It’s never too late, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Let’s say with Paul: 
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14
Personally, Mom, I think you’re doing a great job! Keep up the good work! Have a good time mothering today.




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Prayer letter - December 2014


As I think back over my year, I have to say with the song writer, “I Wish I Had Given Him More.” That could easily discourage me. But I won’t let it keep me from trying to do more for Him, be kinder to others, and be more faithful in my responsibilities as mother and friend this coming year.

 And now, this is the news you’ve been waiting for, if you have been praying for our 16th Annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet which took place on the evening of November 21. Our dreams went far beyond the “coming true” level. God truly did “exceeding abundantly above all that we” asked or thought.

95 ladies signed our Guest Book, thirty-six for the first time. One of the First Ladies who was saved at age 8 said she had gotten away from the Lord, and rededicated her life during the invitation. In her testimony she said through her tears, “I’m not leaving the way I came in tonight.”

During the meal, I sat at the table of one of the First Ladies who has been attending for about ten years. Each of these special ladies receives a Bible with their name engraved on the front when she attends for the first time. I noticed this lady’s Bible that she received many years ago was lying beside her plate, and was well worn. Thank the Lord that His Word will not return unto Him void.

But I believe the “featured blessing” this year had to have been our very special first-time guests: 11 ladies who occupied the only reserved table, 10 of them policewomen. We handed out countless invitations to women on the police force, and to policemen (for their wives) everywhere we went for several weeks before the Banquet. Besides the policewomen who attended, there were three others ladies who were wives of men on the police force, including the wife of the Chief of Police. Yes, the policewomen filled the description of what you would imagine tough cops to look like. When we called them up on the platform, we heard of hair-raising experiences they had been through. But God and the Holy Spirit tendered their hearts and emotions. I watched them with tears in their eyes, as the little orphans marched out after their presentation. And after an amazing message by Philip entitled “Wars Within Women,” one of those lady cops raised her hand for Salvation. As they left the Banquet each one came up to me and gave me a hug, and most of them with tears in their eyes said they had never been to any event that touched them like that. The 11th lady, police head quarter’s beautiful, feminine secretary, assured me that she had taken down a schedule of our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfasts, and all that could, would attend. Well, your prayers helped to make those dreams come true. Thank you.

On November 15, 1960, the L.H. Ashcraft family (my parents, three little brothers and I) crossed the US border into México as missionaries. It was six years later, after graduating from Teachers’ College in Monterrey that I surrendered to be a missionary. On November 16th, my son in law, Ulises, and Elizabeth and their churches celebrated my 54 years in Mexico with a special Anniversary Thanksgiving service. I was delightfully surprised to see my dear friends, Bro. Dan and Debbie Morris, also missionaries for over thirty years. Ulises invited him to be the guest speaker. Then two days later our church in San Cristóbal had another similar service. How can I be anything but grateful for God’s goodness to me, with people reminding me in such special ways!

I’m writing this the week after Thanksgiving, which always follows the arduous weeks and weeks of Banquet preparations. So my children and I try to get away together for a few days. This year we caravanned 14 hours to the beautiful city of Mérida, Yucatán, and spent three unforgettable days with two missionary families: Bro. Danny and Dodi Ward, and Bro. Jason and Ellen Thomas, incredible hosts to our entourage of 17. Besides the time of sweet fellowship around turkey and all the trimmings, we were invited to attend Resurrection Baptist Church, their “baby” work, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Philip and Ulises preached, and the rest of the family sang. What precious memories we made!

I hope as we go into the Christmas season, we will stop throughout the hectic-ness of our days…maybe while little ones nap, or while grocery shopping, and turn our thoughts to the One who came to earth, Who saved me, and Who made this Thanksgiving report possible. “Thank You, Lord, for You!…and for my friends.”

Merry Christmas!

Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Monday, November 17, 2014

Prayer Letter - October 2014

We have just entered the fall season; and like the seasons of the year, our lives also change seasons. We have seasons of sorrow, and seasons of joy; we experience seasons of draught and seasons of plenty. In whatever season you may find yourself this morning, I pray the Lord will be Near and Dear to you.

Besides the birth of my fortieth grandbaby, Isaac Joel, born on September 5 to Steve and Ruthie Miller, (which was the happiest event of my past two months since I wrote to you,) were the spiritual births I was privileged to witness with the ladies from our Saturday morning soul winning group. We were even able to witness to a group of Muslims while looking for…of all things…Jewish people.

Our ladies have been putting an emphasis on witnessing “to the Jew first.” This inspiration came when I attended an Israel Conference in Ixtapa, August 16 and 17, where my son in law, Ulises Martínez, invited Bro. Samuel Esquivel to speak. His messages challenged us to focus on witnessing to God’s chosen people, and indeed He has blessed our soul winning efforts since we began “looking for Jews.”

One of my favorite times of the week is Friday mornings. Besides getting to spend special time with my son, Tommy, I enjoy speaking on a live broadcast, focused on the lady listeners. We get in his pickup so he can drive me home, and even before he starts the motor sometimes I get phone calls in response to the broadcast I just made. The day after my last broadcast, while waiting for my ride in front of the post office, I gave a tract to a very well dressed lady. She smiled and said, “I’m a Christian. I have Jesus in my heart.” And then she asked, “Are you the lady who preaches on the radio?” She recognized my voice, and I said, “Well, I teach ladies.” What a unique ministry God gave to my son. We will probably never know all the results this side of eternity. I am thankful to have a very small part in the vision God gave my son several years ago. Compassion Radio just celebrated their second year of broadcasting on August 17.

I hope you are praying for our 16th annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet, which will take place on November 21. It is a blessing to see most of the ladies in our church as they are getting involved in the many projects formed to bring about this special event. Since they are working in teams, it’s exciting to see how creative they are. It’s amazing to discover the many hidden talents in our church…just another aspect of this evangelistic outreach ministry.

I thank you for being a special part of my life and my ministry.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan

Nahum 1:7

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Prayer Request List for Ladies' Banquet

PRAYER REQUEST LIST FOR OUR 16TH ANNUAL 
LADIES’ CHRISTMAS BANQUET 
November 21, 2014 

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

2. Extra strength for the ladies and me as we plan and make preparations.

3. For the wife of our City Mayor to be able to attend, as well as First Ladies of neighboring towns. We refer to ladies who are in positions of prominence as “First Ladies.”

4. For the wives of the former mayors, military wives, wives of men on the police force, and pastors’ wives to be able to attend.

5. For extra finances for the cost of the Banquet.

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

7. For our guest speaker, my son, Philip Sloan, as he prepares his message for the evening, and for liberty as he preaches.

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

9. 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 thirteen years, including four former First Ladies, three military wives, and two ladies who have prominent positions in our city.

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