Thai, Isan in Norway

Thai, Isan
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People Name: Thai, Isan
Country: Norway
10/40 Window: No
Population: 18,000
World Population: 19,084,900
Primary Language: Thai, Northeastern
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.80 %
Evangelicals: 0.10 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Thai
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Northeastern Tai, also known as the Lao Isan, are dispersed throughout 17 provinces in northeastern Thailand. This area takes up nearly one third of Thailand's total land mass. It is basically a flat arid plain known as the Khorat Plateau with infrequent rainfall and few natural resources. The region is noted for its archeological relics and monuments dating back to Khmer influence under the Angkor wat regime.

Many of the present-day residents of the Khorat Plateau were forcibly relocated to this hostile region over a period of 100 years from the Lan Chang Kingdom in what is now Laos. Later the people, the region and their language was labeled by Siamese kings as Isan, meaning "northeast." Even though this region is now fully incorporated into Thailand and all residents are Thai, the Lao Isan language, unique diet, ritual and culture continues to thrive among this people group.

Where Are they Located?

Most of the Thai people in Norway are from Isan, which is primarily a farming region. Ironically, growing up in a rural part of Thailand is good preparation for some of the Northeastern Thai Isan people who migrate to Norway.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Northeastern Thai Isan people who migrate to Norway are often women who go there to marry Norwegian men. These men often live in rural areas where Norwegian women don't want to live. That is one of the reasons why these men look for wives in other parts of the world.

These marriages are sometimes happy, but only if each party understands the needs of the other. If a man is trying to "marry for love," he will be disappointed, because his wife is marrying to get economic security for herself and family members in Thailand. Norwegian law allows their citizens to have their foreign spouses deported if the marriage ends within three years, so some men use this to manipulate their Asian wives. Divorced Northeastern Thai Isan women can wind up deported, or working in massage parlors and brothels because of their lack of modern work skills.

What Are Their Beliefs?

More than half of the Northeastern Tai are Theravada Buddhist. They follow the teachings of Gautama Buddha and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in their present lives. Ultimately, they are in pursuit of nirvana, or perfect peace. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and frequently worshiping in the temples.

Northeastern Thai Isan people continue to practice their traditional ethnic religions particularly for important rites of passage. They combine Buddhist teachings with folk religious practices, seeking help through the worship of spirits and venerated objects.

What Are Their Needs?

The Northeastern Thai Isan people in Norway need to understand their worth in God's terms, not man's terms. They rely on a religious system that blends animism and Buddhism where they and the spirit beings are simply using one another. God has a far better way to live.

They also need job skills that will be useful in Norway's modern economy.

Prayer Points

Pray for Northeastern Thai Isan people in Norway to put their worth in God, not in the world system.
Pray for a movement to Christ among the Northeastern Thai Isan people, both in Europe and in Thailand.
Pray that God will call forth teams of long term missionaries and intercessors who will commit to seeing Thai Isan people in Europe begin their own disciple making movement.

Text Source:   Keith Carey