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. By Rod Denton, Equipping The Next Generation

    Can you tell the time?

    Can you tell the time?

    I was sitting in a coffee shop in Beijing Airport waiting for my plane when a red faced airport attendant came up to me and asked, ”Are you Mister Rod Denton?” When I replied that I was, he then said, ”I have been searching for you. We have been calling your name. You have missed your flight. Your plane has gone without you.” And the reason I missed my flight was that I could not tell the time. I had forgotten to synchronize my watch with Chinese time. I had made a serious mistake and would now have to suffer the inconvenient consequences.

    My thesis for this paper is One of the important characteristics of effective leaders is that they can tell the time. For down through the years causes have been won or lost because leaders could or could not tell the time.

    But I am not talking about time as we in the west usually refer to time. The Greeks have two words for time.

     

    Chronos

    The first is chronos, from which we derive the word chronological. It refers to measured, quantitative time and we use it when we talk about being on time or wasting time or spending time. The word chronos is mentioned 53 times in the New Testament.

    Prior to the second world war, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain coined the chronos phrase rather foolishly—PEACE IN OUR TIME. Ultimately, it would be seen that he was not a person who was good at telling the time.

     

    Kairos

    The second word for time is the one I want to focus on, and it is kairos, which in some ways we don’t really have an English equivalent. It can be translated season, opportune time, a critical time, a defining moment, an open door in time. The word kairos is mentioned 86 times in the New Testament.

    Chronos is quantitative time, kairos is qualitative time. Chronos measures minutes and seconds, kairos measures moments.

    I am a bit of a numbers man and recently I gave my wife Sue an unexpected card and informed her that on that day we would be celebrating our thirteen thousand days wedding anniversary. That was a chronos statement, but on that day we took time to share all the special kairos moments we had experienced in that period of time.

    One of the most important characteristics of leaders is that they can tell the (kairos) time. For within a good leader’s makeup is a leadership gifting that has an intuitive ability to make right decisions based on kairos moments.

     

    A Huge Missed Opportunity

    An outstanding example in the thirteenth century comes from a critical moment in church history that resulted in devastating consequences.

    Kubla Khan, the great Mongolian leader, ruled the largest empire the world had ever seen. It extended from the Pacific Ocean in the east to Poland in the west, to Russia in the north and to India in the south. Mongol warriors were so fierce and determined that they even conquered China in spite of its great wall.

    In 1266, the great explorer and adventurer Marco Polo met with Kubla Khan in his capital city. This fierce warrior’s heart was deeply touched by the news of Jesus Christ’s death for the world. So he sent Marco Polo back to Europe with this request to the leaders of Christianity, “Send me one hundred men skilled in your religion……and so I shall be baptised and then all my barons and great men, and then my subjects. And there shall be more Christians here than in your parts.”

    And in this kairos moment, the Christian church had been provided with an opportunity to reap an extraordinary harvest that was possibly unprecedented. However, history records that after some years only two missionaries came forward who were willing to endure the hardships necessary to take the Christian message to the great Mongolian empire. But even they turned back after travelling but halfway to their destiny.

    They left behind what some would say was the greatest missed opportunity in the history of the church.

    The church in the thirteenth century could not tell the time and Kubla Khan turned to Tibetan Bhuddists and invited them to spread their religion throughout his empire. At one point, more than half the men in the nation were Bhuddist monks.

    So let me ask you, have you learned to tell the (kairos) time, the time that helps you take advantages of opportunities and defining moments, even when they come at inconvenient, unexpected and unplanned moments?

    Perhaps the best model for us of living on kairos time was Jesus.

    Regarding his birth we read, “When the time (kairos) had fully come, God sent his son.” (Galations 4:4)

    Regarding his death we read, “At just the right time (kairos) when we were still powerless Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

    Regarding his second coming we read, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time (kairos) will come.” (Mark 13:33)

     

    Defining Kairos

    Great writers have helped us define kairos time.

    King Solomon wrote, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” He went on to illustrate:

    “A time to tear down and a time to build
    A time to keep and a time to throw away
    A time to be silent and a time to speak
    A time for war and a time for peace……”(Ecclesiastes 3:1-7)

    William Shakespeare defined kairos in his play, Julius Caesar (Act 4, Scene 3, Line 215) when he wrote:

    “The enemy increaseth every day,
    We, at the height, are ready to decline.
    There is a time (kairos) in the affairs of men,
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyages of their life is bound in shallows and miseries.
    On such a full sea we are now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves
    Or lose our ventures.”

    Notice, it is not the convenience of the moment but the opportunity that is birthed in the moment that makes it a defining moment, and then the willingness to pay the price to get involved.

     

    Leaders Identify & Create Kairos Moments

    The writers can define kairos, but it is only the leader that can identify and create the kairos moments.

    In his annual message to congress on the first of December 1862, Abraham Lincoln said, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.” (what got us here will not get us where we want to go.) “The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. And our case is now, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves” (set ourselves free form the past) “and then we shall save our country.”

    If ever there was a time, it is today that leaders with a kairos cutting edge are needed. People who will “take the current while it serves”. It is interesting that the word opportunity—ob portu—comes from “flood tide”.

    The greatest king in the Old Testament, king David, understood the need for kairos leaders. Amongst his mighty men were the men of Issachar “who understood the times and knew what to do.” (a great definition of kairos leadership)

    Could it be that we live in a moment of history that is pregnant with kairos moments which require kairos leaders to be raised up who understand the kairos times and know what to do?

    In summary, what we can say is that kairos moments :

    • usually come at unexpected, unprecedented and even inconvenient moments in time.
    • must be taken when the window of opportunity appears or be lost, perhaps forever.
    • often reveal leaders of little reputation to that point in time, but leaders who have been prepared through years of smaller personal kairos moments.
    • require leaders who understand the times and know what to do and who are willing to pay the necessary price.
    • require leaders who recognise that what brought us here will not necessarily get us to where we need to go.
    • require leaders with perspective who see things that others don’t see.
    • require leaders who have first learned to lead themselves which qualifies them to lead others.

    So, can you tell the time?

    Perhaps the challenging words of Jesus to the people of his day can equally be a challenge to us.

    He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” Luke 12:54-56

    They couldn’t tell the time and they paid a great price for it. What might Jesus say to you and me today?

     

    This article was originally published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-you-tell-time-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

  2. skyejethaniIn God’s kingdom our work becomes a manifestation of his love for the world.
    — Skye Jethani

    I was inspired by this recent quote from my friend Skye Jethani. If you don’t read his devotionals, they are fantastic. This one is linked here. They are not free but very affordable! 

    I firmly believe this and it’s why Asian Access has jumped into the business space to help develop marketplace leaders. 

    I’m convinced the work of people like me, pastors, is to “equip the saints for works of service” (Eph. 4:12) Then, as all of us serve Christ in our lives and professions, we become this manifestation of God’s love in the world. (2 Cor. 3:2-5) It’s inspiring to see what God is doing in this space. Just listen to one of our partner organizations, ChinaSource's podcast on Serving Marketplace Leaders in China. Asian Access had several voices participating in the research for that study.

    China Marketplace Research Study graphic

    A few years ago we launched our work in Korea and the first group finishes up this November. I’m glad that I’ll get to be there with them. They inspire me!

    A2.biz Korea

    The second group comes from India and they get started in December. Skye Jethani will be joining another friend of mine, Daniel Fong the founder of Million Dollar Baby. They’ll be sharing how everything we are and everything we do is tied to our relationship with God.

    A2 bIndi

    Next summer this group will get to hear from Mike Duke, former CEO of Walmart, and Edwin Keh, professor at the Wharton School at Univ. of Pennsylvania. Edwin also serves as the CEO of The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel. Mike and Edwin will be sharing about discipleship in the midst of business.

    These are encouraging times despite all the news we may hear out there. More and more I learn of leaders like these who want to learn how to live deeply in Christ and from his influence in their lives, they seek to serve the world around them!

    As Peter Zhao told me a few years ago: “This is exactly what Asia needs today: an Asian Access for marketplace leaders!”

    dr-peter-zhao-xiaoJoe, this is exactly what [Asia] needs today: an Asian Access for marketplace leaders!

    — Dr. Peter Zhao Renowned Chinese economist

     

    If you are intrigued about this effort, feel free to check out our new marketplace website: http://asianaccess.biz/

    Is your work a manifestation of God’s love in the world? 

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

    A2.business

    More Information

     

  3. Exodus Church

    sato akira closeup LRYou may remember Pastor Akira Sato, the pastor from Fukushima First Baptist Church. He was the focal point for many of the stories coming out of Japan following the triple disaster on 3.11. His now famous story of the Exodus Church can be found nearly anywhere online. And, it’s a story full of life and leadership lessons.

    Yesterday I heard him preach as a guest speaker at Kurume Christ Church in Higashikurume, Tokyo. Pastor Sato asked this question:

    “Are your problems bigger than your God?”

    For a man who lived with virtually one set of clothes and from shelter to shelter for over a year because his area had to be evacuated due to the nuclear fallout, this is quite a question! 

    He shared his own sense of call back to what he called the ‘wasteland’ of Fukushima. If I heard him correctly more than 70,000 homes had to be evacuated, most of whom could never return. I’ve been to Fukushima, and he’s right; it’s a ghost town! All the real estate agents told him, "You don’t want to go back there!"

    And yet, God had called Pastor Sato to return and reach out to those who remained and who had been displaced. He often asked himself “Why?” but deep down he knew that God had called him there. He and all his church members lost everything. In essence, they could never return to their church or to their homes.

    He realized that in order to follow God’s call, he would have to forget the past and focus on the future. Isaiah 43:18-21 is something he has meditated on again and again. And, here you and I have important life lessons to learn. We all go through difficult seasons but God calls us to move forward. We learn from the past but we move on through renewing ourselves in Christ.

    The irony of this passage is this: Out of the wasteland comes the promised land.

    broken retaining wall

    Pastor Sato lost many things, one of which were the people in his church. A large percentage never returned. Yet, when I was there a few years ago, the church was already full. They recovered the numbers through new people coming to Christ and being baptized. The church has brought hope to this devastated community.

    Pastor Sato reflected:

    "I doubt the original founding pastor, a missionary, would have ever dreamed of seeing so much fruit."

    In the midst of the wasteland of Fukushima, God is bringing a season of hope! And, Pastor Sato is now experiencing what he calls the Promised Land. If he had never ventured into the wasteland, he wouldn’t be seeing the fruit that God had prepared in advance for him.

    He concluded by saying “An unimaginable future awaits those who walk through the wasteland!”

    Sato w Silk and Joe web

    Reflect and pray through Isaiah 43:18-21 today. How is God encouraging you? Are your problems bigger than your God?

    I’d love to hear from you. Do share!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

    More Information

     

  4. What a joy it has been for the Handley family visiting churches here in Japan every weekend. So far, we’ve made it to four different congregations and connecting with Japanese pastors and Asian Access missionaries.

    You may have heard that next year Asian Access celebrates 50 years of ministry. And, many of you will know that it all started here in Japan. For most of our history, Asian Access was a Japan only ministry and even today, Japan take a pivotal role in all of what we do.

    handleys at clarks church 500

    Visiting our partners and churches in the Kanto region brings such a rich repository of stories for which to celebrate. This past weekend, we were with Tim and Wakako Clark and their partner Pastor Abe. It’s exciting to see what God is doing through them. They have been coached by a long time faculty member and friend of Asian Access, Dr. Bob Logan. And, the sermon itself was a prime example of his investment in our ministry and in Japan. The series is on Disciplemaking and the focus of this day was: Engaging in Spiritual Conversations. It was classic Asian Access in that the sermon was brief and the majority of the learning took place in small groups discussing a set of questions that I’m guessing came straight from Dr. Logan.

    handleys at ICCS 500 

    Above and beyond this particular Sunday, I learned that Pastor Abe’s mother had helped our longest tenured missionary Dee Wirz in one of her original moves to Japan over 41 years ago. And, his father was instrumental in our English Language Institute during that era. He came after the service and you’ll see him pictured here next to his wife and along with Silk and me. How cool was it that just a few weeks prior we had visited Dee Wirz congregation as well and met the young preacher who is in a discipleship community with another Asian Access colleague, John Houlette.

    Pastor Abe and Tim talked about launching cell group ministries in their church as a means to reach out to others. It’s such a blessing to see these principles gleaned from years of investment from people like Dr. Logan being implemented to help reach Japan today.

    sushi w Ariga 500

    While all of this is happening, a 5 year report following the devastating disaster of 3.11 is being developed. My colleague, Dr. Paul Ariga who welcomed us to Japan with an amazing sashimi meal (see the photo here), told me that the response rate has been three times the normal rate in the disaster area. That is amazing.

    Takeshi TakazawaIn fact, the reports are so moving that my colleague Takeshi Takazawa, whom many of you are faithfully praying for since he’s in the hospital, said:

    "Knowing that Tohoku is one of the most difficult regions in Japan for many years, the numbers are crazy high. I could not type and read without tears.

    What a joy it is to be here in Japan as we look toward celebrating 50 years of ministry at Asian Access. I’m so excited about what God has on the horizon for us in the future too. I sense a fresh move of God’s Spirit in Japan as pastors share a new vision for planting churches. And, the investment of all these 50 years is now spreading across Asia in such a powerful fashion. It’s amazing to see what all that God is doing!

    Thanks for praying with us. We need you! And, most importantly, We need Jesus!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

  5.  

    “When we do mission, we need one heart. So we can do it together.”

    These two sentences best sum up our commitment to live and work in community. Pastor Yukimasa Otomo shared this with me to describe his partnership with A2 missionaries Robert and Roberta Adair.


    {youtube}http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxn2f8WnuL0{/youtube}

    Video Description: Asian Access missionaries have deeply connected in partnership with Japanese Christians. They work together and live together in community as friends. Watch here...


    The partnership between Japanese pastors and A2 missionaries is deep. As Yukimasa Sensei added:

    “Having Robert [here] is good for me, because I can share my heart.”

    robert and yukimasa full

    Robert was excited to partner with this pastor, too.

    “The senior pastor’s son [Yukimasa Otomo] is about three years older than me, and his wife is about the same, so they’re close in age to Roberta and me. They both have some English capacity, so it is easier to communicate with them. [The church] had an exciting vision to plant churches in the areas affected by the disaster and a very robust post-disaster recovery and relief ministry going on.”

    The Adairs have been blessed by their partnership with Pastor Yukimasa and his wife. Roberta reflected:

    “I'm really grateful for our partner church because they've navigated faith issues like what it means to be a Japanese Christian in a way that I will never understand. I might be able to understand it cognitively, but I won't ever have the heart understanding. So it's been really neat to be able to ask them questions about why baptism is important, for instance, or how to communicate the need for a savior, and questions that I have about communicating faith.”

    It goes well beyond working together as co-laborers. It’s living together in community and being friends. As Roberta clarified, “But also their friendship means a lot. I'm really glad that we're not doing this alone, but we're doing this in partnership with Japanese Christians and Japanese friends."

    Robert has become extremely close with his Japanese missional partner. He shared:

    “My closest friend right now is my ministry partner. The highlight of my week is Wednesday morning at 7am sitting down at McDonald’s and spending two hours talking, chatting and doing devotions together. So spiritually, I am being fed by and hopefully feeding a Japanese man close to my own age.”

    robert and yukimasa fun

    Dan and Casi Brown have also deeply connected with their Japanese pastor and his wife. Casi has been blessed by this partnership, and summarized:

    “I knew that we would be close with our partners. But our partners have just really gone above and beyond to support and encourage us. And our pastor's wife has been the rock for me. I don't think I could have made it through the past eight months without her. We just felt so blessed by our partnership, and I hope we are blessing to them.”

    Kent Muhling put it this way:

    “As Asian Access missionaries, we want to come alongside, work with, and support. It's a really neat opportunity and an honor to be invited in. My wife and I chose our theme verse for ministry from 1 Thessalonians 2:8: ‘Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very lives as well, because you had become very dear to us.’ So for us partnership is not just working together, but really living together and loving together.”

    All of this simply underscores our value to live out community in all that we do and all that we are. Yes, missiological strategy is important. But much more significant, I think, is how we live out Christ's prayer in John 17 for His disciples to be one.

     

    Jeff Johnston

     

    More Information…

  6. Team from Japan Learns About Trust

    japan team 2016 a

    A team of young Japanese Christians recently headed to South Asia. It was my second year leading a team from Japan to this country, and I went with equal amounts of excitement and concern. I was excited about what God had in store for our team, yet was concerned about increased government pressure on the Church in this region.

    japan team 2016 b

    Walking out of the airport, our local partner immediately turned to me and said,

    "Since there isn't room in my car due to all your luggage, you will be riding on the back of a motorcycle with another friend to get to our destination."

    japan team 2016 c

    japan team 2016 djapan team 2016 e

    In Whom Do We Trust

    On the back of that motorcycle, I was taking in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city. At the same time, I found myself thinking more deeply about trust, especially how we place our trust in others. 

    Trusting My Driver

    I realized that, in a split second, I had decided to place my simple trust in this driver, a man I barely knew. On our first trip last year we had worked together, but I did not know his language or even his last name. Here I was immediately jumping on his motorcycle without a second thought! I was trusting that he knew where he was going. I was trusting that he would ride carefully—that I would not be thrown from the motorcycle and injured as I wasn't wearing a helmet. I was trusting that his intentions were good for me. I gave him my full and immediate trust.

    Later that week, I was talking to our partner pastor, and he shared about the religious situation in his country. At any time government officials can show up and shut down their charitable work. If at any point these officials decided their charitable activities were evangelical in nature, they could renounce the charities' licenses, force their children's homes to close, and arrest them for interrogation. On top of this, it is not uncommon for religious fanaticism in their country to become violent. Adherents to the dominant religion can and do harrass Christians in all sorts of ways.

     

    Trusting Our Lord

    Yet, in the midst of all of this pressure, they simply trust Jesus. They are confident that He loves the people of their country and has called them to serve all of their country's citizens—even the ones who are actively persecuting them and their disciples. They trust Jesus even if everything is taken away from them, including their lives.

    I was struck by how easily I trusted the near-stranger with my life on his motorcycle, yet struggle to place the same simple trust in Christ. Is my trust of Jesus full and immediate? Do I trust that Jesus' intentions for me are good and trust where He takes me? It gave me food for thought.

    While I hope and believe that our Japanese team was a blessing to our brothers and sisters in this beautiful country, I know that Jesus used them to challenge all five of us on the Japanese team in what it means to follow Christ.

    Please pray that the Church in South Asia would continue to trust Jesus in all that they do. 

    japan team 2016 f

    Robert Adair

  7. What a thrill it is to be in Japan!

    our first few weeks in japan arrival 

    For several years, I have wanted to move here serving as the president of Asian Access. This year proved to be the perfect time! Our family was ready and next year Asian Access turns 50! What a joy to be here where it all began nearly 50 years ago.

    our first few weeks in japan potluck

    It’s been an adventure… to say the least!

    Those who follow us on social media are well aware. Even with a tremendous team in place to help us settle and with all these years of experience settling staff in country, we still faced a series of challenges that boggle the mind. As I reflect back though, I see it all as God’s divine plan. You know, at Asian Access we often talk about The School of God. The Lord has taught us many lessons the last few weeks and there are many more to discover I’m sure.

    our first few weeks in japan home

    Our home came mostly furnished and stocked by our incredible team. Thank the Lord for such a fantastic crew of people. All of this while our national director for Japan, Takeshi Takazawa, has been in the hospital—the better part of 2 months so far. He’s been posting profound thoughts that we hope to capture in another blog someday. Please pray for him.

    Even with this amazing setup and team, we have a treasure of stories of life challenges:

    • The local registration office requires a marriage certificate. This has never been required before according to all of our staff and Silk and I aren’t even sure we have one! We’ll have to ask California to provide us with the original. Otherwise, we’ll only be considered as relatives here in country. They at least see us as relatives because of our son John’s birth certificate. I must admit, it’s kind of weird being a pastor and the president of a mission and having people question whether or not you are married!
    • The local bank readily gave my wife and son a bank account. But, they were concerned about me! I guess there were identity theft issues tied to my name somehow that they had to check out. Again, it felt pretty weird being the odd many out and especially when your 16 year old son can get an account and you cannot! So, all money flows through my wife’s account. I finally got approved the other day.
    • It took 2 full days and 2 three hour visits to get mobile phones here. And, they wouldn’t accept our credit cards so we had to make several trips to the ATM to withdraw money because they couldn’t use our bank accounts either.
    • Our home internet took several weeks to arrive as well. So, we were living off a mifi which quickly was over extended and then nearly maxed out two of our phones data plans before it finally arrived last night. Trying to serve as the president of a mission with limited bandwidth is quite a challenge, even more so when you have a tech savvy teenager in the home!
    • Finally, the kicker was that my wife Silk fainted before school on her very first day of teaching. It was quite a scare, to the point of us needing to go to the hospital to ensure she was ok. Praise God that all is well and she just had either hypotension (low blood pressure) and/or benign vertigo. Whew, what a relief! She’s ok and we now have strategies for her to manage the situation.

    As I look back, and as I see other colleagues of mine across Asia facing a number of illnesses, I realize that we are in a spiritual battle. I’m convinced that first and foremost our ‘battle is not against flesh and blood’ but ‘against the powers of darkness.” (Ephesians 6). Our work is spiritual in focus and we have an enemy who is bound to take us out!

    Second, we as pastors and spiritual leaders can often neglect our health and lead very unbalanced lives. At the core of Asian Access teaching is that healthy churches grow and are lead by healthy pastors. When we are unhealthy, the churches we serve can also be unhealthy and fall into bad habits. It’s a reminder to lead healthy lives!

    Third, the realities of cross-cultural living are immense and dynamic, even when you have strong support systems. Through each little trial, the Lord is taking us through his school: The School of God. He’s teaching us lessons for our character: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Each of these challenges gives us opportunity to stretch our faith muscles and display the fruit of the spirit. These are not easy traits but as we lean into Jesus, he gives us strength to be ‘salt and light’ to those around us.

    our first few weeks in japan joe n john

    our first few weeks in japan collage

    Silk, John and I are grateful to be here in Japan, to celebrate 50 years of Asian Access next year and to live with and among colleagues here in Japan and across Asia. We are delighted to experience a little of what our partners and staff face on a daily basis to gain better perspective of life and ministry. 

    our first few weeks in japan caj

    We covet your prayers both personally and for the work of Asian Access. May we lean into Jesus and walk in a manner worthy of him so that he may be glorified among the many who have yet to hear about him!

    Thanks for praying with us. We need you! And, most importantly, We need Jesus!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

     

  8. Asian Access National Leaders Take Charge

    bang A2 34 04 web

    At Asian Access, our vision is to see a vibrant community of servant leaders with vision, character, and competence leading the church across Asia. Nowhere is that vision being realized more than in Bangladesh.

    Bangladesh flagThis Muslim-majority country has recently struggled with a sharp spike in terrorist violence, targeting Christian leaders as well as other innocent people. Pastors and Christian leaders in Bangladesh have faced down violent mobs, faux “seekers” who turn out to be assailants, and infiltrators trying to penetrate Christian student groups. These courageous brothers and sisters continue to minister, despite the risks.

    This determination and perseverance is also reflected in our Asian Access Bangladesh leadership. A2 Bangladesh just welcomed their third cohort of leaders for their fourth session together. We applaud and pray for these dedicated men and women as they reach the mid-point in their two-year journey together as a learning community.

    bang A2 34 01 web

    Home-Grown: Faculty and Facilities

    A2’s vision for God’s empowerment of His leaders in Asia include two key components:

    1. Teaching led by indigenous faculty, and...
    2. Holding the A2 program in facilities owned and controlled by Christians.

    While this second component might sound minor to us in the West (why don’t you just rent some space?), this lack of place in countries where Christians represent a small minority has impact. “When we rent facilities from Muslim landlords, we can face all kinds of restrictions,” A2 Bangladesh co-director Rev. Peter Debakar Mazumder told us. “We may not be allowed to worship in freedom; our ability to access the facility for meals and lodging can be suddenly denied to us. At the last minute, we may be told that the water is not working, or that there is no parking spaces available.”

    The desire to see a believer-owned and operated training facility become a reality has motivated Peter to develop Living Water Centre (LWC). Based near the international airport, LWC, when completed, will be a full-service, multi-purpose center equipped to facilitate training and conference events for groups of all sizes. “Not only will we be able to utilize LWC for our ministry purposes,” Peter explains, “but we will be able to make it available at affordable rates to Christian organizations and others in our country. Not only will LWC be able to provide a first-class facility where Christians can work, stay, and worship in freedom, but it will be a financial engine to help us to sustain and grow our overall work.”

    Establish an Interdependent Ministry

    In Bangladesh, There's No Time Like The Present

    Asian Access is working to develop a growing pool of in-country faculty throughout the movement. And Living Water Centre is still in development. But that hasn’t slowed down our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. The third cohort for A2 Bangladesh that just held their fourth session? The session was taught by Bangladeshi leaders, themselves alumni of previous Asian Access cohorts. And the session was held at LWC, utilizing space that is ready to use while the larger facility continues to be developed.

    “It was a wonderful experience,” Peter told us. “Our local faculty did an excellent job. They led the cohort through topics including The Seven Elements of a Christian Leader, Spending Quality Time with God, and Balancing Your Ministry and Personal Lives. We concluded the session with a powerful time of prayer together. God was faithful!”

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    As you can see from the photos, LWC already provides a first-quality environment for a program like Asian Access. And our A2 alumni are providing first-quality teaching and mentoring for their fellow pastors and leaders. God is indeed faithful—as are Peter, his co-director Rev. Leor Sarkar, their A2 Bangladesh working team, and all of the courageous men and women standing up for Christ in the midst of challenges and threats.

    It’s a privilege to partner with leaders like our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. THANK YOU for all you do to make the work of A2 possible!

    Noel Becchetti
    VP for Leader Development

     

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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. 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!

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    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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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...

    _________________

    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

  15. By David Bennett

    MarksDisciple PartThree 1200x800

    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...

    _________________

    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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

    all in 500x221

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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

  18. 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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  19. 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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    A2 GPro ad ramesh 2016June web 500

    Flyer used at GPro Congress 2016
  20. 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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