I got completely blasted this weekend! I went to a leadership retreat with our denomination called PAOC. I've always wanted to go but the oppourtunity didn't present itself. I remember hearing about it in the past but never had the chance to go. Well, the organization was kind enough to take care of my registration and before I knew it, I was on my way!

I didn't know what to expect! I've gone to many conventions in the past, by myself without knowing anyone. It can be a little nerve racking but at the same time a little bit thrilling. I'd be stepping out in faith, going where I never have gone before. So many questions pop into my mind. "Will I make friends? Will people like me? Will there be a powerful move of the Spirit? What is God really up to? What will God teach me next?" I came to the conclusion that I would meet some cool people and learn some cool stuff. It would be refreshing!

After I got to my hotel room I wandered around beautiful Victoria, home of Steve Nash and the beautiful Nelly Furtado! It is a beautiful city. I passed by the many Chinese stores and recalled my BC History class and all the racism and hardship the Chinese and Japanese had gone through in the past. Even the Punjabi's weren't warmly welcomed to the country. Only in Jesus, are those barriers and walls shattered. God is always in the business of breaking ignorance! We really need Jesus in our community!

It triggered a warning I recalled from some of my Ethnic Leader friends about PAOC. They mentioned how it was somewhat run as a club for... white people. I was told a story how PAOC was more than happy to take money from some ethnic churches but not hear their voice. It was quite sad! I know Jesus is building a house of prayer for all nations! That is His vision.

Well, the convention is about to begin! I arrived early in hopes of mingling with some people and enjoying some good Christian company. To my surprize, I was warmly welcomed by a man of God, whom I hold with a lot of esteem! He ran these AMAZING break through conventions for youth. I still recall those powerful encounters I have had with the Holy Spirit at HM! 

I would be on a buzz for months on end through the convention. I was moved beyond comprehension and I honestly felt like God was transforming my very existence before my very eyes for His glory. I'd get refreshed, encouraged and inspired to do greater exploits for the savior! I'd look forward to these events all year long!

I was taken back by DM who runs the conventions. He took the time to personally shake my hand and made me feel right at home! He even helped fuel alot of visions and ministries I was involved in from his team at Dreams Unlimited. There was SAGC, No Boundaries, PMC Building project to name a few. He also was aware of what real mission work was and showed footage of villagers in Africa where people were on the brink of extinction because of a lack of water. I was told that Canada has the highest percent of fresh drinking water in the world! We couldn't just do nothing.

We had to GO and do something. He also showed pics of orphanges showing the faces of impoverished, unwanted babies. This was real ministry! I will never forget how shaken I was as I recalled the poverty and how I used to see it in India back in the 80's and early 90's. These places were great oppourtunities to show Christ's love in action!

I felted quite honored to have the marvelous man of God shake my hand. He kept saying, "We're so glad you are hear!" I remember feeling a little bit startled because I was wondering why he'd be so glad to see me in the 70-80 some registrants at TimeOut! Nonetheless who am I to reject anyone's kind hospitality? I told him that the pleasure was all mine! I just love conventions and I'm eager to learn anything new, especially from this mighty man of valor!

Well, people were slowly starting to come inside the church and I remember trying to make eye contact with people and break into a conversation. It wasn't easy at first because everyone seemed to know each other and I found myself kind of just standing there and wandering around. I get shy streaks at times. God bless L who is J's wife. This couple were always a source of encouragement and inspiration for me. They would take me to their home and spoil me with food and love. She found me and invited me to sit with her at their table. I was so glad. However, I did manage to have some conversations and small talk. I was happy to talk to a few familiar faces.

The event was just about to begin and I couldn't find L so I thought I'd sit anywhere. I saw a couple of people about to sit down so I thought I'd come to join them. They saw me swoop in. They looked like me, new to the occasion and a little bit nervous and apprehensive. What perfect company! They looked at me and said, "Oh... you're sitting there?" I politely looked at them and said, "I could sit at this chair if there is no room... if you want?" as I pointed at the chair next to me. I'd didn't want to take their seat by any means. They uncomfortably looked at me and the table and at each other and walked away to a different table.

"Ouch!" I thought, "Well, that didn't go to well. Maybe I should have stayed in Surrey... Gosh, I hope that my ethnic leader friends were wrong but maybe they are right... Well there is still more convention to go and I know God has me here for a purpose"

I was so glad when DM came to the mike. He encouraged everyone to take the time to get to know each other, especially those who were new. He told the folks not to go out to places without inviting us new people and not to stay alone in our hotels. He prayed a prayer that expressed every need in my heart at the moment. It reassured me that God was indeed here.

The session was great. The speaker was someone I worked with back in my TWU days. She overseed the Discipleship group I was involved in. Thank God for familiar faces. I had a pastor guy sit next to me and asked if it was my first time here. I said yes and he took me right under his wing and introduced me to a bunch of his friends. We had an engaging conversation and I had the chance to meet so many people. It was a wonderful evening.

I got back to the hotel and tried to get into prayer/intercession mode. It has been a battle to pray lately. So many distractions and I ended up staying awake for most of the night. I had a light casual sleep but not much.

When I woke up, I was ready for the next session. I kept praying for God to help me make friends and against discomfort, isolation and loniliness. I was off to the next session to learn some really cool stuff about the myth's of ministry. I met some new people and engaged in some small talk. Than it was time to sit down. Oh, this is always murder when you don't know anyone. I sat down and got into the teaching. We prayed and I remember opening up my eyes and seeing the chair next to me disappear. It was just gone! Where did it go? I felt uncomfortable and alone.

We went off for lunch at the park. I wandered around beautiful downtown Victoria and eventually found it and met some people from the convention on the way. They were from Merrit. I was happy to meet some like minded individuals who were engaged in youth ministry. We had some good chit chat and made it to the park for lunch. I met other folks again and had all the small talk, chit chat you can ask for.

I ran into J who took the initiative to help me meet people. I get a kick out of J. He is one of the few people I know with very keen and sharp discernment. There is no hiding with this Man of God. There is no need to. He encouraged me to meet people and connect. He asked me if I had plans after lunch. I had none. There was a hockey game and no one I could share it with. Actually I don't follow hockey to much but enjoy the occasional play off game. So after lunch I wandered around Victoria and did what I didn't want to do and ended up in my hotel room. I tried to get into prayer mode but ended up getting a good rest.

The next session was about to beging so I left for it. I was a little bit down and still questioning whether I made the right decision to come or not. I met the couple from the park and we talked. The session was about to begin and I was so excited. We did some worship and than DM took the mike. He always does this thing where he blesses people. I get such a kick out of it because it is just awesome to see him invite missionaries on the way to the dark ends of the earth to recieve a little something for there journey. We'd give them money, prayers and a whole wack of love. It is just so much fun and thrilling. I just love to see the smiles and occasional tears of those missionaries as tons of people pour their money, hearts, prayers and love on those front liners. It it is so satisfying to bless those people.

So DM gets up and invites one girl to come up for the blessings fest. Than he mentions a youth pastor who works full time but gets paid for half time. "Gosh, I know exactly how that guy feels! I'd love to meet him," I thought. Than he mentions my name and calls me up! I couldn't stop crying. I wept like a baby! I wept harder than Miss Universe at the beauty pageant. I knew J was behind it. He is the only one who knew about it. I remember his righteous anger when he heard about it. Than DM told us to put out our hands. I did and I had no room for the $$$. It fell on the ground, people put it in my pocket. I got hugs, encouragement and all the rest. Gosh, I'm weeping as I type this. This is a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life.

I'll be honest with you! It has been such a tough and narrow road in the past couple of months. There was so much chaos and I never felt so alone. We leaders have burdens and situations and pressures that we can't really verbalize. It can get pretty tough. I reached a point earlier this year where I desperately needed help and had no one to turn to. J was the only one I could think of. Before P left, we went to J's office where I was weeping like a baby. P asked J to take good care of me while he was away. He was the only one who I can open up to. So he didn't just help but went the extra mile. How can I ever repay him? I went home that night weeping with joy! God hadn't forgotten my labor or hard work. He was still there. All the promises were true:

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."
Psalm 37:4-6
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Gal 6:9
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Heb 6:10

DM affirmed me. He said that they believed in me and cared for me and... He also sensed the loniliness I was experiencing. It was heart wretching.

Now I realize that God is really the one behind this work. He himself sees our good deeds and labor of love and He will personally reward us and supply
WOW! I wept all through the night and when I woke up in the morning, I couldn't stop. I hugged my new friends. There was real love!

I can now tell my ethnic friends that things are changing. This is a permanant mark on my life and soul. I will never forget this for the rest of my life. I am just speechless...

So much for going to a little weekend retreat of meeting cool people and learning cool stuff. It went way beyond that. I got more than I can ever expect or imagine! I can dream out loud. There is no limit to God or dreaming BIG for him.

There tears keep coming. I'm not alone. I'm making a difference. There is more out there...

Mr. Bilson