historical context and our impact

There are many ethnic minority groups indigenous to Thailand, including over 50 distinct languages, with the majority residing in the rural mountainous northern region.  Historically, the minority tribal groups have had significantly less access to educational and economic opportunities, and have faced discrimination from ethic Thai citizens.  Globalization and strong government and non-government development projects have created increased access to these opportunities for minority groups, and many of the younger generations have moved from the rural mountainous villages into the city to pursue education and find jobs beyond traditional subsistence farming of their parents’ generation.

Those most at risk of human trafficking include ethnic minorities, foreign migrants and stateless persons in Thailand

Increased opportunity for these populations to move away from their ancestral home areas has also brought significant challenges, such as the increase of human trafficking including sex trafficking and forced labor.  While many international efforts are being made to protect vulnerable people from these evils of modern slavery, Thailand remains on the US State Department’s 2nd tier watch list in the 2017 Trafficking of Persons Report, indicating that huge efforts are still needed to improve the grave situation.  According to the United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons, those most at risk of human trafficking include ethnic minorities, foreign migrants (from surrounding countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam), and stateless persons in Thailand.  This vulnerability is accentuated by low economic and social status as well as lack of access to basic services and safe environments.

The need for accessible, safe, reliable, and person-honoring work is great

It is in the middle of this complex cultural and socio-economic mix that Thai Village has grown into a local entity that is responding to both practical and spiritual needs of our community in and around Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Over the past 10 years we have grown in developing a sustainable business and outreach model for this country.  The need for accessible, safe, reliable, and person-honoring work is great especially among the low income population of ethnic minorities who have moved to the city in pursuit of a brighter future.  In this way, Thai Village meets a practical need by offering vocational skills trainings with follow up income generation projects in handmade crafts that people from low income communities are eager to produce.  We provide a safe, healthy, and loving environment for these artisans.  This dignified work helps build economic self-sufficiency and vocational skills which can be used as a stepping stone for other jobs.

67% of the country is considered unreached with the Gospel

In addition to meeting this practical need, we have seen the opportunity to use skills trainings and income generation as an outreach tool in relational evangelism.  Thailand is a country with less than 1% of the population professing Christianity.  The vast majority (roughly 90%) of the country is deeply rooted in Buddhism which is pervasive throughout all aspects of Thai culture and belief.  While missionaries have been active in Thailand since the 19th century and the church is growing, change is slow.  Unlike the West, the majority of people living in Thailand are unfamiliar with Christianity and what the Bible teaches.  67% of the country is considered unreached with the Gospel.  Thai Village is uniquely positioned to reach out to people with both physical and spiritual needs because of a strong partnership with Promise Lutheran Church, sharing a building and overlap of members and staff from various ethnic minorities and cultures.

Vocational training projects provide a natural overlap of time with people who might not otherwise know Christians or be comfortable coming into a church building.  The Thai Village team works with the local church leaders to host multiple large community outreach events each year, as well as weekly Bible studies, prayer time, and visitation.  This past year we increased our focus on regular visitation of our artisans in their homes in order to build deeper relationships with them and encourage them with the hope of the Gospel.  Through these home visitations we have seen our Thai staff become highly invested in the lives of their peers and people in need, we have seen God opening doors for us to share our faith and pray for people in need, and we have seen an increased interest in Christianity among non-believers.

Ethnic minority groups make up the majority of our artisans.
Vocational skills training includes wood-working, among other skills.
A foundational principle of Thai Village is to value and support local evangelists and pastors.
Artisans are trained to maintain a high quality and everything is checked once again before products are shipped out.