Introduction / History Centuries ago the Thai 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 what is now 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. Central Thai is the official language of the country.
Where are they located? Though most Central Thai speakers live in Bangkok and other locations in central Thailand, some have migrated to other parts of the world like the US, Canada, and several European countries. Others have migrated to Taiwan for employment.
What are their lives like? The Central Thai people in Taiwan are usually there as low-paid workers. They have to pay a large fee to those who get them there; that fee can sometimes take up everything they earn for a year or more. They work long, hard hours in hopes of making money to take home to Thailand. They have their own Thai association in Taiwan.
Among their favorite celebration is the Songkran Festival, which is the Thai New Year. Unlike the Chinese Taiwanese who celebrate the new year with firecrackers, the Central Thai celebrate with water! People dance and enjoy music while someone hoses them down with the welcome blessing of cool water.
The Central Thai are unusually polite, respectful, and hospitable people. Their children are brought up to respect those of a higher rank, with additional emphasis on independence and self-reliance. Age is highly respected in Central Tai society. Type of occupation, wealth, and type of residence can also gain respect for a Central Thai person.
What are their beliefs? Theravada Buddhism was introduced in Thailand in 329 B.C. Almost all of the Central Thai people are followers of Buddha ("the enlightened one") and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in pursuit of perfect peace, or nirvana. They believe they can acquire merit through feeding Buddhist monks, donating to temples, and attending Buddhist worship services. The Central Thai also attempt to incorporate their Buddhist beliefs with folk animism, a practice in which they seek help through the worship of spirits and objects.
What are their needs? Central Thai people often feel out of place in Taiwan. They have to deal with language and cultural differences, which can leave them feeling lonely and depressed. They need fellowships of people coming together for the comfort offered by Jesus Christ, the living water.
Prayer Points * Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Central Thai towards believers so that they will be receptive to the gospel.
* As it stands only a handful of the Central Thai people follow Christ. Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Central Thai people in Taiwan.
* The Bible, the JESUS Film, and audio recordings are all available in the Central Thai language. Pray that these will find their way into the homes of Thai people in Taiwan and provide them comfort and joy.