Buddhists of Southern Thailand
There has been less outreach to the Southern Thai people than those of other Thai regions. Our project seeks to take the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to the Buddhists in southern Thailand.
AFM began ministering to the Southern Thai people in 2022.
A unified Thai kingdom was established in the 14th century and was known as Siam until 1939, when it became the constitutional monarchy of Thailand. This land of free enterprise achieved steady growth primarily due to industrial and agriculture exports until flooding crippled the manufacturing sector in 2011. Yet less than 1 percent of the labor force is unemployed, even with an influx of two and a half million migrant workers from neighboring countries. The tropical climate of Thailand is divided between the warm rainy season stretching from mid-May to September and the dry, cool weather arriving in November through mid-March. In the general area of our project, the capital city of Bangkok is a major regional force in finance and business, an international hub for transport and health care, and a regional center for the arts.
h4.About the People
Southern Thailand, located on the Malay Peninsula and with an area of around 27,000 square miles, is a little larger than West Virginia. The western part has steep coasts, while river plains dominate the east side. It is a growing region with a population of more than 9 million. With a more tropical climate, it is home to many of Thailand’s pristine beaches and resorts. This narrow landmass is also home to many fishing communities.
The primary language is Southern Thai. The culture mixes strong Indian influences, Chinese traditions, and elements that are uniquely Thai. With its diverse geography, friendly people, and stunning scenery, Thailand has earned the name “Land of Smiles.”
Roughly two-thirds of Thailand’s population is composed of Thai ethnic groups, and much of Thailand’s culture comes from the ethnic Thai people. The remaining one-third of the population consists primarily of Chinese and other minorities, including Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong, and Mien. One of the most important influences on Thai culture has been Buddhism. Many of the traditions and beliefs of the people in Thailand stem directly from Buddhist principles. Hinduism has also made significant contributions to Thai culture, and one can see the close links between Thailand and India can be seen in art, literature and many Thai customs. The cultures of nearby Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and China have also significantly impacted the forming of traditions in Thailand, as have indigenous belief systems such as animism.
Religion also profoundly influences Thai culture. With around 90 percent of the country being Theraveda Buddhist, Buddhism’s belief system and values play a huge role in daily life. The remaining roughly 10 percent of the population is Muslim, with the majority of these living in Southern Thailand. The most important values to Thai people include respect, self-control, and a non-confrontational attitude. Losing face by showing anger is a source of great shame. No matter how frustrated or upset a person might feel, he or she will always strive to maintain a positive and friendly attitude, a sense of humor, and a smile.
Respect for elders and those in higher social positions is also important. Children are expected to respect their parents and teachers. The young must show deference to the elderly. Those with highly prestigious social positions, such as doctors, influential public figures, and monks, are highly revered.
h4.About the Project
Less than one percent of Thailand’s population is Christian. However, most of these live north of Bangkok. There has been less outreach to the Southern Thai people. Our project seeks to take the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to the Buddhists in southern Thailand.
Population: 9 million
Religion: Buddhism, Islam
Serving this Project
Brian & Duang Wilson
Volunteer Missionary Candidates since 2019