Texas woman doesn't let her circumstances impede her ministry

Tribune News Service • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

"My purpose is to encourage people to find their purpose in God and to express it," she said.

But Slade's done so much more than that since she earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Oral Robert's University in Tulsa, Okla., then became an ordained minister. She has performed weddings, made inspirational videos, appeared on television, preached from pulpits to hundreds at a time and used a prophet-like insight to find meaning in Scripture.

Born with cerebral palsy, the 46-year-old woman did all that from a reclining wheelchair or a hospital bed. The only parts of her body that she can control are the thumb and forefinger of her right hand.

"I call it the fiery finger," she said. "When I start getting into Scripture, that finger really starts going."

People who visit Slade in her grandmother's home, where she has been confined to a bed since May 2012, have watched that fiery finger fly as she emphasizes points she is making.

Illnesses and conditions that include neuropathy, scoliosis, osteoporosis and the loss of a kidney have complicated Slade's life, but they haven't impeded her ministry, said John Tyler, senior pastor at North Pointe Baptist Church in Hurst, Texas. He called Slade "a prayer warrior and encourager in our church family."

One who has benefited from those talents, Dennis Bass, said Slade has talked him through some desperate times.

"She's helped me through depression," he said. "My mom passed away, and everyone said I couldn't make it without her. Susan helped me get through that and through the anniversary of her death."

Slade's ability to intervene with God on others' behalf may be her strongest ability, Bass said.

"You can call on her anytime you have health problems, family problems, problems with finances and she'll pray for you," Bass said. "It's like a miracle happens, and you just get through whatever it is."

Doug White, former senior pastor of Restoration Church in Euless, Texas, called Slade his hero.

"I've watched her go through things that grown men couldn't," he said. "I visit her every four or five months and never leave her presence that I don't feel encouraged. Her spirit and attitude are exceptional."

Slade's ability to interpret God's message brings Tyler to her more often.

"God has given her a unique insight into his word, and he has given us a partnership in studying for future messages," Tyler said.

An example came in a sermon Tyler recently preached on Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."

"In her notes on that passage, Susan wrote that God intends for us to be his 'instruments of distribution,'" Tyler said. "We are not just serving others, we are distributing his love, grace and power to others. Awesome!"

Slade said she prays about and then researches texts that Tyler sends her.

"Brother John plugs in what I find where it's appropriate. We work off of each other. Iron sharpens iron, the Bible says," Slade said.

Slade said she hopes someday to make biblical interpretations, inspirational poems and videos available online, as well as receive prayer requests, using a website for her ministry.

Until God works out a way, Slade has to be content with a speaker phone for consultations and a computer for research.

Her circumstances haven't made her a better prayer warrior or minister than the next person, she said, because everyone has something they have to overcome.

"I'm not greater because I have this, but they're not greater because they don't," she said. "This isn't a story about a young handicapped woman in and of itself. It's a story about overcoming, turning lemons into lemonade, seeing the glass half full. Everyone needs that."

— By Terry Evans, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (MCT)

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