Introduction / History
People living at the border of southern Thailand and northern Malaysia belong to the unique yet little-known Tak Bai Thai people group. Most ethnographic research on Thailand lists the Tak Bai Thai as part of the Southern Thai language group, but their vernacular is very different. It has been described as "a rather distinct and ancient Tai dialect, which developed differently from most of the modern Tai dialects spoken in Thailand today. Tak Bai Thai is very different from the Southern Thai language; it is more a mixture of northern and central Thai dialects but articulated in the fast manner as the Southern Thai usually speak. Some words are exactly the same as the Thai speak in the Sukkothai area in north-central Thailand."
What Are Their Lives Like?
In Thailand, the Tak Bai Thai inhabit the three provinces nearest the Thai-Malay border: Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. The geographical center of the Tak Bai Thai people is the district that bears their name, Tak Bai, in Narathiwat Province. Tak Bai is just a mile or two from the Malaysian border. Additional smaller communities of Tak Bai Thai people are on Peninsula Malaysia. Several thousand Tak Bai Thai live across the border in Kelantan state of Malaysia.
The Buddhist Tak Bai Thai live alongside Southern Thai and Pattani Muslims. The groups are tolerant of each other, though they keep their distance and have little close contact. Conflicts sometimes arise over land use. The Tak Bai Thai own almost all the land in the areas where they live, while the Muslims have almost none. This has led to tensions as the Muslims sometimes encroach illegally onto the Tak Bai Thai land, building houses and huts without permission.
What Are Their Beliefs?
More than 700 years after they arrived in the area, the Tak Bai Thai people are still zealous Buddhists. Having to fight off the advances of Islam has made them even stronger in their faith and even more resistant to change. Few have ever heard of Jesus Christ, and a mere handful have put their trust in him.
What Are Their Needs?
Like all other peoples of the world, this people group needs the blessings and guidance that only Jesus Christ can offer.
Ask God to raise up Tak Bai Thai who are more desirous to know the truth than to stay on the broad road.
Ask God to send loving, committed workers to the Tak Bai Thai in the near future.
Pray the Tak Bai Thai would no longer be hidden away from the influence of Christ.
Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest, Copyrighted © Used with permission
Scripture Prayers for the Thai, Tak Bai in Thailand.