Among evangelical Christians, John 3:16 is widely regarded as a straight forward summary of the Gospel. However, to assume that someone can hear and sufficiently understand the Gospel from John 3:16 in order to be saved is to assume a lot about their background knowledge of Christianity and basic worldview assumptions. In the West, there is still quite a bit of residual knowledge about Christianity even if people don't believe it (i.e. there is only one God, love is a good thing, history is linear, etc.). This is a great help in presenting the Gospel to those from a culturally Christian background. But how does John 3:16 sound to someone who knows nothing about Christianity and comes from a totally different religious background and upbringing?
In Thailand, the background of most people is Buddhist. And with few exceptions, the basic framework of understanding to plug John 3:16 into is absent. Yet Christians, both foreign and Thai, continue to use the same Gospel summaries and illustrations that have been used in the West for years. Just saying "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" or giving someone the Four Spiritual Laws is insufficient to really help Thai Buddhists to understand what the Gospel is about. The following video, produced by Pastor Bantoon and company at Suebsampantawong Church in Bangkok, illustrates this point.
Just because we think we are communicating something clearly does not necessarily mean that it is being understood.