Challenges for Prayer
Particularly needy groups of people include:
a) Children in crisis. Over one million children are estimated to be child labourers in Thailand. This includes 40,000 or even more sold into the sex trade as minors. Many are from minority or foreign backgrounds. All forms of labour usually entail backbreaking hours, minimal pay and subjection to all kinds of abuse and ill treatment. There are tens of thousands of homeless street children. Pray for all involved in reaching out to these tragic little ones.
b) HIV/AIDS sufferers. Thailand’s infection rate is Asia’s highest by far, with around 700,000 officially carrying the virus. The true figure could be double this. While the spread is being arrested by vigorous government actions, the combination of the ubiquitous trades in sex and drugs keeps new infection rates high. Churches must wake up to this crisis and minister love and life to the suffering and the bereaved.
c) Students are responsive to the gospel, but they also demonstrate openness to many harmful influences. YFC, TCS(IFES), CCCI and an indigenous movement called Yuwakrit see conversions and growth of groups on campuses. Evangelism and camps/retreats often receive enthusiastic spiritual response, but the large majority of the 1.3 million students remain unevangelized. Backsliding is a prominent challenge. Christian hostels for students, run by six agencies, prove valuable for discipling students.
d) Buddhist monks number over 300,000 and enjoy a highly regarded position of honour in Thailand. The monastic institution, however, has been troubled by some high-profile scandals and is targeted by Islamist insurgents in the south. Pray for Christian outreach to them – many are true seekers and open to the gospel.
e) Refugees. Thailand has long served as a haven for those fleeing upheaval in neighbouring countries. The most notable and needy are the 1.2 million refugees from Myanmar. Many are from persecuted minorities such as the Karen, Chin and Shan. Most are present illegally. These refugees face harsh exploitation, from dangerous manual labour to sex slavery. Pray for groups to reach out with compassionate, holistic ministry to these desperate peoples.
Of the 5.3 million Muslims, almost 80% are Malay speakers residing in the south. There are also Thai-speaking Muslims in most Thai provinces and 600,000 in Bangkok alone. Since 2004, the three provinces bordering Malaysia have experienced political tension, unrest and almost daily killings linked to Muslim insurgency. This is the only major Muslim population in Southeast Asia open for evangelism, yet after years of hard work, there are only a few small indigenous worshipping communities of former Muslims. The radicalization of Islam is affecting Thai Muslims and complicating outreach, and many seekers are held back by community pressures. Pray for local believers and for different agencies involved in outreach to Muslims in Thailand. Pray also for the Jawi Malay NT and Scripture portions and for a new BCC in Thai and Malay, all developed for Thai Muslims.