Here we are again. It is the end of yet another year. And who can forget 2009? There has been many buzzwords in the year. Here are a couple Mr. Bilson remembers like H1N1 and global economic crisis/recession, Michael Jackson, Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Transformers, Tiger Woods.... But there were other things that stood out as well. Mr. Bilson took on quite a journey this year. 2009 began with life in the valley of the shadow of death. There is nothing like wearing that heavy black blanket the seems to constantly weigh down and draining every sort of joy out of you until there is not much left... It was too heavy to lift off so some help is always in order. Thank you Jesus... who truly takes all our burdens. It started to lift off in the middle of the year. Let's trace when...

After the mild meltdown was the long awaited trip to that beautiful island. Before the trip, Mr Bilson cried out to God and said, "Lord, you know exactly what Mr. Bilson going through. If you want to answer any prayer here are a couple. Mr.Bilson wants to go visit a beautiful tropical island with that good friend who always seems to be there. Mr. Bilson is tired of being surrounded by arrogant, cynical, negative, no initiative, know it alls! Get Mr. Bilson around some real people who have an unshakable faith and can live up to the measures they put on others.
"Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!!..." (Psalm 139:19).

Jesus would come though once again but exceed all the expectations of these answered prayers. He would get surrounded by some wonderful people and more... Mr. Bilson would not only visit one tropical island but make it four. Jesus knows Mr. Bilson's weakness for tall towers and tropical islands. So off to Malaysia to visit the KL Tower and then swing down to Indonesia for a little shopping using a handful of pennies and swing over to Taipei 101 for a gander and yet another beautiful view. But not only did it get better and better and better, Jesus would provide more.

Mr. Bilson was in touch with a real, true friend who always seems to come through at all moments and in all seasons, especially in the present darkness. We all value friends like these. The ones who can see that there is more in us than we can see ourselves. We all know we are destined for greater things for the Kingdom. Sometimes we secretly long for someone to come along and say, "Yeah, I see it and it is time to bring it out of you! Here is the opportunity you long for. I want you to have it and guess what, there are no ulterior motives, hidden agenda's, no strings attached except the truly sincere desire to see you shine for His glory!"

These kind of people and friends are hard to come by so you better make sure to treat these friendships with the highest regard. But what is more, is that this person is always filled with integrity and doesn't seem to have the same weaknesses of character Mr. Bilson may have. His are different and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We don't value these people and friendships based on how perfect they are. No, never! It is more simpler than that. These ones are real, sincere and Christlike. They never feel exhausted by you or burdened by you at all. They make you one in the family. Very few people have these kinds of friends. But Jesus has given Mr. Bilson a few.

Another thing about this particular friend is that he always loves to take a risk. He's a bonafide thrill seeker and risk-taker who isn't scared to step out of the comfort zone. Mr. Bilson wanted to see more of Malaysia. So off to Desaru. It is off the East Coast of the state in a great room for a steal at a sweet resort. It was beachfront and sparsely occupied. Mr. Bilson enjoyed being a beach creature staring at the horizon, soaking the sun and playing with S. We had a little sand fight and than off to the pool. The weather was beautiful and it was serene. But that was nothing.

The thrill seeking would be taken by Mr. Bilson for a change. It is easy to do travel with a good friend but what about alone? After looking for hours for deals in the paper for another tropical, beach front resort it was decided to try something spontaneous. Pastor P put Mr. Bilson into his back pack and said to just go! Go to Malaysia all by Mr. Bilson's self and see where the wind blows. Mr. Bilson never backpacked or traveled like this alone. It was right up his alley. So after taking local transit to JB, Mr. Bilson took the evening bus to Mercing.

While there, it was covered in darkness. Mr. Bilson was contemplating... "What were you thinking Pastor P? I'm millions of miles from anything familiar. What if something happens to me and no one knows? What if...? What...? WHAT IF? " But something inside was rising up... like the thrill of meeting the challenge. Somehow, nothing would be regretted but something was to be learned....

Mr. B still remembers how he couldn't find the hostel he was looking for. After much wondering, and asking the kind Malay's, he found a place and didn't sleep a wink in the night out of wonder of what will happen next? But as the evening faded and the morning dawned, he found his way in the speed boat to Toiman Island. Standing in awe of this beautiful tropical island with it's white sand and turquoise colored water and cheap food was more than breath taking but exhilarating. It was crazzy standing in awe.

Funny how life can change in the span of a couple months. One moment you can find yourself in the valley of the shadow of death wondering if things can sink for the worse and the next thing you know it, Jesus is taking you all across the world for ride of a life! There is nothing like loving him...

The adventure had to be cut short as money was thinning out. So back to S'pore to meet Pastor P. His hospitality and warmth have no end. It was great to see that someone you look up to can be proud of you. Mr Bilson doesn't value too many people's opinions especially with all the cynics and unreasonable people around... Especially from do-nothing, know it alls who look down at everyone. But Pr P is far from anyone of those shallow people. He's man who talks less and accomplishes more and values all people. If only more people can be like this.

2009 was also the only time Mr. Bilson had the chance to see Pastor P get honored for his work at PMC. It is easy to get overworked and under payed and under appreciated in any work. This should never happen in a church but it goes on like this anyway... but not this time in the third category. Pastor P used to spend almost 2-3 hrs in transit one way from his home to the Church while in Buncouver. He would only come and serve and do all the thankless work in the Church. All the kinds of work no one else wants to do. Everything from picking up the garbage to praying for people to teaching Sunday School and take destructive criticism from the no initiative, know it alls. He did all this without complaining and with a smile and much more.... Even after the victory at SAGC Buncouver, he didn't boast at the nay sayers and cynics. No, he was authentically humble thanking the team and most of all Jesus. His rewards in heaven will be better than anything down here on earth. Like Jesus he should have had it better while here and for a minute, it looked like he did.

"... in humility consider others better than yourselves." (Phil 2:3)

The trip to S'pore was like a dream come true. Mr. Bilson was experiencing the birth of a dream of sharing the Message to the world. He made the most of all the invitations and craved more. Doorways like this can only be opened by Jesus and real friends like Pastor P. It was refreshing to do what you are ordained to do. It was refreshing to fulfill your destiny... at least for a couple of months. They don't come often or easy especially where Mr. B serves. The Bible is true, "For everyone looks out for his own interests but not those of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 2:21)

This trip provided much inner healing and release that hasn't been experienced for a couple of years. But more shifts and changing took place inside... a new spiritual hunger longed for years and new righteous desires. We'll see what 2010 has in store.

But that journey had to end but it was the beginning of a new one. Off to Chicago, the windy city. We all know Chicago as the home of Barack Obama and Oprah and not to mention Kanye West. There is also D.L Moody and Billy Hybels. So as you may or may not know, Mr. Bilson loves to travel. It was to another South Asian convention. It was time again to network with different leaders doing similar work than Mr. B. It was interesting meeting other South Asians in odd places. Why God put Mr. B in a Punjabi Church is a real mystery. Mr. Bilson believes God is better off using someone who actually knows the language and is more sensitive to the cultural norms, customs of the people. But Jesus' house is a house of prayer for all nations and his Gospel is never limited to just one people group but extends to the masses. His vision includes all the nations.... including whitewashed, Can - Malu - abi's like yours truly. Mr. Bilson ran into other leaders as well. South Asian Malu's in Taiwan and Korean churches. It was awesome to hear how much of these people have in common with Indian people groups. Most Malu's prefer to live a comfortable life as the Dr, Lawyer, Engineer, I.T, than go into ministry. But now that was changing. He was shocked to see Lighthouse. An awesome Christian band with CD's and tours all comprised of Malu's. Wow! That is actually quite unheard of.

And who can forget that awesome prolific South Asian leader... Sam Chand. He shed allot of light on one of the biggest challenges Mr. B faces... building up leaders. Here was a man who had the education, experience, proven results and a great attitude making him a valuable and real consultant not like the fakes out there. His book was mind boggling and to be remembered in 2009. It listed all the challenges faced by all leaders including myself and some strategies to overcome. Mr. Bilson always secretly wanted to see and army of like-minded, consistent, faithful, visionary, risk taking and integrity walking leaders. But like all leaders, he heard the same shallow excuses and disappointments we all face. But at least now he knew he was no exception.

"The deeds of faithless men I hate, they will not cling to me." (Psalm 101:3)

It was also refreshing to meet with Mr. B's wonderful cousin who hasn't been visited for many years. She showed him the 5 * treatment. It was great to catch up and have a heart to heart. If only time allowed for more bonding... but that could change in 2010.

Mr. Bilson returned home to the most rewarding trips of a lifetime. It was time to get back into the game. Christmas was coming and a new production was to be done. Many people talk about striving for excellence but very few step out to accomplish it. We tried to for this years PMC Christmas Drama but there were more challenges. We were all broke and had no resources for or ideas. So we prayed and a script came. We needed a camera and it came... Thanks to AM and Friendship Baptist Church (who also gave PMC a generous donation by the way!). Thank you Jesus. But He only knows how frustrating it is to work in an under resourced ministry...! Especially trying to communicate the needs and ways of the next generation to the older ones. They seem to get the impression that all young people have wrong priorities and therefore misdirected needs. Not all though...

Not to leave on a sour note. The second half of 2009 has never been better. It is great to experience, 'normal' again... And who knows, maybe Mr. Bilson's season 'here' maybe over. So that means off to new promised lands flowing with milk and honey. Hopefully it won't require going through a desert... It get lonely and hot out there. Especially if you are surrounded by a bunch of whiners. What's wrong with manna anyway?

See you in 2010!

Mr. Bilson