Thailand, Southeast Asia
Political Leader: Interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont
Predominant Religions: Buddhism 92.3%, Islam 5.2%. Christianity 1.6%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 13
Acts of Terrorism: 959; Casualties: 630
Percent of Corruption: 64%
% of People in Poverty: 10%
Originally known as Siam, Thailand changed its name in the mid-twentieth century. “Thailand” means “land of the free” in the Thai language and reflects the fact it is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been taken over by a European power. Although politically free, the nation is in bondage to a complex web of culture, spirit appeasement, occult practices, and Buddhism, which is the state religion.
Theravada Buddhism was introduced in Thailand in 329 B.C. Almost all of the Thai are devout followers of Buddha ("the enlightened one") and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in pursuit of perfect peace, or nirvana. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and attending worship services. Traditionally, young men enter a Buddhist monastery for three months to study Buddhism.
The Thai also attempt to incorporate their Buddhist beliefs with folk animism, a practice in which they seek help through the worship of spirits and objects such as amulets. Thailand is often promoted as the "most thoroughly Buddhist country in the world," and the common belief that "to be Thai is to be Buddhist" pervades all of Thai society.
Although prostitution has technically been illegal since 1960, it is common, socially acceptable, and viewed as a practice which reduces the incidence of rape. Add to this the fact that it is financially lucrative and the end result is that Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is also the sin capital of Asia, with a sex industry on which the livelihoods of over two million people depend. Girls are kidnapped and sold into prostitution in large numbers and are abused terribly, frequently dying young. The percentage of Thai girls between ages 11 and 17 dragged into this abject existence is shamefully high. Many come from neighboring countries or minority populations. AIDS is becoming a major scourge with a large percentage of prostitutes contracting the disease.
- Pray that the Thai people will find true freedom in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
- Pray for Christians who are working hard to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the millions of people living in Bangkok.
- Pray for freedom for those who have been enslaved through trickery or poverty and forced to work in the prevalent sex industry. Pray that God will choose special people to minister on His behalf to these precious people, to bring comfort and sustenance to those trapped in bitter and unwelcome sexual toil.
- Pray for the girls who have become too old or too sick to be of any value to those who have kept them indentured. As they are released onto the streets, pray that they will find Jesus and be restored – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Pray that they will be lifted to a place of peace unlike any they have ever experienced, through special communion with our loving Savior.
- Pray that God will raise teams of intercessors who will work faithfully in prayer and evangelization to reach the unreached, resting in the confidence that God will complete His work in this nation.
- Pray that those who minister on behalf of Christ to those in Thailand will be filled with wisdom and inspiration as they develop and implement strategies so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can penetrate the hearts of the people of Thailand.
- Pray that religious liberty will continue to increase and not be restricted in any way. Pray for religious acceptance so that Christians who convert from Buddhism will not face social or familial pressures because of their choice.
Bethany World Prayer Center’s Global 12 Project, Food for the Hungry, The World Factbook