A summary from three blogs: A2 Community + From The President + A2 Stories on Mission Network News
Fear seems to be gripping the world these days.
Whether it’s terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino or elsewhere OR the global economy, etc.; everywhere I turn fear seems to be a common emotion, topic or theme. In the world of Asian Access, it appears most frequently in those facing oppression, persecution or simply pressure from their government.
My colleague, Meng Aun Hour from Cambodia (pictured here), shared recently from John 20:19-23. Perhaps his insight may help you!
When we walk in God’s presence, accept His peace, follow his mission, receive His Spirit and forgive others, we have an amazing recipe to overcome fear.
What have you learned from Jesus in this message? What has Meng elicited from this passage that helps or encourages you? How do you overcome fear?
I’d love to hear from you!
As I have watched nearly all the debates the past few months and seen the polls go up and down, I’m more and more convinced that Sir Winston Churchill was correct:
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
This process reminds me of when Israel was looking for a king. They wanted a strong leader, someone who stood out among the rest. They ended up with Saul. You can see how that worked out by reading 1 Samuel 8-16. It’s an example of how, so many times, God acts in ways opposite to our human expectations.
For example, who among us would have chosen Moses to lead: “I am not eloquent… I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10)?
And how about Gideon: “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest… and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15)?
Finally, consider Saul’s replacement, shepherd-boy David:
“Do not consider his appearance or his height… The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Even Jesus Himself was born in a lowly stable and led a rag-tag group of disciples. It’s true that by following Christ, a worldwide movement of eternal impact was spawned. But these examples from Scripture illustrate that what God looks for in a leader is usually quite different than what we look for.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for a shepherd to rise as I look to vote this year!
A key strategic focus at Asian Access is identifying leaders who will shepherd the people God has entrusted to their leadership. We believe it's an incredibly strategic task to identify kingdom leaders who will shape their families, churches, communities and countries. And we're actually seeing that happen!
What qualities are you looking for in your leaders? More pointedly, who are you investing in? Look around you—who are the emerging kingdom leaders who you can influence and encourage? Hopefully they will help to shape their nation . . . and, who knows, just maybe one of them will be the next president!
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."
— Jesus (Matthew 28:19a)
But, that was before the triple disaster of 2011. Now, hearts have been softened.
Many Japanese are ready to hear the Good News of Jesus. In order to reach them, Asian Access is investing over $500,000 in planting churches and training pastors.
“Join me in praising God and praying for the harvest, that many might come to know Jesus as their Savior in Japan!” said Asian Access President Joe Handley in a recent blog post.
By most standards, a half-million dollars is a lot of money. It’s an especially-large sum in the world of nonprofit and charity organizations. For the Lord, though, it’s a drop in the bucket.
It all started in November, when He moved on the heart of Dan Amos, CEO of Aflac Insurance.
“I have been a strong supporter of Asian Access for over 15 years…. I have full confidence in their president, Joe Handley, their board, and the mission that they oversee,” wrote Amos in a note to Handley.
“That is why I’m proud to offer this $250,000 matching challenge to help reach Japan for Christ.”
God continued moving in the hearts of Asian Access supporters, and by the last month of 2015 they were near the finish line of their giving challenge. When the clock struck midnight on December 31, the year and Asian Access’s giving challenge came to an end.
The gifts kept coming, though. “It took a few weeks to gather all the data, due to online giving and some last-minute checks in the mail,” Handley shared.
“A total of $253,749 has been received, and so now we have $553,749 to invest toward developing leaders and planting churches in Japan.”
As explained here, the $250,000 giving challenge was intended to further church multiplication efforts in Japan.
“What seemed impossible in 1986 has exploded into a vision for so much more. There is significant synergy now,” said Handley.
“More churches have been planted, more quickly, than we ever could have imagined…we now have pastors in Japan dreaming of planting 50,000 churches by 2035!”
Building on the spiritual “breakthroughs” initiated by the mayhem of 2011, Asian Access and the leaders they’ve trained want to push toward new milestones:
As you praise the Lord for bringing about the finances needed to launch this project, please continue to pray for Asian Access and the people of Japan.
Pray for the continual softening of hearts by the Holy Spirit. Pray that through Asian Access, many leaders will be trained and able to share the Gospel effectively when opportunity arises.
Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 1:54)
The Lord provided once again for Asian Access and for the work He is doing in Japan. It took a few weeks to gather all the data due to online giving and some last minute checks in the mail. BUT praise God that He provided for the giving challenge offered to us by Dan Amos, CEO of Aflac!
A total of $253,749 has been received, and so we now have $553,749 to invest toward developing leaders and planting churches in Japan.
Join me in praising God and praying for the harvest that many might come to know Jesus as their Savior in Japan!
I'm grateful for you.
Joe Handley of Asian Access says there’s a common thread: “In the midst of that situation, everyone is looking for leadership.”
Earlier this month, The Asia Foundation outlined “highs and lows” Asian nations faced in 2015, as well as expected challenges:
In Asia and throughout the world, Handley says current events can mostly be described by a familiar business and military acronym: VUCA. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.
“When we look at the spiritual landscape of what’s happening in Asia today,” Handley notes, “in all the volatility, people are hungry for something that will help them in their lives.”
Leadership plays a critical role in calming frayed nerves, both in spiritual circles and other social strata. “Typically, we as people run to those types of leaders that look like King Saul: he looks like a strong leader; he’s someone that would make a ‘game-changing’ difference,” observes Handley.
“And yet, God looks in a completely different direction: He looks for a shepherd boy.”
In biblical times, as well as today, shepherds have little-to-no social significance. But, their skills of humble and gentle leadership are what Asian Access looks to replicate.
The ministry wants to come alongside “some unknown person that can really rise up as a shepherd-type leader, an upside-down kind of leader, a leader that the world might not fully recognize at first, but the kind of person who has a heart after God.”
From Japan in the east to Turkey in the west, from Mongolia in the north to Indonesia in the south, Asian Access equips and empowers leaders great and small to fulfill the Great Commission.
“It’s not just making disciples, but it’s making disciples of all nations. We focus on church planting for pastors, and for CEOs and businessmen to be missional change agents in what they do.”
Asian Access is currently working in 11 nations and hopes to expand its reach in 2016.
“We have five countries that are inviting us to come in, and we’re hoping to open two more this year,” Handley shares. “That will only happen with your prayer support, as you come alongside and pray for what God is doing in this volatile region of the world.
“Pray for these shepherd-like leaders, that they can lead the Church in ways that would be healthy, productive, and fruitful.”
If you’d like to help Asian Access train potential leaders, click here. “We’re shooting for those unknown shepherd-type leaders like King David, as opposed to the [King] Saul that most of the world looks for.”
Last but not least, “it costs funds to do this kind of work,” Handley shares. “We need your support to enable and empower [leaders with] these qualities.”
Listen to audio broadcast (first story)
Is there still a glass ceiling when it comes to women in ministry leadership? In the United States, the response may be “it’s being shattered.” Mary Jo Wilson, Vice President for Missional Engagement for Asian Access, believes the response should be the same for women around the world.
Her own desire to understand how God views women in leadership compelled her to invest time in scripture and prayer. She says that, in a world of mixed messages and traditional values, it can be easier for a women to lead from the back rather than take a more upfront role at the table where key decisions are made in ministry.
“I think it’s been difficult sometimes to capture those women and to find a place where we can engage them and develop them as leaders because they are in the background and often they’re more comfortable in the background.”
Mary Jo’s personal investment resulted in a white paper on women in leadership.
“As I studied and prayed, the point of my paper was women and men serving together and how we can come together in the body of Christ and be all about the mission – not separating and not limiting anyone to serve and be about the Great Commission.”
Her studies are now being used by Asian Access to develop better methods to engage women in their servant leadership ministry. Mary Jo believes that men must be key partners in change for women in Asia. She shares, “Some of it is engaging men to talk about how we’re going to do this so it’s not just women saying ‘we need more voice,’ but men saying ‘we need your voice’ and discussing together how we can go about that. “
Mary Jo and the team at Asian Access see women in leadership as pivotal in the countries in which they serve. “I think the Gospel speaks to us and – if we’re really experiencing the God – says that we should be saying that NO ONE is less. If we’re reading the Gospels and Christ’s interaction, He is about the oppressed and the vulnerable and certainly women would fall into that category, so I believe the Gospel is what compels us to bring women in and to say, “You’re not less and you are co-image-bearers.” And when God created us, He created us together, and together we express His image in the world.”
Learn more now about what Asian Access is doing to develop servant leaders throughout Asia.
Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:47)
From everyone at Asian Access, we wish all of our friends a very Happy New Year in 2016.
But we also want to share a big surprise for our plans for 2016. You don't want to miss this one...
Ok, the cat is out of the bag now!
Here are some things people are saying about Asian Access this year...
Dr. Lon Allison
Rev. Edmund Chan
"Asian Access is one of the most effective ministry organizations in facilitating genuine respect-filled partnerships across cultures to further our Father’s global mission. I have witnessed how A2 has drawn together the experience and formal training of Jesus-followers in one culture with the spiritual vitality and ministry innovation of those in another culture in which the church is experiencing rapid growth to do remarkable things to His glory.
Mr. Ram Gidoomal
Rev. Adrian De Visser
Mr. Takeshi Takazawa
|ECFA Endorsement||Guidestar - Gold Medal Seal||Charity Navigator - 4-Star Rating|
Bangladesh (A2/MNN) — The U.S. Department of State warns that travel to Bangladesh is especially dangerous right now.
The alert notes, “There is reliable information to suggest that terrorist attacks could occur against foreigners in Bangladesh, including against large gatherings of foreigners.”
Additionally, groups like Barnabus Fund, Open Doors USA, and the Voice of the Martyrs USA have observed a dramatic surge in the persecution of Christians and Hindus, instigated by Islamic extremists. Noel Becchetti with Asian Access says, “Leaders in both of these areas are getting texts saying, ‘Make sure you eat your favorite foods over the next few days because we’re going to kill you in five days,’ or ‘Plan your funeral because you’re going to be dead in three days.’”
It’s disconcerting, Becchetti explains, because “Bangladesh, historically, has always been known for its tolerance. This is really a new phenomenon. Some people think it’s just folks have seen what ISIS is doing, and to some degree, you don’t have to sign up. Anybody can just say, ‘Well, we can do that, too.’”
But are these extremists actually members of ISIS? Not necessarily, says Becchetti. “It’s almost like there are ISIS wanna-be’s out there now. In other words, you’ve got this ISIS phenomenon in Syria and Iraq. Everybody can see what they’re doing, including other disaffected folks in other parts of the world.”
Part of the push-back could also be connected to the fast growth of the Church. Growth means Gospel. Gospel means change. There are just some people who don’t like the direction of that change. In terms of protecting Christians, “The government is aware. The government is not happy about it [the threat].”
Barnabus Fund further explains who is behind the violence: “Those sending the threats claim they are part of Islamist groups Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Islamic State. Their agenda is clear: ‘This country will be ruled only by the [Islamic] Sharia law,’ read the letter sent to [one pastor]. Although Bangladesh is a secular country and its legal system makes it one of the most tolerant Muslim-majority countries in the world, there are Islamist groups lobbying for the Islamisation of the country. The situation has become increasingly volatile in recent months, and Bangladeshi Christians, who make up just 1% of a population that is 90% Muslim, are vulnerable targets.”
These have not been idle threats, says Becchetti. “Pastors are being approached by folks saying, ‘Hey! We’re interested to talk about Christianity. We want to know more about Jesus.’ They’ll come into their homes and then they’ll attack them.” In another incident, he shares, “The secretary to one of our leaders, some of her family members…were at home at night, asleep; and somebody broke out one of the windows and started shooting. Three people were shot inside the house, all wounded.”
However, Bangladeshis are resilient. “People don’t want their lives to stop,” says Becchetti. “It’s trying to juggle not letting the terrorists, in a sense, ‘win’ by paralyzing your whole life.”
Bangladeshi Christians consider a certain level of persecution to be a normal part of being a Christ-follower. In fact, in this context, there is a lot of genuine interest right now in the Gospel. “Muslim young people are being disaffected on a lot of levels for a lot of reasons in a lot of this part of the world.”
That’s not to say these church leaders and pastors are not taking precautions. It’s nerve-wracking to be constantly looking over your shoulder, not knowing who to trust. “Part of their challenge is being able to discern between the students who are genuinely interested and then students who are actually infiltrators…pretending to be interested so they can infiltrate these groups.”
A2 is asking believers to pray for Bangladesh’s Church. “They can feel somewhat isolated, so when they know that believers all over the world are trying to stay aware [and] are praying, that means a lot. It really does.”
There are more ways to help here.
Thank you for standing with and continuing to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ across Asia. This phenomenon is occurring not only in Bangladesh, but also in many places across Asia.
Let us persevere in prayer.
Listen to the broadcast (story begins at 0:17)
2015 has been a fruitful year of ministry at Asian Access. Here are some of our top stories from the past twelve months...
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 “Plant Churches… Plant Churches… Plant Churches…” over and over again!... Read more
From Killing Fields to Streams of Grace
Cambodia (MNN) — In Cambodia, streams of grace are replacing Pol Pot's killing fields. Asian Access is teaching believers like Meng Aun Hour how to share their faith. "Cambodia is really open for the Gospel of Jesus. We can go out and preach the Gospel, do church planting." As a result, Cambodians are coming to Christ in droves. One of them used... Read more
A2 for Business Leaders Launches in KoreaThis weekend, seven CEOs gathered together outside of Seoul, Korea for the first ever A2 session for marketplace leaders. The energy and enthusiasm was magnetic. As these leaders shared their lives and their vision in a dynamic collaborative learning community, the atmosphere was electric. David Kim, A2 board member and founder of Telos Ventures, co-taught the session with me focusing on our "Love Relationship with God" and being a "Christ-like Leader as a CEO". The weekend went very well as we adapted the pastor-focused integrated curriculum for the CEOs. We also learned and adapted on the fly since this was our first cohort of this nature... Read more
New Life Springs Up... from an Earthquake Devastated Church
It was the guy in the worship band—a guitarist playing with two broken legs—who finally got to me. When the 7.9 earthquake struck Nepal on April 26, over 300 men, women, and children were worshipping at Visions of Salvation church in central Kathmandu. The building collapsed. Nineteen people, including the pastor, were killed. Yesterday, my friends here (who shall remain nameless) and I were invited to share at the VOS service. They are renting a building near their now-destroyed sanctuary. It is unfinished—bare concrete floors, tin roof, no lights—but it is sturdy. The late pastor’s son and his wife now lead the... Read more
What Generosity Can Do: An Example of a Buddhist Monk
Not long ago, I was serving with Asian Access in a predominantly Buddhist nation. It’s a nation where the Buddhist priests have been quite antagonistic to the Church, threatening believers and burning down church buildings. As I was serving, I was visiting an impoverished village where some of my colleagues had reached out following a devastating natural disaster. They went into the community, served the people, and rebuilt hundreds of homes that had been lost. I was visiting trainer centers that had been built to equip the people and educate the children. Apparently, the region surrounding this village was quite activist as the radical Buddhists were ready to... Read more
The Church in Japan Serves Nepal After Earthquakes
Nepal (MNN) — Japanese Christians know firsthand the value of receiving help in times of disaster. That's why a team of individuals impacted by the 2011 tsunami spent their holiday in Nepal helping their neighbors. The team spent four days cleaning up a children’s home and helping a village rebuild. Despite everything the Japanese team has given,... Read more
Perseverance Through Persecution
At the latest leader development session in one of the restricted-access countries where A2 is at work, one thing is clear: Pastors here persevere in the ministry despite persistent persecution. Let two of our leaders share their testimonies with you in their own words: “In [location deleted], I was able to start three churches. Soldiers or local authorities would stop me from my rounds to these three churches, but we learned to post watchmen so that if police were on their way to our meeting locations I could temporarily slip away until the danger of in... Read more
ALL IN with God
Asian Access recently reviewed our values as a mission. What a fascinating journey and valuable learning experience it was! We spent hours in dialog throughout the movement at every level: volunteers, staff, alumni, faculty, board and reference council. It was nothing short of amazing to see things come together. As we honed the various nuances and prioritized down to three core characteristics, we came up with three core values. The first is... Read more
Blockade of Supplies into Nepal Continues
Nepal (MNN) — It doesn’t look like there’s a solution to the disagreement between Nepal and India anywhere in sight. Noel Becchetti of Asian Access says India is still angry about Nepal’s new constitution and keeps blocking supplies. “As India is exercising their political will, they have the power unfortunately to basically starve these guys out,... Read more
Asian Believers Cast Vision for Massive Outreach
Asia (MNN) -- Terrorists are striking fear around the world, but they're not stopping dedicated believers. By the year 2030, Christians in an Asian country hope to have sent out 20,000 indigenous missionaries. Joe Handley with Asian Access, a ministry dedicated to raising up Christian leaders, says: "There is a sense, at least for many parts of Asia that the Gospel has been brought to them, and they owe a debt to God for bringing this hope to... Read more
Still Unmet Year-End Giving Challenges
Completed Giving Challenges in 2015