Introduction / History Centuries ago the Central Thai people lived north of Yangtzekiang in China. Relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them southward. They conquered many peoples and cultures as they sought a new homeland, and by the 10th century they had settled in Central Thailand. A bloodless revolution in 1932, led by Westernized intellectuals, instituted a democratic constitutional monarchy. However, the country has suffered numerous governmental upheavals since then. Today, Buddhism is the central and unifying force in Thai society and even maintains social control. The Central Thai speak Thai, the official language of Thailand.
The Central Thai are unusually polite, respectful, and hospitable people. Age is highly respected in Central Thai society. Type of occupation, wealth, and place and type of residence follow age in terms of respect and rank.
Where are they located? Most Thai people live in urban centers like Paris.
What are their lives like? The Thai are seldom in France as political refugees, so they are expected to work for a certain amount of time, and then promptly return to Thailand. According to some of their Lao neighbors, Thai people sometimes remain in Paris and evade French immigration officials. There are a small number of Thai dissidents who live in France after showing defiance to the government and the Thai king.
What are their beliefs? Thai people, even those in Paris, support the Buddhist religion without question. To be Thai is to be Buddhist, even for those who live outside the country.
"Mai ben rai" is often heard on the lips of Central Thai Buddhists. Roughly translated it means "That's not an issue." The phrase expresses a deeply held Thai belief that things are not worth getting agitated over because that would cause one to leave the "middle path" of calmness as taught in Buddhism. "Mai ben rai" is used every day to excuse a friend's tardiness, cover up a hurt feeling, or to display a lack of interest in discovering spiritual truth.
What are their needs? France is a socially cold environment for outsiders. Thai Buddhists need friends who will tell them about Christ. There are believers from OMF International who are reaching the Thai diaspora in Europe through friendship evangelism.
Prayer Points * Pray God would awaken the hearts of Central Thai Buddhists to embrace the unshakeable Kingdom of God.
* Ask for a significant turning of entire Thai families in France to Jesus.
* Pray that strong churches will grow in every location where Central Thai Buddhists live.
* Pray for a disciple-making movement to flourish among Thai people in France.