April Foolsday in Thailand

I am writing this on April 1st (April Fools), a day famous for hijinx and general tomfoolery in the west. But in Thailand it is a serious day to reflect on King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) who on April 1, 1905 freed all of the slaves in Thailand, an institution that had been in place for centuries (Above is the 100 Baht note showing the king freeing the slaves). Next to King Rama IX (Bhumibol Adulyadej) who died recently after 70 years on the throne, King Rama V is the portrait most seen displayed in Thai houses. Chulalongkorn is the son of King Mongkut (Rama IV) who is known in the west as the young prince in the Hollywood musical “The King and I”. As a young missionary studying Thai, it was months before I realized that Thailand actually means “Free Land” (ie. it has not been under colonizing powers like the rest of its neighbors). Yet over time I saw that a great many of this ‘Free People’ were in fact ‘under slavery’ to social problems and entrapped in various religious systems and thus not truly free as Jesus promised: “If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Pray that 99% of the Thai people not yet knowing Jesus will get to know their true liberator: Jesus Christ.

Larry Dinkins

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