August, 2009 Wingspread
This month we would like to share with you excerpts from two of Billie’s “General Letters,” one written in 2001, and the other in 2003, just a couple of months before her passing. She used these general letters as a tool to teach, just as she did with the messages in the newsletters:
May 1, 2001
Hello to Everyone, our Brothers & Friends,
There are eighty letters on my desk awaiting a reply, and lest you don’t hear, and feel abandoned, I am writing this letter to ALL OF YOU . . . and I’ll try to add a note to answer any personal questions on the letters of those who had questions. I wish I could sit down in one day and write 80 letters, but it’s impossible.
I was just sitting here as I typed and my eyes fell upon a small painting of “Christ on the Emmaus Road” with two men, one on either side. It was after Jesus’ resurrection and yet these two Emmaus disciples did not recognize Him. As they walked along the road, He asked what were they talking about and they related the story of the crucifixion and how the women had seen the empty tomb. Yet they obviously did not believe that He had risen.
Then Jesus began to expound the Scriptures to them. Imagine how that must have been - THE WORD OF GOD - expounding THIS WORD to two men who had known Him after the flesh! When He acted as though He would go on, they begged him to stay and eat with them.
The Bible tells us that as He sat eating with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. And then guess what happened? “. . . their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31).
If you study your Bible (and you should, it is Life and Truth), you will see that no one recognized Jesus after He arose until He revealed Himself by His Spirit to them. They had all known Him in the flesh. But now Jesus Is “Glorified Man,” and one day we will be like Him when we receive our glorified bodies. But God in His mercy has given us His Holy Spirit, and we DO recognize Jesus purely by revelation of the Spirit. If we don’t, then something is wrong and we must make sure that we have been born of His Spirit. I had “known” Jesus all of my life. I had loved Him and believed in Him, but I did not have the Holy Spirit living within me, and so I only knew Him mentally. But the night that I was born again, immediately I knew Him in all of His fullness! And my life was never the same again.
The best part of the experience of those two Emmaus disciples was when they said one to another, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us along the way, and while
he opened to us the Scriptures? (Luke 24:32). I love this Word. My heart had truly “burned within me” most of my life when I heard someone who was possessed by the Christ speak of heavenly things. But then they would be gone. And I would be left alone, pondering over the things they had said to me. Jesus knew one day that I would see myself in all of my helplessness and lost condition, and cry out for God’s mercy and cleansing. And so, from time to time, “my heart burned within me” when I heard this Word.
This is the time to make sure that you pursue the Source of that flame of God within your heart. It is God giving you the chance to become His own child. Just don’t let the flame go out.
I have this painting (a larger one) of Christ on the Emmaus Road, done by my precious brother, Roger Dale Stafford, who died by execution in 1995, and this is what he said on the back of the painting: “My beautiful Billie, God bless you! You said that this picture was very special to you. Well you are very special to me and to the Lord my God. And to all of us other men and women on Death Row in all the U.S. of A. And as I love you and as they love you, so do all the world. God bless you, my special angel, in His Holy Name, I love you! Roger D. Stafford #103767, painted on Sunday, February 12, 1995, for one very special lady, and I will never paint another like it. As she is so special to us, so shall this painting be to her and me.”
You can probably imagine how precious this painting is to me. Roger Dale left me with his word of confidence, and his love for the Lord Jesus, and I know that he will be one of those who will greet me when I get to heaven. His dear wife didn’t even get to hug him once; they had been married while he was on the Row. So I know her heart is glad because she, too, will see him again. They truly loved one another.
This is why we chose to do what we do, once God called me and indicated to me that this would be my work in His Name. We get all these wonderful blessings, letters, and words of love and encouragement while the “world” hates us.
We thank each of you for the pictures you draw, for the pretty paintings on the envelopes, for your words, your sharing of your thoughts and sorrows and joys with us.
Many, many years ago, I got the Scripture from the Lord which said, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psalms 92:13-14). That gave me hope. I wanted so much to “bring forth fruit.”
Then I got the other verse: “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalms 113:9). I had a son, Richard, by adoption, but I was barren concerning bringing forth fruit. So I knew, when this verse came to me from my Father in heaven, that I would bring forth fruit and be a joyful mother of children
EVEN in my old age. God has kept His Word, and in my Bible I put the words, “My children in prison” beside these promises. I praise Him!
I can’t think of anything else to share with you all at the moment. But remember, you are in our hearts and in our prayers and God listens, hears, and answers. Some of you are in for life without parole, but you can make the years beneficial to not only yourself, but to our God who loved you enough to let His Son take your place, and set you free from bondage and death.
With our love,
Billie & Family
May 29, 2003
Dear Friends & Brothers of Wingspread,
In order to let you know that we are okay I decided to write this letter to all of you, and get ready for the next mail load.
We have had a lot of tribulation but I never forget that if God loves us, He chastens us. It is NOT “punishment” but rather, a correction that He uses to refine us and give us new Light in our new lives. I grew up under Mama’s strong conviction that “whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap.” She would say it in such solemn tones that I’d get “goose bumps,” and wonder if I had done anything that displeased God, and if He would punish me.
So, I began early on to pray. I prayed about everything - about storm clouds looming on the horizon, about the oil refinery across the way where my daddy worked, that it would not “blow up.” And I prayed about my mother. She had a huge mole on her temple and said it would kill her. I remember definitely going to God (I was about 9, I guess) and asking Him to remove that mole. One morning she got up and the mole was gone. God had removed it in the night, and it never came back.
I also prayed about my “sins.” I had a tremendous sorrow for sin and on every occasion when something happened, I would do a quick mental check to see if I had caused it. This could have been very unhealthy for me, mentally, but God used my sensitive nature to His Omnipotence to teach me the value of prayer. And I refused to indulge in anything that I knew in my heart was sin, so I am thankful for my young life.
AFTER I was born again I realized that I did not have anything personally to do with Mama’s mole, or refinery fires, or any catastrophe. But I did know that God most certainly uses
these things to bring us to the knowledge of who He is and how powerful He is. I have a Father who can do anything.
But again, when He DOESN’T do something to bail me out, does that mean He has forgotten me? Or He doesn’t know I am here? Absolutely not! He doesn’t bail me out until His appointed time, and the one thing He asks of me is to obey Him to the very best of my ability and to walk in the path He lays out for me, day by day.
I got out some of my old journals and began to read them recently. I don’t know how I ever continued in the faith because of the bewildering circumstances into which God led me. It never made sense but AFTERWARD it did.
However, “afterward” does not satisfy most believers and Christians want God’s answer NOW. I thank Him, these many years later, that I “blindly obeyed” which means that my faith in His Love was real and I would not betray that Love. No matter what, He loves me.
Another thing that happens, as we grow up in the Lord, is that God removes our “crutches.” We are like new born babies once we receive the new birth, and we get all kinds of indications that God is looking after us. He gives us intimate answers to the prayers of our hearts, and He lets us know that yes, He is here.
But as we begin to grow up He wisely begins to remove the crutches (spiritual and emotional) and makes us face the realities of life. We will be sick and we will be well. We will be abandoned by friends and family, and we will be accepted by His “born ones.” We will pray and receive no answer. And we will pray and the answer will come swiftly. But there is no guarantee that we will “live on this earth for now, happily ever after.”
In fact, as you grow older in Christ, things get worse, not better. This is because NOW you have the love for others that God’s Holy Spirit within you has. And Love hurts. You see the hopelessness of human hearts and you can do nothing about it. You see little children who are abused and hurt, and you cannot stop all this chaos. You become identified, then, with the LIVING CHRIST, “a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”
How can you become acquainted with grief if you never experience grief in your own heart? How can you have compassion for those who are lost in sin if you were never once lost in sin? And how can you give and give and give again, if you never felt the desperation of the lack of funds for survival? How can you hope for deliverance from sin for a loved one if you yourself have never been delivered from the penalty, guilt, and power of sin?
So we walk among men and we are acquainted with grief and we do the very best we can out of love for our Father in Heaven, who created the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, as a habitation for mankind. We grow up, and we stop whining and feeling self pity. We give up hope that “things will get better” because how do we know that if things
get better, then WE would be better? God alone knows our hearts and I trust Him to see me through to Heaven.
We go through trials, then, just as He said we would and the day finally comes when we do not run from these trials or try to pray our way out of them. We embrace them. It reminds me of a storm that is at its very worst and suddenly, the storm stops and everything is still. There are days when the storms rage in my heart but “suddenly . . . Jesus is here, right here, and how can I be afraid when He is here?”
I write these things to encourage all of you to embrace the trials, the fears, the disappointments that come into your lives. It works if you do. It really works and “suddenly” there is a peace that passes understanding, and a hope and joy and a “knowing” that this is only our pilgrim walk and in a little while we will be with Him. That was Jesus’ prayer, that God would keep those whom He had given to Jesus, and that we would be with Him.
Imagine God’s Son wanting us to be WITH HIM! What a wonderful privilege and responsibility then, for us who carry His Light within us, and who shed that Light abroad in our hearts to the whole world. No matter what the world thinks, or even the professing church which has gone so far beyond what God ordained for the church thinks, we are His and we will stand in the Gap and maintain the Light and never give in to the eternal enemy of God, the devil himself.
This reminds me of a song that we have on a CD. The words are “though you stand me up at the gates of hell, no I won’t back down. I won’t back down.” That is our song. And I am glad that the love of God for me far surpasses anything that the devil could ever give to me, and I won’t back down. God needs soldiers now, to fight SPIRITUAL BATTLES, and soon He will send His Son to meet us in the air and take us HOME. You’d better get ready.
After I read Billie’s letters, I thought what could I possibly add to that. She had a gift and she had a personal relationship with God that very few people have. However I will add a suggestion to those of you who want to know God more personally, and that is to read these letters more than once and let the words sink in. “Without the Spirit you cannot see it and it won’t make sense to you or hold your interest.” Just a comment by Dr. Scott, which is very true.
This is a short paragraph taken from a letter which was written to us by someone whose eyes had been opened, and who could say with the words from the Bible the following: “One thing I know, though, I was blind but now I see’ (John 9:25). When your lost you either end up in the loony bin or the graveyard, but if you are really lucky you end up in
prison, so you can think and think and think. And if God wills you learn about yourself. It took a few years before I learned that I was not the man I thought I was. But I know that God has worked out everything so I can be a NEW man.”
If you are chosen by God to belong to His Kingdom some day, then He has a plan for your life. And God’s plans are never what we think they should be. I was reading about Joseph. By the time he was born Jacob his father already had ten sons. But Rachael, the wife he loved, gave birth to Joseph and no doubt he was the favorite son.
Later it became obvious that Joseph had had a good education. Also he was taught discipline and respect. But the ten brothers hated him, and when they got the chance they got rid of him. It was a very cruel act, selling their brother as a slave. But God was with Joseph and all this was part of His plan for Joseph. I know that because Psalms 105:17 says “He sent a man before them (Joseph) who was sold as a slave.” God sent him to Egypt as a slave. Think on that the next time a prosperity preacher tells you to “name it and claim it” or that “God never lets anything bad to happen to you.”
Joseph did so well as a servant in his master’s home that everything was turned over into his care, both the household workers and the field workers (Genesis 37). But the master’s wife tried to seduce him, and when that didn’t work she falsely accused him of trying to rape her, and Joseph was thrown into prison.
Throughout this unfair and unjust treatment you never hear any complaints from Joseph. He must have had great respect for authority because before too long the keeper of the prison turned over the prison to him. That’s not something that would happen today. I know we now live in a different world. But people are not all that different. Respect still works both ways and God has never changed. He is the same today and He says “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
God eventually got Joseph out of prison and used his knowledge and genius to save not just the Egyptians from starvation, but also his own family. And it was all in God’s plan for the nation of Israel to be brought to Egypt and to see the wonders and miracles of God’s deliverance, and then to be given the great privilege to be the keepers of the oracles of God.
Remember as you read these stories in the Bible, these people were dealt with, just like God deals with you and me today. He is no idle farmer. His purpose is a crop. “No one whose faith is in Him shall be disappointed (Romans 10:11). The key word being faith.
Prayer Requests for August, 2009
For Willie Davis at Menard, Illinois, who just had oral argument on his appeal.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for his diabetes disease to stabilize. Willie also wants God to give him more patience.
For Scott Ringer and his prison ministry in Wake Forrest, North Carolina.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for his health, and that he will be allowed to undergo DNA testing.
For Anthony Grayson at Comstock, New York, that God will send someone to help with his appeal.
For Michael Small’s son, Derek, that he will come back to the church; also for Michael’s step mother, Suzanne, who is very ill. Michael is at Menard, Illinois.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, that his cancer stays in remission.
For Willie Clark at Iowa Park, Texas, that he’ll be able to visit with his son soon.
For our friend and neighbor, Sandra Beckom, who continues to battle cancer. Sandra is a very sweet person and this has not been easy on her or her family.
For Pastor Scott and her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For Willie Harper, Joliet, Illinois, that he stays “cancer free.”
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas, that the State Supreme Court will rule favorably on his case.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Jimmy Huff & his ministry in Colorado City, Texas.
For Stephano Jackson at McAlester, Oklahoma, for God’s protective hedge to be around him.
For Johnny Carruthers, Florence, Arizona, for understanding and compassion.
For Thomas Bible at Ullin, Illinois, who is facing 30 to 60 years at jury trial.
For all of us at Wingspread.
“Thank you” from Shirley for all the cards and notes she received during her birthday last month. She wants everyone to know that she appreciated the kind thoughts.
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