Thai, Central in Malaysia

Population

27,900

Christian

Evangelical

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center


Introduction / History

The Thai live in northern Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand. Living in a tropical, mountainous region, they dwell along rivers or near roads. They speak a tonal language called Thai and are part of a larger people group known as the Tai.

Originally from China, the Thai emigrated south due to unending Chinese pressure, conquering many peoples and cultures along the way. By the tenth century, they were in southern Thailand in substantial numbers. Eventually, they moved as far south as Peninsular Malaysia.

The Malay culture has been strongly influenced by that of other peoples, including the Thai. The city of Bangkok has played a major role in Peninsular Malaysia since the thirteenth century, and mutual respect exists between Thailand and Malaysia. Originally, the rivers were the means for political and diplomatic relations. Today, however, highways and railways maintain trade and communication between the two nations.


What are Their Lives Like?

Wet-rice agriculture and cattle-breeding dominate Thai economy. The people are also skilled gardeners, famous for their large fruit plantations. In addition, they now have large rubber plantations. Some Thai work in tin mines, while others are good fishermen, delivering a quota of salted fish for export to Singapore. In the north, rubber and coconuts are the most important products.

Traditionally, Thai social structure consisted of a somewhat feudal organization with distinct class divisions between nobility and commoners. Although the head of a village was a commoner, he was required to report to a nobleman who was the overseer of a district. Weakness of power on the part of the overseer led to the breakdown of this system. The nobility has now been replaced by appointed and elected officials subject to a parliament, but class distinctions are still a notable part of Thai society.

The Thai are mainly a rural people, living in villages rather than towns. Houses are usually built on stilts four to eight feet high and have thatched roofs. The wealthier Thai, however, have homes with plank floors and tile roofs. The typical household consists of a husband, his wife, and their children.

In general, the Thai are very polite, respectful, and hospitable. Children are taught from a young age to accept a code of social behavior based on respect for those of higher rank. Independence and self-reliance are also emphasized. Traditionally, marriages have been arranged by the parents.

The Thai, especially in northeastern Peninsular Malaysia, enjoy participating in popular puppet performances. Thai instruments, which include drums and small bell cymbals, are used, and Hindu-based prayers are offered to the gods in the Thai language. The actual play, however, is in the more common Malay language.


What are Their Beliefs?

The official religion of Malaysia is Islam. Despite the claim of religious freedom, there is severe pressure for radical Islamic reforms and the formation of an Islamic state. There are also discriminatory laws and actions against all non-Muslims. A relatively small number of Thai have given in to such pressures and have converted to Islam. The majority, however, have remained Theravada Buddhists. In addition, some remnants of their ethnic religion can still be found, such as their constant attention to guardian spirits and their various ceremonies for good harvests or good weather.


What are Their Needs?

Although there are many Christian resources in the Thai language, it is illegal to witness to Muslims in Malaysia. Every effort is made to prevent the conversion of the small ethnic communities to Christianity. There is also much discrimination and bureaucratic obstruction. Worship services in private homes are strongly discouraged, and churches are closed on the weakest of pretexts. Governmental restrictions make it extremely difficult for missionaries to work in traditional ways. Urgent prayer is needed for the spiritual climate of Malaysia to be reached with the light of the Gospel.


Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send Christians who will witness with their lives to the Thai of Malaysia.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to give creative ideas for evangelism to missions agencies focusing on the Thai.
* Pray for the Lord to use the Jesus film to soften the hearts of the Thai towards the Gospel message.
* Pray that God will give the Thai believers courage to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Thai church for the glory of His name!



Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center

People Name General Thai, Central
People Name in Country Thai, Central
Population in Malaysia 27,900
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Bangkok Thai, Central Tai, Khon Tai, Lao Song, Siamese, Siamese Thai, Tai Noi, Thai Khom, Thai Klang, Thai Song
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Thai
People Name General Thai, Central
Ethnic Code MSY49d
Country Malaysia
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
People Group Map Thai, Central in Malaysia

Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Thai (28,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Thai 28,000
Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1834-1967)
New Testament Yes   (1843-1977)
Complete Bible Yes   (1883-2011)
Audio Bible Online
Category Resource
Audio Recordings Global Recordings
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Central Thai Language Film
Film / Video Fathers Love Letter
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Thai
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Hope Video
General Bible Visuals
General Four Spiritual Laws
General Gods Simple Plan
General Got Questions Ministry
Scripture Bible-in-Your-Language
Scripture Bibles, Bible League
Scripture EasyBibles
Scripture International Bible Society
Scripture World Missionary Press Booklets

Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
90.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.40 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
6.00 %
Non-Religious
3.50 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
Anglican
0.0 %
Independent
5.0 %
Orthodox
0.0 %
Other Christian
5.0 %
Protestant
30.0 %
Roman Catholic
60.0 %
Photo Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway © Copyrighted Used with permission
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Profile Source:  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more  
Get Involved
Register ministry activity for this group

Copyright © 2014 Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.