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Debt’s grip: the cycle of financial strain in Thai communities

“You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
Haggai 1:6

Somdee planned a large wedding he couldn’t afford. Cousins and uncles were pressed to loan him money they couldn’t spare either. Later after two children were born more money was borrowed. A Christian friend saw Somdee’s financial need and gave him start up capital to buy equipment for making soymilk. Sales went well and Somdee began paying off his debts. But Auntie often asked for some of the profits to play cards. And Somdee’s father pestered him daily for 50 or 100 baht to gamble on village cock fights.

One day two men dressed in black drove up on a motorbike. Father quickly hid leaving Somdee to hear the surprising truth, “Your dad owes 20,000 baht and is three months behind. Pay back in two days or we’ll harm whomever we find at this house.” The entire family was terrified. “Please sell your motorbike!” Father begged after the men had left. Somdee complied but without the vehicle he could no longer sell soymilk in town. Now the whole family was impoverished. They gathered aluminum cans along the road but even those profits went to gambling. The stress eventually broke up Somdee’s marriage.

Debt is rampant across Thailand. Young people borrow money for school and weddings. Dealers offer new cars for as little as 10,000 baht down payment but enslave buyers with high monthly finance payments, sometimes 25% of the total purchase value. Family wage earners bear a heavy burden as culturally they must support their elders, even if those elders gamble the money away. As a result Thai people, Christians included, chronically live beyond their means-impoverished, in debt and in fear of debt collectors.

Pray for sound teaching about money stewardship and management.

Pray that Christians who live within their means will share with unbelievers how God helped them get out of debt.

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