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Wrapping The Good News For Thais

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Northern Thai PeopleProtestant missionaries first came to Thailand in 1828 and have worked without interruption to the present. However, the response to the message of the Gospel has been disturbingly slow when contrasted to the amount of time missionaries have been in the country and to the amount of effort expended in bringing the Gospel to the Thai peopl%. There is no doubt that the Church in Thailand is growing. The latest edition of Operation World by Patrick Johnstone estimates adherents to Christianity to be 1.62% of the population now.1 This breaks down to .42% Catholic and 1.18% Protestant. This is a significant community of almost 1 million people in a total population of just over 61 million. However, a large number of the Christian population is found among tribal peoples meaning that the actual percentage among Thai people is still quite low.

Alex Smith found the following comment from a missionary to Thailand nearly one hundred years ago to be expressive of the feelings of many who have struggled to make Christ known in this land, “I believe there is no country more open to unrestrained missionary effort than Siam, but I believe that there can hardly be a country in which it is harder to make an impression.”2

Reasons for this difficulty in gaining a response to the Gospel have been discussed in detail by Smith in his book Siamese Gold, which focuses on the history of the Christian movement in Thailand to the end of the 1970’s through a church growth lens.3 Smith points out that the obstacles include not only problems related to the Thai religion and culture but also with missionary methods and practices. Tom Wisely, in his doctoral dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary, reviews the work of a number of the researchers on the growth of the church in Thailand andkconcludes that Protestant Christianity is a struggling religious minority and that “one of the major factors for its slow growth and its continuing struggle is its westernity”4 Inevitably however, discussion regarding the resistance of the Thai to the Gospel returns to the fact that Thailand presents unique difficulties since it is, “one of the few countries where Theravada Buddhism has traditionally been all but de riguer and Buddhist concepts inform the speech and thought-forms and feeling3 of the great majority, if not all of Thai society.”5

Although there are a number of factors involved in creating the feeling among the Thai that Christianity is foreign and the religion of the white man, the tremendous influence of Theravada Buddhism undoubtedly carries a great deal of weight in the matter. It becomes obvious that if we are to avoid, as Frances Hudgins calls it, “reciting conundrums” to our Thai listeners, eavor to contextualize our message so that the mind steeped in Buddhist thought and culture can begin to understand………..

……….CLICK THE RED LINK>>> to read the complete ARTICLE regarding – “WRAPPING THE GOOD NEWS FOR THE THAI”- by Byalan R. Johnson.

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Posted by on Jun 30 2012. Filed under Training. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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