A summary from three blogs: A2 Community + From The President + A2 Stories on Mission Network News
What an incredible week together in Bangkok as nearly 2,500 pastoral trainers gathered together from 112 countries to catalyze a movement for pastoral training.
Asian Access was right in the mix of it all. We served as pre-conference consultants to the overall program, led one of the primary workshop tracks on Spiritual Engagement, and our very own Jeyakaran Emmanuel and Takeshi Takazawa made us proud by serving as the congress emcee’s all week. Jayakaran's wife Kavitha also served in that same MC role. They did a fantastic job.
You can see the action at our previous posts on the Parallel Session:
With this post, you’ll see a slideshow of our final gathering and a few pics from the week overall. I believe there were some 60-70 Asian Access alumni and faculty from across 10 countries serving and participating in the congress overall. Here’s some of what they shared learning during the course of the week...
"I was deeply impressed by how influential Asian Access is. It was stunning to see our community so involved at so many levels across this congress. Clearly we are doing the right things. What Asian Access is doing is profound!"
Praise God for such an opportunity to see the “vibrant community of servant leaders… leading the Church across Asia!”
Hope you enjoy the photo slideshow!
Pastor John has a heart for empowering rural pastors. He inspired me as I listened to him share his burden with me several weeks ago. He was so blessed by Asian Access that he started his own training program for pastors in the rural areas around his province—even before he graduated from the two-year A2 journey!
This was a vision of both the first and second classes of Asian Access in his region but they told me how moved they were by Pastor John. They had the idea but it wasn’t until John came along in the third class that this vision turned into reality.
John is now reproducing Asian Access training among rural pastors surrounding his city. We see this in several countries but now to see it here in one of the most populated countries on earth is important. This is a country with significant needs and a massive population. If there ever was a country that so desperately needed the multiplication of leaders like this, this is the country.
What a joy to see our core value of multiplication of leaders happening; we call this “Reproducing Disciple-making Leaders!”
When our graduates are blessed by Asian Access and, in turn, take the training to new areas and impact dozens of new leaders, our work is multiplied many times over. This reproduction can happen on an individual level, within a denomination or into even a new geographic region. Whenever it does happen, we rejoice and are thanful.
Pray for John and his family as he steps out in faith to empower the least resourced pastors in his region!
Two months have passed since a series of devastating 6.4 to 7.3-magnitude earthquakes struck Kumamoto, Japan, with churches, pastors and volunteers facing the daunting task of trauma care for multitudes of displaced people. In a recent visit to the epicenter, Asian Access missionary John Houlette, along with Dr. Timothy Iwagami of Crash Japan and Shinji Ishizaka of the Salvation Army, met with Kyushu Christian Relief Center leaders Yoji Nakamura and Paul Yokota to assess the emotional care needs of survivors and care givers. They also provided pastoral care to two pastors.
Kumamoto church leaders are resilient, but very tired. One pastor does not have permanent housing, so shuttles between living in a tent in a shelter and living with volunteers in her church. Today heavy rains have flooded the church parking lot as the riverbank across the street from their facility partially sunk after the earthquake. They ask for prayer as they are sheltering on the second floor until the flooding subsides.
Another couple talked about ministry opportunities to children in the epicenter even though their church and parsonage were destroyed. While they asked about self-care, their chief concern was finding a regular meeting place so that they could reach out to the traumatized children.
The June 10 edition of the Mainichi Shinbum (online newspaper) reported that 88 temporary housing units are completed and survivors were able to move in on June 14th. Over 3,000 units are to be completed by the fall.
Houlette will facilitate two emotional care/active listening seminars July 16-17 and lead a retreat for pastors August 16-18. Please pray for these events.
Three Stream Ministries (TSM) was to launch in April of 2011 to assist clergy and congregations to be whole, holy and missional. Three weeks before start up, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, changing the trajectory of the ministry. Over the next five years TSM has served over 100 pastors through retreats, getaways, resources, preaching, training and active listening.
The final day of our Spiritual Engagement Session at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers we covered the topic of Prayer, Warfare and Deliverance. Temo Lemos and Sidny Ciscernos from Manantiel de Vida Church led the day and invited Otto Kladensky from TOPIC and Mike Wilson from Asian Access to share.
The session followed the flow of our Congress, namely...
Temo and Sidny walked us through the vital importance of our health as pastors. They opened with a provocative question: “Why do so many Christian leaders not lived changed lives?”Walking through scripture they pointed to ways we could walk in wholeness looking at the full picture of leading a balanced and healthy life. In particular, they pointed to the importance of being set free from those things that can easily entangle us.
Case studies were then highlighted showing how we can engage society through the local church. Otto Kladensky walked through a model of Praying for our Cities and how that has brought transformation to several cities throughout Latin America and the world.
This week we have taken a look at key elements for pastoral trainers:
We trust that as the Global Proclamation Congress comes to an end, that the 300+ participants in our track will not only commit to investing in 25 other pastoral trainers in the next five years but also live out the values shared throughout this week: the best practices in the equipping of a pastor in the vitally important area of Spiritual Engagement. Dr. Ramesh Richard stated...
Everything else falls apart unless this key area is handled well:
Character proceeds everything!
With this in mind, I point us to the central truth and teaching of Asian Access:
"I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.”
When we abide in Christ, live in a love relationship with Him, then we will bear much fruit. But, without Him, we can do nothing!
Asia (MNN) — Research shows Asia has the greatest strategic importance to the United States, both now and in the next 20 years.
It’s also home to the highest amount of unreached people groups.
This provides a unique opportunity for organizations like Asian Access, which trains and equips believers for spiritual leadership in an effort to establish long-term spiritual growth.
“We come alongside key pastors and now CEOs and senior vice presidents in the business sphere, but predominately with pastors over the last 35 years, investing deeply in their lives and building capacity for them,” Asian Access President Joe Handley says.
“Asia is a crucial place for us to be investing, and thus Asian Access spends all of our time focused on this region of the world that is going to be so crucial, not only presently, but even more so in the coming 20 years.”
So far, this work has proved fruitful. Handley says Asian Access has been coming alongside pastors in one South Asian country for the past few decades, and has seen spiritual doors opened.
“I was just recently with some friends travelling, and they were telling me that in the middle of the 1960s, around 1966, I believe there were only about 600 or so Christians in [the country], and today they estimate there are over 2 million of them,” Handley says.
“During at least half of that time roughly, Asian Access has been investing in key pastors, and it has been remarkable to see what God has done in their lives.
“They’ve had such an influence on the nation that they were actually invited in to help draft or speak into the religious liberty sections of their recent constitution which they ratified as a nation last September. Today, they have the first secular state constitution they’ve ever had, saying we’re no longer exclusively tied to one religion, but that all religions can be a part of this nation.”
Can you come alongside Asian Access as it works to establish spiritual growth in Asia? Handley asks that you pray for a continued spiritual movement throughout the continent. You can find other ways to pray, donate and get involved by clicking here.
“If you want something to last a year, plant a seed.
If you want something to last a decade, plant a tree.
If you want something to last a century, plant a person.
But, if you want something to last for eternity, mentor people!”
— Roli Manuel, Mentorlink and TOPIC, Philippines
Today’s topic for our Spiritual Engagement Track was Pastoring of Pastors and/or Mentoring. Herman Moldez, the leader of Mentorlink and TOPIC for the Philippines did an exceptional job of showing us how to really see lives changed: through mentoring of others to be and live like Jesus. His colleague Roli, caught the concept quite well in quoting the proverb above: if you want something to have enduring value: mentor people!
As you can see in several of these photos, a number of wonderful resources were suggested and many of you may want to visit the Mentorlink website to download free materials.
Perhaps most powerful was when Asian Access/Myanmar alumnus Chuang Sang Vunga shared his story. He had learned so many great lessons from Asian Access but he failed to pass them along until he realized that whatever he was learning, he had to practice himself. Once he began modeling what he was learning and practicing it in his own life, things started to explode!
He first started spending quality and quantity time with the Lord every day. This led his family to take notice as his life was beginning to transform. His wife then joined him for these daily sessions and their relationship grew by leaps and bounds. Before this, he tried to explore his adult children to spend time with Jesus but it wasn’t until they began seeing the life changes that they actually joined in. All of sudden a mentoring movement exploded.
Today, as you can see in this picture:
Indeed, if you want to see a movement, spend deep time with Jesus every day; then let your life shine among those you serve. If you want something to endure for eternity, mentor people!
Dr. Bosela Eale had a powerful critique of many pastors who had gone through seminary and went into the pastorate: “They had a big head but with an empty heart!”.
Dr. Eale, the Catalyst for Leadership Development with the Lausanne Movement, shared today on Pastoral Leadership at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers during our Spiritual Engagement Track. He walked through the importance of values in pastoral leadership noting that when we don’t have the right values, we can get off course.
Three core values were seen as critical to the life of a pastor:
Stephen Van Horn shared about the pressure pastors face to conform to others or to please their people. He urged authenticity to just be yourself and to simply disciple the flock that God has given you. He stated, “God will take care of the growth of the church.”
Meng Aun Hour, national director of Asian Access/Cambodia shared a powerful story. In one region of Cambodia, local churches were stealing sheep and even other pastors from another denomination. It just so happened that God put both presidents of these two denominations in the same Asian Access cohort. They both became friends and traveled to this region with Meng and some of the other Asian Access alumni to help plant churches among unreached peoples. When they got to the region, the two denomination presidents learned about the sheep stealing between their two groups.
Holding a joint conference, both leaders stood before all of the two denominational pastors and confessed to the other group. They exhorted the pastors under them that this practice needed to stop immediately. And then they posted their mobile phone numbers on the white board and said:
"If any of you sees someone from my denomination stealing your sheep or your pastors, I want you to call me!"
By this, they were showing the value of influence and servant leadership as well as the value of unity.
During reflection two pastors attending the session shared some powerful statements to capture the essence of the hour:
Bosela struck the right chord: We don’t want to have a big head and an empty heart. The Church belongs to God, not to the pastor!
Do you have a big head with an empty heart? Sometime I do and I need to run to Jesus to set me straight. Thank God I have some good friends who speak into my life and help remind me the way of the Good Shepherd!
Share with me your reflections!
The tagline for the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers is “Accelerating Church Health Worldwide” and Dr. Ramesh Richard repeats almost every day that pastoral health leads to church health which leads to societal health!
Today, during the Spiritual Engagement Track, Dr. Jason Tan from the Great Commission Training Centre in the Philippines added another crucial element to this process: Marital Health! He suggested during our track on Marriage and Family that Marital Health leads to Pastoral Health and you can guess where to take it from there…
He and several case study presenters pictured here shared several ways that a pastor must focus on his family. Jason went as far to challenge the primary training institutions that require things like Greek and Hebrew but only make courses on Marriage and Family as optional when they are so crucial to the fruitfulness of a pastor!
He shared how we used to hear of pastors who had moral failure in the ministry but now we are hearing about wives leaving their pastor husbands due to neglect, abuse, lack of provision, etc. He even mentioned a child who said to his father, “Dad, how many more lost souls am I worth?”Ouch! Imagine that, a pastor willing to abandon his child’s spiritual condition for the sake of others. Jason further exhorted the room: “Pastors: Don’t you dare help another family if your own family is suffering!"
Jason called for us to make a New Manifesto charging pastors to care for their families as a top priority in ministry quoting passages like 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Malachi 2:13-15.
Join us in pleading your life to a new manifesto! Why? Because Marital (and Family) Health leads to Pastoral Health which leads to Church Health which will help Societal Health!
South Asia (MNN) – Knowledge and logic may help you win an argument, but it’s not always the most effective way to lead people to Christ. Often times, just showing God’s love has the greatest impact.
That was the case with one Tibetan priest. Last year, we told you about a Buddhist Lama from Tibet who came to Christ and had a vision to plant churches throughout the valleys of the Himalayas.
Joe Handley, President of Asian Access, says one of the major reasons why this man became a Christian was because of the love believers had shown him in providing relief efforts when a natural disaster struck a nearby country a year ago.
Now, Handley has an encouraging update:
“This priest had such an influence in his community, in his nation, that 62 other Buddhist monks have now decided to follow Christ,” Handley says. “It is really remarkable.”
That’s not all. “Just within the last year alone, [church leaders] are estimating that more than 200,000 people have come to Christ as a result of the labors of the Christian community there.”
Asian Access is one organization that has played a key role in this spiritual movement, by training and discipling church leaders in order to establish long-term spiritual growth.
“Asian Access just has the privilege of coming alongside key pastors like the ones that have invested in this Tibetan priest’s life,” Handley says. “We invest deeply, building their capacity so they can reach their communities.
“God does amazing things when you invest in people and see them grow deeper in Him, grow stronger as leaders, learn how to reproduce other leaders, and then it spreads through church planting efforts in ways that are simply remarkable.”
Asian Access is making a major difference, but it needs your help to keep going. Handley asks for prayers that God would continue this spiritual movement in South Asia. There are also opportunities for you to give financially or even take a trip through Asian Access.
You may have seen pictures from our first full day here in Bangkok at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers. If you haven’t, check out my Facebook page here!
On this day, we had what Dr. Ramesh Richard called the meat of the Congress: working sessions where we get to dig deeper into pastoral training. Asian Access has the privilege of leading one of these tracks on Spiritual Engagement. Dr. Richard calls this track foundational as nothing else can work if we don’t have proper character formation in pastors!
Our first session was led by two ladies from LeaderSource who did a fantastic job guiding us on Spiritual Formation and Vitality. These young ladies walked through four key paths of growing as a Christ-like leader! And, we had a lot of fun in the process: you can see our four models taken from the front row. Each of them represented key aspects of how Christ formed leaders and how we in turn can develop others as disciples and Christ-followers! I was so impressed.
What are these four characteristics, you might be asking? These ladies guided us through four key categories for all the key elements for growing:
You see Jesus led his disciples in these three ways. He invested in them spiritually but he also asked them to “follow me” and as he walked with them for three years, he instructed them and the entire time he was building their mutual relationship.
If you would like to learn more about Spiritual Engagement for Pastoral Trainers, keep following my blog posts this week. I’ll try to post something from every day. In addition, LeaderSource produces a great blog that is worth subscribing to: HealthyLeaders. I encourage you to check it out and sign up for their weekly blog post.
These key attributes are things that the Global Congress would endorse and that Asian Access embodies.
How are you growing as a leader? Do you focus solely on the ‘instructional’ sides of learning? If so, step out of your box and become more holistic like Jesus modeled and come from every angle to help build disciple-making leaders!
I’d love to hear from you too… If you’re at the Congress and have more to share from this workshop, please share. Or, if you’re not here with us and would like to share some wisdom, we’d love to hear from you!
Asian Access has been leading a workshop track (called Parallel Sessions) at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers. As you will see below, Asian Access was selected by Dr. Ramesh Richard to help facilitate these sessions.
This Congress has brought together the next generation of pastoral trainers to help equip and empower the Church for the coming decades of ministry. The need is immense and Dr. Richard highlights that only about 5% of the world has trained pastors to help lead the Church worldwide. What a tragedy!
If you've attended GPro Congress, here is some information about Asian Access...
A2's conference advertisement
|The Essence of Asian Access|
|The A2 Essence...|
Downloads:This one-sheet, double-sided flyer outlines the Essence of Asian Access in terms of our four desired ministry outcomes, the A2 leader development model and our ultimate goal for sustainable ministry in each country.
|Mission, Vision, Values of Asian Access|
|More about Asian Access...|
Mission, Vision, Values
This one-sheet flyer outlines the Mission, Vision and Values of Asian Access.
This one-sheet flyer gives the full listing and explanation of the Core Values of Asian Access.
Untrained and isolated pastors faithfully minister where Christ's Church is numerically growing. Church health, unfortunately, is not keeping up with church growth. I believe strengthening pastors stands at the epitome of missions strategy today. Asian Access strategically and effectively equips pastoral leaders in needy regions so churches can grow to be spiritually healthy. I am honored to serve on their reference council.
— Dr. Ramesh Richard
See Dr. Richard’s note about the Spiritual Engagement Track:
Asian Access is among a few of the finest non-formal pastoral training networks I know. I run into their leaders and friends all over the world since we share some fine, pastoral beneficiaries in our critical, but distinct programs in symbiosis and synergy. The invitation to A2s substantive participation in the build-up and follow-up, as well as the strategy and impact of the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers, comes with gratitude after careful study of major alignment of their approaches with the objectives of the GProCongress.
A2 carries long credibility in the pastoral training “industry” especially in strengthening the lives of pastors, helping them grow in their walk with God, in relationship to their marriages and families, and as pastors then reach out through their churches into their communities. The model of how A2 is helping transform the lives of pastors is why I have invited you to facilitate, create, and followup with the Spiritual Engagement & Pastoral Training focus—one of just seven parallel sessions in the dynamic, task-focused program.
It will not only provide additional exposure for Asian Access, but create major opportunities to contribute to the foundational need of spiritual vitality for pastoral leadership, since pastoral health affects church health and church health affects societal health.
Dr. Ramesh Richard
General Convener, Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers
President, Ramesh Richard Evangelism and Church Health, RREACH
Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary
Founder, Trainers of Pastors International Coalition [TOPIC]
For up-to-the minute updates, check out these sources:
By Rod Denton, Equipping The Next Generation
I recently read an article by Thom Rainer entitled ‘The One Common Factor of Effective Church Leaders’. He began the article by asking a critical question, “Is it possible to find one common factor in the lives and ministries of the most effective church leaders?”
He answered, “I think so” and then went on to say that...
“The most effective church leaders are being continuously and intentionally mentored… …it is the difference between good leadership and great leadership for most church leaders.”
Having made his point with some conviction, Thom Rainer however had to conclude that “mentoring is missing in over 90% of church leaders’ lives today.”
After reading the article, I stopped to say a quiet prayer of thanks for my mentor of over 30 years, John Mallison who happened to be one of the great Christian leaders in Australia for the twentieth century. After an amazingly fruitful life that spanned more than eighty years, John went to be with the Lord he loved while he was out on his morning walk.
I met John in my first year of full time ministry in 1980 when I went to hear him speak at an all day seminar on small groups. I immediately saw in John all I wanted for a mentor, and I pursued him for some time until he finally agreed to be my mentor.
As I now look back on the many years of our mentoring relationship, there are a number of important lessons I have learned that contribute to a mentoring relationship that empowers the mentoree. I want to mention 5 dynamics that are essential for an effective mentoring relationship (with some help from my Leadership Professor at Fuller Seminary, Dr Robert Clinton), and a number of qualities I valued in John’s life that made him such a great mentor to me.
Now that I have listed the five essential dynamics for a great mentoring relationship, why not give yourself a mark out of 10 regarding how well each of these dynamics are being worked out in your mentoring situation.
Finally, I want to write down the qualities of a mentor that I observed in my relationship with John. I shared these in a tribute to John on behalf of all his mentorees at his funeral service.
Thom Rainer said, “The one common factor of effective church leaders is that they were being continuously and intentionally mentored.” As I again reflect on my rich mentoring relationship with John Mallison, I can only say that I agree. So to all the emerging leaders who will read this article, can I say to you, “Find a mentor… start at the top and work your way down. They might say no, but they could say yes.”
This article was originally published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mentoring-relationship-empowers-tribute-my-mentor-john-rod
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Denton has served as a pastor and as a teacher in the development of emerging leaders in Australia and 9 different countries across Asia with Asian Access. He now serves as a consultant for Rod Denton Equipping The Next Generation. Rod also serves part time as the Mission's Resource Consultant with the Salvation Army. More information: www.roddentoneng.com.au
See also, Asian Access Faculty
This group of graduating pastors inspired me! I spent a week with them in South Asia listening to their stories, hearing their heart and facilitating discussions along with my colleagues Mary Jo Wilson and Pastor Laji. The focus of our week was World Mission and each of the pastors presented their strategy paper for their church.
Most compelling as usual with Asian Access is our core teaching about being “ALL IN with GOD”. To hear these pastors share about the importance of their “love relationship with God” was deeply moving.
As each of them spent significant time with the Lord and with one another over the past two and a half years, the Lord laid on their hearts a vision like you wouldn’t believe. What a joy it was listening to their plans—plans that were birthed by spending a great deal of time at the feet of Jesus!
One pastor reflected that if a plan is your own plan, it is likely going to be sized toward your expectations. But, he learned through Asian Access that true vision is God sized: something that is simply impossible through men! Each of them shared the vision God had for them and within the next five years many churches will be planted.
This one pastor who shared about learning a “God Sized Vision” was remarkable. He said that God impressed upon him “to plant a healthy church in every district of India by 2025”.
That vision was so big that even the other pastors asked, “Are you sure about that?” If this is true, then God is asking his church to plant 665 churches by 2025. Now that is a God-Sized Vision!
I’m praying for these pastors and the vision God has given them to plant churches in their nation. They inspire me and I’m praying that this particular pastor can see the vision God gave him to come to fruition—imagine, a church in every single district of his country by 2025: 665 new churches! Wow!!!
Thank you for praying for us as we come alongside leaders like these and more importantly please pray for visionary pastors like these who God has called to lead the Church across Asia!
You may recall the story following the disaster last year, a Tibetan Priest became a pastor! — https://www.mnnonline.org/news/former-buddhist-lama-turns-pastor/
I just heard an update from this story this week: this priest is not only a pastor with a vision to plant churches among all the unreached mountain valleys along the border but he also has an incredible following: 62 other buddhist monks have chosen to follow Christ as well. That is astounding!
Beyond this, since the disaster hit the country, church leaders are reporting that more than 200,000 people have decided to follow Jesus!
Why? — Because the church has been at the forefront of providing hope and healing in their communities. They haven’t seen Buddhists, Hindus, or other religious groups helping in the midst of the rubble. Rather, week after week, it is the followers of Jesus who have prove the test of time, sacrificed their own lives to serve and been the hands and feet of Jesus.
What a joy it is to come alongside such choice pastors as they have been inspired of God to make a difference in their country. As they abide in Christ, he has lifted their eyes to see the harvest that is plentiful in their midst.
I hope you’ll support pastors like this. Join me in praying for them and for their country as so many are coming to Jesus! Pray for them, encourage them, and do support us as we seek to encourage them!
If you’d like to send these leaders a note, go ahead and draft a note to me below and I’ll be sure to forward it along!
SE Asia (MNN) – For the past two and a half years, a group of pastors in SE Asia have been working hard to complete eight training modules through Asian Access. This area of the world is known for its resistance to the Gospel and those who share it.
These pastors recently completed the last module, have graduated the training, and are on their way to impact the world for Christ.
Mary Jo Wilson of Asian Access was able to teach during the last module.
“The final topic is missions so it’s looking at what they’ve learned about discipleship, multiplication, leadership and how they’re expressing that not only in their local context but expanding out regionally, nationally, and globally,” she says.
While cross-cultural mission trips often involve going overseas, Wilson explains that the area is extremely diverse with a large number of cultures and language groups all in one area.
This last module was designed to give these pastors a vision for world mission– even if it’s just reaching out to their neighbors.
“I think it’s natural for all of us to stay in our comfort zone and reach people who are right around us, who look like us and talk like us,” Wilson explains, “So I think for any Christian, it requires a bit of a push to get out of that comfort zone and see people who are very different from us, even if they have the same passport, and to find ways to cross that culture, to understand them and to plant seeds of the Gospel in ways that are relevant and expire an indigenous spark.”
In implementing the things that they learned in the module, these pastors have found resistance.
After a failed attempt with one group of people, they returned to the church. But God provided for them and rewarded their effort.
It turned out that members from the very same group worked in a building behind the church. The pastors were able to build relationships with them.
“It’s exciting to see ways that God was already working and providing means to bridge into these other cultural people groups around them and to see what doors God was opening and ways they could engage in that.”
This small group of pastors isn’t on very many people’s radar, but Wilson says it’s important that they get prayer support from other believers around the world.
“They’ve got big issues to wrestle with, in addition to poverty and education, they’re experiencing persecution right now and severe health issues. And so, there are a lot of things going on and I know that prayer is really powerful and that’s one way that we can engage and support and encourage and be part of that work.”
But even with big challenges, they have big dreams.
Wilson says toward the end of the program, each pastor presents his plans for ministry. One pastor who came from a rural setting wanted to mentor other pastors.
“The training that he’s had with Asian Access over these two and a half years has so dramatically impacted his life and his family and his ministry that he’s looking for ways to take this to rural pastors. So he has started a next level training to encourage and work with rural pastors.”
He’s already done a couple sessions, and his work is truly a God-send. Some of the pastors he’s encouraged were on the brink of quitting. It’s common for them to get discouraged due to isolation and burnout.
Asian Access is excited to see pastors who are passionate about their own walk with God. Leaders like this can more effectively engage the world around them with the Gospel and encourage believers to do the same.
“It’s exciting to see they’ve got a direction and steps and ways to accomplish it. So we’re excited to encourage and support and continue to pray with them.”
We can all raise support for pastors like these and help them pursue the calling God has given them. The most important thing to do is pray.
Wilson says God cares for these pastors and that is reason enough to stand behind them.
“If I’m a believer and my heart is to know God and love him, I have to see that part of his heart.”
Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 1:50)
Sri Lanka (MNN) – Flood waters in Sri Lanka are slowly receding now, revealing the extent of the damage from last week’s torrent. Asian Access’ Joe Handley says what they’re hearing from their partners is that, “It’s the worst disaster to hit the nation in the last five years.”
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its situation report, “Many of the affected population, particularly in the rural areas, were already amongst the most vulnerable in the country and have now lost everything, including their homes, possessions, agricultural land and means of making a living.”
The water’s surge forced more than 350,000 people from their homes. Government officials also anticipate the death toll to rise well beyond too. “They’re estimating”, explains Handley, that “at least the last I’ve seen, over two billion dollars’ damage that occurred across the country.”
In fact, last week’s deluge is considered by some aid groups to be the worst natural disaster in the Indian Ocean region since the 2004 tsunami.
“I’m getting reports that there are still places that are under eight feet of water after four days of rains”, he notes, adding, this disaster hit families living in both rural and urban areas; it destroyed more than 125,000 houses and triggered deadly landslides. Many people have returned home to find it in ruins, buried in mud or filled with stagnant water.
The government’s asking for help supplying mats, bed sheets and mobile toilet units for the displaced people. Damage estimates are expected to exceed US$2 billion. Although the government has promised compensation to survivors, details remain unclear.
However, because A2 responded 12 years ago with the tsunami, they know how to respond to this crisis, too.
“These churches have been reaching out in the midst of this disaster, and many of their friends, family, communities have been hit. They’re trying to come alongside and provide shelter, provide food, provide encouragement, emotional healing in the midst of the pain.”
Figuring out the next step prompted an early recall of Sri Lanka’s parliament. They met yesterday to discuss reconstruction and rehabilitation. In the urban areas, it’s easier. The further out you go, the harder it gets to mobilize any help, says Handley. “Colombo is the biggest city, but most of the areas hit are rural areas that don’t have a lot of resources.”
Because A2 has experience in crisis, they’ve gained respect. “We’ve even seen Buddhist priests who have blocked renegade activities against the church simply because they have seen the body of Christ come in and help the community so much in the midst of these disasters.”
Nothing is sure. A2 Sri Lankan partners are in the thick of the disaster. Right now, they’re doing a situation assessment. Until they know what they’re actually dealing with, Handley says, “People are always surprised that ‘what, tangibly, can I do?’ and oftentimes, the most important thing you can do is start with prayer. Prayer fuels the power of Christ in those regions, and stirs in our own hearts so as we pray, we’re mindful of what God is doing in those areas.”
The cyclone pummeled Sri Lanka for four days before moving on to swipe at Bangladesh. Information is still trickling in about recovery efforts there. For details on how the Church is acting in the name of Christ in disaster, click here.
Listen to the broadcast (top story)
I had a blast co-teaching with Mary Jo Wilson, Asian Access vice president for missional engagement, these last two weeks in South Asia! She did a great job as you can see captured in these photos…
Mary Jo led the pastors through a culture game that had everyone actively engaged and experiencing a taste of how difficult it is to operate in another culture. Watching the pastors try to figure out each others tribes was hilarious. Some even resorted to fighting, practically speaking.
Then she spoke further about mission strategy as you’ll see in these other photos. The slide on the value of discipleship and multiplication gave a poignant example of the importance of making disciples rather than simply focusing on conversions. Over time, the impact of disciple making movements is powerful!
Then, she showed an excellent illustration highlighting our core value of being ALL IN with God. She used the cycle of grace verses the cycle of works where we gain life through focusing on Jesus before we engage in ministry. I’m eager to learn more about Cycles of Grace.
I encourage you to give Mary Jo a big shout out at email@example.com AND feel free to ask her about what she taught. She was a great co-teacher and I’m sure the pastors enjoyed having her as faculty. Even further, you should’ve seen the smiles on their wives faces as Mary Jo was teaching. Those ladies eyes were glued on her the whole time and their smiles were beaming from ear to ear!
Great job, Mary Jo! What an inspirational week in South Asia...
Sri Lanka (MNN) – At least 37 people are dead following Sri Lanka’s incessant rains and mudslides. Countless others remain missing, reports CNN.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by the rains, which have come earlier than the usual monsoon season expected later in this month.
Entire houses have been submerged beneath rising water. Sri Lanka’s army, police, and navy are conducting search and rescue operations, digging out survivors. But with the heavy rains have come mudslides.
Adrian De Visser with Asian Access from Sri Lanka says, “It continued to rain for about three days. And so we kept hearing mudslides and entire villages being buried in the mudslides.”
But Sri Lanka’s church isn’t leaving help only up to the government. “As a church, we are responding by providing food, water. And people just escaped with what was on their body. So we are trying to gather as much help as we can to provide immediate relief for people,” De Visser explains.
And Asian Access, who focuses on training up leaders, is also concerned for Sri Lankan’s physical state. They are helping in the midst of this disaster in a couple of ways.
Immediate Relief: People are taking shelter wherever they can, including churches. But they also need food, clothes, water, and other things to help the immediate situation.
Long-term Relief: Once the waters dry up, these people will be left with nothing. Then the rebuilding will begin. Just as Asian Access has stepped up in other areas during disasters like in Japan, De Visser expects it will be the same for Sri Lanka.
But, Sri Lanka has strong roots in Buddhism with much hostility towards Christians. It is a country which takes pride in this fact. However, De Visser says he believes God will use this disaster ultimately for good and he hopes that as the Christian Church steps up and cares for various individuals, the peoples’ hearts would softened to God’s word.
Pray Sri Lankans would come to know Christ as they watch the Church move and care for them in this time in need. Also pray the country would recover not just from this disaster, but the civil war that ravaged Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009. But most of all, pray the Gospel would be heard and lives would be changed.
To donate to Asian Access and help relief efforts, click here!
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Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access reports that there are over 100 churches in the Kyushu earthquake disaster area and surrounding vicinity in SW Japan.
Those churches together created the "Kyushu Christian Relief Center" and it's already functioning. One of the on-site leaders is an alumnus of our leader development program, Pastor Yoji Nakamura. Together, they are distributing relief goods and helping out individual victims by removing debris from their houses.
Pastor Yoshiya Hari called for prayer for this group, "Please pray for those in this network to really work together as the body of Christ and to reach out to their communities in Kyushu."
In addition, please pray for these earthquakes to come to an end. You might think they were just two big earthquakes, but over 500 aftershock earthquakes that people can actually feel are continuing. Because of those aftershocks, people are so concerned and uncertain about even sleeping inside buildings, so people are going outside and sleeping.
It's important to remember that the ministry of the church is continuing throughout the entire rescue, relief and rebuilding phases. Pray for this for rebuilding, and not just the physical aspect, but also the spiritual aspect, due to the greater church's work. Pray that each church and all the spiritual leaders both inside and outside—and also global church—will be be able to minister in a way that tangibly shows in this crisis and uncertainty that certain love and the hope and the hands of love that they can see and they can feel and that they can really rely on.
Rev. Paul Kiichi Ariga added, "Each time these disasters occur, Japanese Christians accept it as God's happening that He will bring a new day for Japan to reach people with a gospel of Jesus Christ, actually helping those people with love action and showing God's heart."
Takazawa also urged Christians to pray:
Pray that this effort will be able to bring unity. When the Northeast triple disaster happened, God used all those efforts to bring the Church together. And we are praying as Jesus was praying that we will be one, like Jesus and the Father and we will be able to unite together that's what I am praying for.
Thank you for your prayers on behalf of the victims of the earthquakes in Southwest Japan.
...or send your check to Asian Access, PO Box 3307, Cerritos, CA 90703.
We had another fun week in India as the 3rd group of pastors graduated on Thursday evening. These two pastors pulled me aside to personally thank me for the investment of Asian Access.
The first guy shocked me. He said:
"A2 questioned my orthodox ways of thinking!”
I was a little worried to be honest with you. I thought, Oh boy, what happened? However, he went on to talk about orthodox methodology rather than theology. Too funny! Here’s what he shared:
The second pastor said,
“The A2 module on discipleship totally changed my paradigm!"
While these are exciting stories to hear, they are just a small sample of so many more amazing stories. I’ll have to share them in the future.
The highlight for me, though, was how deep the most important thing sunk in: that ministry flows from being not from doing! It is only out of our “Love Relationship with Christ” that any of us can bear fruit that will last. All the graduates clearly saw a keen picture of this vital truth in ministry. That warms my heart!
I can’t wait to share more stories from Asian Access/South India!