Transformation Paradigm #5: Transformation must be tangible and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty. (From Transformation, Ed Silvoso 2006)
Corruption and Systemic Poverty
Thailand is a nation known for corruption on every level. Bribery and kickbacks are a fact of life and, for many people, the only way to get anything done. However, this situation is not irreversible, however, as demonstrated by the transformational attitudes of the people of Phuket. The changes that are happening there are evidence that God is moving to uproot corruption Thailand and eliminate systemic poverty.
A New Vision
Led by Pastor Brian Burton from the UK, the Phuket Christian Centre (PCC) has been the catalyst for many great works of God in Phuket, on the Thai mainland, and even in neighboring Burma. Following the Tsunami in 2004, PCC was instrumental in a variety of projects to help the victim recover and rebuild. Pastor Burton was personally honored by the King of Thailand for his work that year. However, despite the favor the received with local and national leaders, his congregation remained very small. In fact after 20 years of work in the country Pr. Brian’s congregation numbered only forty-six members—until they embraced the Five Pivotal Paradigms of Nation Transformation and began practicing Prayer Evangelism. In the short time since that process began in later 2008, explosive transformational growth has taken place. The congregation has grown to over 4000 and they have been instrumental to see the cycle of systemic poverty broken as corruption is being uprooted in Thailand.
Central to the effectiveness of this movement against corruption has been the actions of Mayor Paiboon Upatising of Phuket. Upon visiting PCC and hearing Pastor Brian speak, the mayor became convicted. He left the church in the middle of the service and immediately took action to redirect a $1 million bribe so that it was returned to help the poor in the community. He then began taking major steps to eliminate the giving and taking of bribes within his government, even appointing Pastor Brian to be his Personal Advisor on Righteousness.
A particular project that was troubling the mayor was the construction of a local provincial hospital, which had been held up indefinitely due to corrupt governmental practices. Mayor Paiboon set up a new fund for government officials to return bribe money they had received, which would then be channeled into a fund to help eliminate systemic poverty in the area. The builder of the hospital was the first to respond, returning $500k in bribe money, and before long, over USD $7 million in bribes had been returned.
In less than three year $7 million USD in bribes had been returned
Persecution Becomes a Blessing
In an example of God turning to good that which was meant for evil, fraudulent corruption charges against the mayor led to an investigation of his practices shortly thereafter. Not only was he cleared of the charges, but federal authorities discovered the rules he had set in place to end the giving and taking of bribes in Phuket, which is something they had not seen anywhere else, and the $7 million in returned bribe money. Within the year the Phuket Administration was recognized by the national government of Thailand as the best-run state in the nation (out of 76).
Change in Thailand is continuing to grow today thanks to the application of transformation principles, beginning in Phuket. The elimination of corruption in government is key to seeing transformation in cities and nations.
Don't Despise Small Beginnings
It should be remembered that this all began with a congregation of forty-six Christians, living in a country that is officially 94% Buddhist and 6% Muslim. By applying tranformational principles and adopting the lifestyle of prayer evangelism, we can have a major transformational impact on the world around.
Explore 10 Steps in the Transformation Journey, a resource based upon Brian Burton's journey of embracing the transformation vision and imparting that to his congregation and beyond.
Read more about what God is doing in Thailand!
Transformation in Phuket, Thailand By Brian Burton from 12/3/2009
God Moves In Thailand By Brian Burton from 3/24/2010
Returned Bribes Fund Keeps Growing! By Burton from 12/4/2009