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Auspicious Names

In formal Thai settings I am introduced as “The Right Reverend Doctor Rawi Dinkins”. After many years in Thailand this still comes as a shock since some of my ex-pat friends simply call me “Dink”. Also, in OMF I’ve had to get used to more formal cultures like the English whose Prince William has the titles of: Heir Apparent to the Crown, Prince of Wales, Knight of the Garter and Thistle, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, Duke of Cornwall, Rear Admiral, Grand Master of the Order of Bath, Earl of Carrick and Great Steward of Scotland.

Thailand’s previous king’s full name is “King Phra Paraminthara Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet RamathibodiChakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommamatbophit. This can be shortened to “Bhumibol Adulyadej”, meaning Strength of the Land Incomparable Power. Cities also need auspicious names, like Bangkok which is actually 21 words long!

Years ago my Thai co-workers in Central Thailand were asked by visitors from Bangkok whether they had been ordained. At that point OMF had not formed any type of denomination and so we were not in the habit of ordaining nationals. Over time their desire for ordination won out and a denomination was formed so they are now able to be addressed with a more auspicious title of “Right Reverend”.

As an American I was used to more informal relationships, but over four decades in Thailand, I have become sensitive to the age of each person I address and his or her rank/position. Since the Thai are very sensitive to auspicious titles, it is always good to remind them that Jesus has far more titles than any royal prince or king. There are well over one hundred titles ascribed to Jesus.

Pray that the Thai will come to know the one who is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

Written by The Right Reverend Doctor Larry Dinkins

Larry Dinkins is an OMF missionary who has served in Thailand for many years. He is a keen observer of Thai culture and teaches at the Chiang Mai Seminary.

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