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. Time is running short for the Rohingya

    large image of Myanmar refugees fleeing by boat for Bangladesh courtesy of Jordi Bernabeu Farrús via Flickr: https://goo.gl/daSWrS

    Bangladesh (MNN) — Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic Muslim minority are running out of options.

    During the past seven weeks, over half a million Rohingya have fled Rakhine State in Buddhist-majority Myanmar from what the U.N. has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Myanmar’s government refuses to recognize them as one of the country’s official ethnic groups, while security forces and Buddhist vigilantes have raped and killed villagers and burned entire villages.

    buddhist monks in myanmarBangladesh estimates that 800,000 refugees now live in camps in its border town of Cox’s Bazaar, the coastal city where refugees arrive by boat. The camps are overcrowded and unsanitary, while food, water, and shelter are scarce.

    “We don’t know how long the Bangladesh government will take care of that, but by seeing the situation, the way they live is inhuman,” Peter Mazumder, Asian Access’ national co-director in Bangladesh, says. Mazumder recently visited the camps to witness the suffering firsthand.

    The Bangladeshi government has provided refugees with temporary ID cards, which allows them access to food rations. However, they are not formally recognized as refugees, meaning they don’t have access to education or the ability to move freely around the country.

    Mazumder, who also works with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is helping make sure they aren’t forgotten. He says they raised money at a recent student conference to help meet refugees’ physical needs.

    “Praise God that we got permission from the government,” Mazumder says. “Our local church and the students will be going next week to distribute this food.”

    Mazumder says there are also 200,000 children in the camps in need of medical assistance. Thankfully, there is a Christian hospital nearby providing assistance.

    large image of Myanmar refugees fleeing by boat for Bangladesh courtesy of Jordi Bernabeu Farrús via Flickr: https://goo.gl/daSWrS“We are praying that we may raise a little more money, especially to respond [to] the children, to take care of their medical needs,” Mazumder says. “We are thankful to God that the Bangladesh government is very positive to help in this crisis.”

    The Rohingya have been facing persecution for decades, and their situation isn’t getting any easier. Mazumder asks that you pray that the situation would be resolved soon and that Myanmar’s government would choose to help them.

    You can find ways to support Asian Access’ work in this region by clicking here. 

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (top story)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Oct19-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  2. Joe and Elliott on the Typhoon Taxi

    Our Asian Access family of national directors had a wonderful time together this past week. The highlight of the week was our excursion on what I call the Typhoon Taxi.

    Bangkok, the site for our meeting, is crisscrossed with rivers and canals. Bangkok has also developed an extensive water taxi network to help its residents make their way through what can be a gridlocked road system. The water taxis aren’t fancy, but they are cheap—and they move. 

    We decided to take one of the main water taxis across town as part of an outing—a chance to get out of our hotel and enjoy some time together. How did we know it was going to pour rain that afternoon? And how did we know that our bus would be trapped in total gridlock just 300 meters from the water taxi station? Welcome to Bangkok.

    Not to be deterred, we hopped off the bus and jogged through the downpour to the water taxi station.  Fortunately, it was the first stop on the route, so there was room to get on the boat. Not that deterred the dozens of people who continued to board the taxi at every station! In no time, the taxi was jammed to overflowing—allowing us the cozy experience of being squished between our new best friends and the taxi’s engine.  It was rainy, humid, hot, and we were jammed in like sardines.  Fun in the city!

    Typhoon Taxi ride

    Actually, the typhoon taxi was a great way to let off steam from an intensive and productive week, focused on sustainability. We’ve been talking about this within Asian Access for years…but it is a sensitive issue, one that can be tough to make real progress.

    We were blessed by the advance work of a task force (made up primarily of key Asian leaders in our movement) who prepared our approach to the topic. They took the conversation to an entirely different level: Ownership! We then tackled sustainability in three key areas:

    • Leadership
    • Faculty
    • Resources

    Sustainability described by Pastor Meng Aun Hour

    But the emphasis of the task force was the importance of Ownership.

    This week marked a milestone for Asian Access. The level of ownership among our leaders rose substantially. By the end of the week, we had set a path toward an interdependent model of sustainability, the initial work to begin over the course of this next year. Check back in with us a year from now to see how we are doing.

    Joe, Joshua, and Takeshi Dorrie with a friend

    Like our ride on the Typhoon Taxi, this journey could be quite an adventure, with unknown twists and turns along the way.  Will you pray for us as we walk the trail toward an interdependent, sustainable ministry?

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

      

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  3. A2 savethedate postcard Pasadena front web

    Dear Alumni, Financial Supporters, Prayer Partners and Friends:

    As you may know, 2017 marks our 50th year in ministry. There are many things through the years to fondly remember and thank God for; there are also many new initiatives that the Lord is leading us to pursue in the coming years. And I would like you to set aside an evening on October 21 in Pasadena, California to celebrate this milestone anniversary with me.

    In Jakarta this past April, we celebrated with our Asian brothers and sisters. We enjoyed a great time of remembering what God has done and envisioning what he has for Asian Access in the future. I have reported on this event on our blog, which you can access here:  https://www.asianaccess.org/a250...

    A2|50th AnniversaryBut this fall, we want to invite our friends in the U.S. to commemorate 50 years of successful ministry. We enjoyed a great evening in Knoxville, TN in September. For those in the Southwest region of the U.S., we will hold our dinner event at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, CA on October 21, starting at 6:30pm. Dinner will be served followed by a simple program including a few video clips to celebrate our 50 years. Our founder will share his reflections. Plus, Asian leaders, A2 missionaries and I will bring firsthand updates from across Asia We will look back to our past and ahead to our future. We have many new ministry updates to share with you.

     

    WHEN: Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 6:30 – 9:30 P.M.

     

    WHERE: Lake Avenue Church, 393 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA

     

    REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT IS NOW CLOSED

    If you are able to join me on October 21, please RSVP today to reserve your spot by completing the form here: https://www.asianaccess.org/a250...

    I hope that you are able to join me in Pasadena on October 21 to celebrate. Regardless, thank you for partnering with Asian Access and LIFE Ministries these many years. I'm grateful for you, because through your prayers and gifts, you are part of strengthening the Church and advancing the Gospel across Asia. Together, we’re changing the few who change the many.

    For His Kingdom,

    joe sig blue
    Joseph W. Handley, Jr., President

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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    P.S. – Space is limited, so please RSVP today: https://www.asianaccess.org/a250

    A2 savethedate Pasadena 2017 10 21 back web

  4. A church that met in a bar has exciting news

    Japan (MNN) – A couple of months ago, we told you about pastor Takahiro Ami in Sendai City, Japan, who held his church services in a local bar. It was smelly and crowded, but it was the only place they could find.

    Pastor Ami’s congregation cleaning up after their last service in the bar. (Photo courtesy of Takahiro Ami via Facebook).Well, here’s an encouraging update: Joe Handley with Asian Access says Ami has found a new building better suited for his congregation’s needs.

    “He is cutting new territory with church life in Japan by meeting outside of a traditional church building,” Handley says.

    “Even just his step into a bar was courageous, and now, to take this to another level, where they’ll have more accessibility for families, is quite remarkable.”

    Ami is part of a group of younger pastors being trained by Asian Access. Handley says in Japan, where Christians make up only about one percent of the population,it’s unusual for a church to meet anywhere other than in a traditional church building. Still, despite meeting in a bar for ten years, Handley says Ami’s church has played a huge role in meeting the country’s spiritual needs.

    “It’s been very interesting, especially in light of the post-tsunami, post-earthquakescenario that hit that region, where people are very open to the Gospel like never before,” Handley says. “In fact, the response rates to Christ since the disaster have been seven times normal, which is unbelievable.

    “So he came with this new idea, this fresh idea, at a perfect moment in time, when people were really just hungry for people to help them. They were looking to kind of meet needs that they didn’t know they might have, kind of hungry spiritually in the midst of all the loss they were facing.”

    Handley says Ami is casting a great vision for the Church in Japan. His goal is to one day see churches become as common as convenience stores.

    Pastor Ami’s new church building. (Photo courtesy of Takahiro Ami via Facebook).“They have said, in order to truly impact Japan for Christ, we need a church just like every convenience store, which basically is every corner in Japan,” Handley says.

    “They’ve done studies, and there are 55,000 convenience stores in the entire nation. And so now this generation is bold enough, with just about 8,000 churches, to say, ‘We need to go big and pray for 55,000 churches in the coming years ahead.’”

    Can you come alongside Ami’s daring vision? Handley asks that you pray that Ami’s congregation would maintain the funds necessary to remain in their new building. He also asks that you pray that his church would flourish and that Ami would continue to grow as a leader.

    You can support Asian Access’ work financially by clicking here.

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 2:54)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Sep13-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  5. 00279 00441

    I was recently asked to share at the Asia Leaders Summit in Taiwan on the topic of “Effective Evangelism in Asia.” They gave Asian Access permission to share the report online so that we could all learn from the gathering.

    It was an honor to be requested to speak, especially given the focus of the group: “Asia by Asians! – A diversity of Asian churches united to evangelize and disciple Asia.” As the only non-Asian participating, I was humbled to be invited and asked to share.

    I trust you enjoy learning from my Asian Access colleagues’ wisdom below…

     

    Effective Evangelism in Asia // Asia Leaders Summit, Taiwan

     

    A Principle from Japan

    A Japanese colleague became a follower of Jesus at a young age. In his early days of following Christ, he attended a seminar on apologetics. He felt he was gaining insights into how to reach his friends. After completing seminar, he tried these new ideas on outreach on a friend.

    He explained the Gospel to his friend. At each stage of the sharing, he asked his friend, "Do you agree with this?" Each time, his friend answered “Yes, I agree with what you are sharing.”

    My colleague thought that his friend was ready to become a Christian. He asked his friend, “Do you want to accept Christ as your savior?” His friend's answer? “No!” My colleague replied, “But didn’t you say that you agreed with me on all these issues?” "Yes, I did.” "Then why don’t you want to make a decision to follow Jesus?” His friend answered,

    “All you care about is being right. You don’t care about me. If that is Christianity, I want nothing to do with it.”

    This encounter was a devastating but powerful lesson for my colleague. Effective evangelism in Japan was not about arguments or apologetics--it had to involve true care and friendship.

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    A Principle from Sri Lanka

    I have another colleague, a Sri Lankan. He’s written an article called Evangelism in Asia: Developing and Living Out Relevant Theologies (EMQ, July 2015). He mentions that the Western world focuses on truth but this truth often clashes with other truths in pluralistic Asian contexts.

    My colleague builds his model of John 1:14...

    "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In this context, grace is mentioned before truth.

    My colleague's contention is that in Asia, grace must precede truth in relationship with people you are trying to reach for Christ. He argues that in a world of competing truths, the only way forward is through grace, which then opens people become open to hear the truth.

    Let me share two examples of this "grace before truth" approach, both coming out of devastating disasters.

     

    An example following Japan's triple disaster

    When the triple disaster hit Japan in 2011, Japanese leaders and missionaries felt called to mobilize and help their fellow compatriots. One pastor would visit daily all of the fishing villages he could reach. I just recently was in one of these villages and heard his story first-hand.

    This pastor introduced a group of us to a lady and her husband whose family ran a fishing business for several generations. As the post-earthquake tsumani approached, the husband heard the sirens. He mobilized as many people as he could to onto his fishing boats, heading out to sea and safety. But his wife and daughter were not among them; they had been out of town that day.

    Driving home, his wife made it to a bridge when the waters struck their town. She watched as her friends and community were swept out to sea. When the waters subsided, she went home thinking her husband had also been lost. It was three days before his boat returned to their town.

    As the pastor visited their area, he brought supplies, food, and clothing to this family. Week after week, he shared what he had and told them about the hope he had in Christ.

    Their daughter became a believer. She begged her parents,

    “Please come to Jesus. Please come to Jesus!”

    The mother became a Christ follower a few months ago and now hosts a small house chapel in their factory. The husband, smoking a cigarette, told us that day that he didn’t know about this faith stuff, but he knew that that pastor loved him and his family and his community. He said, "You can use my factory any time you want for your church!" His wife told us that she won’t become baptized until her husband accepts Christ and they can get baptized together.

    I have heard story and story much like this one. And now, a country that used to believe that planting 1,000 churches was impossible now believes they can plant 55,000 churche, making Christianity accessible to everyone by planting small fellowships on virtually every corner, just like convenience stores. They call it convenience store church planting!

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    An example from earthquake relief in South Asia

    A few years ago, another major earthquake struck a South Asian country. When the quake hit, it destroyed many remote towns and villages and devastated their capital city. Some regions are so remote that no government or aid groups were able to get there. But believers in that country are used to walking days to attend a church.

    In one of these regions lived a Tibetan monk who was antagonistic toward Christians. He blocked all Christian activity in the entire area. But when the earthquake hit his town, a group of Christ followers decided to deploy supplies to that region. Day after day, his church served the people of that community. After several days, the Tibetan priest came up to the pastor and said, "I don’t know who your God is, but He obviously cares about us. I want to follow your God!”

    That monk is now a pastor. When I met him, he had already planted two churches and was working on a third. He has led 34 other Buddhist monks to Christ! He told me:

    “All these valleys in the big mountains near my region have no church. Before I die, I have a vision to plant a church in each one of those valleys.”

    Church leaders estimate that in this country, more than 200,000 people have come to Christ since the earthquake.


    I think you get the picture. When grace precedes truth, evangelism becomes much more natural. When we make friends, and serve people, they are more open to hearing the truths we have to share.

    I hope that these examples will build your faith and your confidence to share with those around you. We are seeing entire people movements for Christ emerging throughout the region. We invite you to join us in praying to see revival stir across the continent.

    God bless you and God bless the people of Asia.

    May we all lean into this principle of allowing grace to precede truth!

    Do you have examples of sharing your faith that highlight these ideas? If so, please share!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemailjhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter@jwhandley

  6. Asian Access has released a brand new series called, Eastern Voices: Insight, Perspective, and Vision from Kingdom Leaders in Asia In Their Own Words.

    We'd like you to meet Adrian...

    A250 Adrian & Doug

    A Call for a New Paradigm

    From Eastern Voices, Vol. 1 — “The Blasphemy of Worship” (chp 6)

     

    Introduction (0:49)

    Adrian de Visser shares his concern that in some contexts, we have actually made worship blasphemous.

     

    Part 2 (5:19)

    Is it possible that we have made worship blasphemous? Adrian de Visser shares how this in fact has happened. He also provides keen perspective on how foreign missionaries brought worship styles into Asian cultures that are alien, and even offensive, to the very people they are trying to reach.

     

    A250 devisser adrianAbout Adrian

    ADRIAN DeVISSER is founder and senior pastor of Kethu Sevana Ministries in Sri Lanka. He also serves as national director for Asian Access Sri Lanka as well as A2’s Vice President for Partnership Development. He and his wife Ophelia live in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

     

     

     

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

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

     

     


     More Information

    Intro:

    https://youtu.be/0NBafNXgKzA

     

    Part 2

    https://youtu.be/tBYDpfDmvXU

     

  7. About 400,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar

    Myanmar (MNN) – For decades, Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority population has been known as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. But over the past three weeks, their situation has taken a deadly turn.

    Buddhist monks in MyanmarOn August 25, Rohingya rebels attacked police posts throughout Rakhine State. Myanmar’s military tried to root out the rebels, but many Rohingya say soldiers shot those who fled indiscriminately. About 400,000 of Myanmar’s one million Rohingya have fled the state from what the UN has called a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Myanmar’s government has drawn widespread condemnation as military soldiers have killed hundreds of Rohingya, attacking them with rocket launchers and burning their villages.

    Wesley Thura with Asian Access, an organization dedicated to training and equipping Christian leaders throughout Asia, says it’s difficult to know exactly what side to believe.

    “I do not know the true story,” Thura says. “Different parties are saying different stories. Our government says different stories. The Rakhine people there say different stories. The Rohingya people say different stories. I do not know which story to trust or believe in.”

    The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority group that came from Bangladesh nearly 200 years ago when Myanmar was under British rule. They have been denied citizenship since 1982 and aren’t recognized as one of the country’s 135 official minority groups. They live in one of the poorest areas in the nation and lack basic necessities and opportunities.

    “We collect some money, some donations, and we give that money to our A2 alumni who is in charge in this area,” Thura says “So he brings this money and buys some rice or essential needs, and then brings this food and provides for them.”

    praying for next cohortWith so much contradictory information coming out of Myanmar, it’s difficult to know how to pray. Thura asks that you pray for Asian Access’ alumni working in this area and that Christians living in Myanmar would positively influence the situation.

    “Now [Rohingya believers] are facing these kinds of new problems and difficulties,” Thura says. “So please pray for the Christian community here in Myanmar, that they may be able to talk with the government and find the best way to help both sides, both sides being the ethnic Rakhine people and Rohingya people.”

    Interested in how you can support Asian Access’ work throughout Myanmar? You can find a variety of ways to support Asian Access by clicking here.

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (top story)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Sep18-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  8. One-third of Bangladesh is under water

    Bangladesh (MNN) – While severe flooding has affected millions of lives in Southeast Asia over the past few months, Bangladesh has proven to be especially vulnerable.

    kids in bangladeshOver 140 people have been killed and thousands of homes destroyed. On August 11, Bangladesh received nearly the equivalent of a week’s worth of rain during the summer monsoon season in a few hours. A third of the country is submerged, wreaking havoc on its vital farming economy.

    “They make their house by mud, and when the flood came down, many, many houses broke down,” says Bony Baroi of Asian Access, an organization that develops Christian leaders throughout Asia. “So people initially, they’re now living on the street without any house….[The] rain is coming and they’re really, really helpless.

    “The crops and vegetables and fish and all those things, really, really there is a big crisis, and mainly children are suffering a lot with the water diseases like diarrhea and other things.”

    Almost half of Bangladeshis work in the agriculture industry, with rice being the single most important product. In many areas of the country, floods have completely destroyed the fields, paving the way for food shortages. Though the disaster has affected over eight million people, the response has not been adequate.

    flooding in BangladeshThat means much of the responsibility of providing relief has fallen on the body of Christ. Asian Access is working with churches around the country to provide food and medicine to those affected. Baroi says their impact extends much farther than temporary sustenance.

    “God opened this situation so we can go in any villages and when we can give some gift, they can ask us, ‘Who are we?’ So we can say, OK, we are the Christian Church…and they’re really happy … and they say, ‘Oh, Christian people are a loving people.’ ”

    And it is in times of tragedy that leadership is most important. Asian Access recently celebrated the graduation of their third leadership development class in Bangladesh. The next class has already finished orientation and can begin training soon. These trainings are available to pastors from across denominations.

    Can you come alongside these vulnerable people at this time? Pray that God would provide the right resources and that he would lead people to Himself. Pray also for unity among the believers, and for strong leadership to grow out of these classes.

    If you’d like to support Asian Access’ work financially, click here.

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:33)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Sep11-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  9. Asian Access has released a brand new series called, Eastern Voices: Insight, Perspective, and Vision from Kingdom Leaders in Asia In Their Own Words.

    A250 sarkars sharing

    We'd like you to meet Leor...

     

    Counter-Cultural Leadership in an Asian Context

    This dynamic leader, head of a large ministry in a guru-centric leadership culture, shares how God used severe illness to force him to confront a life out of balance and learn how sharing the load, and the credit, transformed his ministry, family, and personal life.

    From Eastern Voices, Vol. 1
    “Sharing Credit in a Guru-Centered World” (chapter 5)

     

    Leor P. SarkarAbout Leor

    LEOR P. SARKAR is general secretary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship as well as co-national director of Asian Access Bangladesh. He lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh with his wife Panna, daughter Prachi, and son Propat.

     

     

     

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

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

     

     


     More Information

    https://youtu.be/rtRtQKch0qY

     

  10. jpn church cross inside jjHaving church in a bar?

    Japan (MNN) — When you think of church, what comes to mind? Well-dressed men and women worshipping in a large building with a cross on the top?

    That’s not always the case. Sometimes, you have to make do with what you have. That’s what Taka Hiroami, the pastor of Praise Community Church in Sendai, Japan who’s working with Asian Access’ leadership development partnership, is dealing with. They don’t have their own building, but that’s not stopping believers from worshipping together.

    jpn nightpassage2.jc

    “It’s kind of stinky there because every night, 8 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the morning, they open as a bar so many smokers and drinkers…use that space every night,” Hiroami says. “But every Sunday we have a service there, so it’s very, I think, interesting giving impact to people that [ask], ‘Is this church?’ So I think we impact that church is not a building, but church is a community. Church is a relationship.”

    Praise Community Church was founded in 1995 by an American and an Australian missionary couple. Today, Hiroami says the congregation consists of about 30 people, around 40 percent of whom are local Japanese people and 60 percent of whom are from overseas. For the last 10 years, the church has met in the bar.

    “We put a cross in front of the stage and we set up the sound system, and we worship God with music, guitar, keyboard, and bass,” Hiroami says. “And we worship as people worship God inside of a traditional church.”

    Unlike a traditional church building, however, meeting in a bar has its problems. Hiroami says one of his greatest challenges is finding a clean new building big enough for his congregation to meet in.

    Asian Access | Develop. Multiply. Transform.“We also have a young couple with little children…so we need the building clean for children,” Hiroami says. “We have a three-month baby. I’m sure this is not good for babies, but we still have a congregation having service there, but one of the challenges is finding a new building. So I want to, as a pastor, find a new building, nicer and cleaner and wider.”

    It might not be ideal, but Hiroami believes God has them there for a purpose. He asks that you would pray for a new building, but in the meantime, that he would focus on discipling his congregation.

    “I really appreciate people who, if you can pray for us, especially for finding a building,” Hiroami says. “As I said, church is not a building, so pray for our people. We are willing to build up our people as a disciple of Jesus, that they can follow Jesus, or so they can [reflect] Jesus’ light in their lives.”

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 0:53)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/2min-Jul10-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  11. At Asian Access one of our core goals in our mission is to “unite the Church”. We put it this way, we develop leaders…

    to unite the Church, multiply leaders and congregations, and extend the transforming power of the Gospel.” 

    Jesus himself highlights the importance of unity in John 17: 

    “that they may be one, even as we are one.”

    He’s speaking of times when the world will tear us apart and this is his prayer to the Father that we may be unified in the midst of the challenges the world throws our way.

    In my lifetime, I can’t think of a more important season for us to display this in our common life. All around the world we see division pulling us further and further apart. And, the Church is not immune. I’ve sure felt it this past year during the election cycle in the United States. Even though I’ve tried to be charitable to those who disagree with me, I’m sure I haven’t done the best job of keeping unity in the body. Lord forgive me and thanks for gracious friends along the way.

    cam working teamAt the same time, the world just keeps moving in opposite directions; we are a globe in desperate need for unity. That’s why Asian Access emphasizes the unity of the body and seeks to “unite the Church” in Christ so that she may display the best the kingdom has to offer and the hope of the only one worthy to be praised.

    It’s easy to get caught up in believing various political theories or systems or leaders will be the hope of society or take us back to better days. But, everything this side of heaven is flawed and so it’s important for us to stand together in Christ and point to him as the only way. He is the way, the truth and the life!

    For Asian Access, this is why none of our sessions, missionary appointments or leadership development focuses exclusively on one movement, denomination or network. We are convinced that only as a united Church can we fully display what Christ is all about.

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    LIVE Community

    To us, it's about living out community together and modeling it to the world. So much so that one of our core values is LIVE Community.

    Let’s look toward a new way forward as we step forward from this very divisive year. I’ll continue seeking to do my best and am happy to repent for those times I’ve not displayed this unity as a leader. I hope you’ll join me in obeying Christ in his appeal.

    May we, in Him, unite the Church to see leaders and churches multiplied and to see the transforming power of the Gospel influence our world!

    To help unite the Church,

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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    Core Values Mission, Vision, Values

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  12. Conversion may not be safe anymore in Nepal

    Nepal (MNN) – Christianity in Nepal has two main bullies—Hindu radicals from within the country, and India. Thanks to growing pressures from these two sources, religious freedoms for minority groups are severely threatened. Earlier this month, a bill was passed that will likely restrict Christians and other groups from sharing their faith. It is currently being finalized into law.

    The language of the bill closely resembles blasphemy and anti-conversion laws from neighboring countries. As we know, these laws are often abused to target specific groups—usually Christians.

    More specifically, Christian Solidarity Worldwide says the law will criminalize some instances of religious conversion.

    Joe Handley of Asian Access says this move goes against recent advances for religious freedoms in Nepal.

    “The Church was making an impact in society and it was quite positive for many years which caused the Nepali government at the time to actually approach Church leaders and say, ‘we could use your help’.”

    The government, he says, was eager to introduce more religious freedoms into the country and worked with Church leaders to widen these freedoms.

    The government next door throws its weight around

    After the earthquake in April 2015, one of the major sources of relief aid was the Church. They even went to locations that were more difficult for large aid groups to reach. It was a display of Christ’s love in a time of need. As a result, the Church grew very rapidly. Since then, believers have been seen as major contributors to the betterment of society.

    “They’re still on site, serving and helping communities. And it goes way beyond that. The Church has been at the forefront of orphan care for many years in Nepal. And in addition to that, they’ve been helping significantly related to the human trafficking conditions in the country.”

    But that presented a problem to neighboring India where the pressure is on to create a Hindu dominant state.

    And so, he says, “Enormous pressure was put on the Nepali government to bring changes to this particular issue”.

    Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo courtesy Philippe Leroyer via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/bXUfT3)Because Nepal depends heavily on India as its resource portal to the rest of the world, they are also subject to the giant nation’s influence. This, coupled with the fact that there are many factions within the Nepali government that support this view of religious intolerance, means the nation is walking backward in the fight for religious freedom.

    “There’s a deep concern that’s happened most recently following the earthquake because so many have come to Christ that they have put into effect this new law that restricts the liberties of Christians and other minorities to share their faith.”

    India itself has targeted religious organizations with a series of complicated laws. And six Indian states currently hold anti-conversion laws.

    “There’s a significant correlation between what’s happening in India today, and what’s happening in Nepal. Nepal is heavily dependent, virtually in every way on India.”

    The other issue, as we mentioned, is those who hold to a religious intolerance view within the government that would like to see severe limitations for Muslims and Christians and other minorities.

    “There’s radical Hindu elements within Nepali society that don’t want to see the Church grow or don’t want to see other minorities have any kind of freedoms,” Handley says.

     

    An effort surrounded by prayer

    But while there is still time, Church leaders have been lobbying government officials in an effort to “soften the blow” of the law. Handley says that whatever happens, he believes the Nepali Church is prepared to live out their faith without fear.

    “Church leaders are very optimistic about the situation, not so much with what might happen legally, but in terms of their public witness. They know that nothing can hold them back from the advance of the Gospel. They’ve lived through twists and turns all throughout most of their history as believers. And when the pressure comes down, they know that the Gospel tends to grow, one way or another.”

    So while they stand up for their freedoms, we can support them from wherever we are.

    “Please pray for the leaders of the federation of Church leaders that are working with the government, lobbying right now as we speak. They desperately could use your prayers for wisdom, for discernment, for using the right words at the right time.”

    Nepali Christians worshipping together (Photo courtesy of Global Disciples)And because the law endangers all religious minorities, we can also pray for effective collaboration between religious groups from all faiths.

    Please pray that God would work his favor among the leaders making these decisions.

    “Ultimately, pray that the Gospel would go forward, that no matter what decision is made, the Church could still thrive in the midst of whether it’s more persecution or more pressure or more openness in society.”

    To partner with Asian Access, click here.

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:32)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Sep04-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  13. 00275 00440

    A Friend in Need

    My friend, Cynthia MacPhee, has been going through quite a trial lately: a serious bout with cancer. We thought she had licked it a few months ago but it has returned with a vengeance. Fortunately, she was diagnosed quickly again and has seen some of the finest doctors in the world to address the issue. I hope you’ll join me for praying for her, her husband and my former colleague Bill, and their family. Silk and I have the greatest respect for them and we have journeyed through some difficult seasons in life and ministry together.

    As Cynthia has been recovering from the recent surgeries, she and Bill have been able to play together in the hospital. Recently the reported playing Hangman (see the picture posted here). Do you remember this game? It’s a game that I love playing with my kids.

    Well, Cynthia is brilliant. She chose a phrase that is one of Bill’s oft quoted lines:

    You don’t go to church. You Are the Church!”

    Ok, call me biased toward my friends, but I love that! It’s so true. The bible talks about church not as a place, a location or a building. Rather we are the people of God, on journey with him. It is our life with him displayed to those around us in community that the church is at her best. It’s when we rally around our friends like Silk and I are as best we can from afar fighting for Cynthia’s health and life. We pray diligently trusting the Lord for her healing!

     

    Living Out the Value

    And for Asian Access, we seek to live this out in our common life. We say We LIVE Community”. As we live out this core value together, we embody what it means to practice the great command: “to love our neighbor as ourselves”.It’s our life together in community, in motion and in Christ that we are all that God has called us to be.

     

    Join Us in Prayer

    Would you join me in praying for my friend Cynthia and her family? And, in these days where our world is desperately in need of the “one anothers”, would you join me in stepping up to the plate to “Be the Church”. The world is hungry for people to authentically live this out with one another and in Jesus.

    In Jesus love and in community together… And, we’re praying for you Cynthia!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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    Bill MacPheeTeaching Pastor | Twitter: @billmacphee
    website: https://billmacphee.com/

    The River Church of the South Bay
    3525 Lomita Blvd. Torrance, CA 90505
    http://riversouthbay.org

  14. Missionaries on alert in the wake of North Korean missile launch

    Japan (MNN) — North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island into the sea on Tuesday, testing already frayed international relations.

    Photo courtesy of Secret ChurchDays later, Japan remains on high alert and launched evacuation drills along its west coast.  A missile defense system has been deployed to the west of Japan.  Tokyo also slapped additional sanctions against Pyongyang following repeated missile launches and other unresolved issues.

    The most recent test was one of the most provocative and came as U.S. and South Korean forces conduct annual military exercises on the peninsula, a move which North Korea views as preparatory for invasion.  Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations’ member states.

    North Korea’s latest exploits over the Sea of Japan bring the threat of nuclear warfare closer to reality.  Despite deterrents from the international community, Kim Jong Un has relentlessly pursued the development of an intercontinental missile capable of carrying a warhead.  The latest tests revealed the upgrades in the country’s ballistic capabilities.

    In the wake of the 2011 triple disaster, Asian Access built up a large presence in Japan.  Many of their team members were on social media noting the rude awakening and asking for prayer.  Robert Adair, his wife, and family serve with A2 Church Multiplication Teams in the Tohoku region of northern Japan.

    Shiogama Bible Baptist ChurchTheir ministry consists of coming along side an existing Japanese church and assisting them in reaching an area where a church does not currently exist.  They’re engaged in language study, relational evangelism, teaching English, discipleship, coaching, and doing whatever else is necessary to help build the Church in Japan.

    Robert says they were jolted out of sleep at 6 am (local time) by a phone call that was part of an early warning system that usually references earthquake or tsunami.  “I rolled over and was kind of like, ‘Okay, how big is the earthquake this time?’  Then on the screen, it said, ‘Please evacuate.  Take cover.  A missile is coming from North Korea.’”

    Those words took the issue from a casual awareness of the rantings from Pyongyang to the possibility of real warfare.  They weren’t alone.  Initial responses from friends and co-workers ranged from incredulity to fear to flashbacks on the March 11 disaster.  Although life was fairly normal with work commutes, classes, and normal household tasks, anxiety was simmering in the background.

    “There is a tension in Japan right now between whether Japan should re-militarize and if their military should take part in various things around the world or not”, he says, adding that the issue has divided the country.  That mindset jars against this one:  “People just kind of have this expectation that there will be peace, and because Japan is a peaceful country, it won’t be affected by other events of the world, I think is the sense we get.”

    Pastor Otomo, Robert, Ruth, and JoeAdair was discussing this with a pastor on Tuesday, who observed, “Even though Japan is a peaceful, safe country, that doesn’t mean that they’re safe from what’s going on around them.”  Yet, as the day progressed, he came back to the peace that passes understanding.  “For us personally, it’s scary, of course.  But our hope is in Christ.  Our hope isn’t in whether we live in a peaceful and safe country or not.  It’s just an opportunity — as people really feel alive, they feel alert, they’re very engaged — to have more honest discussions about ‘where do we put our hope?’”

    In the end, Adair says it’s an uncertain time.  Everyone feels the miasma of instability and potential war.  As followers of Christ planting seeds of the Gospel in Japan, he shares a couple of the challenges ahead.  “Be praying for folks, that they would experience the peace of Christ.  The Church is small in Japan, well under one percent of the population, but the Church is here.  Pray that the Church would be able to respond with the love of Christ and to speak hope into the situation.”

    Listen to the broadcast: (top story)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Aug30-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  15. Discipling Is For Everyone

    A2 50th day3 jj 09

    Father Son metaphor sm

    Father Son metaphor2 sm

    Using the Father-Son metaphor found in Scripture, here are a few brief, but poignant quotes from Dr. Ajith Fernando's challenging message:

    • "People are discipled into the body. Many models of discipling are very individualistic. But children are born into a family. So when they are discipled, they are discipled into a family, into the context of a family. So while discipling is individual, it is not individualistic. The disciple cannot be separated from the body of Christ."

    People are discipled into the body

    • "If the people we disciple were only discipled by us, they would grow up to be stunted in their growth. We need others to influence them. So we are not exclusive disciplers. I think of five people who were my disciplers. And they were all very different at different times. So the growth passages of the Bible are plural; people grow together."
    • "The most important thing we do in discipling our people is to pray for them."
    • "The balanced life is our cross. So where is the time for discipling? Well, we find time for what is important."
    • "Discipling is a battle for the souls of people. That's a battle we wage. We do this through prayer, through confrontation, through teaching, through meeting, and whatever."
    • "Discipling is costly. Today, leaders are not willing to pay the price."
    • "If you want to disciple, get ready for inconvenience. Battles always bruise... but we do it with the energy that God supplies."

     

    Dr. Fernando's Prayer for Us

    "How easy, our Father, it is for us to allow numerous challenges take us away from the most important work we have to do. How we neglect our time with you! And how we neglect our time with people! O God, we pray that you would give us the grace to do fashion our schedules that you have the first place and your agenda is the thing that drives our lives. We ask in Jesus's Name. Amen."

     

    Ajith Fernando: "The Way of Spiritual Parenthood" [A2|50th Day 3 Keynote]

    Listen to his keynote message now... 

    {youtube}https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt6yxSP5-p4{/youtube}

    Dr. Ajith Fernando highlighting the importance of discipling people. He led us in an in-depth devotion walking through the New Testament with keen attention on the the need for everyone to be discipled and to disciple others.

     

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    DAY 1 @ Jakarta

    Blog post from A2|50th Day 1: Pioneering Life

    Msg 1: "The Way of Repentance" - video here...

     

    DAY 2 @ Jakarta

    Blog post from A2|50th Day 2: Expanding Access

    Msg 2: "The Way of Unifying Passion" - summary & video here...

     

    DAY 3 @ Jakarta

    Blog post from A2|50th Day 3: The Future is Now

    Msg 3: "The Way of Spiritual Parenthood" - video here... 

  16. "And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
    with skillful hands he led them
    ."
    – Psalm 78:72

    David SM Maggiore 276x500pxThe Essence of What Asian Access Teaches

    This key verse captures the essence of what we teach and seek to live out at Asian Access: that we would develop shepherds in pastoral ministry and in business who lead wisely. The passage struck me this week as I looked at several episodes of erratic leadership in the nations.

    First was a business leader removed from his post at Samsung in Korea, then when the former Prime Minister of Thailand was called into court but fled the country. Not to solely pick on these two countries as it seems on nearly a daily basis we see erratic leadership on virtually every front from many different nations today.

    David, despite all his flaws, was noted as a man who led with good intentions: “integrity of heart” and with wisdom: “skillful hands”.

    Our world is in such desperate need of leaders like this: shepherds who will guide their churches, the companies and their countries with integrity and wisdom. May we pray for a new generation of David’s to rise to the occasion. Not perfect men as we know that none are perfect just as David was flawed but humble leaders who recognize their weakness and from that core serve with integrity of heart and skillful hands.

     

    Investing in Leaders as Shepherds

    Pray for us as we seek to invest in pastors and business leaders to be shepherds for this and coming generations. May we see a new generation rise who will lean away from the current models we are seeing in the world and move toward Christ-likeness in their call to lead our churches, marketplaces, and countries. Our vision is "to see a vibrant community of servant leaders with vision, character and competence leading the church across Asia."

    Can you think of some good examples of Christ-like leaders in politics, business or the church today who we can look to for models today? If so, please share!

    joe sig blue
    Joe Handley

    Joe Handleyemail jhandley@asianaccess.org
    twitter @jwhandley

     

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  17. Over 30 people killed in a single day

    Philippines (MNN) — Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has taken a bloody turn.

    A2/PhilippinesAt least 80 people were killed last week in multiple police raids, including a raid on Tuesday in the Bulacon province that left 32 people dead. It was the single bloodiest day of Duterte’s crackdown on drug users and pushers, his major initiative that began when he was inaugurated as President on June 30th last year.

    “The useful explanation is that they fought back and so the police just fought back as well, and all of them were killed,” Herman Moldez, the Philippines country director for Asian Access, says. “So this has caused for alarm and this really [got] the whole country again thinking and putting drug war as the center issue. For awhile, it kept quiet because we were so caught up in the war in Marawi. But right now, it’s coming back again.”

    The crackdown has drawn widespread condemnation from human rights activists. Some estimate that between 10,000-12,000 people have been killed in police raids and apparent vigilante killings. But despite the bloodshed, Duterte’s approval rating is at an all-time high.

    “When the president started a campaign against drugs, many of the communities used to be a place where so many are using drugs and it became a very unsafe place to be,” Moldez says. “Now they are experiencing some relative peace because of this campaign.”

    Moldez says the government’s approach, however, is not a long-term or ethical solution. He says the Church is playing an important role addressing the root issue.

    A2/Philippines“The pastors are doing values formation and…the Church is doing a very strategic ministry to impact society and really help these drug users be restored back in society and be reconnected with God.

    “The government has been asking really the Church and the pastors to help because the users themselves are saying this is a missing component in the drug rehabilitation. They need to be reconnected with God, and the Church is at the forefront of that.”

    Asian Access is assisting the Church by providing training for pastors helping drug users find Christ and experience healing. Moldez asks you to pray that God would continue to provide Asian Access with the opportunities and courage to get involved in this situation. He also asks you to pray that God would touch the heart of President Duterte.

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:40)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Aug21-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  18. keh edwin 4 300px"A2.businesscomes alongside men and women who are well positioned in the marketplace to change and influence their society and culture. They are movers and shakers on one hand and seekers and humble servants on the other. The fact that they are already in positions of leadership makes the A2.business experience immediately useful to everyone and encourages them to go onto great things together."

    Mr. Edwin Keh 葛儀文
    Lecturer, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania
    CEO, The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel

     

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    Until April 2010 Edwin Keh was the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Wal-Mart Global Procurement. Prior to Wal-Mart Edwin managed a consulting group that has done work on supply chain, manufacturing, and product design. The practice also did work for NGOs in Burma, N Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and China. He worked with schools, orphanages, tribal peoples, and people afflicted by leprosy. Edwin had a career as senior executive with several US consumer goods and retail companies. He was the Managing Director of Payless Shoesource International, Donna Karan International, and Country Road Australia. He did the start up sourcing for Abercrombie & Fitch and Structure stores. Prior to graduate school, Edwin worked for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as an editor and resettlement lobbyist. Edwin graduated from Whittier College with a BA in Political Science, Sociology, and Urban Design. Since Whittier Edwin has done graduate work at Claremont College’s Drucker School. He is also working with Yale and Harvard on a new initiative on governance and capacity building in Africa. He serves as Trustee on the board of Whittier College, California. He is on the Board of FACE, a shoe industry charity, and Handa, an NGO that serves the needs of people afflicted with leprosy in China. He advises several social enterprises. Edwin is the 2011 recipient of the Production and Operations Management Society’s Martin K. Starr Excellence in Production and Operations Management Practice Award. Edwin lives in Hong Kong with his wife Claudia who teaches at the HK University of Science & Technology. They have 3 sons.

     

  19. How do Christians find unity amidst change?

    Myanmar (MNN) — Myanmar is in trouble, and local believers know it. Religious strife and political tension have led to the abuse and persecution of Rohingya Muslims, and leaders are looking for unity in troubled times.

    That’s where Wesley Thura believes the Church comes in.

    Thura is the National Director for Asian Access in Myanmar and he has noticed how resistant both Myanmar and its Church are to change.

    Wesley Kyaw Thura“Inside the Church, it’s very traditional so it’s very difficult for the Church to accept the new things God is doing,” Thura says. Outside the Church, Myanmar’s population is primarily Buddhist. “In one way, they are welcoming and friendly people, but they’re also very resistant to the Gospel.”

    Much of Myanmar’s struggle to find unity comes from a natural distrust. “We have a culture that says you don’t even trust your own knees!” Thura says. “Nowadays the whole world is talking about transparency and accountability, but this is a very new concept for our people, so we are trying to build trust between Church and nation.”

    So why a change of heart from local believers? Thura says the anger and violence directed at Rohingya Muslims has jarred much of Myanmar’s Church into wanting to help push change in their country. “The Church is trying to be a peacemaker. That’s not easy, but we know that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and this is our duty.”

    And they’re not the only ones looking to make a difference. “Nowadays we can see many peacemakers even among government officials,” Thura says. “Everyone wants a change and they want it soon.”

    But Thura says for the nation to change, the Church needs to change. And for the Church to change, its leaders need to change. That’s where Asian Access comes in.

    “People can see, especially church leaders who are really in the field can see the need to be equipped more and more to become Christ-like leaders based on a love-relationship with God,” Thura says.

    Myanmar hotel

    Although in the past, local believers were concerned with theological education, Thura says Asian Access would rather find passionate leaders hungry to learn more than well-schooled leaders who are unenthusiastic about their position.

    Want to support Myanmar’s Church? “Please pray for an individual spiritual awakening for each member of each church of each denomination so there will be a nationwide transformation and revival.”

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (story starts at 1:40)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Aug07-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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  20. Asian Access responds to Nepal's worst rainfall in 15 years

    Nepal (MNN) — The people of Nepal desperately need your prayers. Days of monsoon rain triggered severe flooding and landslides, killing over 100 people. Contacts tell Asian Access the Nepal floods washed away entire families.

    Nepal floods 2“Everywhere there’s water, so deep; [it’s a] very difficult situation. People [have] lost their [livelihood] and all the food, clothing; everything they lost,” said Mr. Chittry*, a friend of Asian Access.

    Flooding affected people and infrastructure in 35 of Nepal’s 75 districts, according to government statistics. Some 11.5 million people live these in flood-hit districts, Devex reports. Five districts were still struggling to recover from the 2015 earthquake, and four had not yet recovered from severe flooding in 2014.

    In the coming days, waterborne diseases and severe food shortages pose the biggest threats. Many communities are cut off from food, water, and electricity. Please ask the Lord to protect His followers in Nepal. Pray this disaster causes many to seek His face.

    As you pray for Nepal, pray for India and Bangladesh, too. The deluge affected more than 16 million people throughout the region, aid officials told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

     

    Nepal floods: the government’s response

    Nepal floods are common during monsoon season, but this year’s deluge was unusual, cites The Diplomat. Instead of striking people in vulnerable “pockets”, flooding has stretched from east to west and submerged more than one-third of the country.

    UNICEF Nepal flood It’s a time of desperate need and fast action, but Nepal’s government is standing in the way.

    “They want to do it by themselves,” explains Mr. Chittry. “If we wait for the government decision, then people will be losing their lives.

    “There’s not enough food to eat. There’s also a [need for] medicine. [There’s a] fear of cholera and other things, so [we] need more prayer there.”

    At the time of this article’s publication, the Nepali government had not yet declared a state of emergency. This limits the ability of NGOs and INGOs to respond. Furthermore, the government is restricting independent relief activities. All flood aid must be directed through the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

    Thankfully, local churches and leaders trained by Asian Access are on the move.

     

    Nepal floods: the Church’s response

    Motivated by God’s command to “love thy neighbor”, Nepalese believers are putting love in action. “They’re already in the field and helping,” Mr. Chittry says. “[The] local church is already engaged, saving the lives of people, providing drinking water, providing food.

    “The local churches and local government [are] trying to help them, but that’s not enough.”

    A2/Japan relief team in NepalYou can undergird their efforts by giving through Asian Access.

    Most importantly, pray. Pray for perseverance and strength for flood victims, and pray that aid workers will gain access to those who most need help. “People are facing a very difficult situation and they lost hope,” shares Mr. Chittry.

    “Pray that their need can be met and also they will not lose their hope in the Lord in this crisis.”

    *Name changed for security purposes.

     

    Listen to the broadcast: (top story)
    {mp3remote}https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Aug22-2017.mp3{/mp3remote}

     

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go2japan
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