A2 Blog Centre

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

A2 Blog Centre is an aggregation of all official blogs of Asian Access
  1. Transformation on so, so many levels

    It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Pastor Anthony Alexander, his wife Dr. Chandni and their beautiful family. Pastor Alex as everyone calls him is a graduate of Asian Access/India and does he have a story!

    You see Pastor Alex and his wife come from different castes. He was raised Catholic and she was raised Hindu. It’s amazing that they ever got together in the first place given the caste system and religious milieu that exists in India. For some time, they were ostracized by Dr. Chandni’s parents because of the religious issues; but over time, her parents began to see how much Alex cared for them, especially during times of great need. Today, they see Alex as a favored son. It’s truly amazing!

    Several years ago, Pastor Alex from Zoe Dharampuri Ministries was introduced to Asian Access. He joined the batch, and today, he notes the profound difference the cohort made in his life. Today, he has a fellowship of other pastors that he didn’t have before. Now, in times of great need, he has a ‘band of brothers’ to call upon and they rally around one another. He says this was the single greatest outcome of his time with Asian Access. 

    Today, Pastor Alex is pursuing a grand vision. Their church has a remarkable heart for their region and are seeking to bring the hope of Christ to their community. I met him in Sri Lanka because he and his wife were looking to my colleague Adrian De Visser and his model of a sustainable and comprehensive ministry plan. Dr. Chandni is operating a small medical clinic that they want to grow into a robust health center for their region. And, Pastor Alex wants to start some sustainable projects to see ministry continue to thrive for generations.

    Would you pray for them? They have a great vision and through Asian Access they have joined a strong Christ-like fellowship of like-minded pastors to help them in the journey. Now that community has expanded beyond South India where it began to the broader Asian Access community outside their country.

    Join me in praying for their venture and for the seed capital to help fuel their vision. And, please keep praying for Asian Access as we seek to grow deeper and wider in shaping the lives of pastors like Alex. May we keep pointing to the Living Water that helps their lives and ministries thrive. May we strengthen their walk with Jesus and help unite the Church to see fruit that will last!

    “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” – John 7:38

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

    PS: After writing this story, Alex shared this: “Thank you so much for thinking of us and sharing our story! We are humbled and truly thankful for the many ways that God has blessed us through Asian Access!”

  2. Not long ago, I was with Pastor Qua (not his real name) who serves on the working team for Asian Access in his country, a country that we also do not mention for security reasons. 

    We were having an alumni gathering that day because they wanted to maximize the opportunity to visit with the president of Asian Access. I don’t believe I’m all that special but this is what happens every time I’m in town. I’m honestly just another average Joe! 

    What really encouraged me, though, was Pastor Qua (pictured here with me). As the alumni were sharing with me, Pastor Qua said that he was one of the most educated pastors in his country and that his bible school and seminary degrees were considered top tier. One was in the country and another was in a well-known and developed Asian country.

    But Pastor Qua said,

    “The Asian Access faculty were far superior to any of the faculty I had in all my education. They helped me become a better pastor and leader and they truly helped my church. There is no comparison to the quality of faculty we received from Asian Access. Thank you for sending them to invest in us!”

    So, on behalf of Asian Access and the thousands of pastors who are now alumni, “Thank You” for your prayers and support. Without you, we wouldn’t be seeing this type of momentum. The Lord is using you to make a significant difference in the lives of key leaders across Asia and for that I am grateful.

    With Christ,

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

  3. “He is like a tree planted by water,
        that sends out its roots by the stream,
    and does not fear when heat comes,
        for its leaves remain green,
    and is not anxious in the year of drought,
        for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

    – Jeremiah 17:8

    tree with roots

    Joe and friend"I was like a tree without roots and on the verge of burning out. Life and ministry felt like a desert until Pastor Richard Brohier shared with us about having deep roots. I thank God for Pastor Richard and for Asian Access. You have brought new life to me and to my ministry."

    I was invited in to share a little at one of our SE Asian countries, a country that faces significant pressure, and we were in the region where the most persecution of pastors and churches occurs. After sharing that day, one of the pastors came up to me and shared this wonderful report of how Asian Access had refreshed his life and how Pastor Richard Brohier, one of our core faculty and country liaisons particularly influenced him.

    Ministry is a marathon not a sprint and life is the same. It’s important that we lay a strong foundation in our lives to prepare for the long haul and to be spiritual refreshed in order to last. Richard (seen teaching below) laid out a track for how these pastors can weather the storms that keep coming their way. And, most of these pastors reported how they had faced difficult seasons. 

    Richard’s teaching and encouragement was so strong that even one of our other liaisons who was present had this to say in his newsletter:

    “My Australian colleague’s teaching was just excellent. It was not hard to discern that when the pastors arrived on the Monday heads were drooping; by Tuesday afternoon spirits were lifted; and by Thursday morning they beaming, and we were flying. Many of them gave such happy reports on the what it meant to them.”

    What type of roots are you laying down for your life? You will need them. Listen to the words of the prophet Jeremiah quoted above and plant your roots next to the streams of living water that only Christ can provide. With him you will both bear much fruit and you will last for the duration of the race!

    Do you have any words of wisdom on laying deep roots for your life and ministry? We’d love to hear from you!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

  4. Joe with friend

    When I joined Asian Access just over 9 years ago, one of the motivating factors was their focus and success in reaching the unreached people groups of the world. That’s why I so enjoyed spending time with a colleague in one of our sessions recently in a country that must remain unnamed due to security concerns. My colleague wrote this follow up report that so encouraged me. I trust it’ll encourage you as well:

    “One of the most exciting things for me about the pastors in these two classes is the dedication that they show toward reaching the unreached tribal groups in the mountains close to their country borders in addition to pastoring their own churches in the plains or the cities. The Gospel first came to this country in 1910 with the arrival of CMA missionaries. But it was not until the 1970’s that it made progress toward the 120 unreached groups in the highlands and along a famous Trail.

    Pastor L and his wife have expanded their tribal ministry to 11 people groups now, and in the K village to which they first went three years ago, where no one was a believer, and where he was incarcerated on his first trip, now almost everyone is a believer.

    In the other class pastor D is from the S people group. He told me that the Gospel did not come to the S people until 1972. He himself became a believer in 1984. “We used to be a people living in constant fear of evil spirits everywhere”; now he said that among the thousands of S members, 90-95% are Christians. The authorities who used to persecute them so badly have changed their tactics. They now try to get the pastors to join their political party so that they can control the S population more effectively, for they know that the people trust their pastors, not the Party.”

    participants

    What an encouraging report. The fruit of Asian Access in reproducing disciple-making leaders who plant multiplying churches is remarkable. Praise God!

    Thank you for praying with us and partnering with us to see these pastors empowered to reach the unreached in their countries! I’m grateful for you!

    For His Kingdom,

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

  5. Not long after our 50th Anniversary Gathering in Jakarta, Jubilee in Jakarta, I received this note from my colleague Dee Wirz:

    While the history of what has become Asian Access mission began exclusively in Japan 50 years ago, our outreach has now expanded to eleven countries in Asia. During the A2 Jubilee celebration held in Jakarta recently, I had my first opportunity to get to know many of our extended mission family pictured above. After the presentation of a twelve-minute video featuring my ministry in Japan (see below), one of the country leaders asked me to come and teach some sessions at the A2 leadership development training scheduled for July 24 to 27 in Sri Lanka. This is a rare opportunity to invest in developing fourteen carefully selected trainees, who can have a significant influence on their own people in the country of Sri Lanka for years to come, since the majority of this group is in their twenties and thirties. After much prayer to discern God’s will, I agreed to take part in the program, with the hope that I can pass along some of what I have experienced and learned in my relationship with God and how to follow His commands and commission to go and make disciples of all nations. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated as I prepare and share and for each of the Sri Lankan trainees in the program.

    We have been talking a lot lately about cross-polination between our ministries and for years we’ve had a goal of sending 1,000 missionaries from Japan to the countries of Asia. Dee Wirz, our longest serving missionary, took up the call by blazing a new path in her ministry.

    She just recently returned from this training experience so I’m eager to hear how it went. But, I want to say how proud I am of Dee. Here she is closing in on the final stages of her mission career and she makes a bold move to travel and share what she has learned. She is setting the pace for us at Asian Access and I couldn’t be prouder.

    Dee must have made quite an impression though. Check out this picture from one of the Asian Access participants!

    Thank you, Dee, for setting the pace! You are modeling for us what it means to Finish Well!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

    More Information

    {vimeo}https://vimeo.com/145357390{/vimeo}

  6. Nurturing Resiliency through Emotional and Spiritual Care

    “I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8 ESV

    Need for a Compass

    I am directionally challenged. If I tell my wife while driving to ‘turn right,' I really mean left. I am not the most reliable navigator. At times I find that I can be 'directionally challenged' in my walk of faith and ministry path as well and must intentionally put the Lord before me, as my compass and stabilizer. When I do that, I experience resiliency even in times of crisis.

     

    How does this work out in ministry in Japan?

    Here are a couple recent examples of being on the right side of a crisis…

    From Burnout to Collaborative Church Planting

    Two years ago, I began partnering with Pastor K. of Hokushin Calvary Church in Fukushima (NE Japan) to assist him in his vision to plant a church in the town of Ryozen. In March of 2016, he experienced burnout, due in part to five years of intensive relief work. It appeared that his dream was shattered.

    Immediately, my role in the church changed to being a preacher, counselor and elder board coach. In September I began teaching a seminary extension class at the church on Soul Care, Spiritual Formation and Leadership. On the last Sunday to register for the class, Mr. and Mrs. Nowada showed up at church. They were tent-making church planters looking for a partnering church. They were impressed with the church's commitment to training.

    Now ten months later, Pastor K has returned to the ministry, preaching once a month. The church elders met with the Nowadas in June to explore partnership possibilities. On July 2nd, we held our first church planting team meeting. It is no longer just the vision of the pastor, but a gifted team who can share their gifts in this strategic outreach to launch a daughter church. Hokushin has a vision to plant seven churches by 2025. This new effort would be number six. Founding Pastor Tomio Ohashi and Pastor K are both A2/Japan leader development graduates. 

    Need for Care Following a Crisis

    kyushu relief group 2017

    A few days after completing my debriefing time with the Kyushu Christ Disaster Relief Center (Kyukisai) late in June, typhoon Nanmadol struck Northern Kyushu with torrential rain causing rivers to overflow and both roads and houses to be washed away. According to the Jiji Press, 22 people have died. Since the twin earthquakes of April 2016, and now typhoon Nanmadol, Kyukisai has hosted over 7700 volunteers.

    During my time in Mashiki, Kyushu (SW Japan), I debriefed 12 Kyukisai relief staff members and three pastors. These same staff members are working hard to provide relief and emotional care to those impacted by this typhoon disaster. They have opened a new base center in Hita in Oita Prefecture to expand relief efforts.

    Emotional and spiritual care of leaders is often a low-key, behind-the-scenes ministry, but one that attempts to nurture resiliency. More rain is on the way and this is typhoon season. Please pray for the ongoing relief efforts. A2/Japan is launching a church multiplication network in this region.

    Pray that God, our Compass and Stabilizer, will move in the midst of crisis to expand His kingdom.

     

    John Houlette

     

    More Information

    John Houlette is an Asian Access missionary serving through Three Stream Ministries:

    Three Stream MinistriesThree 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 six years TSM has served over 400 pastors and leaders through retreats, getaways, training events, resources, preaching and active listening.

  7. Not long ago, one of my doctoral committee members suggested that the core of my dissertation research was very much in line with some new thinking related to the concept of the Medici Effect. You can learn more about this through Frans Johansson’s book of the same title linked above.

    Wikipedia describes this approach as:

    “In the book, Johansson argues that innovation comes from diverse industries, cultures, and disciplines when they all intersect, bringing ideas from one field into another. He also recommends assembling diverse teams of people to collaborate on innovation.”

    Check it out here.

    I’ve enjoyed digging into this concept as I review a new theory for mission leadership in my studies: Polycentric Leadership. Hopefully someday, after the dissertation, I’ll publish more on this topic. 

     

    An Example: Vision Festa

    vision festa 2017 collageFor now, the idea struck me as so pertinent to modern mission and I saw it displayed first-hand at the recent Vision Festa gathering. Vision Festa is a multi-church and mult-organizational movement of church planters in Japan with a huge vision to see 55,000 churches planted across the country. The inspiring part for me is to see churches and organizations working together.

    It was amazing to see so many different groups represented and sharing stories of what God was doing in Japan. And, to see them cooperatively working together was so encouraging. They are practicing the Medici Effect!

    What a joy it is to be part of this remarkable movement. I’m proud of my Japanese colleagues’ in Asian Access that are leading the way. We aren’t the only players at the helm but we do get to take part at a significant level. How exciting!

    vision festa 2017  vision festa 2017

    Join me in praying for Japan that we will see even more layers of collaboration and more fruit like this!

     

     

    A Biblical Concept

    The bible knew about the Medici Effect long before the modern era… Solomon understood this concept long ago:

    “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
    – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

    How do you work together with others to seek the good of your city, region or country? I’d love to learn from you!

     

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

  8. Homothumadon: The Way of Unifying Passion

    homothumadon

    Here are a few brief, but poignant quotes from Dr. Ajith Fernando's tremendous message:

    "A genuine Christian is committed to unity, to teamwork, and to mission."
    — Ajith Fernando

    "Truth is more important than personal honour. Truth is more important than politics within the Church."

    "We are committed to Truth and to God's glory. And we strive for unity."

    "One of the principles of a happy marriage is that there are no winners in a battle. There are lots of battles, but there are no winners. Winning is when we are united, not when one has won and the other has lost. There are no winners in church fights. Winning is when there is unity."

    "Today, very often what happens is, if you don't agree, we are told to find another place. They are told to leave; or they decide to leave. I think we are too spritually lazy to debate—too spiritually lazy to battle. Unity is too important for us to just give up the battle."

    Here are some action steps Dr. Fernando outlined for us...

    leadership needs to do some things 1889x1061

    Ajith Fernando: "The Way of Unifying Passion" [A2|50th Day 2 Keynote]

    Listen to his keynote message now... 

    {youtube}https://youtu.be/mgOn8rgBZlY{/youtube} 

    Dr. Ajith Fernando highlighting the importance of unity. He led us in an in-depth devotion walking through the New Testament with keen attention on the book of Acts showing the importance of staying united in the development, growth and challenges for the Church.

     

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  9. 00063 00099

    The story of this lady was amazing. She lived just 1.5 kilometers from the ocean (about a mile) and the tsunami took everything.

    Soon after, the gentlemen standing next to her, started a house fellowship not too long after retiring from work. He was inspired by his church to start another church after he retired from a great career. Did it matter that he is not a pastor? No. Did it matter that he had received no significant theological training? No.

    Rather, his pastor saw his gifts and invested in him for years. From the Asian Access training, he developed a plan to empower lay leaders to start churches so that they could reach the Japanese people. He knew there was no way you could reach Japan through just the clergy alone. So, he raised up several business leaders to begin starting house churches in his region.

    This gentleman took up the call and when the tsunami hit, he was ready. His house was also devastated so he moved to this new location and met this lady. As she experienced his families care, concern and love. As the volunteers rebuilt her home and gave her food and supplies, she lost her suspicion of this supposed foreign religion and realized these are Japanese people who follow Jesus, not some foreign experience. 

    She put her trust in Jesus and today she’s a person of peace opening doors for other friends and neighbors in the community to come to Christ. To date, 11 people have come to Christ. 10 of them lost everything to the tsunami. And, the pastor, he says “Don’t call me a pastor.” I’m just as much a layperson as I was before. I don’t want the title of pastor because that’ll just put a barrier between me and the people. I see more fruit this way!

    How about you? If you are a pastor like me are you mobilizing and sending people in your church to start fellowships like this leader? Or, if you are in business, why don’t you consider starting a church. These little house fellowship are far more fruitful at seeing people come to Christ than the big churches we see.

    Pray about it! God could use you to start a whole new movement!

    With Christ,

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

  10. Mongolia’s church may be young, but they have big plans

    Mongolia (MNN) — Mongolia’s Church is younger than most. Many pastors have only been ministering for just over 20 years, but they’re already facing challenges on a national scale.

    “In our country, materialism is kicking in so people are more interested [in] having status in society. They want to have all the privileges that mainstream people would like to have,” says Chinzorig Jigjidsuren, the National Director for Asian Access in Mongolia. He’s worried that more interest in earthly treasures means less interest in spiritual ones, and he wants Mongolia’s pastors to unite to reignite hunger for the Gospel.

    Chinzorig JigjidsurenBecause so many pastors are young and spread out, it’s easy for believers to feel alone or abandoned. ”The DNA of Asian Access keeps that from happening,” Jigjidsuren says. “A lot of lonely pastors would be burdened with all of their personal and ministry issues, but they have a community where they can openly share their struggles.”

    But that doesn’t mean Mongolia’s Christian leaders don’t face challenges. “Sometimes you depend on people, you open your heart and invest into people, and you do not see the fruit you were envisioning,” Jigjidsuren says. “There can be a lot of disappointment when you don’t see what we would call ‘success’.”

    That’s why it’s important to remember that “God has a different definition of success. If we are in the right place doing the right thing with the right character in a right relationship with God, that’s what matters.”

    Jigjidsuren says it will take more than just the national union of the Mongolian Church to change hearts and souls for Christ; it will take the global Church. “The West has great traditions and great churches, but I think it’s time to redefine the way we’re preaching the Gospel, redefine discipleship, redefine the concept and definition of church and really be relevant to the time we’re facing now.

    “This is a different time than it was hundreds of years ago. The same tactics don’t work the same ways” Jigjidsuren says. He’s hoping for a more international partnership with the Mongolian Church in a two-way relationship of giving and receiving from both sides.

    Mongolian ger

    “My passion is to see the global Church becoming fuller and accepting each other. All the nations on all the continents have something to offer, something on the table.”

    Find out what you can offer right here.

      

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:39)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jul20-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  11. Healthy Churches Grow

    One of the principles in Asian Access is that healthy churches grow. It’s why we spend so much time investing in key leaders’ personal walk with God and their growth in him. Because, when we are deeply embedded with Christ, we are naturally very fruitful.

    Many of those leaders were on display in Tohoku (Northeast Japan) for a few days at Vision Festa, a gathering of pastors, missionaries and NGO leaders coming together to share God’s vision for Japan. I was deeply touched by them and many pictured in these photos are key partners of Asian Access/Japan.

     

    Strawberries

    strawberries

    They shared about Strawberry Patch Evangelism. That even small little strawberry plants are quick to reproduce because they shoot stems into the soil nearby and next thing you know you have an entire patch.

     

    Pomegranates

    pomegranate

    And, they shared about Pomegranate church planting where a single fruit has hundreds of seeds to spread around and start new fellowships.

     

    Convenience Stores

    japanese convenience store

    Years ago, Pastor Chida, who is also pictured here (below, left), shared not only about strawberry patch evangelism, he also figured we need as many churches in Japan as they have Japan Posts. Basically, he felt inspired by God that in order to truly reach Japan, we would need churches on every corner and in every community just like you have post offices.

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    Today, there are less Post Offices due to the onset of the internet age, etc. but there are still many around the country. However, convenience stores are everywhere! So, now the vision is convenience store church planting.

    If we can see healthy reproducible churches and pastors emerge, even bi-vocational pastors, we’ll begin to see an impact in the evangelism growth of Japan! 

    Pastor Chida asked the crowd that day, do you believe we can have 55,000 churches in Japan someday? The group was a tad quiet. You see, Pastor Chida had recently studied Japan finding that there are now 55,000 convenience stores in the country. But, given that there are only roughly 8,000 churches in Japan, everyone was slow to respond!

    However, Pastor Chida said, those numbers aren’t counting the little house chapels that have sprouted up all over the disaster area. They don’t include the simple churches that have been emerging the last 5-10 years. He’s convinced that there may be more than 16,000 churches in Japan today.

    I left inspired once again. Story after story of how God was working post-disaster and how many small fellowships (bible studies, house chapels, and even tiny little churches) have been started. It’s just like the strawberries and pomegranates mentioned above. Small, healthy churches are emerging all over the place and these are exciting days for the hope of Christ in Japan.

    What a joy to see all of this emerging from within the Asian Access networks! Who would’ve ever imagined that a little engine like us could see such tremendous fruit: all from focusing primarily on growing healthy people, healthy pastors and healthy leaders. We say “Small is Big” as we focus, much like Jesus, in investing deeply in just a few at a time. He had only 12 disciples but he challenged them to reproduce when he left them. 

    Pastor Chida concluded our session saying,

    “Let’s believe that God can start 55,000 churches in Japan.”

    I don’t know about you, but I believe him! Why? Because I believe in a God of the impossible and I believe that Small is Big!

    Do you believe? Will you join me in praying for Japan?

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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  12. The lady sharing in this picture was saved by a bridge in her local fishing village. She was driving back to her home where her husband’s family has led a fishing business for several generations. As she drove onto the bridge, the tsunami swept away most of her friends, their homes, and their cars. The town was devastated and all she could do is sit there and watch her friends get swept away. 

    Her husband, just a few minutes earlier was able to marshal a few people to several boats he owned and fled into the sea before the waves crushed the village. He’s standing in this picture to her right. He was gone for three days at sea and she had no idea where he was or if the tsunami took his life.

    They were both saved that day… For a purpose! God had a plan for them and their village.

    Pastor Kishinami, who is standing next to her on her left, re-ordered his life in the days and months following the disaster. He took trips every day to many of these fishing towns to take food, supplies, and gasoline to help anyone he could find. He found this couple and in his frequent visits, their daughter became a follower of Jesus.

    The daughter begged her parents every night to become a follower of Jesus. Pastor Kishinami admitted that he was far less aggressive. He just served, loved and shared.

    The lady followed her daughter not long ago and today hosts meetings with Pastor Kishinami in their home which was high enough to avoid some of the damage from the tsunami. She told us that day that she was waiting on her husband to follow Jesus before she would get baptized. 

    The husband later stood up in front of us, telling the story of his 3-day boat ride. He was smoking like mad that day but loved telling the story. He said, “I’m not yet a follower of Christ but I love this pastor. He really cared for me and my family. And, I’m happy to open up my warehouse for meetings like this.” 

    Today, there are more than 30 house chapels like this one started by Pastor Kishinami and your prayers and support helped provide for all this to happen.

    Thank you for praying, for giving and for caring for the people of Japan. Most of these places had little chance to hear about Christ, let alone have a church in their village. But, today because of God’s favor and your generosity, there are small, developing churches all over the region.

    Out of such devastation, God is birthing new life!

    Please keep praying for the people of Japan and for families like this one who are taking steps of faith. Pray for pastors like Kishinami (pictured below), a graduate of Asian Access, who are applying the priniciples of what they learned through Asian Access into these pockets and corners of Japan that saw little fruit in years past. Today, God is raising up a whole new harvest and your prayers are vital!

    Pastor Kishinami

    Thank you so much for partnering with us!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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  13. rapid reproduction E 500px

    A few weeks ago, I was in a SE Asian country teaching as part of our two-year cohort. It was such a joy spending time with the pastors and seeing how eager they were to learn.

    One pastor, whom I’ll call NV to protect his identity, quickly came up to me sharing that he had already taken what he learned in the first session a few months prior and was sharing it in several contexts. Here’s what he later shared with me:

    “All the lessons of the first session were really significant to me and others whom I reproduced it. My purpose is to contribute for the revival at the very heart of the capital city, so, since 2008, I have 2 trips each year on May and October for pastoral training for all pastors and church workers for churches of 8 denominations, including the government sanctioned church in three large cities (they came from many cities at N region). Last May I trained SHAPE and TIMELINE for over 120 pastors and main workers. They all said that it was so good and they will continue to retrain at their local churches. I plan to retrain the session "the heart of the ministry" next Oct.”

    See photos of Pastor NV in sessions all over his country here!

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    This report encouraged me so much… Why? Because at the heart of my calling is fulfilling the core focus of this season of my life:

    "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." – 2 Timothy 2:2

    You see, at the heart of Asian Access is our four outcomes and this report shows that we’re seeing fruitful results in our 3rd Outcome: Reproducing Disciple-Making Leaders 

    Pastor NV is already putting into practice this principle at the very start of the journey!

    How about you? Are you passing along the things God has given to you?

    With Christ,

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

  14. New law ramping up pressure on churches

    Southeast Asia (MNN) — In many communities, the local church exists to serve people and be a beacon of Christ’s love. But not everyone sees it that way. In many countries, the government sees the body of believers as a threat to their way of life.

    (Representative photo courtesy of Asian Access)That’s what one pastor who’s been trained by Asian Access says is happening in a country in Southeast Asia. In one case, a congregation meeting in a pastor’s house raised enough money for a church building, only to have it shut down by authorities.

    “Right after they finished building the chapel, the local authority came with policemen, and they locked the doors,” the pastor says. “They made a paper, with the promise of the pastor, they are not allowed to use the new building for the church activities or worship service.”

    That kind of pressure doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon.

    “As I know, the government, they just approved a new religious law,” the pastor says. “And they will put it into practice on the first day of January 2018. In that case, if the church doesn’t have the license, they will use the law to oppress the church and stop the church. So, from now to the end of this year, if the church does not have the license, they are trying to get the license this year. Otherwise, they will face strong persecution early next year.”

    It’s a scary time for believers, but they’re not going through it alone. Asian Access is coming alongside church leaders to encourage and equip them in their ministry.

    photo courtesy Asian Access“Since Asian Access came into my country, it helped us more to develop more leaders and develop good communities among the church leaders,” the pastor says. “So now, those who participate in Asian Access and those who finish the program still continue to work together and share our resources.”

    It’s an uncertain time for believers in this country, and they need your support. Can you come alongside them in prayer? The pastor asks that you pray that God would raise up more pastors to lead the local church and that there would be a spiritual revival in the country.

      

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:43)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jul12-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  15. Here is a review of Eastern Voices, Volume 1 that appeared on Amazon several weeks ago. It is reposted on our site with permission from the reviewer, Peter T. Sommer.


    Usually Pretty Far from the Benefits of Globalization

    Reading Eastern Voices is a different book. It’s not Western reporting on churches and movements. It’s not Asian believers working for West-based churches or NGOs. Rather it’s the voices of men and women, usually pretty far from the benefits of globalization. They lead and evangelize via Asian churches or agencies. The nine people here, from India, Bangladesh, Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar and three unnamed-for-security-reasons nations, don’t even raise money from the West, much.

    The voices are deeply Christ- and Gospel-centric. Persecution, opposition from other Christians and parents, barriers due to class, race, wealth, and gender are all present, but so is the genius of the Holy Spirit, the power of faith in a living Jesus Christ.

    The book is Voices, not Answers. Some issues are raised that aren’t resolved. Some stories report breakthroughs. We watch creative individuals in the middle of it all, trying to sort things out: two young leaders with families, choosing not to work for a western NGO (=financial security) in order to stay with a movement reaching migrants living in shacks at the edge of a huge Asian city; a PhD’d professional, who could easily opt of his dicey spot when the state police come to call, yet stays; wives seeing the way forward before husbands do, then facing gender barriers.

    Almost every leader describes a “hit the wall” experience. Something that worked stops working; a “success” in the eyes of others turns out to be hollow; a crisis hits which requires fast change. A God-sent mentor or companion appears in each life, as they face failure, getting fired, or going dry spiritually. Mentors take very different forms, from the iron disciplinarian in Japan, to the non-directive listener in Cambodia whose presence changes the seeker. They catalyze fresh starts.

    Hearing these voices is like hearing new music. Slow down and give it a few listens, and you’ll be on to something outside the Western orbit. The first chapter, “Losing My Face to Find My Soul,” was utterly Burmese, but pointed for our culture. “The Ministry of Business” is an insightful story for any Christians in demanding careers. The hope, trust and courage in the face of complexity and scarcity exposes our love of comfort. Let’s “hear the Voices,” to learn something of God’s ways in their lives, and in ours as well.

     


    EV1 final title slide 2017 04 25 flat 700pxAbout the "Eastern Voices" series

    Eastern Voices Volume 1 is compilation of 14 stories from 15 different Asian authors. The book is available in paperback and in digital (ePub) format. It can be purchased through Amazon and other book resellers. Order your copy of Volume 1 today!

     

     

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  16. Vision Festa Church Planting Movement

    I’ve been inspired by pastors in Japan this past week. 70 or more gathered in Northern Japan for a movement called Vision Festa. It’s a movement of people with a passion for church planting and I’m eager to share their stories… Those will come later though. 

    For now, why is church planting so important? When so many people are down on the local church these days, why would I believe church planting is so important and why are these leaders coalescing around this fresh vision?

    Missiologist Peter Wagner once said,

    “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”

    Pastor Tim Keller picked up on this theme as well. Check out his post on the same subject, Why Church Planting?

     

    Reasons Church Planting is an Effective Strategy for Evangelism

    Everywhere I have gone, I’ve seen these truths displayed as well. Church planting is one of the most effective means of seeing people come to know Christ. A few reasons why:

    • It puts people on the ground next to their neighbors rather than surrounded by believers all the time.
    • There is a hunger at the beginning of a new church plant to grow the fellowship and see new people come join.
    • There’s a fresh expression that tends to relate more practically to people.
    • New followers tend to be the most effective evangelists.
    • There’s very little Christian jargon which can lose people quickly because of some kind of secret code, insider language that nobody understands.
    • It distributes us more effectively into our neighborhoods and communities.

     

    Japan Needs Many More Churches

    As I look at Japan today, the need is enormous. Despite the great work that has been done in this country by faithful laborers, the task that remains is daunting. Just look at these charts!

    Percent of Japan with No Churches

    japan no church prefects

     

    Percent of Church Attenders per Prefecture

    20151021 Jpn ChAttenders

     

    Number of Churchless Villages and Towns

    2015 October Jpn num Churchless Towns and villages

    These charts are striking! 

    Fortunately, things are moving in the right direction. God has not forgotten Japan. The Lord is embedding new vision and calling new church planters for the task ahead. Soon, I’ll be posting stories of the fresh vision God is birthing in Japan. It’s exciting and you can be a part of it.

    I’ll be sharing more in the coming days, but for now, will you:

    • Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers!
    • Pray for more fellowships: house churches, small groups, church plants of all shapes and sizes to be started!
    • Send funds to see a fresh move of the Spirit in Japan!
    • And, consider coming… Join us in this exciting new season for Japan… Learn more at go2japan...

    go2japan

    Japan needs YOU—to pray, to support, to come and serve!

    With great hope for Japan!

     

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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  17. By Rod Denton, Equipping The Next Generation

    leaders emerge

    Leaders EMERGE - They don't just appear

     

    Where have all the leaders gone?

    Could there be any more desperate cry than this in our world today?

    We have facilitators, administrators, managers, academics, coordinators and people with various titles and qualifications, but very few leaders. So we are left to recruit staff from elsewhere, or raise up volunteers who are given leadership positions and a roster of helpers, or we overload the few leaders that are around. These options often result in a gradual decline or at best a plateauing in our churches and the few leaders that remain, ultimately burn out.

    We send those in leadership positions to quick fix courses that end up achieving little because courses don’t develop leaders. And so those in leadership positions end up being overtrained and underdeveloped.

    Often, it is only when a situation reaches a crisis point that desperate measures are taken, if it is not already too late. It took the intervention of Moses’ father in law, Jethro, to realise the desperate need for leaders that existed when he questioned Moses,

    “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning to evening?... What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:14, 17-18)

    Or take the Apostles who found things getting out of control because they failed to raise up leaders to whom they could delegate responsibilities that were never meant to be included in their job description (Acts 6:1-7). On each occasion, we find that both Moses and the Apostles needed to go to the next level in their leadership emergence pathway by revising their job descriptions to do three things that all leaders should do; teach (equip) the people, pray for the people and raise up leaders with certain qualities who will share the load.

    It is interesting to read of the changes that would occur after these steps were taken. Jethro said to Moses, “If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (v 24)

    The simple steps of delegation that the Apostles took had an overwhelming impact.

    “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (v 7)

    Consequently, one of the greatest needs in churches today is the need to develop a leadership culture, where every disciple is an emerging leader at some stage of development on a leadership pathway. One of the reasons this is needed is because all disciples of Jesus are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in the world in which they live, and salt and light are agents of influence which is a helpful definition of leadership.

    And because leaders emerge over a lifetime, I want to detail the levels of development that emerging leaders might follow on the leadership development continuum. Perhaps this might help you to be more purposeful in developing a leadership culture in your church that will maximise the growth of leaders.

     

    Identifying the 5 stages of leadership emergence

    LEVEL 1:  FOLLOWERSHIP

    It is a dangerous thing to place someone into leadership who has not first learned to be a follower. We are all born into a world of authority figures and will for the rest of our lives have to relate to authority figures. It is only safe to give a person authority who is willing to come under authority. Surely this is why Jesus was so impressed with the faith of the centurion who said to Jesus, “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.”(Matthew 8:9)

    Some of the qualities I look for in a person’s life at this level are a servant heart, a teachable spirit, humility, faithfulness, availability and a love for people. The most important person we will learn to follow is Jesus and the greatest goal we can have in our lives is to grow more and more like Jesus. The apostle Paul brings together the idea of being a follower and a leader where he says, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

     

    LEVEL 2:  SELF LEADERSHIP

    “A leader is a person who has learned to obey a discipline imposed from without, and has then taken on a more rigorous discipline from within. Those who rebel against authority and scorn self discipline – who shirk the rigors and turn from the sacrifices – do not qualify to lead. Many who drop out (from leadership) are sufficiently gifted but have large areas of life floating free from the Holy Spirit’s control. Lazy and disorganised people never rise to true leadership.”
    — J. Oswald Sanders SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP.

    I had the privilege of talking with Mr Sanders on various occasions while he was alive, and it was his discernment as the leader of a mission organisation, that the main reason people dropped out of leadership was not a lack of academic training but rather a lack in various areas of discipline that build self leadership.

    It follows that it is important for leaders to realise that they cannot lead others until they have first of all led themselves. For leaders cannot take a person further than they themselves have gone. Self leadership has to do with the development of various disciplines which can be defined as doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. It relates to a whole lifestyle and involves areas of spiritual disciplines, personal health, emotional intelligence, time management, character development, relational skills and continuous growth.

     

    LEVEL 3:  LEADER OF FOLLOWERS

    Leadership is not found in a title or qualifications or years of service; leadership flows out of a life of influence and is given to a person by followers rather than taken from people by a person in a position of leadership. Leaders emerge because they have been faithful followers, particularly of Jesus, and have evidenced key disciplines in areas of self leadership. Because they have been faithful in little things, it automatically follows that they can be trusted with greater things that will involve leadership of a group of people towards God’s purposes for that group. Emerging leaders will want to be good stewards of the gifts God has entrusted to them and they will be aware of a sense of vision rising up in them. Emerging leaders will have a hunger to grow as a leader and will seek out leadership resources and find a mentor to maximise their growth.

     

    LEVEL 4:  LEADER OF LEADERS

    This is where Moses and the Apostles found themselves. Leaders go to a new level when they have a paradigm shift and see people as Jesus saw people. Jesus saw potential in the most ordinary people right from the time He called them to follow Him. They were more than followers, they were potential leaders. If a leader does not make this transition to level 4, the leader will limit the growth of his/her ministry and it will plateau when it reaches a fairly predictable number of people.

    As this stage unfolds, the leader will start to spend more time with less people and in the process begin to delegate responsibilities to those who are proving faithful in the little things and displaying leadership potential. For pastors, moving into this level will find them giving priority to developing a leadership culture in the church, giving more attention to equipping the saints for the work of ministry, and then building their own ministry team as leaders are set apart to lead various departments in the life of the church. It will be important for a leader to find a mentor who has had experience at this level to help the leader in his/her ongoing leadership emergence journey to the next level.

     

    LEVEL 5:  LEADER OF LEADER OF LEADERS

    Continued growth in the multiplication of disciples will result in another level of leadership emergence as those on the senior leader’s ministry team will themselves be raising up their own team of leaders as their ministry grows. For example, the leader of small groups will need to raise up a growing number of small group leaders and the children’s leader and the youth leader will need to raise up leaders who will each disciple a group of children or youth. In a growing vibrant church or ministry, the need for a continual supply of leaders will always exist and so the need for a leadership culture and a leadership pathway that gives priority to the continual development of leaders is required.

     

    IN SUMMARY

    1. Leaders develop over a lifetime so “do not be hasty in the laying on of hands...” (1 Timothy 5:22) Don’t overlook the stages of a leader’s development for a short term gain.
    2. Make sure that a leader’s competence does not race ahead of a leader’s character or pride and a shipwrecked life could occur. Similarly, make sure that a leader’s character does not race ahead of a leader’s competence or the effectiveness of the leader will be limited.
    3. Understand the changing role of a leader in a growing church. Some of the changes will include changing:
      • from small church thinking to large church thinking
      • from attending to detail to focusing on the big picture.
      • from being judged by what the leader is doing to being judged by what the leader’s team is doing.
      • from shepherding and leading the people to shepherding and leading the leaders who shepherd and lead the people.
      • from being an administrator/pastoral carer who maintains the church to being a leader who equips the saints to do the work of ministry to grow the church
      • from a church with a variety of programs to a purposeful church where every activity finds a place in a well thought out discipleship pathway.
      • From seeing the congregation as a group of followers to a group of emerging leaders.
    1. Leaders will spend as much time on their own personal development as they will on the development of their leaders. They can only take their leaders to a level that they have already attained.
    2. Remember that “To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition.”  (1 Timothy 3:1 NEB)

    May you live your life in such a way that it will not be said of you and your church,

    “Where have all the leaders gone?”

     

    This article was originally published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brachiatea-word-worth-living-denton-rod

    _________________

    rod dentonABOUT 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

     

  18. Joe and Mike

    A Penetrating Question

    Not long ago I had the privilege of taking part in the Leader Development Consultation. Asian Access was one of the co-sponsoring organizations and it was a joy being there with so many global leader development specialists. Many were there from Asian Access teaching and facilitating various workshops and training sessions.

    One highlight for me was connecting with Asian Access leaders and one encounter caught me by surprise: though it shouldn’t have! I was sitting next to Mike Hoisington, one of our faculty members who asked me this penetrating question,

    “Joe, are you spending time in the Word?”

    You gotta love Mike. He puts it right out there in front of everybody. We were in the main session hall, and he asked me straight and simple. Right in front of others… I love that! You see, Mike was asking a crucial question about the fruitfulness of ministry. It all boils down to our relationship with Christ. Mike cares about me, and he cares about Asian Access.

    We say we are ALL IN with God and that our first core outcome is Living in a Love Relationship with Christ

    Why? Because this is so essential to ministry. Just read John 15.

    So, how about you?

    • Are you in the Word?
    • Are you spending time with Jesus?
    • Are you ALL IN with God?
    • Are you abiding in Christ?

     

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

      

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  19. A2.business trains leaders to work in the marketplace

    East Asia (MNN) — Asian Access has been training pastors and Christian leaders for over three decades in 12 countries with great success. Their programs set up small groups of pastors to take classes that promote Christlikeness at home, at work, and in their daily lives.

    brother jake“This model of developing pastoral leaders through a cohort program has been very successful in developing Christlike leaders who have a vision to reach their cities and transform their communities,” said Brother Jake. “With this being so successful, Asian Access came up with the idea that the same program could be run for business leaders as well, and that’s how A2.business has come about.”

    Brother Jake is a regional coordinator of Asian Access in his country, and he hopes the program will do the same thing for the business world of East Asia that it did for ministry.

    In fact, the two systems are so similar they even have the exact same four goals. By the end of the program, the businesswomen and men will have the training to “live in a love relationship with God, grow as a Christlike leader, reproduce disciple-making leaders, and catalyze disciple-making movements,” Brother Jake said.

    Brother JakeThe timing for this program is critical. “There is a big need for Christian businessmen and marketplace leaders to realize that God has placed them in their spheres of influence to impact their world for Christ,” Brother Jake said. That need comes from countries like India, whose leadership and economic climate has set it to become a powerful nation in the marketplace in the future. If the future spells good news for India’s economy, it will need Christian leaders who can work and minister in the business world.

    But there’s a problem. Brother Jake said many men and women working in the marketplace are looked down upon in Christian circles. Some East Asian cultures believe that people are only truly serving God if they become members of the clergy, but Asian Access wants to refute that.

    “People are called, appointed, and anointed by God to be salt and light in the marketplace,” Brother Jake said. “You are a full-time missionary.”

    Christian businesspeople would help ministries already in place in East Asian countries too. It can be difficult to get funding into some countries, but Brother Jake thinks that “once Christian business people realize the role they play, they can help fund the ministries in their own countries without outside help.”

    A2.business can only be successful with your prayer and support. “We can be praying that this small beginning will multiply, that the leaders that have been trained will, in turn, pass on what has been deposited in them, and that we’ll see a mighty generation of business and marketplace leaders who are rising up to their calling in Christ and bringing transformation in the workplace.”

    Find out more about A2.business here.

      

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:43)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jun29-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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    a2 dot business tag 450x87

  20. Not long ago I was in Hong Kong and the talk of the town was China’s One Belt, One Road plan to catalyze business ventures across Asia and into Europe.

    For those of you never hearing of the idea, check out this interview by McKinsey & Company: China’s One Belt, One Road: Will it reshape global trade?

    It’s certainly a breathtaking economic initiative and many wonder if it’ll come to fruition because of the massive infrastructure costs it will take to pull everything together. One thing we can say, China is ambitious!

    For me, the talk was all about how important this enterprise will become for the Gospel’s advance. Christian business leader after Christian business leader were extolling the potential, saying we must capitalize on this moment because the potential is too big to miss! And, the timing is interesting in that the country’s Church has laid an ambitious plan to repay the debt they owe God be sending 20,000 missionaries from their country across these belts and roads by 2030: see Vision 2030 and Asian believers cast vision for massive outreach.

    The idea is not without its critiques either: Check out Asian Access Council of Reference Member and ChinaSource CEO Dr. Brent Fulton’s reflections—One Belt, One Road, One Mission?

    Certainly, the extraordinary plan will be something to watch in the upcoming decade. And, regardless of its success, the implications are enormous and worth thinking about. For Asian Access, we will continue coming alongside leaders in this country to fulfill our founders dream, “My Vision is to Empower your Vision!” and one new way we are approaching these throughout various sectors of society is our new business venture. Check it out: A2.business

    We used to see our role as exclusively coming alongside emerging young pastors, leaders of leaders who have potential to influence their cities, regions and countries. Now, we realize that in order to fully fulfill our vision, we also must come alongside emerging young leaders in the business sector as well. Together, we aspire to see the Church overcome the “Sacred/Secular Divide” and catalyze a movement “to see a vibrant community of servant leaders… leading the Church across Asia… to unite the Church, multiply leaders and congregations and extend the transforming power of the Gospel.”

     

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

      

     

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    • A2.business – Asian Access leader development for the marketplace

    a2 dot business tag 450x87

     

    {mp4remote}http://brightcove.vo.llnwd.net/e1/uds/pd/1971571337001/1971571337001_5034443460001_5034422821001.mp4?playerId=2399849255001&lineupId=&affiliateId=&pubId=1971571337001&videoId=5034422821001{/mp4remote}

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