I sometimes get email from Christians living outside of Thailand who want to know how to share the Gospel with a Thai friend, neighbor, relative, etc. It is easy to think that can Thai Buddhists are so different from the standard secular or Christian Westerner, that sharing the Gospel with them will be really difficult or will require a lot of special knowledge. The good news is that although there are differences, they are not so vast that it is impossible to share the Gospel effectively. In this short post, I want to give just a few pointers to get you started in sharing Christ with a Thai Buddhist that you know.
Although it is not absolutely necessary, if you want to share the Gospel with Thai Buddhists it is good to know a bit about Thai Buddhism. Alex Smith’s little book, "A Christian's Pocket Guide to Buddhism" is a good place to learn about Buddhism. But even before you go out and buy a book, just ask your Thai Buddhist friend about what they believe and what Buddhism means for them. Most people like to talk about themselves, and many Thai are open to talking about religion. Buddhism has a lot of diversity within it, so reading a book will only give you a general idea about Buddhism. No book can tell you what an individual person thinks about their religion. It is okay to talk about differences in beliefs, but if you can avoid saying things that sound like you are insulting Buddhism, that will go over better. And pointing out what you perceive as logical inconsistencies in Buddhism probably won’t further the conversation as much as you might hope. Asking about their faith with a real desire to know, however, may open the way for your Thai friend to ask about your faith as well.
guest post by Johan LinderWhen I applied to become a missionary to unreached people groups, I never thought that I would be doing that work in my home town. My wife and I worked in Thailand for 14 years among Thai Buddhist people, both in a country town and in the capital city of Bangkok. We learned the language, lived among the people and adapted to many aspects of Thai culture. When we needed to return 4 years ago I expected that our time of reaching out to the Thai had come to an end. That was until I discovered that in my home city there are over 30,000 Thai people, and I saw that there was great potential to reach out to them. So when I returned home I teamed up with other Christians who were keen on reaching out to the Thai expats in Sydney. We taught English classes, went on outings together, organized parties and get-togethers. It was not long before some of the Thai responded to Christ and gave their lives to him. At this point we decided to start a Thai Christian Fellowship on Monday evenings to disciple and encourage these new believers, as well as other Thai people who were already followers of Jesus. It has been a privilege and a joy to continue on from the ministry we had over many years in Thailand.
As people move around the globe like never before, there are unprecedented opportunities to share the Gospel. Many new immigrants to the West are from Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and other non-Christian backgrounds. Some of them speak English well. Some don’t. How will they hear the Gospel?One solution is diaspora ministry. The term “diaspora” is used by many missionaries to refer to people from traditional missionary-receiving nations who now live in traditional missionary-sending nations. So that means reaching out to Thai people in Sydney, and Chinese in Munich. Missionaries working in diaspora ministries are often those who had been “out there” on the mission field, working with XYZ people group, but have had to return to their home country. They still have a burden to see XYZ people know Christ, so they do diaspora ministry to reach out to XYZ people living in their home country. But, as you might imagine, the problem is that there are not enough diaspora workers to go around.