Introduction / History
Ancestors of the Sinhalese people migrated from India (Bengal, Orissa, and Gujarat) to the island of Sri Lanka as early as the 6th century B.C. where they were known as Singhalese. The Singhalese King, court, and people converted to Indian Buddhism in the 2nd century B.C. The Sinhalese are now the dominant ethnic group in Sri Lanka.
Where are they located?
The majority of Sinhalese people live in Sri Lanka, but others have moved to other countries to earn a living. Among the Sinhalese diaspora are those who live in Thailand, though most go to other countries. Few return to Sri Lanka.
What are their lives like?
The Sinhalese people fit in well with the Buddhist culture of Thailand, but they must learn a language that has very little in common with their own.
What are their beliefs?
Most of the Sinhalese belong to the Theravada branch of the Buddhist religion. Although the Sinhalese adhere to basic Buddhist teachings, they follow many Hindu beliefs as well. For example, Buddhism is unconcerned with the Hindu pantheon of millions of gods, but the Sinhalese worship Hindu deities whom they believe control daily life. Over time, the people may come to see a formerly popular god as inadequate, and they may change their allegiance to another god. In addition to gods, the Sinhalese believe in demons, whom they must appease through rituals conducted by exorcists.
What are their needs?
The Buddhist Sinhalese have great spiritual needs. Although a few converted to Christianity during the colonial period, most of them still have no real understanding of the gospel message. Fervent intercession, evangelistic materials, and increased missionary efforts are all greatly needed if the Sinhalese are to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send missionaries who can witness to the Sinhalese people in Thailand in culturally relevant ways.
Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Sinhalese so they will be receptive to the gospel.
Pray that God will use the few Sinhalese believers to share the love of Christ with their own people in Sri Lanka and in Thailand.
Pray for a strong church to emerge among the Sinhalese that will be defined by discipleship and obedience to the ways of Jesus.
Text source: Keith Carey