A2 Blog Centre

A summary from three blogs: A2 Community + From The President + A2 Stories on Mission Network News

Stories from the people in the A2 Community...
  1. Michael C. Eicher joins A2 Board of Directors

    Asian Access announces newest board member

    m eicherLOS ANGELES (A2) Asian Access is thrilled to welcome Michael C. Eicher to its Board of Directors. In its official February meeting, Eicher was unanimously elected to the board effective immediately.

    As Senior Vice President for Advancement at The Ohio State University (OSU) since 2012, Eicher will bring vast experience to the A2 board and serve on the development committee.

    Joe Handley, president of Asian Access explained: “Mike brings a lot of wisdom from his amazing career in advancement. Having led three major university’s multi-billion dollar capital campaigns and overseeing all of their external relations, Mike is uniquely equipped to help strengthen our vision 'to see a vibrant community of servant leaders… leading the Church across Asia.' ”

    According to OSU’s Advancement website, “Eicher leads efforts to realize the full power and potential of The Ohio State University through complete integration and synthesis of the work of communications and marketing, alumni relations and fundraising.” All of this expertise promises to benefit Asian Access.

    Prior to 2012, Eicher previously served in senior development and communications roles at Johns Hopkins University and UCLA.

    Eicher reflected on this new appointment:

    “Having spent some time on several occasions with the Asian Access Board, I am humbled and very excited about the opportunity to join this vibrant and dynamic group of leaders in such an important and meaningful mission. I look forward to following God's lead, learning from the wisdom and experience of the group, and contributing to the movement.”

    The initial term of new board members is three years in duration, but is renewable. Asian Access looks forward to a great relationship with Mike Eicher, who has connected with Joe Handley in past roles.

    Handley added: “I’ve known Mike and his wife Inez for many years dating back to my tenure at Rolling Hills Covenant Church where Mike served on the elder council while he was the Vice Chancellor for External Affairs at UCLA.

    “I’ve watched Mike shine as he moved across the country. Now to add someone of such great leadership, wisdom and knowledge to our board of directors is a great blessing.” Handley said.

    More Information

  2. God’s Not Dead: Social Media Engagement

    Rusty Coffelt

    This past year, a friend made the following Facebook post: “God is not dead. His son died so each of us could have eternal life if we accept him. Do you accept the gift he has given you?”

    Pretty bold!

    It reminded me of a post I made for EvangelVision on how effective I found social media for sharing my faith, especially via simply praying for people.

    As you can see from my friend’s post, several ‘liked’ his comment and a few commented. This capture was only a few hours after his posting, too. It was amazing to see the responses flow from his post! I thought, “How creative! This is a unique way to share your faith.” Beyond this, people respond to things like this!

    Paul shares with the Corinthians, "Since we have such a hope, we are very bold..." (2 Cor. 3:12). Sharing like this really isn’t that hard. It just takes a little courage. I’ve been surprised when I walk in my hope like Paul shares here. People respond far more positively than I imagined. Read the full chapter in Corinthians and see all that God is doing. You’ll be inspired!

    How about you? What occurs when you share your faith like this? Have you tried? Give it shot and let me know what happens!

    Joe Handley

    This post originally published on EvangelVision.com at: http://www.evangelvision.com/gods-not-dead-social-media-engagement/

  3. The Philippines: Big Vision, Big Challenges—And More Vision

    You can say this about Christian leaders in the Philippines—they have vision.

    In 1974, there were around 5,000 churches in the entire nation. Then, a key church-growth conference was held in Manila. Out of this conference was birthed the Disciple A Whole Nation (DAWN) movement. DAWN’s vision? By the year 2000—a mere 25 years away—there would be 50,000 churches in the Philippines… a 1000% increase!

    It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But when 2000 rolled around, the Philippines celebrated an actual total of over 68,000 churches! It is one of the most remarkable church-growth seasons in history.

    President Joe Handley and I had the opportunity to hear about this firsthand recently. We were in Metro Manila, meeting with a number of key leaders as we explored the possibility of Asian Access becoming part of God’s work in the Philippines. Along with the tremendous blessings the Philippine Church has enjoyed, however, we also learned that this rapid growth has created significant challenges.


    Big Growth = Big Challenges

    Many churches are led by young leaders who lack education, experience, and spiritual maturity. Many congregations are equally young and immature. This young-leader, young-church combination can lead to major stress for everyone involved.

    One veteran pastor shared his experience:

    “I had five staff at my church. All of them had problems with their wives.  I found that at times they overworked in the ministry so that they could avoid their problems at home.

    “On top of this, churches are not trained or equipped to know how to care for and support their pastors.  It becomes a doubled-edged problem.  We need training for pastors and for churches, particularly church elders and board members.”

    Later that same day, we met with Pastor Mark Rosacay, a dynamic emerging leader at a church in southwest Manila. Mark was called into the ministry out of the advertising business, where he had begun his career after completing college. 


    He described his experience as common in the Philippines. “Many pastors in the Philippines are calledrather than hired. They did not come out of seminary or Bible school training. In the provinces, they are often bi-vocational due to lack of resources. So we have pastors who are big on call, but small on training and empowerment.”

    Over and over, we heard a refrain capsulized by Dr. Met Castillo, a veteran pastor, missionary, seminary president, and pioneer member of the original DAWN movement: “Training, leadership training, is a dire need in the Philippines.”


    Tackle the Problems—and Full Speed Ahead

    Filipino leaders are aware of the challenges they face and, encouragingly for Asian Access, are enthusiastic as to how A2 could help to address these challenges.  But growth problems notwithstanding, one thing that is still running strong is the vision for Kingdom growth that drove the original DAWN movement.

    Are leaders in the Philippines content to rest on past blessings?  Consider these visions for the future we heard from two key Filipino leaders.

    Bishop Dan Balais(below), Senior Pastor/President of Christ the Living Stone Fellowship and Chairman of Intercessors for the Philippines, shared a vision for growth tied into the year 2020, which marks the 500th anniversary of the Christian cross being planted in the Philippines.  “Right now, the Body of Christ comprises 12% of the population.  By 2020, our vision is that fully 50% of the population will be Christ followers.”


    Second, we heard from Pastor Nono Badoy (below), who has just assumed the presidency of the Philippine Mission Association after 21 years of ministry with Evangelism Explosion.  Pastor Nono shared PMA’s ambitious vision:  By 2020, their goal is to plant nearly 60,000 new churches in the Philippines, which would bring the total number of churches from the current 68,000 to nearly 130,000 churches. 


    He also outlined some additional 2020 goals:

    • 30,000 churches mobilized to engage in cross-cultural outreach
    • 5,000,000 prayer intercessors mobilized, to pray both for the Philippines and for unreached peoples worldwide
    • 2,000,000 believers engaged in cross-cultural evangelism
    • 500 new Bible translation workers to assist Wycliffe and SIL in ongoing Bible translation projects for unreached people groups


    What amazing vision! 

    We are excited to see how God seems to be leading Asian Access to become a part of the amazing Kingdom vision in the Philippines—and how God could use A2 to help identify, develop and release the dynamic leaders He has raised up to grow His Church in this wonderful country.

    Noel Becchetti

  4. Moving the Needle

    00052 00086

    It was about 7 years ago this month that I put my name in the hat as a candidate for president of Asian Access. Luis Bush from Transform World encouraged me to apply a few months prior and after doing quite a bit of research, I told the Asian Access board at my interview, "Asian Access is one of the best kept secrets in mission today."

    Why? As the mission leader at one of America's top 100 mission churches in America, I had no idea about their strategic focus. It was in the process of exploring about this mission that I learned of the catalytic investment Asian Access was making in some of the most influential emerging young leaders across the continent of Asia. This investment has in many ways contributed to some amazing goals and outcomes:

    • Helping draft the first constitution ever written in a former Hindu kingdom and communist country
    • Seeing the percentage of believers go from under 0.5% to well over 6% today
    • Goals to plant 75,000 churches by the year 2020
    • Another goal to see 10% of the country following Christ

    Leaders consistently share how their relationship with Christ has been transformed and that transformation has led to the remarkable results they are now seeing in ministry. Spouses are thanking us for changing their husbands and wives in dramatic fashion.

    Soon I'll hit the half century mark in life (Yes, I actually am turning 50 in March) and to be part of a movement that is actually moving the needle in game changing ways is phenomenal. I'm so glad that Luis shared with me the opportunity to serve with Asian Access. To invest my life in amazing leaders who are making a significant kingdom dent as they walk deeply with Christ is the thrill of a lifetime.

    Thank you for partnering with us in this venture... And, join me on this amazing journey! You can pray, you can get involved, and you can go. You too could move the needle. It all starts with a deep walk with Jesus—it's totally from the inside out!

    Would you like to join me?

    Joe Handley

  5. The Leaders Must Come from Outside!

    japanese pastors-500-gb

    The Christian subculture challenge

    Recently I met with a Japanese Christian leader to catch up on each other’s lives, to discuss the challenges of the spread of the gospel in this nation, and to dream a bit about how to build upon the many partnerships that have been developing between Christian groups in Japan. During our conversation, he surprised me with an unexpected comment:

    “The leaders of the church community in Japan need to come from outside the church community!”

    “What do you mean?” I asked. “Church leaders need to be out in the community,” he answered. Then he explained that the Christian church subculture is so different from the realities of everyday Japanese life that for most Japanese, the church has no connection to the community.

    “We can’t keep doing things the way we always have,” he emphasized.

    For any leader to truly know how their church can reach the local community, rather than focusing solely on the “maintenance” of the existing church family, they need to be out in the community. Then, from the community they can come into the local church to provide leadership for reaching back out to the community.


    Church multiplication

    Statements like the above from Japanese leaders give me great hope for the evangelization of Japan—a country that has been known as a “missionary graveyard” for decades.

    • Another encouragement was that just a couple of weeks earlier I had attended an Asian Access Japan sponsored “Vision Festival” that drew together over 60 Japanese pastors from all across Japan to discuss church multiplication.
    • One model presented was the “convenience store” concept. There are currently about 45,000 convenience stores in Japan, with 50,000 being considered the saturation point. On the other hand, currently there are only about 8,000 evangelical churches. So the formation of 42,000 more churches—whether “traditional,” “house,” “cell,” “satellite,” or some other model seems to be a logical goal.
    • Another pastor talked about how his group of churches is achieving church multiplication by using a “strawberry evangelism” paradigm. Just as a strawberry plant sends out multiple runners to start new plants, so mother churches send out church members as “runners” to plant daughter churches.
    • Yet another pastor has a vision for Japan’s population to be 10% Christian by 2024! (from the current 1/2 percent!)

    As missionaries, how do we respond to these mind-boggling dreams from our Japanese partners?

    • First, we praise God that visionary pastors are being moved by God to dream big dreams.
    • Second, we are reminded that our task is not only to make disciples, but to equip them to “make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples”! 
    • Third, to achieve these “impossible dreams,” we must go even deeper in our partnerships across the entire evangelical church community, encouraging each other in multiplication—knowing that if we truly are willing to follow God where he may lead, we won’t be able to continue “doing church” in the same ways we have for decades.

    What do you think?


    Gary Bauman, Asian Access missionary in Japan

    Gary Bauman
    Strategic Resource Development
    Editor, Japan Harvest magazine
    Tokorozawa, Japan


    More Information

  6. Springtime and Harvest in Japan

    rice-harvest 1706

    As we approach Spring again, rice farmers across Japan are once again preparing their paddies to plant a new crop soon. Springtime and harvest.

    Just a few months ago, it was that time when rice paddies turn bright and golden yellow, signaling they’re ready for harvest. The process began back in the spring. Before planting, the land was tilled, and the soil and seedlings were prepared. The seedlings were then meticulously planted, and the paddies subsequently flooded with water. The sparsely planted young seedlings were barely visible then, but over the course of the summer months, the paddies became full and green.

    rice-field-crane 0833

    With the advent of Fall, the paddies turn bright and golden yellow becoming even more tightly packed. Finally, the time of harvest is here.


    As farmers look forward to the harvest of their crop, the Church also looks towards a harvest of our own in followers of Christ. We've tilled the 'soil,' planted the 'seeds,' and carefully watched over the 'crop.' But unlike the rice paddies of Japan, our fields still seem sparse and undeveloped. While we know about the slow growth of the Japanese church, it's still often discouraging to experience it. We wonder what can be done differently, and ask ourselves what mistakes we've made. Yet we are often reminded that God is at work, and that a time of harvest is already here, whether we can see it or not!

    I was recently encouraged by a message given by a visiting pastor from the Philippines. His message, titled "Unstoppable," was centered on Jesus' parables from Mark 4. Among those teachings, Jesus tells us about a farmer who is successful in sowing his seeds only 25% of the time, and about one of the smallest seeds in the garden. Yet despite the apparent limitations, Jesus' message is full of hope and promise. The one successfully sown seed yields an extraordinary return. And that tiny seed, smaller than any other in the garden, grows to dwarf the other plants.

    Through the teachings of Mark 4, the pastor made three points:

    1. The kingdom of God will grow in the face of adversity, therefore, be faithful and keep working;
    2. The growth of the kingdom of God is unstoppable and irresistible; and...
    3. The kingdom of God will surpass all kingdoms in its glory.

    What may appear as weak, modest, or lacking, God uses to demonstrate His strength. Whether it's a farmer who fails 75% of the time, or a speck of a seed, God uses it to further His kingdom in an unstoppable manner.

    We have yet to see this remarkable harvest and growth in the towns of Watari and Yamamoto—still recovering from the 2011 disasters—not to mention the whole of Japan, but there are signs that the harvest is here! In our twice‐month worship services here at the Keisen Christ Church Sennan Chapel, members of the community have been coming more consistently: Mrs. S, our neighbor in her 70s, and Mrs. N, a lady who lives in temporary housing. Mr. T, who also lives in temporary housing, has been hesitant to come to worship, yet he attends almost all of our events and has become a good friend of ours.

    Continue to pray with us that many in this community, including those mentioned above, and all across Japan would come to know and experience Christ as we know Him, would receive His love, and would be filled with the sense of peace that can only come from Him.

    Soon the process of tilling and planting will begin once again. Pray for a bountiful crop.

    Raymund To


    More Information

    • If you're interested in being a part of tilling, sowing, watering, tending and harvesting in Japan, visit go2japan.org to learn more.


  7. Are you a world changer?

    Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at my son's high school chapel. He attends a fairly new preparatory school here in the South Bay of Los Angeles. It was an honor being with the students at Ambassador High.

    It reminded me of my time at Whittier Christian High years ago. I don't know about you but high school was one of those seasons of life where I was going through all sorts of adolescent worries: am I good enough, do people like me, am I ever going to make it in life were all questions that I was wrestling with. Did you ever feel like that? Or, do you feel like that today?

    I told the students that God clearly called me into ministry during that season but I avoided it like the plague. I played the Jonah game: God wants me to go to Nineveh but I think I'll head out into the Mediterranean Sea! Not too much longer a friend invited me on a mission trip that changed my life. I went to Mexicali with Azusa Pacific University and God cemented for me that He was calling me to something different than I was chasing.

    That one trip led to the journey of a lifetime where I have now traveled to 50 countries and seen God do some amazing things. I told the students at Ambassador High that he had destined them to be world changers just like me and many of the others I have the privilege of serving. No matter how we feel about ourselves, God can use us if we lean into Him and allow Him to guide and shape our destiny.

    Last year I read a few books that highlighted this:

    to-change-the-world coverTo Change the World by James Davidson Hunter was profound toward this end. It was probably the single best book I read last year! Dr. Hunter shares how leaders are formed and where networks are made and how spending time in the right circles can lead you to enormous places of influence. That is exactly what happened to me as I leaned into God's grace way back years ago in the dust of Mexicali. Slowly but surely God put me alongside amazing leaders that allowed me to flourish and gave me the wind to see amazing things happen! More on Dr. Hunter's work later...


    view-from-the-top cover

    A View from the Top by Michael Lindsay confirmed Dr. Hunter's thesis. He did tons of interviews with top level leaders showing how they emerged into leadership and how they came to positions of prominence to shape the world we now live in.

    Most important though in all of this was something Dr. Hunter pointed out. He called it "Faithful Presence". Despite all the leadership insights, connections, halls of power, etc. his key point was that we simply need to be a "faithful presence" in society. What I love about Asian Access is that we live out these truths. We identify key leaders, build capacity in their lives and release them for missional impact... Ultimately though, we know the real power to being world changers is in Jesus!

    To me, this was most evident in the passages I shared in chapel yesterday:

    Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." [Matthew 28:18-20]


    "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." [Acts 1:8]

    The key to changing the world is shown in these two missional challenges: It is a deep connection with God himself. In the first passage we see that Jesus promise is what sustains us in world changing: "surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." And, the key in the second passage is "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..."

    No matter how you feel. No matter what you are struggling with. God has called you to be a world changer! You can make a difference in this world as you simply lean into Him and let Him direct your path. Start leaning into Him and become a world changer!

    Joe Handley

    @jwhandley | jhandley@asianaccess.org 

  8. Are you distracted and hurried in 2015?

    Excavated area behind North Gate of Nehemiah's WallThe new year is a natural time for deeper reflection setting ambitious goals. Here are some thoughts I've been mulling over.

    As the year began, I was reminded of something Nehemiah said when he was nearing completion of his building project, the wall around Jerusalem—clearly a work God had called him to. In chapter six two men, who were feeling threatened by Nehemiah's success, requested he come to a meeting. But he saw through their invitation and instead replied, "I am about a great work and will not come down" (v. 3). My husband, Mike, and I like to repeat this quote when something or someone tugs at us that is clearly a distraction. These words pull us back to what God has called us to—the great task at hand and our unwavering commitment to it.

    So what is "the great work" we are about in Japan? A2 Japan is committed to seeing disciples multiplied and developing reproducing leaders to start new congregations in many forms across Japan and spreading to Asia. It's that simple and worth every effort. Reading our missionaries' newsletters over the months tells me how each one is committed with unwavering resolve to this call. Nehemiah's "enemies" did all they could to distract, discourage, and basically scare him off, but he remained focused and finished the task. Later in chapter six, when these enemies (and all the nations around them) heard that the wall was finished, "they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God" (v. 16). While Nehemiah was faithful, it was obvious to all that God made it happen.

    Now to the flip-side... I recently read in John Ortberg's book, Soul Keeping, that John met Dallas Willard and asked the question,

    "What do I need to do to stay spiritually healthy?"

    His reply was,

    "You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."


    John made a note and went on to ask,

    "What else...?"

    and Dallas said,

    "There is nothing else."

    To some it may seem a contradiction to have an unwavering commitment to a great task and not get in a hurry about it. However. I am convinced that eliminating hurry is an essential part to staying focused and in lock-step with what God is doing. It also helps us to remain faithful to the end, until the task is accomplished.


    May this be a year of laser-focus on being a faithful disciple of Christ, making multiplying disciples and developing reproducing leaders to start new congregations.


    When distractions come (we all know they will!) remember Nehemiah's words, "I am about a great work and will not come down." When we see that needle move and even surpass the ambitious vision God has given—to see a million new believers and a thousand new Christ-communities, a thousand missionaries from Japan sent out across by 2020 and even beyond one pastor's vision to see 50,000 churches, equal to the number of convenience stores in Japan, we know it wasn't just due to our diligence. When those visions are fulfilled, may it be obvious to all that God made it happen!

    For an unhurried and laser-focused 2015,

    Mary Jo Wilson | VP for Japan


    More Information

    If you want to join our work in Japan, start here...


    Bio: Mary Jo Wilson

  9. Plant Churches... Plant Churches... Plant Churches!


    At Asian Access’ fall board retreat, Doug Birdsall shared the powerful story of how the 2020 Vision for Japan emerged. Listening to Doug share is always an inspiration! He spoke about how he was sensing the Lord might be calling him away from the mission of Asian Access—but one night woke up and all he could see and hear was the phrase over and over again:

    “Plant Churches…
     Plant Churches…
    Plant Churches!”

    Doug BirdsallIt was a clear sign that God had called Doug to stay with the mission, and as he assumed leadership, he unveiled a vision that God had given him:
    The 2020 Vision for Japan!

    • To deploy 100 church multiplication teams...
    • Start 1000 reproducing churches...
    • That would lead to 1,000,000 new followers of Jesus..
    • And send 1000 missionaries from Japan to the major cities of Asia.


    The Improbable Now Possible!

    Everyone thought the vision was impossible and for years that sentiment carried on. Until, the horrible triple disaster that hit Northeastern Japan in 2011. The relief efforts that followed this tragedy led to a new sense of hope that this vision was within reach. Churches have been planted more quickly than we ever could have imagined.

    We praise God for allowing us to participate in His vision and His work. What a privilege!

    And Even More Expansion

    Now Asian Access has expanded beyond Japan to ten other countries, and we are looking to start two more over the course of the next year. Not only this though. The vision has inspired a number of other efforts across Asia:

    • Now we have pastors in Japan dreaming of planting 50,000 churches by 2030.
    • There is a vision in Mongolia to see 10% of the nation following Christ by 2020. When they began in the early 90’s less than 1% of the nation new Jesus. Today, most say that 7-8% of Mongolia is following Christ!
    • Another country has a vision to plant 75,000 churches by 2020
    • One more has a vision to send 20,000 missionaries by 2030

    I wonder what other visions may emerge as Asian Access invests in leaders to see churches planted and nations transformed… What will you do if you wake up in the middle of a night and hear God speaking with you?

    "And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” Acts 2:17

    Joe Handley

  10. A2 Colleagues Release New Books

    These are exciting days for Asian Access. Ministry is thriving and we are on the cusp of growing into new countries. Several have noted A2’s influence, even challenging us to speak publicly on those things God has gifted us with – Making the Most of Our Time. Even charity watch groups have noted our effectiveness: Charity Navigator’s CEO highlights A2!

    Exponential-Culture coverMost recently, I’m proud to announce the publication of two new books. The first is a book by my colleague, Michael Wilson, church multiplication catalyst for Asian Access. I had the privilege of pre-reading Mike’s book and here’s my review:

         "Discipleship is at the heart of Christ's call for our lives... Here, Rev. Dr. Michael Wilson, shares stories and principles that help point the way forward… this book will help you as you seek to become more like Jesus and to be salt and light in our world today.”

    mike-wilson-headshotI encourage you to get a copy of Mike’s book, Exponential Culture here. You’ll enjoy learning how to be a better disciple and how to become a disciple-maker!



    Journey-of-Grace coverIn addition to this fantastic resource, I’m excited to share about the new book by Adrian De Visser, A2’s vice president for partnership development. Adrian has a powerful message about the importance of “Grace” that you won’t want to miss. Adrian De VisserBirthed in the heart of ministry during a 30 year civil war, Adrian’s profound biblical lessons are well worth learning from. Get a copy of Journey of Grace here. You will learn tons about life and ministry and may find healing in the midst of your pain!

    I’m proud of my two friends and I trust you’ll enjoy their books as much as I have.

    When you read them, let me know what you have learned! - jhandley@asianaccess.org

    Joe Handley

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