God moves in Thailand
I, Brian Burton, pastor in Thailand. I don't look Thai. When I first went to Thailand with Margaret, we went there with two suitcases. That was it. We were told we would never be able to start a church. I was told I would never be able to preach in Thai. I preach in Thai. We were told everything that would want to make us leave. In fact, someone walked up to us and told us, “I hate you. Leave Thailand.” They worked for us at the time! But I live by one principle. Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I want to thank Ed and Ruth [Silvoso] for everything they have done for me, for Margaret and for the Church in Phuket. Everything I am sharing of what God has done is a result of their input. It has changed our lives.
We hold church in a nightclub. When I told my church that we were going to move from our cozy little building to this place with a capacity for 1000, they all shouted together, “Paradigm 4! Let's take the keys of the kingdom to the gates of hell!” So I said, “Alright. Don't blame me. You said it.”
And so we moved into [the nightclub known in the town as] “The Planet.” We never know how many we are going to get in church on Sunday because “church” is happening every day of the week. A lot of our people work in hotels, and so often have to work on Sunday. But God is moving in incredible ways.
Most of our church gathers in different locations first of all within the city, but lately we have seen our congregation spread out across a region of about 200 miles. We are touching a region where before we were only touching a few kilometers within a city.
We planted a church in a town just a year ago that has never ever had a christian church in the history of the town. It is pastored by a young lady of our congregation. She was working in the office two years ago. Now, she pastors three churches simply because she has learned how to operate prayer evangelism effectively.
We also pastor on different islands. We are not just seeing ones and twos getting saved. On one island, we saw a whole village came to Christ on a single day. This was the second day we went in there. There was an outbreak of chicken pox and we took a medical team in to help. They asked us, “Why are you helping us?” So we said, “Because we serve someone who loves you.” “Well, who is this person?” So we explained to them about Jesus, and they said, “We want to know Him.” Each person said that individually, and so we brought them all together and led them to Jesus.
That may seem like a one-time occasion, but that has happened again already two times this year! God is doing incredible things.
We have also been working in Burma. After the recent typhoon, when the BBC was announcing that no aid was getting into Burma, our Burmese pastor was leading a team that was rebuilding houses that had been destroyed. These houses were being built right under the nose of the Burmese government that were refusing to let it happen. But when the devil comes and stares you in the face, we stand our ground and we say, “Alright, where do want to take the punch!” The result was that when the police came, we ended up with a church in the police station!
What you need to grasp is that what I am sharing with you is that all this has only happened in the last two years. If you take hold of the principles of prayer evangelism and transformation and you take them with all of your heart and you apply them, God will do incredible things.
We had a Filipino man named Glen come with us to the conference in Argentina last year (2008). The Lord challenged him to reach out to the Filipinos on the island of Phuket - there are about 600 Filipinos that live and work on the island. When we got back, I met with him and the Lord moved upon me to anoint him to be the pastor of the Filipinos on Phuket. Shortly after that, we held a sports event for all the Filipinos. And 300 Filipinos came! During that sports fest, we had the privilege to pray with all 300, and today they all regard Glen as their spiritual father. He went from a cell group of 8 Filipinos to now pastoring 300. That has happened this year.
The mayor of Phuket attends our church regularly with his family. I am able to pray with him in his office. I am able to support and encourage him and I have told him that he is the pastor of the city. And before he gets too caught up in that, I say, “And I am your pastor.” But I help to encourage him to father the whole province with Godly principles. It is not easy for him to do that. In a climate where bribes are accepted on a daily basis, whether it has to do with business relationships or government permissions, bribes are given and bribes are received. And the Mayor came to the point where he was challenged by my preaching to take a stand against corruption.
God laid on my heart to do some teaching on corruption in government. And unbeknownst to me, the “ice cream lady” that some of you have seen on the Thailand Transformation~] video had invited him to church! So as I got up and gave some testimonies - they were good - and I told a joke - and it was a good joke - and when I got onto the subject of corruption, there opened the door and in walked the Mayor. I thought to myself, Why wasn't he there to listen to the testimonies and to hear the joke? Why does he walk in now? And I had this conversation with God. (You know God has a good way reminding you of foundational truths.) I said, “You know this man has the power to revoke my visa. Surely you don't want me to [deliver this message].” And the Lord said to me, “You know, I could revoke your next breath!” “OK, Lord,” [I said], “You win.”
So I started to preach. When he came in, he was smiling, but as I continued to speak more and more and more, his face turned, and I got the impression that he was not enjoying what he was hearing. He started to look down at his shoes, and I thought, Either he does not like me or his shoes are so wonderful he can't take his eyes off them. He got up and he walked out. And I felt, Wow. This is it. I've really blown it. And I said to Margaret when I got home, “Pack the bags. I think we've got to leave.” (You know, it's one thing to minister in your own nation, but when you minister in another country, and you depend upon a visa, how you act can mean whether you are allowed to stay there or not.)
A few days later, He called me up and he asked me to go to lunch with him. In the crowded restaurant where everyone knew him and not me, everyone wondered, What's he doing with the white guy? He told that while he was listening to me preach he had been convicted about the corruption that was permeating nearly every sector of the marketplace and bringing even more curse upon the region. He wanted to begin to make a difference. One of the hotbeds of corruption was the local hospital construction project.
And in the restaurant, he said to me, “Can you pray for me?” I said, “Can I lay hands on you?” He said, “Whatever it takes. I want to receive Jesus to be my Savior.” So in front of everyone, I laid my hands on him. (In Thailand, you don't lay your hands on someone's head, especially if they have a position higher than you.) But I laid my hands on him and I led him to Jesus. I prayed God's blessing on him
A week later he asked me to be his Advisor on Righteousness.
Just a few weeks ago, the Mayor said, “Do you know how much in returned bribes has come in for the building of that hospital? $7 million dollars!”
That didn't just happen. The Mayor had to make a choice, and he chose Jesus.
God is doing some incredible things in our midst!
…This is the favor of God. God is changing our city and he is changing the area around because transformation must become a lifestyle. For many years we've seen the churches doing their own thing, but recently we've seen the churches come together. We brought 7 Phuket pastors to this conference (International Conference on Nation Transformation, Hawaii 2009). And it's not just unity. It's not a group of people in a room. It's a people united by one purpose. And you know what that purpose is? Our unity is based upon four words and we run together with that.
Those four words are, “My City, God's City”.
And it is as simple as that.
In an email dated Nov. 20, 2009, Brian wrote:
Something happened yesterday to make us all rejoice and believe for change in the entire nation.
Since my return I have been praying very much for Mayor Paiboon. Last night he called me with some amazing news.
He had been summoned to Bangkok again by the government (Remember this is just a month after he was cleared of corruption charges). This time however, it was to be told that he was being given an award. The Phuket Administration has been awarded the No. 1 award as the best run state in the nation (76 states in all), in particular in its stand against corruption and the elimination of corrupt practices amongst government officials. What an amazing turn of events... Only God can do this.
Apparently, such was the intensity of the investigation into his alleged bribery... The federal authorities discovered all about the rules he had set in place to end the giving and taking of bribes... Something that they have not seen anywhere else. Then they learned about the 7 million (USD) repaid from the local hospital.
[The corruption charges that] were meant to bring him down has actually exalted him. It has put Phuket clearly at the top of the pile in the fight against corruption. Praise the Lord.
I trust that this encourages you to believe... All things are possible.
Brian & Maragaret Burton