Reciprocity of kindness, particularly the practice of being grateful, is a highly valued characteristic in Thai society. The Thai have been socialized to value this grateful (Katanyu) quality in a person. A person should be grateful to persons who render Bunkhun (goodness, helps, favors) to him or her. Bunkhun must be returned, often on a continuous basis and in a variety of ways, because Bunkhun should not and cannot be measured quantitatively in material terms.
– From a study done by Dr. Suntaree Komin, a Thai psychologist and a Fulbright scholar, who wrote a publication entitled Psychology of the Thai People: Values and Behavioral Patterns.
Implications for a missionary:
- Your generosity should not be outdone by a Buddhist. Generosity is one of the best displays of the Gospel!
- Don’t keep strict tabs on what people owe you. You will be richer than the vast majority, and if you demand payment for small things, you will be looked at like the unjust ruler.
- Be generous in the same ways as the culture around you is generous. Don’t buy friends, but find other ways that you can show kindness and care as well.
- Develop principles of what you will and will not give to before opportunities arise so that you don’t set precedents that will come back to bite you once there are more people asking for help.
- Don’t say, “I don’t have any money.” You would be lying. If you have determined that you aren’t going to help in a certain situation, say, “I don’t have money for that.”
- Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, because He has said a lot about ignoring the poor and being stingy, so He may very well lead you to give.