Thailand is a lush, tropical country in southeast Asia, known for its helpful, friendly people; its rich, traditional culture; and, of course, its deliciously spicy dishes. Known as “The Land of Smiles,” Thailand is quickly becoming more prominent in 21st-century world news.
However, beneath its bright and colorful exterior, Thailand is in desperate need of one thing: The Gospel.
Thailand is a country steeped in Buddhism; over 95% of Thais claim to be Buddhist. Of the other 5%, 4% are Muslims, which leave Christianity to less than 1% of the population. Of this percentage of Christians, only a fraction are true believers. Thailand is a country which is about the size of Texas. There are thousands of Baptist churches in Texas. Thailand, however, has about twenty Baptist churches of like faith and practice.
It is staggering to see the lack of missionaries on this open field. However, there are a couple of reasons why Thailand is such a difficult field to minister in.
First, the Thai language has forty-four consonants, twenty-six vowels, five vowel tones and two vowel lengths. We know that, in English, some words that sound the same have different spellings. In Thai, the opposite is true. A word with the same “spelling” can have a completely different meaning if spoken incorrectly. Besides this, Thai has no spaces or punctuation marks; instead, they are indicated by “signal words” in the script. Considering that the language barrier is often the most difficult obstacle for a missionary to overcome, one can see why it is difficult for a missionary to adapt to a field like Thailand.
Second, although the Thai people are very loving and friendly, the culture in which they are raised causes another obstacle. Because of their nature, they are willing and ready to agree with you. Because of their religion, accepting another god is permissible. This leads to some people “converting” without truly getting saved. On the other hand, the Thai people are also very proud of their culture. Thailand is the only Asian country never to be conquered by a western power. Being Thai is synonymous with being Buddhist; therefore, a “conversion” is seen as an act of betrayal.
It is because of this last factor, especially, that relationship-based evangelism is vital in Thailand. Thailand is a land open to missionaries and abounding with opportunities to share the gospel; we just need laborers! Here are some avenues that we use to reach the Thai people:
One successful avenue has been teaching English. This avenue allows us to build relationships with the Thais, and provide a platform for us to later invite them to church, start a Bible study, or share the gospel. Thailand is rich in opportunities to teach English, at practically any age level. You do not have to have a degree; if you speak English, you can teach it.
Other great opportunities include family camps, English camps, sports camps and Vacation Bible Clubs, just to name a few. The possibilities are only limited by manpower and lack of new ideas. Of course, all these programs are the means to an end: to be the hands and feet of Christ, carrying His message to the uttermost and making disciples of all people. We are to build Christ’s church by winning souls, one at a time.
In reply to the question, “How can I be a better missionary to the Thai people?” and indigenous Thai missionary said:
“Love them. Love God, first, and then, show God’s love to them. Be real. They will see the difference.”
The fact is, the Thai people will not see Jesus until they see Jesus in us. Thailand is a dark land, in need of the light of the gospel. The light that we, who are the children of light, carry.
Thailand is an open country surrounded by the spiritually dark giants of India and China. If Thailand is won for Christ, just think of all the possibilities!
Thailand is a field, needing to be sowed, promising a great harvest.
Thailand needs Jesus.
Will you help us to shine the light of Christ in this dark country?