Transformation and explosive church growth in Thailand
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 neighbouring Myanmar. Following the Tsunami in 2004, PCC was instrumental in a variety of projects to help the victims recover and rebuild. Pastor Burton was personally honored by the King of Thailand for his work that year.
However, despite the favour the received with local and national leaders, his congregation remained very small. PCC was a church plant and after 20 years of work in the country, Brian’s congregation numbered only 46 members—until they embraced the principles of transformation and began practicing prayer evangelism. Since that process began in late 2008, explosive growth has taken place. After applying teaching about transformation, the congregation grew from 46 people to many thousands in 3 provinces. Their building only holds 140 people so the model is one of a distributed small group church.
They have been instrumental to see the cycle of systemic poverty broken as corruption is exposed. Central to the effectiveness of this movement against corruption has been the actions of the mayor of Phuket. Upon visiting PCC and hearing 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 administration, even appointing Brian to be his Personal Advisor.
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 practices. The mayor 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.
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 and the $7M fund. It was something they had not seen anywhere else. Within a year, the Phuket administration was recognized by the national government of Thailand as the best-run state in the nation (out of 76).
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