Introduction / History Most ethnographic research on Thailand lists the Tak Bai Thai as part of the Southern Thai language group, but their vernacular is very different. It has been described as 'a rather distinct and ancient Tai dialect, which developed differently from most of the modern Tai dialects spoken in Thailand today. Tak Bai Thai is very different from the Southern Thai language; it is more a mixture of northern and central Thai dialects but articulated in the fast manner as the Southern Thai usually speak. Some words are exactly the same as the Thai speak in the Sukkothai area [in north-central Thailand].'
In fact, linguist Marvin Brown has found that the Tak Bai Thai language is similar to that spoken by people in Sukkothai in AD 1250. It is not beyond the realm of possibility, therefore, that the Tak Bai Thai people along today's Thailand-Malaysia border are the descendants resulting from an interesting historical incident. Joachim Schliesinger says that 'when King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukkothai extended the power of his kingdom deep into the Malay peninsula in the late thirteenth century, he resettled thousands of Thai people from the Sukkothai region to the south, most probably to strengthen his foothold in this far corner of the kingdom. They brought with them Buddhism and built many Buddhist temples in and around Pron, establishing Buddhism in the southern areas of the Malay peninsulas before Islam was introduced.'
Where are they located? In Thailand, Tak Bai Thai inhabit the three provinces nearest the Thai-Malay border: Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. The geographical center of the Tak Bai Thai people is the district that bears their name, Tak Bai, in Narathiwat Province. Tak Bai is just a mile or two from the Malaysian border. Additional communities of Tak Bai Thai people are in Peninsula Malaysia. 'When Kelantan came under British colonial rule in 1909, and the borders of Malaysia were fixed, the Tak Bai Thai were thus suddenly divided. Several thousand Tak Bai Thai live still across the border in Kelantan state of Malaysia who have family members in and around Tak Bai District in Thailand.
What are their lives like? The Buddhist Tak Bai Thai live alongside Southern Thai and Pattani Muslims. The groups are tolerant of each other, though they keep their distance and have little close contact. Conflicts sometimes arise over land use. The Tak Bai Thai own almost all the land in the areas where they live, while the Muslims have almost none. This has led to tensions as the Muslims sometimes encroach illegally onto the Tak Bai Thai land, building houses and huts without permission.
What are their beliefs? More than 700 years after they arrived in the area, the Tak Bai Thai people are still zealous Buddhists. Having to fight off the advances of Islam has made them even stronger in their faith and even more resistant to change. Few have ever heard of Jesus Christ, and a mere handful have put their trust in him.
What are their needs? Themost critical need of Tak Bai Thai people in Malasia is to understand the truth of the loving God who has made provision for them to become His children, and has paid the full payment of the penalty for their sins. Who will pay the price to tell them?
Prayer Points * Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Tak Bai Thai people in Malaysia for Jesus and that in God’s sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow Him.
* Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended Tak Bai Thai families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
* Pray for the spiritual lives of the Tak Bai Thai people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
* Pray for the lives and culture of the Tak Bai Thai people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.