Thailand means ‘Land of the Free’ and Thai people are proud to boast of being the only country in South East Asia never to be colonised by the West. However, with social inequality, corruption and people trafficking hiding behind the famous Thai smile, many people feel hopeless. 

The last two years of pandemic have deepened the divide between rich and poor and there are currently many tensions in both national politics and local communities. Many people involved in the sex industry and bars in tourist cities like Pattaya saw their livelihoods taken away as borders closed in 2020. However many also experienced love and practical support from Christians. As the country slowly reopens to the rest of the world, there is an urgent need for more Christians to be salt and light to these communities. 

Bangkok, the capital, is a cosmopolitan city where people from many nations live side by side. Tolerance, diversity and a materialistic worldview are the norm here. However, outside of this mega-city, nearly 50% of the population live in rural areas where life moves slowly and traditional Thai values of family, community and Buddhism are much more evident.

Buddhism is the ‘national religion’ but there is religious freedom for all. However, with more than 95% of Thai people claiming to be Buddhist, its influence is seen in many aspects of daily life, from Buddhist chants before school to monks collecting alms on the streets and temple ceremonies for almost every occasion. 

Since 2020, a new generation of young, educated Bangkokians have been regularly seen protesting on the streets of the capital. They long to see a democratic government, free speech, equality for all. Sadly those who currently hold power are reluctant to listen and violent clashes are increasingly common. 

Many young people leave the rural areas to study in the big cities of Bangkok or Chiangmai, but sadly few return, leaving small local churches with ageing populations. There is a real need for humble, faithful believers to be willing to return on completing their education. 

 

We praise God for the growth of the church, particularly over the past 25 years. However, just 1% of 70 million Thai people are believers after more than 150 years of mission witness. As more gain access to the internet, false teaching and cults have become an increasing challenge. There is an urgent need for Thai church leaders to be equipped, the word of God to be taught and the gospel clearly proclaimed. 

Thailand is …

  • 88.7 % Buddhism 
  • 4.5 % Islam
  • 1.3 % Christianity
  • 0.1 % Hindu
  • 5.5% other

(source: joshuaproject.net)

There are approx 40,000 temples

Bangkok’s real name is: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit meaning, City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest

Most Buddhist Thai boys under 20 years serve a temporary period as monks for one rainy season.

Please pray for …

  • Thai pastors to be equipped and encouraged as they minister to small congregations. Pray for Langham Partnership, City to City, Pastor Training International and others working alongside them.
  • A new generation of young Christian leaders willing to leave large modern cities to serve in rural areas.
  • Thai Christian Students (IFES) as they challenge and support young graduates.
  • Vulnerable young women trafficked into the sex industry with the promise of wealth and security. Pray for organisations like Tamar Centre ministering to them. 
  • The faithful and clear witness of believing Thais, and for many more to turn to Christ.

There is an urgent need for Thai church leaders to be equipped, the word of God to be taught and the gospel clearly proclaimed.

Main photo: Shutterstock. Stats for graphic: Joshua Project

Ann McClean serves with her husband, Johnny, with the local church in Bangkok