Introduction / History
The Central Thai, call themselves the Khon Thai, meaning "the free people". 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 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 it maintains social control. The Central Thai speak Thai, the official language of the country. Some live outside of Thailand, including Myanmar.
Where are they located?
The vast majority of the Central Thai people live in Thailand where they are the dominant people, but some have migrated elsewhere. The Thai diaspora is much more likely to go to other parts of the world than Myanmar, but a few live there.
What are their lives like?
There is very little information about the Central Thai people in Myanmar. However, they have retained their cultural values no matter where they live in Southeast Asia.
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. The Central Thai seldom use physical punishment to discipline children.
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. Rural farmers rank below artisans, merchants, and city government officials; clergy form a separate group. Families are the core of Thai society. In rural areas, the immediate family usually lives, eats, and farms together. A young married couple may live with the bride's family until they can establish their own home.
The Central Thai are distinguished by a near absence of labor division by gender. Both men and women plow, till, fish, cook, tend babies, clean house, and wash clothes. Rice is the major economic crop, providing both a food staple and a cash crop.
What are their beliefs?
"Mai ben rai" is heard often 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.
Theravada Buddhism was introduced in Thailand in 329 B.C. Almost all of the Thai 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 monks, donating to temples, and attending worship services.
Traditionally, young Thai men enter a Buddhist monastery for three months to study Buddhism. The Central Thai 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?
The Central Thai people in Myanmar need to find a way to hear that Jesus Christ offers salvation and eternal life to people from all nations.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to send Christian teachers and medical teams to work among the Central Thai people in Thailand and Myanmar.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Central Thai people in Myanmar towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Central Thai people throughout Southeast Asia.
Text source: Keith Carey