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Thai, Southern in Malaysia

Thai, Southern

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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
4,200 Thai, Southern Buddhism 0.00 % 0.00 % No   

Thai, Southern in Malaysia

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Introduction / History
The Southern Tai live in about fourteen different provinces in southern Thailand. They usually live on the beaches and in the marshy swamplands, which gradually reach the foothills of jungle-covered mountains and into lush valleys. Although Thai is the official language of the country, most Southern Tai speak their tonal language, Dambro, at home.

Centuries ago, the Southern Tai lived in China. However, relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them to move southward. They conquered many peoples and cultures as they sought a new homeland.

By the tenth century, they were in southern Thailand in substantial numbers, mixing with the Mon-Khmer and Negritos of the land. A bloodless revolution in 1932, led by Westernized intellectuals, instituted a democratic constitutional monarchy. Since then, Thailand has had many governmental changes and military upheavals.

What are their lives like?
The Southern Tai are extremely polite, respectful, and hospitable. Their children are brought up to respect those of a higher rank and to become self-reliant individuals. Age is highly respected in Southern Tai society. Type of occupation, wealth, and place and type of residence follow age in terms of respect and rank. Rural farmers rank below craftsmen, merchants, and city government officials, and clergy are a separate group.

Families are the core of Southern Tai society. In rural areas, the entire immediate family lives together with mutual respect for each other. A young married couple may live with the wife's family until they can establish their own home.

Wet-rice farming and cattle production dominate the agricultural economy. The Southern Tai are also skilled gardeners, famous for their large fruit plantations. Rubber and coconuts are the most important products in the far south. The marshes are rich in fish, and Southern Tai fishermen deliver a quota of salted fish for export to Singapore. Tin mining is another source of revenue.

The wealthier Southern Tai live in sturdy, wood-paneled homes that are raised off the ground and have planked floors and tile roofs. Those with less income typically live in bamboo framed houses with thatched roofs and dirt floors. Hepatitis and malaria are severe problem in rural areas.

What are their beliefs?
More than half of the Southern Tai are firm believers in Theravada (orthodox) Buddhism, which was introduced into Thailand in 329 B.C. Tai Buddhists devoutly follow the principles of Buddha (the "enlightened one") and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining "merit" in their present lives. Ultimately, they are in pursuit of nirvana, or perfect peace. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and frequently worshiping in the temples. They also follow the old tradition that a man should enter a Buddhist monastery for three months to study Buddhism.

The large Sunni Muslim influence comes from Malaysia. Southern Tai Muslims believe wholeheartedly in semangat, a "soul substance" found in everything from inanimate objects and animals to human beings. They believe that the loss of semangat results in poor crops, poverty, and illness. They believe that evil spirits cause illness, so every village has a bomo, which is a man of high moral character who puts himself into trances to exorcise the evil spirits and thus heal the sick person.

For the Southern Tai, Buddhism and Islam are both combined with folk animism, a practice in which they seek help through the worship of supernatural spirits and objects.

What are their needs?
Although several missions agencies have labored among the Southern Tai, response has been low. Few of the Southern Tai are Christians and the majority have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel.

Prayer Points
* Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Southern Tai.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number Southern Tai Christians.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Southern Tai towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a holy and growing Southern Tai church for the glory of His name!
* Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.

Note: Identity trumps speech for the Thai groups. Even though they speak a different - although related - language, they completely understand and self-identify as Thai rather than as Southern Thai. They function in standard Thai in school, on the web and in TV and national news and politics. There are a number who speak Northern Thai in addition to those in other countries who also speak it but who do not identify as Thai.

View Thai, Southern in all countries.

Prayer Links
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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, Southern
People Name General: Thai, Southern
Alternate People Names:
DambroPak Tai
Pak ThaiPaktay
Southern TaiSouthern Thai
Takbai ThaiThai Malay
ROP3 Code: 109517
Joshua Project People ID: 15067
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 4,200
Population all Countries: 5,215,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Thai
People Name General: Thai, Southern
Ethnic Code: MSY49z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Thai, Southern (4,200 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): sou    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism100.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(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
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 2000
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
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 RecordingsStory of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project ...
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Thai, Southern
Film / VideoThe Dream
Film / VideoThe Prodigal Son
Text / Printed MatterOnline Bible text (Scripture Earth)
Ministry Activity
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Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Thai, Southern in Malaysia

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

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