Americans learn as schoolchildren that “All men are created equal”. Taken from the Declaration of Independence, this value is burned in the American psyche as a “self-evident truth”. If egalitarianism is the central theme in the American social structure, then hierarchical relations are at the heart of the Thai society…Thai society provides language, both verbalisms and non-verbalisms, for each level of its structure for people to communicate to each other. (Mejudhon 2005, 164)
Taken from the work of Dr. Nantachai Mejudhon who summarized Fieg’s work in an article that was published in Sharing Jesus Effectively with the Buddhist World.
Implications for a missionary:
- Learn the nuances of the language to ensure that you coming across as the proper rank. You don’t want to talk deep slang to the wrong people and come across disrespectful nor condescending.
- Learn the body language of the culture. If non-verbal communication makes up ~80% of what is communicated, how a missionary acts when communicating with the different social structures could either gain the respect of an audience, or cause people to disregard his message because of what else is being communicated.
- Don’t disrespect someones rank.
- Recognize and adapt language, illustrations, and mannerisms to your audience that you are speaking to.
- Preach why racism has no place in the church.
- Preach respect for one another in the church no matter social status.
- Use cultural examples to illustrate our relationship to God and His authority.