Thai, Southern in Thailand

Thai, Southern
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Mama Belle and the kids - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Thai, Southern
Country: Thailand
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 5,220,000
World Population: 5,224,200
Primary Language: Thai, Southern
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.90 %
Evangelicals: 0.25 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Thai
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Southern Thai people live in a cultural ecotone where Islam and Malay cultures are to their south, and Thai languages and Buddhism are to their north. Southern Thai people speak a Thai language.

The Southern Thai 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. They are very prevalent in southern Thailand, but their homeland is on the Malay Peninsula. Thailand shares this region with Malaysia, and some Southern Thai are on the Malaysian side of the border.

What Are Their Lives Like?

They live in a land where Islam and Buddhism collide, but their lifestyles are the same as the people groups around them.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Southern Thai practice Buddhism, the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha, who lived in the 6th and 5th century BC in ancient India. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can gain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation. Theravada, one of the two major branches of Buddhism, declares that by following the Noble Eightfold Path of right intentions and right actions that a Buddhist can achieve nirvana or a state of freedom and salvation. Mahayana Buddhism, the other main branch of Buddhism, asserts that by following the six perfections that a Buddhist can move along the path to Enlightenment. Tibetan Buddhism falls within the Mahayana school.

To most Buddhists, however, these things have far less meaning than their traditional beliefs, which are usually animistic. In animism, evil spirits must be appeased through prayers, sacrifices and rituals. Buddhism allows people to mix Buddhist teachings with traditional religion.

Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.

What Are Their Needs?

There are no known believers among the Southern Thai people, so if they are going to hear the gospel, it will have to come from someone outside their community.

There is a Christian couple in southern Thailand that is trying to share their faith with both Buddhists and Muslims. Pray that they will be used of the Lord to plant churches among Southern Thai Buddhists that will lead to a church planting movement.

Prayer Points

There are no known believers among the Southern Thai community, so pray for this to soon change.

Pray for a spiritual hunger to come to Southern Thai Muslim leaders that will lead them to find out about Jesus Christ and open the doors for others to do the same.

Pray for a movement of God's blessing to flow through Southern Thai Muslim families discussing and applying God's word.

Pray for the Name of Jesus to be known by people in every Southern Thai village.

Text Source:   Joshua Project