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. mallory jeff 2014 smI’m very excited to introduce you to our new VP for Development, Jeff Mallory!

    As you may know, I moved to Japan the other day for several strategic reasons in serving as the president of Asian Access. You can learn more about this move here. As part of this move, we knew we needed to add a pastoral partner in the US to keep us connected as I focus more on the spiritual leadership of the movement.

    mallory jeff and lynda 2016 spJeff Mallory is the perfect compliment for us at this strategic time. As we look to expand ministry in Japan, grow as an international community, and open new countries to reach 20 by 2020, Jeff brings the shepherd-like presence with our partners across the U.S.

    You’ll enjoy meeting Jeff. He’s a great guy with a huge heart and I can’t wait for you to meet him. To learn more about Jeff, you can go to his profile page here...

    Recently Jeff sent me a note, and I wanted to share a brief excerpt with you:

    Joe, there is a sense of unity, encouragement, grace and compassion with the team at A2 that I have never felt in any other place I've worked or served. I'm so thankful to be here!

    Would you join me in welcoming Jeff to our vibrant community of servant leaders! You can write him here: jmallory@asianaccess.org

    What a blessing to add Jeff to our community!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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  2. Christians in Thailand consider chaos and Christ 

    PUBLISHED ON 5 August, 2016 BY

    Thailand (MNN) — Security has been beefed up at all of Thailand’s tourist destinations in the wake of the 11 bomb attacks last Friday.

    (Photo courtesy Asian Access)Although tourist security is on high alert, many in Thailand are back to business as usual. Change is normal in the ‘Land of Smiles’. After all, Asian Access’ (A2) Noel Becchetti points out; the country has survived 36 coups in the last 50 years.

    Becchetti describes Thailand’s atmosphere as a complicated mix of politics, nationalism and sectarianism, and says any one theory right now about who is behind the attacks is pure speculation.

    That’s not to say that people are careless. Becchetti’s son, Evan lives in Bangkok with his family. Becchetti says his daughter-in-law and grandson are visiting in the States, and Evan was supposed to be on his way. He was trying to fly out of Suvarnabhumi last week, and because of the attacks, ran into a three-hour military security checkpoint. Due to the tight security, Evan missed his flight and was advised that, as a foreigner, it might be wiser not to fly out.

    (Map courtesy Asian Access)Here’s the short run down of what happened between Thursday and Friday last week:

    • Four blasts over 24 hours in Hua Hin, a popular holiday spot for Bangkok residents and foreign tourists.
    • Two blasts near the police station in Surat Thani, a mainland river estuary town where ferries bound for Samui island dock.
    • Two blasts at Patong bay, the most popular beach on Phuket island’s west coast.
    • One blast in Trang town that lies south of Lanta island. The town is an emerging tourist destination noted for its diving and island national parks.
    • Bomb and arson attacks in Khao Lak and Ao Nang, Krabi, popular beach resorts in the province of Phang Nga on the mainland just north and south of Phuket island.
    • Authorities also found unexploded bombs in some tourist spots.

    Becchetti offers one area being investigated: the attack could be related to a decades’ long struggle between the population that supports the monarchy, and the authoritarian military government and groups in the south with connections to Malaysia and Muslim extremists. “This is a conflict that has been going on for probably centuries, frankly; a big tug-of-war.” In short, there is potential of an insurgency itching for a civil war.

    There are also rumors that Thailand’s king has secretly died and the royal family is keeping it quiet for the sake of stability.

    “They’re suspecting that these people in the South are behind these bombs because things are beginning to converge. One is Thailand is a monarchy. Their history is a monarchy. Even though the royal family, to some degree, doesn’t have any real power, it has a tremendous amount of popular influence.”

    Then a wave of politics rolls in on a different front. The attacks came days after Thailand voted to accept a new constitution that paves the way for an election in 2017, and guarantees the military’s power. The vote was controversial because the governing document is similar to Myanmar’s.

    “Thailand’s new constitution guarantees the military a certain number of seats in Parliament. They can veto anything they don’t like,” he says, adding that, “there’s a lot of unpopularity around that constitution being passed.”

    (Photo courtesy Asian Access)Add to that the tensions with China, and the one year anniversary of the Erawan shrine bomb attack in Bangkok on August 17 that killed 20 persons and injured 125. The shrine is a major attraction for Chinese tourists, by far the largest tourist group to Thailand.

    Sound complicated? It is. “A lot of rumors are flying around, but there’s nothing really definitive, it’s just all these different streams of speculation going around at the same time”, explains Becchetti.

    Even nationals are trying to puzzle out the truth from fiction. Asian Access had been considering expansion into Thailand, because the Gospel workers are in a tricky field. “Spiritually, people just kind of shrug Jesus off with a smile. For the missionaries, it’s kind of like punching a wet paper bag. It’s that kind of a challenge.”

    With things as seemingly chaotic as they’re described, what’s the plan now? “This situation simply heightens the need for mature, spiritually-grounded Christian leadership.”

    A2’s leadership team believes the ground is ready for planting. “In the last year or two, the sense has been that there is rising leadership that’s experienced, ready, and eager for what we have to bring, and could use it to their benefit.”

    The timeline has yet to be laid out. However, Becchetti says it’s not too early to start praying for what’s to come in Thailand.

    “Our sense is if things are getting more chaotic, all the more need for the Christian leaders there to become better equipped, better encouraged, better supported and learn how to work together, collectively, to try to help be an influence in the country and to help spread the Gospel.”

     

    Listen to the broadcast (top story)
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  3. Handley three Tokyo bound

    The day has come and we are moving to Japan — Tuesday, August 9. As you may have heard, our son John approached his mom last summer saying,

    “Can we make that move to Japan that we were thinking about a few years ago?”

    As soon as Silk heard those words she knew this’ll be a no brainer for Joe!

     

    Tokyo Bound!

    Tokyo Handley 750x420

    Why? For many reasons:

    • Japan remains one of the largest unreached people groups in the world – it needs more Christ followers!
    • Japan could be on the verge of a major tipping point following the devastating disasters the last few years – it’s a country hungry for hope!
    • Tokyo is one of the largest and most influential cities in the world and a key hub for Asia.
    • Our work, building capacity of kingdom movement leaders, is based in and focused on Asia – there’s no better place to be than at the heart of that movement.
    • Our mission, Asian Access, was founded in Japan in 1967 and next year we celebrate our 50th anniversary – the best place to be located for this year of festivity is Tokyo!
    • Joe’s main activity is empowering kingdom-minded servant leaders and basing in Asia is the best location for him to serve.
    • John is hungry to learn more about Japan – he’s fascinated by the people, the country and the culture and he’s excited about the educational opportunities that await him at the Christian Academy in Japan
    • Silk is eager to be serving at the school as a full time teacher in addition to serving as an ambassador for Asian Access!
    • God is on the move in Asia and what better place to be than in the center of what He is doing.

    As you’ll see from these pictures, we’ll be missing our daughters and son-in-law. We were all together for a two-week road trip, which was wonderful. We’re going to miss them and could use your prayers! 

    We’re excited to make the move and are eager to see what God will do. If you’d like to join our prayer or support team, send a note to Joe’s assistant, and she’ll add you to our mailing list: mgrieco@asianaccess.org 

    And, if you’d like to send a word of encouragement, drop either Silk or me a note:

    God bless you and thank you for your ongoing prayers and support. We love you!

    How can we be praying for you?

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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  4. Pals family felt called to Japan before tragic accident; why?

     

    PUBLISHED ON 5 August, 2016 BY

    Japan (MNN) —

    “How soon will some few years pass away, and then when the day is ended, and this life’s lease expired, what have men of the world’s glory, but dreams and thoughts? O happy soul forevermore, who can rightly compare this life with that long-lasting life to come, and can balance the weighty glory of the one with the light golden vanity of the other.” – Samuel Rutherford

    There are few things that unite a body of believers like the loss of a loved one. For the evangelical community in Japan, that came with the recent tragic deaths of Kathyrine and Jamison Pals and their three children. The family of five was killed in a highway accident in Colorado, mere dollars and weeks away from their move to Japan.

    Why Japan? What was it that touched the hearts of the Pals family to start working in a missions field on the other side of the world?

    (Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn via Flickr: <a href=John Houlette of Asian Access says that with recent disasters throughout the island country, non-Christians are looking for hope, even though many missionaries wouldn’t even consider Japan.

    “In a practical sense, Japan is a very expensive country to live in, and I think there’s a misconception that Japan, because it’s an advanced country, that they don’t need the Gospel,” he explains.

    But things are changing. Since recent quakes and other natural disasters, people are desperate for hope amidst the darkness. “I think with the disaster, it broke down a lot of those, the veneer to the heart, the layers, and people experienced genuine brokenness and they needed help.”

    As people open up and start to respond more than ever to the hope of God, it’s time for believers to step up and react with love and the message of the Gospel.

    “There is a wonderful working across denominations both of the Church and of the mission, receiving international teams from anywhere, and that bond is strengthened. People are looking at that, who are not yet Christians, and seeing the body of Christ and the beauty of that as a tapestry of God’s family.”

    Houlette goes on to say it’s a very historic time for the Church in Japan because, “…as we reflect on this and that, it is helping the church to work together as we look at more partnerships and trust that the Lord will send new missionaries to Japan.”

    This newfound strength and purpose is pushing many families and believers to consider missions in Japan in a brand new light, and churches in the country are no longer simply opening their doors; they’re stepping outside.

    “With a good attitude and a willingness of Christians to walk alongside people and listen and not give pat answers and the build bonds of love in Christ, people began to respond to that. As I mentioned earlier, that was not going to happen within a church building.”

    But as the potential for harvest grows, the workers are few and far between. This was the call the Pals family was answering.  But the story they started isn’t over.

    “We need many more couples with a passion that 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, that the love of Christ constrains people that are in the vice of God’s love and are willing to come and serve here in Japan.”

    Now more than ever, the Church will have to unite and hold strong in the midst of sorrow, clinging to each other, but standing on the sovereignty of God and the unique hope we have in Christ’s sacrifice.

    Houlette encourages us to pray, even as we grieve, “that this might be an impetus for the Church to work even in a stronger bond together, and that we would pray for workers of the harvest.”

    Photo Courtesy World VentureIf you want to respond directly, you can give to a memorial fund that will be used for grants for outgoing missionaries and speed up their departure.

    Additionally, consider taking a moment during your day to pray for the family of the Palses, and remember the other missionaries who are willing to give their all for Christ. They understand the things they sacrifice, but for the love of their God they will give all they have on this earth.

    Just read the words of Jamison Pals himself from his personal blog. Long before he understood how his life and his ministry would unfold, he wrote a letter to his wife, pouring out his heart and relinquishing his hold on the things of this world to God.

    “Kathryne, I am asking you to go with me.  Let’s go…or at least let us do everything in our power to go.  The Lord may see fit to keep us here, but if he does not, let’s go.  It may cost us much, but would you have it any other way?  Whatever we lose will be worth it if we gain more of Christ.  I believe the Lord is sending us.  I am asking you to trust me.  More importantly, I am asking you to trust God’s sovereign guidance and care.  He will be with us, and he will go before us.  Surely, his goodness and mercy will follow us all of the days of our lives.  We will dwell with him forever, wherever we dwell for this life.  You will never be without your God and your Savior.”

     

    Listen to the broadcast (top story)
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  5. Attacker stabs and kills 19 disabled people, nation shocked

    PUBLISHED ON 27 JULY, 2016 BY 

    Japan (MNN) — Nineteen people were stabbed to death, and 25 injured early Tuesday morning in Japan. Of those injured, 20 are severely wounded.

    26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu broke into Tsukui Yamayuri-en, a facility for disabled individuals, during the night armed with knives to kill the residents. The attack took place in Sagamiharaa, around 30 miles from Tokyo. Uematsu was a former employee of the facility.

    In the past, the attacker has reportedly said he believes disabled people should be allowed to be euthanized, with their guardian’s consent — something that is an ongoing discussion in the political realm today.

    (Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn via Flickr: <a href=Mary Jo Wilson with Asian Accessis currently in Japan, and reports, “[The attacker] then drove to the police station and turned himself in, and it didn’t sound like a hate crime, but something intentional that he had planned, and had even written a letter in February to a politician kind of describing what he thought he would do. [He] was hospitalized for a period of time.

    This is the deadliest mass killing in Japan since World War II. A rare tragedy like this has been horrific for the nation.

    “It is shocking in a facility for these very vulnerable, severely disabled individuals who were sleeping to be killed in their sleep and murdered this way. So I think that Japan is still in shock and processing these numbers and just the horrific tragedy that it is.”(Photo courtesy of Freedom II Andres via Flickr)

    Things like this don’t really happen in Japan, partially because the honor-driven culture encourages people to avoid doing things that would bring dishonor or embarrassment to the group or family.

    Wilson wonders if the veneer of stability in Japan ends up covering real issues.

    “I think it’s very contrary to how the Japanese would see themselves, so it’s very shocking to the senses to have something like this happen. I think it has kind of a numbing effect. At the same time, I was just thinking how I was on the train to Tokyo this evening, and having suicides disrupt the trains, it’s a very common occurrence.”

    Wilson goes on to share, “I just talked with a pastor this evening who lives not far from where this tragedy occurred, and he was saying on the surface Japan looks very put together and safe, and it’s relatively a very safe country. But under the surface, there is a lot of stress and a lot of troubles and really a need for true peace that only Christ can bring.”

    Asian Access works in countries all across Asia within four ministry spheres: to raise up godly leaders who will impact churches, congregations that will change communities, create collaborative church efforts across communities, and these will hopefully transform nations for the glory of God.

    “We serve pastors and churches to develop leaders and multiply congregations and that work continues. Less than one percent of Japanese are Christians, and so there are a lot of people who I think are questioning and wondering; and churches, Christians are available then to share with people the hope of Christ.”

    Right now, maybe more than ever, is a good reminder that even the safest countries in the world are not immune to the pain and results of sin. Even the calmest waters can have churning currents deep underneath.

    (Photo courtesy of Riley Kaminer via Flickr)Wilson asks for Christians around the world to pray for Japan.

    “Pray especially that God will open hearts, because it’s spiritual movement that we really need, for God’s Spirit to move and draw Japanese people to the hope of Christ. And then that churches and believers will be ready with open hearts to share with people and to welcome them in… for them to learn of Christ and be welcomed into the community.”

    To learn more about Asian Access and their work, you can check out their website here.

    Wilson leaves us with this poignant reminder about the value and beauty of human life that is created in the image of our Heavenly Father:

    “I think one message that’s really important right now is how precious life is, and for every Japanese person to know that they are precious, and Christ values them and God values them, and that’s the message they need to hear today.”

     

    Listen to the broadcast (top story)
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  6. By David Bennett

    MarksDisciple PartFour 1200x800

    The Fourth Mark: Abundant Fruitfulness

    John 13:34, 35

    Later on that same evening of the Last Supper, Jesus gave one more statement on the evidence for true discipleship. He was comparing himself to a vine, with the disciples as the branches. His focus was the goal of fruit-bearing. Branches that bear fruit are pruned so that they will bear even more. Only those branches that remain in the vine are capable of bearing fruit. And God is glorified when much fruit is borne. But more than that, abundant fruitfulness is the mark of true discipleship. This is the fourth mark of a disciple [Read John 15:5,8]. A little further on, in verse 16, Jesus says, “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

    What is fruit? It is what the vine produces when it is healthy and mature. Fruit includes the character qualities of Jesus listed in Galatians 5, where the apostle Paul says: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5:22,23). Fruit also includes the beneficial impact of the disciple's life upon others, enlisting them as followers of Jesus. It includes accelerating kingdom leaders, our third Asian Access core value. Here is how our Core Values statement expresses it:

    ACCELERATE Kingdom Leaders

    One way God makes Himself known is through empowered and released Kingdom leaders. In Asian Access, these leaders are nurtured, trained, and set free to make a fruitful difference. They reproduce like-minded, disciple-making leaders; plant multiplying churches and faith communities; foster networks of Jesus followers in their homes, offices, the workplace and the nations. These released Kingdom leaders play a vital part in growing God’s Kingdom in Asia and, ultimately, the world.

    The goal of the community of his followers, says Jesus in Matthew 28, is to make disciples, to baptize them and teach them, and to do that in every nation. As we know, the Greek word ethnē translated "nation" refers to cultural units, not political units. The world today has only a little over two hundred nations in the political sense (over half of which are represented here at the GProCongress), but thousands of cultural units. And Jesus' command is to make disciples in every one of them—in every region, in every language, in every tribe, in every community.

    Let me add a couple of additional comments. First, in the New Testament none of the disciples ever refer to anyone as “their” disciples. They are making disciples of Jesus, not of themselves. Second, remember what Jesus said in Luke 6:40, “Everyone who is fully trained [that is, ‘discipled,’ the same basic Greek word] will be like his teacher.” Or as a youth pastor who discipled me loved to say, “People become what we are, not what we tell them to be.”

    The goal of our effort is the multiplication of disciples—people who have made a total commitment to Jesus, who are faithful to his word, who love their fellow-disciples, and who are bearing plenty of fruit.

    And specifically in Asian Access, our mission is to multiply leaders who are “all in” for God, who are living in community, and who are accelerating kingdom leaders—leaders who are disciples themselves, in the full sense that Jesus defined the word.

    grapes 

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    Editor’s Note: David recently shared a devotional for a group of Asian Access leaders at the GProCongress in Bangkok. Entitled The Marks of a Disciple, David’s presentation speaks powerfully to the core values of Asian Access—so much so that we would love to share it with you...

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    David BennettABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev. Dr. David Bennett is a veteran pastor, global researcher, and a passionate follower of Jesus. He currently serves as Global Associate Director for Collaboration and Content for the Lausanne Movement. David also serves on the Asian Access Board of Directors.

    See also: David Bennett's endorsement of Asian Access

  7. By David Bennett

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    The Third Mark: Love for fellow disciples

    John 13:34, 35

    Jesus' next statement about discipleship is found in John 13, on the night of the Last Supper [Read John 13:34,35]. The third mark of a disciple is love for fellow-disciples.

    Not a New Command

    The command to love is not new in itself—back in Leviticus 19:18, God said "Love your neighbor as yourself." But the measure of that love is new. The standard is no longer the natural self-love that all of us are born with. The measure is the self-sacrificing love that led Jesus to wash the feet of the disciples. It is the love that led him to death on the cross for their redemption. Jesus was calling his disciples to display this love so consistently and openly with one another that even people outside the community of faith would recognize Jesus as the source.

    Jesus was staking the effectiveness of his evangelistic mission on the obvious love that his true disciples would have for one another.

    In our Asian Access core values, this is expressed as “Live Community.”

    LIVE Community

    Vibrant, transformational Christian life is lived in community. We really are better together. We are committed to developing communities of Jesus followers that bridge ethnic, language, cultural, and denominational barriers. Asian Access’ learning communities create an environment that unites the Church, multiplies leaders and congregations, and extends the transforming power of the gospel.

     

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    Editor’s Note: David recently shared a devotional for a group of Asian Access leaders at the GProCongress in Bangkok. Entitled The Marks of a Disciple, David’s presentation speaks powerfully to the core values of Asian Access—so much so that we would love to share it with you...

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    David BennettABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev. Dr. David Bennett is a veteran pastor, global researcher, and a passionate follower of Jesus. He currently serves as Global Associate Director for Collaboration and Content for the Lausanne Movement. David also serves on the Asian Access Board of Directors.

    See also: David Bennett's endorsement of Asian Access

  8. By David Bennett

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    The Second Mark: Faithfulness to Jesus’ Word

    John 8:31, 32

    The second mark of the disciple is found in John 8. Here Jesus is talking to Jews who had believed in him. But their belief was very shallow. They were offended by the statement that Jesus existed before Abraham as the eternal God, the one who revealed himself to Moses in the great name "I Am." So Jesus raised the issue of true discipleship [Read 8:31,32]. The second mark of a disciple is faithfulness to God’s Word.

    Jesus knew that there were those who associated with him, yet who were not really learning from him as their teacher. They were not reorienting their worldview. They were not adjusting their behavior, in light of his revealed truth. They were listeners, but not disciples. They were not yet “all in.”

    A community of true disciples is one in which the Word of God is at the center of their life. The Bible is recited, and read, and studied, and put into practice. To be a disciple means not only to receive an infusion of knowledge but also to undergo a transformation of character.

     

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    Editor’s Note: David recently shared a devotional for a group of Asian Access leaders at the GProCongress in Bangkok. Entitled The Marks of a Disciple, David’s presentation speaks powerfully to the core values of Asian Access—so much so that we would love to share it with you...

    _________________

    David BennettABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev. Dr. David Bennett is a veteran pastor, global researcher, and a passionate follower of Jesus. He currently serves as Global Associate Director for Collaboration and Content for the Lausanne Movement. David also serves on the Asian Access Board of Directors.

    See also: David Bennett's endorsement of Asian Access

  9. By David Bennett

    MarksDisciple PartOne 1200x800

    One of the most familiar verses in the Bible is Jesus' command in Matthew 28:19 to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

       
     
    Editor’s Note: David recently shared a devotional for a group of Asian Access leaders at the GProCongress in Bangkok. Entitled The Marks of a Disciple, David’s presentation speaks powerfully to the core values of Asian Access—so much so that we would love to share it with you. Following is Part One of David’s devotional, Total Commitment.
       

    But what did Jesus mean by the word “disciple?”

    The Meaning of "Disciple"

    The Greek word translated “disciple” comes from the verb, which means “to learn.” So the basic meaning is “learner.” A disciple of Jesus is someone who has come to learn from him. The gospel writers sometimes use the word “disciple” in this broad sense to refer to the crowds who followed Jesus. But other times they are referring only to the Twelve whom Jesus chose to be with him constantly.

    In the Greek world, the word "disciple" was used of students who apprenticed themselves to a philosopher or teacher. In Jesus' day, the Jewish rabbis also had students. In many ways, the relationship of Jesus to his disciples was similar to the relationship of the rabbis to their disciples. But whenever Jesus himself used the word "disciple," he described a relationship that went far beyond what any rabbi ever asked from his student.

    I'd like to take a brief look at the four passages in which Jesus defined the marks of his true disciple.

     

    The First Mark:  Total Commitment

    Luke 14:25-33

    Consider first Luke 14, where we read in verse 25 that large crowds were following Jesus. Now Jesus was never impressed by large numbers as such. Bigger is not always better. Sometimes it is, but it depends on what we are counting.

    Jesus is interested in counting disciples. And in Luke 14, what Jesus was teaching was not calculated to gather a crowd. It was more likely to disperse the crowd he had. [Read Luke 14:25-33].

    The first mark of a disciple is total commitment. According to Jesus, a disciple is “All in.”

    In verse 26, Jesus lists virtually every primary family relationship— father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters. And he says that the one who comes to him must hate all these, and even his own life.

    Now of course the Bible puts a great deal of emphasis on the family unit. The fifth commandment requires honoring the father and mother. The book of Proverbs is full of instructions about raising children. The laws about sexual behavior are for the protection of the home. Jesus himself as a child was obedient to his parents. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

    But the very fact that the family bond is so strong can make it a source of dangerous temptation— namely, to put family ahead of the Lord. In the name of family togetherness, a family can totally ignore worshiping with God's family, or taking time to build relationships with other Christians. A mother's determination to cater to her children's every whim can gobble up the time that she needs to spend alone with God in prayer and Bible study in order to be a more effective Mom. Intimidation by a vocal and antagonistic father can keep a grown son from making a wholehearted commitment to the Lord. Lukewarm family members can quench our own zeal, if we let them.

    But when Jesus calls us to obey, no-one, absolutely no-one, not even the closest family member, can become an excuse to say "no."  Our love for Jesus, and our commitment to him, requires a loyalty that makes every other loyalty pale by comparison. That's what it means to be his disciple.

    Samuel Zwemer: All in with God

    samuel zwemer missionaryIn 1890, after seminary and medical school, Samuel Zwemer became an ambassador for Jesus to Bahrain, one of the most difficult places in the Middle East. The first struggle was learning the Arabic language. In Bahrain Zwemer married a nurse from Australia. But life was very difficult. Within one week their two little girls died of dysentery, but the local people at first refused to let them bury the children, for fear that they would "contaminate the soil."  Even then, Dr. Zwemer had to dig the grave himself. Yet the grieving parents showed their love for Christ by inscribing on the gravestone a phrase from Revelation 5:12,

    "Worthy is the Lamb to receive riches." [Global Prayer Digest, Sep. 7, 1991].

    They were “all in” with God.

    Not even the natural instinct for self-preservation can stand in the way of the call of Jesus for total surrender. In verse 27, Jesus says that to be his disciple means to carry our cross and to come after him, that is, to be willing to follow Jesus even along the path of suffering and death.

    James Calvert: We already died

    James Calvert missionaryWhen James Calvert went out to share the love of Jesus with the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the captain of the ship that had carried him there urged him to turn back by saying, "You will lose your life and the lives of those who go with you if you go among such savages."  But Calvert replied,

    "We died before we came here." [Ill.Bibl.Pr. #215].

    That is the reply of a disciple.

    Discipleship, says Jesus, involves not only surrender of family ties, and giving up the right to self-preservation, but also the willingness to part with every material possession. [Read v.33]. Now Jesus did not call every one of his followers to sell every possession and to give it away. Nor was that the teaching of the apostles. But every possession is to be given up to Jesus.

    Is Jesus' name is on the deed?

    It's like putting Jesus' name on the title deed of everything we own. The disciple doesn't say anymore, "God can have that, but this belongs to me."  No, he signs over everything to Jesus, then asks Jesus how it ought to be used.

    Discipleship, says Jesus, is a radical commitment. It is a bond which looses all other bonds. The disciple will not be distracted by ties to family, or possessions, or even by instincts for self-preservation. The first mark of discipleship is total commitment—to be “All in.” Our Asian Access Core Values statement expresses it like this:

    We are committed to building and nurturing a LOVE relationship with God—a relationship of the heart as well as the head. We long to experience God spiritually and emotionally as well as intellectually. This love relationship grows lifelong disciples of Jesus—men and women of God whose lives and ministries flow out of being rather than just doing.

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    David BennettABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev. Dr. David Bennett is a veteran pastor, global researcher, and a passionate follower of Jesus. He currently serves as Global Associate Director for Collaboration and Content for the Lausanne Movement. David also serves on the Asian Access Board of Directors.

    See also: David Bennett's endorsement of Asian Access

  10. cory ishida 2015"Asian Access has always been a God-blessed and God-directed ministry. Our church family has been in partnership with Asian Access from its very inception and has the privilege of watching it grow and mature under the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

    Asian Access is a ministry that actually accomplishes its mission "to identify, develop and release emerging kingdom leaders to unite the church, multiply leaders and congregations, and extend the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ".

    There is a vital need for effective leadership in the church today. Sheep need effective shepherds. There is a spiritual awakening occurring around the globe today and as a result a desperate need for effective leadership.

    I am thankful to God that Asian Access is helping provide that leadership. May the Lord continue to bless Asian Access as they serve to grow the Kingdom of God."

    Pastor Cory Ishida
    Senior Pastor, Evergreen Baptist Church San Gabriel Valley

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  11. Asian Access at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers

    A2 GPro display 800x533px

    Graphic used at A2's table display at GPro Congress 2016

     

    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:

    A2 Alumni at GPro Congress 2016

    Some of the alumni and faculty at GPro 2016

     

    Dozens of A2 Alumni from 10 countries enjoy interacting at GPro 2016

    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...

    • We saw such unity in Christ and such fellowship with one another. It felt like the Spirit of A2 being at this Congress!
    • The values of Asian Access were on display: it’s truly all about a relationship with Christ and relationships with one another!
    • We learned how to better grow the body of Christ, and the value of teamwork: We is more important than I!
    • The key theme was that Healthy Pastors lead Healthy Churches which bring Healthy Societies.
    • We learned that together we can see transformation in our countries and in our world.
    • We loved the basics, getting back to how Jesus trained the 12!
    • We learned that our country is too dependent on outside help. We need to find ways to build sustainability.
    • The importance of our character is at the heart of our fruitfulness.
    • We were inspired to see our country become an innovation hub for ministry.
    • We are indeed agents of change: as we change, our churches will change and that can lead to communities and societies that change!
    • I was impressed by the influence of A2. The mutuality of learning was exponential here.
    • and one more...

    "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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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    Flyer used at GPro Congress 2016
  12. Alumnus Reproduces A2 Training for Rural Leaders

    pastor john reproducing web

    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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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    Related Stories

  13. group

    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.

    damaged church2

    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. 

    damaged house

    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.

    KumamotoEarthquake100k b 600x190

    Your financial gifts toward the SW Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will qualify for the giving challenge if given by June 30. Give now...

     

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    TSM logo blueThree 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.

  14. gpro spiritual awareness slide

    gpro temo lemosGPro Day 5 

    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...

     

    Pastoral Health leads to Church Health which leads to Societal Health

    gpro sidny ciscernosTemo 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.

     

    Praying for our Cities

    gpro otto kladenskyCase 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.

     

    Summary

    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.”

    - Jesus

     

    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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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  15. Asia is the continent with the largest number of unreached groups

    (Image courtesy of Asian Access.)

    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.

    pastor development“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.

     

    Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 1:19)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jun21-2016.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  16. roli manuel

    “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

    gpro herman moldez

    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! 

    rm slide

    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.

    chuangsangvunga

    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.

    csv slide

    Today, as you can see in this picture: 

    • The mentoring started to influence 40 pastors under his care.
    • They in turn started movements influencing more than 3000 people across 7 unreached people groups.
    • Today, there are 60 churches that have been planted and 11 of them (600 people) are from Muslim heritage.

    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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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  17. 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!”.

    gpro dr eale web

    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:

    • The value of influence—pastors influence others and thus it is important not to abuse our authority!
    • The value of servant leadership—pastors are not to rule over others but rather serve the community!
    • The value of authenticity—only when pastors are honest and real will they be able to related to others and impact their lives!

    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.”

     

    An Example from Cambodia

    gpro meng

    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.

    gpro pastoral leadership workshop attendees

    During reflection two pastors attending the session shared some powerful statements to capture the essence of the hour:

    • We need to have a good relationship with the Good Shepherd!
    • We’re like a photocopy to our church and community. What type of copy are we? Are we a reflection of Christ?

    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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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  18. FB fathersday post 500

    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!

    gpro jt

    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…

    gpro day3agpro day3bgpro day3c

    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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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  19. Sixty-two Buddhist monks come to Christ

    Joe with friends

    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.”

    Buddhist temple (Photo courtesy of Harold Cecchetti via Flickr)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.

    Click here to learn more...

    Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 2:49)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jun17-2016.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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    Note from Asian Access Editor:  ‘Church leaders’ in the nation do estimate that 200,000 came to Christ in the past year, but this does not refer to 200,000 Tibetans, as many bloggers and news agencies have recently reported. To clarify, the only Tibetans we reported were the Buddhist Lama and the 62 monks. The country and people group have intentionally not been noted to protect these new believers from harm.
  20. 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!

    mw etal

    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.

    ls models

    What are these four characteristics, you might be asking? These ladies guided us through four key categories for all the key elements for growing:

    • Spiritual
    • Relational
    • Experiential
    • Instructional

    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!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

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