Tag Archives: Thailand

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Glorious Repentance

‘John came preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All the people of Jerusalem went out to him, confessing their sins…’ (MK 1: 4, 5)

I went to Thailand the second week of Advent in order to repent. Again. Strengthened by our 40-day fast, I told everyone I met en route that I needed to start the Church year with Christians like my friend Sue who have to fight for their faith. We Americans are way too well-fed. We are fat cats, bored and listless, who can barely paw off familiar rats.

On the other hand, Thais face the triple threat of entrenched sexual immorality, Buddhism’s deadening passivity, and the ‘saving face’ culture that smiles at a multitude of sins. These sins threaten the integrity of the Thai Church; pedophiles and adulterers hide in the folds of her lousy religious garments. Tolerating serious sin can render the Church here small, ineffective, and prone to destruction.

But my friend Sue knows better. No stranger to sin herself, she is a better friend of repentance. An older relative poisoned Sue for most of her childhood through sexual abuse. She coped by hating her womanhood while seeking comfort in women and in Thai Buddhism, a quest for nothingness. Dark and darker.

Jesus sought Sue out through a host of Spirit-filled messengers. He gave her the grace to repent and to live daily in the light of His truthful love. She now lives passionately to recover human treasure from the darkness of sin in Thailand.

These treasures are among the most glorious I know. Their witness of living fully and unreservedly for Jesus shames my divided heart and invites me to die again. They reveal my petty concerns and compromises then rouse me to repentance.

The saints who compose Sue’s healing army have to fight for freedom. They pay a huge price for uncovering a host of abuses (many church-related); they must repent over and over until lifelong patterns of adultery are overcome. In the process, they shatter a decidedly un-Christian culture of shame by going boldly to the throne of grace in order to confess and conquer veins of sin that have darkened family-lines for generations. The choice becomes clear: live for Jesus or the pagan gods. Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).

They are shining gems of Jesus’ redemption. Their way forward is nothing less than the Cross realized through confession and repentance to Jesus and to one another. The call must be true and direct, like the Baptist himself; anything less will not break the power of sin. Such repentance ushers in the Light that rises on these ones gloriously.

While flying over the region where Sue ministers near the Lao border, I noticed the landscape growing more brown and dry. The pockets of water became fewer. But the few that remained caught the Light with a brilliance that made me gasp. My heart leapt at the sight for it captured in full the truth of my Thai family–the Light shines in the darkness and overcomes that darkness (JN 1: 5) through a repentant people. I want to be among them. Sue’s band of prophetic healing saints helps me to repent. Again.

‘And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all humanity together shall see it.’ (IS 40: 5)

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Asian Pentecost: The Wind of War

‘I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.’ (Acts 20:27)
‘Sexual orientation is immutable to change.’ Taiwanese constitutional court on why this island nation became the first in Asia to initiate ‘gay’ marriage.

Our American team gathered with thirty wounded healer/leaders from around Asia on Pentecost Eve in Manila. These men and women from The Philippines, Thailand, China, and India had been battered by enslaving forces in their cultures: families fractured by poverty which rendered their young lives vulnerable to abuse, porn addiction, gender disorientation, and occultism. Their internal chaos is sweetly covered over by the ‘saving face’ culture of Asia where the most shameful thing is to admit one’s brokenness, especially as it relates to sexual dishonor. One learns to laugh instead of cry, to cover wounds rather than expose them. Many on our team had staggered into adulthood and into the loving arms of Jesus through brave churches, which provided for them Living Waters.

Our dear friends Benjie and Hazel Cruz initiated Living Waters in The Philippines (I first met Benjie in Bangkok Thailand in 2001 where he sought healing for his SSA and received a vision for healing his nation); little did he know that he and team would become the center for reaching a continent! We gathered together as a Gideon’s army and offered God our weakness, our weariness, and our inability to meet the needs of 70 Catholic and evangelical participants to come who would need deep healing and training to heal others. As Taiwan had just days before become the first Asian nation to initiate ‘gay marriage’, we realized that we faced another enslaving force—the western apostasy that ‘gay selves’ are genetic and unchangeable, the only solution for vulnerable persons.

Those broken before the God of Mercy know better. Fractured lives need transformation, not further deformation through conformity to fruitless individual rights. Jesus sets people free from the wounding at the core of disordered identities. We prayed that a new wind of Pentecost would empower us to wage war on deception by holding out the whole truth of the Gospel. As we received His love afresh, we renewed our pledge to be faithful to Jesus and to Asia.

God reminded us of Ezekiel 37 as we submitted our ‘dry bones’ to Him, that He might unite us to Himself in intimate love and teach us to submit to each other as to manifest all the spiritual gifts needed to bring healing to the land. And God said: ‘I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life…’ I prophesied as He commanded me, and the Spirit of Pentecost fell on us that Sunday as we worshipped and laid hands on one another.

By the time everyone arrived, the team was on fire to declare how the glory of God had surpassed the dishonor and disorientation of our lives; over half came out of homosexual backgrounds, and we could honestly testify (as each team member did) that mercy and order and honor, not shame, has become our ground and crown. Obviously, the Taiwanese government knows not what Jesus and His Church can accomplish in the saints.

After the team shared, we invited all to gather around the Cross, and Almighty mercy fell like fire on the shame-bound. Chains broke and eyes saw Jesus afresh. Those who look to the Lord are radiant; their faces never covered with shame’ (PS 34:5). Our glorious God is assembling a glorious, humble army in Asia; there, the wind of Pentecost empowers a people to declare war on human enslavement.

‘The breath of God entered them; they came to life, and stood up on their feet—a vast army.’ (EZ. 37: 9, 10)

Please join us in San Diego on June 16th and 17th for the sixth annual RHN Hope 2017 Conference as hundreds gather to celebrate how Jesus has set them free from gender identity distortions. Preview with us the first full-length documentary film ever made–Tranzfomed–on how Jesus restores the transgendered. Register here today!

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Magdalenes Rising

I spent Divine Mercy weekend in Ubon Thailand near the Laos border. Beneath a bamboo cross, an international team welcomed a diverse group of Thai men and women whose love for Jesus compelled them to offer Him their sexual brokenness. Ever faithful, He loosed a flood of mercy for persons raised in a Buddhist culture (only .4% claim Jesus as Lord) where sexual abuse and emotional neglect lay groundwork for many to become sexually compromised as adults.

As we ministered, I glimpsed the witness of Mary Magdalene, regarded by many as the Apostle of all Apostles. Culturally powerless, probably a prostitute, she was yet entrusted by Jesus with the message of the resurrection. Her exchange of false lovers and many demons for devotion to the One forged an intimate communion between Jesus and herself; He was all she had, an authority that could bear the most important message of all.

I witnessed men and women alike at our conference weeping at the foot of the cross over their sexual sins and those committed against them. I watched hope rise as Jesus encouraged them through our healing stories.

thai_divine_mercyI observed a young Thai pastor crying out for purity from his depths, wanting nothing to sully his care for the women he serves.  Another man, older and wizened by years of hard work in an outlying village, said very little but his face conveyed anguish as He listened to our histories of affliction and deliverance. His face shone as Jesus extended mercy to Him throughout our weekend together.

Most moving to me was a young woman—an ex-prostitute—who Jesus is making a deep well of mercy. She knows degradation better than most and the lure of big quick money. But she is committed to exchanging her lovers and demons for the only One who can love her without compromise. She knows she must stay near Him through the Living Waters community in order to live true. She weeps as much as she smiles; her eyes convey a heart united with Jesus for dear life.

Jesus is raising up all three (and many others) as witnesses of His life-transforming mercy. He died to put their sin and shame under His wounded feet; He lives to give them life. On Divine Mercy Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching on Mary Magdalene before my new friends in Ubon. We rejoiced together: ‘We have seen the Lord!’ (JN 20:18)

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Power of Crushed Seed

Power of the Crushed Seed

‘Unless a grain of wheat dies it remains alone. If it dies, it produces much fruit.’

I met Benjie Cruz in Bangkok Thailand, 2000, at our first conference there. He was Filipino, unstable in all his ways, and desired Jesus more than any of his false attachments, including homosexual addiction. My colleague Kin, under power of the Spirit, prophesied that Benjie would lead Filipinos like himself to the cross. I thought Kin was under the power of another spirit.

Next year, we did our first conference in the Philippines where Benjie served our team. First point of team business was confessing our sin. Though there only to transport us, Benjie exposed a spectacular array of sin with trembling and tears. Like most Asians, he suffered much shame for showing his dirty feet to the ‘big’ international leaders. But unlike most Asians, Benjie did it anyway for the joy set before Him. He wanted Jesus’ honor more than the praise of men. He was willing to be crushed for His Kingdom. I began to realize that Kin (and Jesus) were right.

The Philippines is unlike any other nation in Asia: it is the only one where Catholicism took root 400 years ago and where evangelicalism (in its diverse forms) took root under American occupation in the 20th century. In short, Filipinos tend to be open to Christian spirituality. What they are not open to is revealing criminally high rates of childhood sexual abuse that undergirds a host of adult sexual immoralities.

Benjie broke the shame barrier, over and over again, before counselors, pastors, and lay support groups. He did a yearlong internship with us at DSM. He began to integrate as a man. I came to Manila in 2005 to marry him and his beautiful bride Hasel; we have partnered ever since in Living Waters ministry through which he (and team) have built a national network of canals flowing from the cross.

Last week I led a retreat for his leaders where I discovered that after 15 years of ministry, Benjie and crew are partnering with the biggest Catholic community in the Philippines, the largest evangelical church in Manila with branches throughout the world, and with the most influential Protestant graduate school in the country. He is impacting his nation with Jesus’ power to make chaste the broken and unclean. First one must die. Benjie did, and now he is no longer alone. He is fruitful, ‘a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.’

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Breaking Chains, Healing Thais

‘Zeal for Your house will consume me.’ (JN 2:17)

Sue Hunt considered ordination as a Buddhist nun in the Ubon region of Thailand. An Englishwoman with a deep history of gender confusion, she sought relief in Buddhism from what seemed an incurable wound. She was ordained a Buddhist nun yet the idolatry implicit in both her spirituality and sexuality failed her; Sue’s search for truth remained. Sue turned to Jesus as she began to discover the entirely new Life He offered her–a track on which the very ‘living water’ of God could begin to transform the desert of her soul into a garden.

I began to partner with Sue in ministry in 1997; ever since she has plowed a straight furrow to release ‘living water’ wherever she goes. She has recently returned to Ubon to equip churches to release ‘living water’ for all who seek it. I write this from Thailand where I am partnering with her yet again to help clear God’s house from the dulling effect of idolatry and set that house ablaze with the burning love of Jesus.

The needs are legion: Thailand has always been a global forerunner of transgenderism, a land that gives unique place to ‘lady-boys’ who currently compose approximately 10-15% of the male population. These young men emulate the seductive arts of some Thai women who are groomed from an early age to prostitute themselves to wealthy foreigners. Children are often employed in this hideous exchange of flesh for funds. More typically, fornication and adultery flourishes amid adults who are inclined to sensualize their needs for love.

A toxic river runs through an otherwise beautiful, peaceful land and dehumanizes its citizens. Buddhism casts a ‘come what may’ fatalism—a lazy tolerance–over Thailand that perpetuates cycles of degradation. Nothing less than zeal for the One who came to clear out our ‘temples’ from the idols we make to man and mammon will do!

The Thai Church often responds with a thin, ineffectual resistance. She clothes herself in religious garments and manners but often fails to confess her own idolatry. The ‘saving face’ culture of honor in Asia makes it difficult for the Church in Thailand to address her own compromises. What we conceal God cannot heal. So we as a healing team exposed our own idols and the way that Jesus through His Church exchanged our rags for His riches.

Benjie shared powerfully how Jesus had filled in the gaps in his own gender identity formation; Hazel and Noelle exposed their idols and the stern, splendid task of learning to worship the One; as an ex-adulterer who had deeply wounded his wife, Mike wept as he described his wife’s devastation and the recovery of his marriage; Donna expressed shame over an affair with a married man but deeper gratitude for God’s forgiveness and healing; a Chinese brother praised God for granting him a holy birthright after growing up with a father and his prostitute; a Thai sister thanked Jesus for inviting her into deeper healing from childhood abuse.

All this healing through the Church! This is our gift to Thailand, the good news that Jesus’ Bride can represent Him well by reclaiming His human image from the many false images that drive and deride us. A mere appearance of religion won’t do; it will require nothing less than a people in whom Jesus cleared out idols and who now burn with gratitude for His faithful, furious love. Zeal for His house consumes us.

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