What can I say about Thailand that hasn’t already been written? Countless articles in travel books and on web sites guide vacationers and world explorers to the most beautiful beaches and on the most secluded hill tribe treks. Pilgrims descend from the four corners of the world for shallow spiritual retreats at temples that cater to every western whim and fancy. The lonely and desperate come to pay for the promise of companionship. Some come for much darker and disgusting reasons.
What comes to mind when people think about Thailand?
Thai monks in Nakhon Ratchasima walking to receive their morning alms from Buddhist believers wishing to make merit.
Saffron-robed monks, spicy food, hot weather, sunny beaches, cheap girls, and choking pollution. How did it come to that? This can’t be all there is to a country and culture a thousand years older than our own. It certainly isn’t the Thailand that we know and love.
So what is the true face of Thailand? Bumper stickers and travel brochures tout “Thailand: The Land of Smiles.” Well, we are eager to uncover the face that may lie behind the smiles. What makes up the peaceful and sanguine nature that has become the characteristic portrait of Thai people? Does it really represent what is truly Thai?
We have found Thailand to be anything but a cohesive block of 68 million like-minded individuals. The staggering variety and range of peoples throughout Thailand shouldn’t be a surprise. What nation is actually monolithic? Thai people vary generally according to region, but they also vary in ethnicity, language, beliefs, economic status, and a host of other variables. One might say that the only thing that unites Thai people is an overarching sense of Thai-ness anchored by Theravada Buddhism and exemplified by HM the King of Thailand. Maybe it is also a sense of pride that Thailand (as a whole) was never colonized or ruled by a foreign power throughout their history that contributes to their Thai-ness. Many believe this freedom is embedded in the very name of their country as a “land of the free”.
Is Thailand free? As Thailand becomes more western, affluent, and consumeristic, does Buddhism have the solutions to the big problems that will increasingly plague it? The answers don’t lie in the West or in the East. The solution to immorality, shallowness, and lassitude come only from the very source of morality, profundity, and love.
We have drunk deeply from the wells of our God and we have God’s copious resources to share, and so share we must. We care deeply for Thailand and its beautiful people. We ache at her suffering and we joyfully anticipate to her rebirth as children of the Creator, brothers and sisters of the Savior, with the Spirit ruling in temples made of flesh.
Prasat Hin Phimai, a Thai Khmer temple dating from the 11th century, located in northern Nakhon Ratchasima province.
[symple_divider style=”solid” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”]We’d love to hear from you.
We love talking about the country of Thailand and her need for the Gospel. Let us know if you have any questions or if you would like to partner with us in spreading the Good News throughout Thailand.