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Thai in Malaysia


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Thai in Malaysia map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
30,000 Thai Buddhism 0.50 % 0.40 %   

Thai in Malaysia

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Introduction / History
The Thai live in northern Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand. Living in a tropical, mountainous region, they dwell along rivers or near roads. They speak a tonal language called Thai and are part of a larger people group known as the Tai.

Originally from China, the Thai emigrated south due to unending Chinese pressure, conquering many peoples and cultures along the way. By the tenth century, they were in southern Thailand in substantial numbers. Eventually, they moved as far south as Peninsular Malaysia.

The Malay culture has been strongly influenced by that of other peoples, including the Thai. The city of Bangkok has played a major role in Peninsular Malaysia since the thirteenth century, and mutual respect exists between Thailand and Malaysia. Originally, the rivers were the means for political and diplomatic relations. Today, however, highways and railways maintain trade and communication between the two nations.

What are their lives like?
Wet-rice agriculture and cattle production dominate Thai economy. The people are also skilled gardeners, famous for their large fruit plantations. In addition, they now have large rubber plantations. Some Thai work in tin mines, while others are good fishermen, delivering a quota of salted fish for export to Singapore. In the north, rubber and coconuts are the most important products.

Traditionally, Thai social structure consisted of a somewhat feudal organization with distinct class divisions between nobility and commoners. Although the head of a village was a commoner, he was required to report to a nobleman who was the overseer of a district. Weakness of power on the part of the overseer led to the breakdown of this system. The nobility has now been replaced by appointed and elected officials subject to a parliament, but class distinctions are still a notable part of Thai society.

The Thai are mainly a rural people, living in villages rather than towns. Houses are usually built on stilts four to eight feet high and have thatched roofs. The wealthier Thai, however, have homes with plank floors and tile roofs. The typical household consists of a husband, his wife, and their children.

In general, the Thai are very polite, respectful, and hospitable. Children are taught from a young age to accept a code of social behavior based on respect for those of higher rank. Independence and self-reliance are also emphasized. Traditionally, marriages have been arranged by the parents.

The Thai, especially in northeastern Peninsular Malaysia, enjoy participating in popular puppet performances. Thai instruments, which include drums and small bell cymbals, are used, and Hindu-based prayers are offered to the gods in the Thai language. The actual play, however, is in the more common Malay language.

What are their beliefs?
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam. Despite the claim of religious freedom, there is severe pressure for radical Islamic reforms and the formation of an Islamic state. There are also discriminatory laws and actions against all non-Muslims. A relatively small number of Thai have given in to such pressures and have converted to Islam. The majority, however, have remained Theravada Buddhists. In addition, some remnants of their ethnic religion can still be found, such as their constant attention to guardian spirits and their various ceremonies for good harvests or good weather.

What are their needs?
Although there are many Christian resources in the Thai language, it is illegal to witness to Muslims in Malaysia. Every effort is made to prevent the conversion of the small ethnic communities to Christianity. There is also much discrimination and bureaucratic obstruction. Worship services in private homes are strongly discouraged, and churches are closed on the weakest of pretexts. Governmental restrictions make it extremely difficult for missionaries to work in traditional ways. Urgent prayer is needed for the spiritual climate of Malaysia to be reached with the light of the Gospel.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send Christians who will witness with their lives to the Thai of Malaysia.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to give creative ideas for evangelism to missions agencies focusing on the Thai.
* Pray for the Lord to use the Jesus film to soften the hearts of the Thai towards the Gospel message.
* Pray that God will give Thai believers courage to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong Thai church for the glory of His name!

View Thai in all countries.

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Country: Malaysia
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
Persecution Rank:46 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Thai
People Name General: Thai
Alternate People Names:
Bangkok ThaiCentral Tai
Khon TaiLao Song
SiameseSiamese Thai
Tai NoiThai Khom
Thai KlangThai Song
ROP3 Code: 101940
Joshua Project People ID: 11277
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 30,000
Population all Countries: 23,586,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Thai
People Name General: Thai
Ethnic Code: MSY49d
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Thai (30,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): tha    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism90.00 % 
Christianity0.50 %(Evangelical: 0.40 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam6.00 % 
Non-Religious3.50 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent5.00 %
Protestant30.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian5.00 %
Roman Catholic60.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1834-1967
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1883-2020
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament (FCBH)
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project ...
Film / VideoCome to Me
Film / VideoCreation to Christ
Film / VideoFathers Love Letter
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Thai
Film / VideoMagdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / VideoMy Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / VideoStory of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / VideoThe Hope Video
Film / VideoThe Prophets' Story
GeneralFour Spiritual Laws
GeneralGot Questions Ministry
Mobile AppDownload Audio Bible app as APK File fro ...
Mobile AppDownload Audio Bible app from Google Pla ...
Text / Printed MatterBible: Biblica Thai
Text / Printed MatterBible: Holy Bible
Text / Printed MatterBible: Thai Standard Version Revision
Text / Printed MatterBible: พระคัมภีร์ภ ...
Text / Printed MatterOneHope resources for children and youth
Text / Printed MatterOnline Bible text (Scripture Earth)
Text / Printed MatterWorld Missionary Press Booklets
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Thai in Malaysia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Thai     Asia, Southeast    
      Thai Malaysia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Thai in Malaysia          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Thai  
    All Religions                              

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