Jean Sidlo Makes Every Second Count
“It is my task and privilege each day to pursue how I, an ordinary woman, can share and further the great and extraordinary work of God,” said Jean Sidlo as she prepared for graduation in December of 2005.
Now, looking back over her life, Jean is appreciative of the things that God has enabled her to do.
Even as a child, she said, “I always knew that by seeking God’s blessings and being obedient to His ways, God had a plan for me, a place for me, and work for me in His kingdom.” Jean was significantly influenced by her family and her church, and at the age of twelve, while on a youth trip, she felt called to Christian vocational work. Feeling ill-equipped for the call and being very aware of the limitations on women serving in church leadership she says, “For so many years, by God’s grace, I kept that call secret, but alive.” Knowing that her call was valid she said, “I continued believing, reading as a means of preparation, wondering what was in store for this child of God, but always assured that that call would reach fulfillment.”
In 1969 Jean graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology/Sociology. After graduation from WVWC, Jean said that she entered her “Prodigal Daughter years,” and tried to do many things her own way. She got married, had two sons, and completed nurse’s training. However, she said that still she felt lost and undeserving of God’s grace.
After a time of healing, she asked God for forgiveness and returned to church with her friends and family. In the 1990’s Jean moved from her home in Massachusetts to North Carolina and joined a small, friendly, Baptist church. Then a door opened for her and she knew, “It was a time to complete the work that God had placed on my heart years earlier. The opportunity to pursue graduate theological education became a reality with my application to and acceptance at a new theological school, Campbell University Divinity School.”
Of her graduate theological education, Jean said, “I was enthusiastic and appreciative for the opportunity for which I had waited forty years.” She planned to pursue Christian education for preschool and children, but she said, “God’s plan for me also included studying in the areas of social justice, mercy and grace in the area of missions, spiritual formation, and making and equipping disciples.” Learning was a great joy for her, and “listening, reading, questioning, and exploring were all parts of a dynamic process.”
Jean’s learning didn’t just happen in the classroom. She tells the story about a day when someone gave her $100 “for His work.” After her Divinity School class that night, Jean was walking out with three other students. One of the students with very limited resources had car problems. Jean took him to Walmart to get the parts he needed to fix the car and the total cost was $99.99. She sees this as evidence of the “way God works amongst all of us” and how he “uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways.”
Everything that she learned enabled Jean to pursue her dreams and strive toward the goals that she made for herself. Looking forward from graduation she said, “The area that I believe is most important is making strides to erase or soften the differences that separate us, so that the principles that unite us as children of God and fellow believers will be more important than those that divide us.” One of her goals then was to continue her work with preschool and children’s ministries in her local church. She said, “I believe that there have been few greater privileges for me than to lay a foundation of learning about God, God’s plan for a child’s life, and a child’s response to that truth during the preschool years.”
Jean met her post-graduation goals as she continued to serve at Macedonia Baptist Church as the chairperson of the Missions Committee with responsibility for both local and overseas missions. She also continued to serve as a teacher at Macedonia Children’s Place Preschool where she was voted teacher of the year in 2004 by the NC Baptist State Convention for her work with autistic children. Jean enjoyed helping with projects such as, Operation InAsMuch, the Angel Tree Ministry, and her church’s Thanksgiving ministry in which they served meals to less fortunate families on Thanksgiving.
In February 2013, Jean was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, for which she is now receiving treatment. Knowing that there is no cure, she says, “One of my biggest challenges has been to make every day count. Just because I’m ill doesn’t mean that God is finished with me yet.”
Currently, Jean and her husband, Sid, live in a retirement home near their children and grandchildren in Worcestor, MA. There she is finding that God still has a work for her to do. She takes part in Bible study and has led residents of the home in sending Christmas gifts to soldiers overseas.
She says that one of the most valuable lessons that she has learned in ministry is the need for ministers to “hold on to the past, look forward to the future and recognize ways that God can work.” Jean says, “I thought I had a lot of time to do a lot of things. It turns out that my time here is going to be much shorter than I expected,” but, “As long as I keep my eyes open, I will look for what I can do day by day.”
Jean passed away on May 23, 2014. She will be missed by her husband, children, grandchildren, and many friends. Her memorial service was held in Massachusetts on June 2, 2014. If you would like to offer condolences, the web address is www.milesfuneralhome.com. Sid’s address is 101 Barry Rd. #1342, Worcester, MA 01609.