The term Khon Muang is the name that this unreached people group most commonly uses when referring to themselves. Out of the 70+ different people groups that live in the country of Thailand, the Khon Muang are the 3rd largest people group comprised of 7 million people. In times past they have been referred to variously as the Tai Yuan, Lanna, Tai Nya, La Nya, Western Laotian, and most recently, Northern Thai. The Khon Muang is a Tai people closely related to the Lao of Northeast Thailand and Laos, the Shan of Burma, the Tai Lu of Sipsongpanna in Yunnan, and of course the dominant Siamese of central and southern Thailand.
Very little is known of Tai history before the thirteenth century. The history primers distributed throughout Thailand by the Ministry of Education trace the ancestry of the Tai people cluster to the kingdom of Nan Chao in southern China. It is also recorded that in 1253, Nan Chao was overrun by Kublai Khan’s Mongol armies which many believe resulted in a mass migration of Tai speaking peoples to the south where many found their final destination in what is now modern-day Thailand.
The written history of the Khon Muang people in Northern Thailand has its origins with the greatest of all Northern Thai monarchs, King Mengrai. Mengrai was the son of a king of Ngoen Nyang. He is known as the “Father of the Lanna Kingdom,” the kingdom of a million rice fields. Mengrai was born on October 23, 1239, by the banks of the Mekong River at Chiang Saen in Northern Thailand. In 1259, at 20 years of age, Mengrai succeeded to his father’s throne at Chiang Saen. After three years of reign, Mengrai began to extend his power to the south and west, first by founding a new city at Chiang Rai in 1262, and then moving to conquer the powerful Mon Kingdom of the North and established himself as the undisputed master of all of what is now Northern Thailand. As a result, the Khon Muang became a people of great power and whose influence persists even into today.
What are their beliefs?
Over 96% of the Khon Muang identify themselves as Buddhists in a country that is known as the most thoroughly Buddhist country in the world. The blanket of Buddhism covers the Khon Muang in an almost impenetrable barrier to the truth. Today, the Khon Muang send their teenage sons to the temples as novices to learn the Buddhist doctrine. On festive days, they also make merit to the monks, and between these festivals, villagers may add further merit by adorning the temple with new buildings and shrines.
Animism and ancestor worship also play an important role in the religious world-view of the Khon Muang. Spirits help to ensure a longer life and better crops and protect against natural disasters. Offerings are made to these spirits. They believe that the spirits inhabit their homes, fields, forests, as well as their villages. Animism is a major aspect of their daily lives. Ancestral spirits are worshipped at the altar shelf in the houses. The ever-watchful ancestral spirits, who must be notified of any family decision of importance, reinforces the decisions of the household elders.
|The Khon Muang People (Other Names – Northern Thai, Lanna, Lana Tai, Yuan, Tai Nya, La Nya, Western Laotian)||Resources in Khon Muang language?|
|Population||7,296,000||Buddhist||96.40%||Bible translated?||In Progress|
|Country(s)||Thailand, Burma||Christian||0.40%||Jesus Film?||Yes|
|People Cluster||Thai||Khon Muang church?||Yes||Evangelistic radio?||Some|
What are their needs?
These people need guidance in the physical development of their Land, communities, and family. They need exposure to a whole range of small-scale technology options appropriate for making them more productive farmers. They lack adequate knowledge and resources in addressing some of the major issues with drugs, aids, sex, and various family issues.
Another need is that of English language development. In today’s global economy, the Khon Muang are people that have a very low level of English language proficiency. There is a growing recognition for the strategic nature of the English language and its relation to our global economy and we as Christians see a door that is wide open for native speakers of English who are committed to sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways.
Holistically, their greatest need is that of a personal relationship to God. They desperately need an understanding of the Gospel in their own language that is relevant in the context of the perceived realities of their worldview. They need exposure to genuine Christians who love them and are so committed to the incarnational principle of the Bible that they will live among the Khon Muang as lights to the path of life.
What keeps us from reaching them?
There are many things that keep the Khon Muang from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One is reflected in the common saying: “Christianity is a Western Religion.” Another common saying that keeps them from Jesus is “All religions teach people to be good.” But the third, and in our opinion, the greatest, barrier to reaching them is the absence of a knowledge of the Biblical Jesus. Most have never heard about Jesus much less know that He loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. We pray that laborers would rise up and join God in His work to make disciples of the Muang people group. And in return, the national believers would then go out and make other disciples amongst their people group.
How can I pray?
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts of the Khon Muang to the person of Jesus Christ.
- Pray that new Christians will be bold even in the midst of strong family persecution.
- Pray for God to raise up loving Khon Muang Christians willing to disciple their own people.
- Pray for God to raise up “missionaries” who are willing to help address some of the issues that the Khon Muang face.
- Pray for God to strengthen, encourage, protect, and expand the small numbers of Khon Muang Christians.
- Pray for the establishment of churches planting churches among the Khon Muang.
What more can I do?
Adopt: Take the Khon Muang into your heart and life. Do everything in your power to help them hear the gospel. Pray for them and partner with other Christians from around the world to start and support work among the Khon Muang.
Pray: Pray that the Khon Muang will be evangelized and a church-planting movement will be started among them. Establish networks to pray daily, weekly and monthly for the Khon Muang. Make plans to promote and participate in the special prayer events, such as annual prayer emphases and the biannual “Praying Through the Window” emphasis.
Pioneer: Send Missionaries to the Khon Muang to help evangelize and disciple. This is best done by forming strategic partnerships with existing churches and ministries focused on the Khon Muang like NTIM.
Promote: Become an advocate for the Khon Muang. In your sphere of influence, speak and write on their behalf. Mobilize others to adopt them. Organize teams to visit them. The possibilities are endless.
To express God’s tugging in your heart for the Khon Muang, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org