Over the nearly 200 years of Protestant work in Thailand, there has been one unanswerable question that every missionary has asked: “After all these years, why aren’t there more Christians?”1
I was recently reading “Siam: Its Government, Manners, Customs, &c.” by Rev. N.A. McDonald, and was struck by the fact that he was asking the same question more than 140 years ago. McDonald was a member of the American Presbyterian Mission in Siam (now Thailand) from 1860-1870, after which time he returned to the United States. At the time of writing, Protestant missionaries had been working in Siam for a bit over 40 years.
I have included below the full text of McDonald’s brief answer to this question that appeared in his 1871 book (minus one phrase that might be objectionable in the current political climate in Thailand). I have left his spelling as-is, but have added headings for his various points to make for easier reading. Those who are familiar with Christianity in Thailand today will note that many of the points he raises are still applicable today (although the modern reader may not agree with, nor express, all of the points in the same way).
Also take note, that he ends his answer with a desire to see more missional business people in Siam. In this regard, he seems a bit ahead of his time.