Like 95% of Thailand, she is Buddhist and when we first met, she didn’t have much knowledge of the Bible or anything about Christians really. Over the past several months, we have been reading the Bible in Thai together. We decided to do this because she knows we are here to start a church and will be teaching the Bible, but at the same time, she has been learning more about Jesus too.
The following is not supposed to be a scientific survey but rather just to give some perspective on what it is like to live here as a Christian and missionary.
1. Most don’t believe there is a God.
Buddhism doesn’t teach that there is a God, but most Thai believe in and respect many of the Hindu gods. In addition, they pray and give offerings to spirits of those who have died before asking them for help.
2. They don’t know much about the Bible.
They think that it is a book that teaches things to do and not to do, but don’t know that it teaches about God, and tells the story of Jesus. They may have been taught that Jesus was a man that lived and did some good things long ago, but are not taught that Jesus claimed to be God.
3. They don’t really like missionaries
While some people think missionaries are fine and have come to do good things and help people, many don’t like missionaries because they think they have come to change their religion, and Buddhism is part of the Thai identity. To be Thai is to be Buddhist and to be Buddhist is to be Thai. Buddhism is their culture.
Many families will be very angry with a family member that changes from Buddhism. The younger generation is not as serious about it as older people, but still want to respect their family by being Buddhist.
4. They are not familiar with a Gospel preaching church.
When they hear the word “church” they think of a big ornate Catholic church.
5. They aren’t sure what people do at church
Since there are so few churches here, their idea of church has been mainly influenced by movies. When a person feels like they have messed up, church is a place to go in order to confess sins to a priest, and sing.
6. They are not sure how one becomes a Christian.
Changing your religion mainly means changing it on your identity card and start attending one of those big Catholic churches. If it makes them feel happy and like they are a better person, then they like it. But most don’t know how a person becomes a Christian.
7. Christianity is ok because it teaches people to love one another.
Thai’s are not taught to hate other religions and to Thai people Christians seem loving and they don’t hate other religions. Christians seem happy and they like spending time together at church and other activities.
8. Very few Thai people have Christian friends.
99.5% of Thailand is non-Chrisitan. My friend has one friend that she thinks goes to church regularly. A Catholic church.
9. They like when foreigners come to live in Thailand
As a whole, Thai people like it when foreigners come to live in Thailand. Thais are extremely patriotic and they are proud that someone would like Thailand enough to come live here. But they don’t like the snobby foreigners or the preferential treatment they get from shop owners that cater to who they think has a lot of money.
10. My friend’s thoughts after a few months of reading the Bible.
At first she thought the Bible was just a bunch of rules, but now, after reading and learning from it some, she thinks: The Bible is good and special book. She likes the stories of Jesus that teach instead of the list of rules that she expected. It’s fun to read. While before she thought Jesus was just a regular guy from history, she had no idea that He was God and that He came to take away the sins of the World.
I am glad I get to introduce her to Him.