IMG_6839It seemed like everywhere I turned, I saw Buddha.  Thailand is filled with statues of Buddha.  Each home has a “spirit house” in their yard to keep away evil spirits.  Thousands of Temples fill the neighborhoods of Bangkok.  Amulets are sold throughout the country to be worn for protect and to bring good luck.  In fact, some people wear them like collector pins.  The more you have and the older they are, the more valuable they become.  There are price guides for these little trinkets like the ones I used when I was a kid and I wanted to know how much a baseball card was worth. (again the older the better.)   Folklore, good works, reincarnation and temple visits encompass much of the Buddhist religion.  Doubt, frustration, failure, hopelessness, suicide, fear and a lack of any hope of eternal life summarizes the Thai people because the influence of this religion.  

For most Thais, they are born Buddhist like the Irish are born Catholic.  This is who they are.  Most Thais don’t know a Thai Christian.  They have heard of them but have a hard time conceiving one.  They don’t make fun of Thai converts to Islam but they ridicule Thai Christians if they meet them.  The advance of the Gospel is very slow.  When they do accept the gospel they can be very strong in their faith, but because they are naturally shy evangelism does not come easy.  

They light candles but remain in darkness.

They light candles but remain in darkness.

One other difficulty in reaching the Thai people is most (some estimate as high at 90%) of the missionaries are congregated up in the northern provinces (the Chang Mai area) and are doing work with the hill tribe people (many in these groups don’t even speak Thai).  While we praise the Lord for all who serve as foreign missionaries in Thailand, and for those from the northern provinces they are reaching, those tribal converts will not be readily accepted in the major population centers like Bangkok.   There is a great need for more workers (both Thai and American) who will reproduce themselves  as the great commission commands.  A country with 66 million Buddhists and tens of thousands of Buddhist temples desperately needs more light. 

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“Big Buddha” Thailand is building this statue and temple on the top of the highest mountain on Phuket Island. Western Tourist come here by the droves and bow before Thai priests, present them with offerings and then are prayed over and sprinkled with holy water. Buddhism certainly capitolizes on tourism.