A summary from three blogs: A2 Community + From The President + A2 Stories on Mission Network News
"Can you show me the A2 teaching manual?"
People often ask those of us in Asian Access what we specifically teach in our program. Potential participants want to discover what they'll study. Potential donors want to evaluate the content of our curriculum. Some have actually asked me if they can take a look at our teaching manuals to find out the content we deliver.
The fact of the matter is that Asian Access doesn't have a teaching manual, per se. We don't hire teachers who merely use our teaching notes and teach from our written curriculum.
Asian Access has a list of 14 topics that we deem fairly essential. These are strategic areas of leadership that our participants address in their learning communities, covering them over the course of our two-year program.
Instead of a written curriculum, it's a living curiculum. Faculty members are people who passionately live out one or more of those areas. A faculty member practices a particular principle, and it's often his or her life message and passion. They live and breathe evangelism or multiplying disciples or world mission. One reason is that these strategic areas are caught more than they are taught. These life practioners, through their stories of successes and failures, inspire participants to incorporate these areas of leadership into their lives, families, and ministries.
Life stories and case studies are shared to distill principles, not formulas for success. Contexts of the cohorts are often different than those of the facilitators. So principles, adapted to the context, are far more helpful than simply repeating action steps or following formulas. Actually delivering these truths cannot be done by teaching the same set of curriculum notes to participants across a dozen different countries in Asia. So it's the learning community that helps participants figure out how to adapt these principles to their context.
Furthermore, these 14 strategic areas of leadership are not isolated from one another, but integrated holistically over time.
In the coming days, we will share more about our integrated curriculum, which are grouped into four broader categories:
Rather than showing you the A2 teaching manual, we would much rather show you the lives of the A2 graduates. We believe this is a far more powerful testimony of effectiveness. By developing the right leaders though the right two-year transformational process at the right time, we are changing the few, who change the many.
We had so much fun last week at our Kanto Thanksgiving Gathering. One of the highlights was meeting with some potential missionaries to Japan who had a wonderful story of how they met and how God called them to Japan. Hearing how they had met with so many people who discouraged them about Japan but then meeting with Asian Access gave them a sense of hope in serving here really warmed my heart!
They also asked great questions! One of them was asking Jeffery Sonnenberg (pictured here with his wife Akiko) why we encourage church planters to work together. In other words, What’s the value of networking and partnership?
Jeffery’s answer was impressive! Jeffery is on our key partnership leadership team here in Japan so his wisdom was spot on. Here's a summary of his response:
You see, it’s difficult enough to be a church planter, let alone being one in the country of Japan where the soil is really tough. It takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and guts to stay the course. In addition, the hierarchical structure of East Asia makes it difficult to collaborate with those you serve under. Through Networks of Partnership, church planters come together on equal footing, gain the coaching and mentoring that helps build their capacity, and encourage one another. When one sees failure, another will see success and thus they can gain strength from one another. They learn from each other in ways they may not be able to from their supervisors and it is in this Learning Community that they gain insight and innovations that help them move forward.
This is why Asian Access focuses so deeply on working together in partnership and through networks. We are better together. We LIVE Community!
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. - Ecc. 4:9
Do you have stories to share of how you have worked together that have improved the ways things are? We’d love to learn from you!
“Things have gotten better here.”
Given where I am sitting as I hear these those words, this is no small statement.
I’m writing from Dhaka, where I am attending a session for A2 Bangladesh’s third class. 15 pastors and parachurch leaders are deep into the fifth of what will be eight sessions together over a two-year period, ably led by a combination of foreign and in-country faculty. All in all, it is a very encouraging environment.
This is especially encouraging in light of what Bangladesh has been through over the past few years. After decades of mostly peaceful co-existence in this Muslim majority country, small groups of Islamic extremists began to strike out violently.
It’s not entirely certain if these groups are connected with ISIS or just imitators, but what has been certain is the damage they inflicted. Pastors, Christian leaders, and even nonreligious foreigners such as NGO leaders were harassed, attacked, beaten, and killed. Churches and Christian groups were infiltrated by “seekers” purporting to be interested in knowing about Christ, but whose real agenda was to identify Christians for future attacks.
The atmosphere of fear reached unprecedented levels. “For about six months, there was extreme fear in the Christian community,” one leader told me. “We continued to trust God, but it was very difficult. We were in fear, especially for our families.”
The violence reached its crescendo when a restaurant in Dhaka popular with foreign tourists was struck, resulting in many deaths. But this attack had a pushback effect. The government, alarmed at the violence’s impact on tourism and foreign investment, instituted a major crackdown.
As of this writing, many extremist-group leaders are in prison. “The atmosphere has become more peaceful,” another leader told me. “The tensions have been reduced.”
This does not mean that Bangladesh is out of the woods, however. We are meeting at a fenced-in compound outside of the city. It is surrounded by an interesting local neighborhood, but one that I cannot visit, as I am not allowed outside of the compound to take my usual morning walks. “That would be dangerous,” I’ve been told.
“What do you think the future will hold?” I asked several leaders. The answers were consistent: “There will be trouble again. We do not know when, or how bad the trouble will be when it comes. But the extremist groups, while small, are still with us. They are biding their time, waiting for the government and the people to let down their guard.”
"What can the Christians in Bangladesh, and we, do in the meantime?" I asked.
“Pray for us. We thank God for the current peace. If trouble comes again, there will be fear, as we are human. But God is in control. We can trust him for the future.”
And these leaders are not sitting idle as they trust God for their future. These past few days, I have listened to the Asian Access class members as they have brainstormed ways they can work together to reach their communities, their ethnic and cultural groups, and their country for Christ. This is an upbeat, energized, motivated group. It is a privilege to get to know them and get a sense of their heart and vision. And we at Asian Access are honored to do whatever God enables us to do to build into the lives of leaders such as these.
Will you pray with us for the Body of Christ in Bangladesh?
VP for Leader Development
"Joe, I cherish A2. It helped to save my marriage."
"Joe, I cherish A2."
The woman speaking these words is the wife of a key national leader in a country, which, for security reasons, I can’t identify. I have had the privilege of knowing “Linda” (not her real name) and her husband for many years. While I was of course very grateful for her affirmation, I wanted to know more. “Linda, what has made Asian Access so precious to you?”
“Asian Access has influenced so many of the key leaders in our country. It is amazing how your program can change so many when you start with so few. Of all of the ministries I’ve seen over the last 20 years, Asian Access is the one that stands out.
“But Joe, you of all people know the most important reason that I cherish Asian Access. The personal care and support you and the A2 family provided for my husband and me helped to save our marriage.”
Several years ago, her husband, a pastor and team leader for Asian Access in his country, made a profound mistake in his life following an intense time of pressure. This mistake deeply wounded his wife. They lived separate lives, barely speaking with one another.
Unfortunately, my friends’ story is not unique, or even rare. Struggles like these happen all the time in environments where the church is under intense pressure and persecution. A third of the countries we serve face some form of persecution. Nearly half face significant pressure from the authorities, religious fanatics, or both.
But during this dark season in their relationship (also a season where A2 had to go silent in the country), we sent in pastors and counselors to help them to heal and rebuild their marriage. I was privileged to play a small part in this process. Eventually, this couple repented to and forgave one another. Not long ago, they held a remarriage ceremony to signify and celebrate what God had done in their lives.
This is why I knew that Linda spoke from the heart when she told me, “Joe, I cherish A2!” She has experienced the fruit of our ongoing commitment to gather 12-15 pastors at a time, for two years at a time—to strengthen their walk with Christ, build into their personal as well as ministry lives, and encourage their souls.
And her story was affirmed, over and over again, by the A2 alumni I was able to visit with that same day.
Leader after leader highlighted the difference between Asian Access and other leadership development programs they had experienced. “The other leader development programs were task-oriented,” they told me. “But Asian Access is life oriented. Other training programs left us feeling burdened. With A2, we leave inspired, empowered to fulfill the vision that God has given us!”
Today, far more than 150 pastors in this country have been impacted by Asian Access, as many of the alumni have reproduced the training four times over. These revitalized leaders are then building the Kingdom of God in their families, their churches, their communities, and their countries. Through God’s grace, by changing a few, we are changing the many!
Linda’s story reflects the profound impact God has had through Asian Access this past year thanks to people like you who give and pray. We are praying that God’s Kingdom impact through the work of A2 will continue and grow in 2017. These are just a few of the initiatives God is leading us into this coming year:
As we move into Asian Access’ Year of Jubilee, I am so grateful for your partnership. Your prayers and financial support have helped to make it possible for people like Linda and her husband to experience the life-changing benefits of Asian Access.
Will you help us change a few more leaders in 2017, who can then change many more?
I’m praying that you will again join me as A2 seeks to go deep with the pastors and leaders whom God has given into our care, and as we reach even more leaders in new countries and with new programs.
If so, please click the red button below and select "50th Anniversary Initiatives" in the drop-down box.
Thank you for considering Asian Access on #givingtuesday
...or send your check to Asian Access, PO Box 3307, Cerritos, CA 90703.
Your prayers and financial help make a real difference in the lives of these pastors and their families. Because of you, people like Linda can truthfully say, “I cherish A2!”
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!
— Linus van Pelt
If you are like me, you grew with the tradition of watching A Charlie Brown Christmas during Christmas season—that, along with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and It’s a Wonderful Life. I loved those shows and couldn’t wait to watch them when December came around.
That word wait is important. This same season is known as Advent, which means “coming” in Latin—adventus. As we believers wait for His coming (both His coming again and the commemoration of the waiting for Jesus’ birth), we have an even more compelling anticipation for the wonder Christ will bring: hope for the world!
What I love about the story A Charlie Brown Christmas is how the plot develops, building momentum for the climax when Linus quotes Luke 2. Every year, I waited with great anticipation as the plot thickened and the story unfolded. Then, Linus, probably the youngest of the cast, shares the great wisdom of Jesus coming: His advent! For Jesus came to bring us “tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10, KJV). The hope of the world rested in this child Jesus.
The beauty of this artistic production is that this great news is so overwhelming that everything else goes silent as Linus shares. The news is so fantastic that the angels burst forth in praise sharing what has happened. The anticipation of Advent is that Jesus has come and is coming. He is the hope of our world. Nothing else even compares.
Why Charlie Brown? Why Linus? Because this story for me is both a wonderful inspiration and an opportunity to share this awesome news with those around me. It’s so easy to talk about A Charlie Brown Christmas with my family, friends, and those I pass by. For my generation, it’s very familiar and opens the doors for the telling of Jesus’ great story.
How about you? As we celebrate Jesus’ coming and long for His return, what’s your story? What inspires you so much that you, like Linus, must share the hope of the world? We have “tidings of great joy” that are worthy of the angels’ praise! Join me in sharing their great news this year.
The above entry is from the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism's advent devotional. Permission to repost courtesy of BGCE.
This year, Advent is officially Sunday, November 27 through December 24, 2014. There is still time to get started. Here are two different options for Advent devotionals, and we trust that these reflections will help enrich this advent season for you.
1. "Where the Light Shines Brightest," the advent devotional from the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.
2. "O Come Let Us Adore Him" includes meditations on the Advent Season by many members of the Asian Access community.
Note: Image of Linus Van Pelt is a screenshot from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" 1965, copyright Charles Schultz.
What a blessing to be with our team here in Tokyo yesterday for our Thanksgiving banquet. It was so fun just being with everyone and experiencing a little Americana together.
My highlight was when we were sharing stories of gratitude with one another and Barbara Bauman shared a wonderful story. After two decades of faithful ministry summed up in the principles taught in her 2002 book, Discovering the Joy of Parenting, one of the first class participants, Sanae, is taking a new step of faith. Sanae came to a mothers group nearly 20 years ago and has been faithfully learning and growing ever since. She’s been an active Bible reader, learning so many wonderful lessons about parenting from the Bible.
But, she had not fully dived in to Christ’s embrace until this year. One of her kids who had grown up said,
“Mom, you read the Bible so much, why don’t you get baptized?”
This came from a child who has yet to fully embrace Christ himself! Isn’t that amazing? So, next year when the timing is right, Sanae has decided to go ALL IN. She wants to get baptized when her children can be with her to signify this great move in her life.
What a blessing to hear this remarkable story.
Kudos to Barb and Gary Bauman too for their faithful witness all these years. They never gave up! Talk about being ALL IN with God! Gary and Barb, you inspire me!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
It was a brisk and windy day in Tokyo a few weeks ago when Silk, John and I made our way to the Biblical Church of Tokyo. We are so glad we made the trip. We had a delightful visit with Pastors’ Seiji and Kathy Oyama and a wonderful reunion with friends from our home church in America: Rolling Hills Covenant Church.
Pastor Seiji preached a wonderful message even highlighting one of Asian Access prime shapers: Dr. Bobby Clinton from Fuller Seminary. He mentioned how much Dr. Clinton influenced his life and leadership journey and then he proceeded to encourage us that we are truly God’s Masterpiece.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” — Ephesians 4:10
You see, God made us as his special creation, created for good work which he actually prepared in advance. How cool is that!
Seiji continued on sharing a story of his own deep personal loss and failure and sharing a painful memory of how he didn’t think he could be very successful. However, success isn’t defined by being self fulfilled or self actualized as the world tells us it is. Seiji suggested that many of us get caught up in this trap like he did. I’ve been there, have you? Rather, success in God’s kingdom is merely drawn by serving Him:
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…” — 1 Peter 4:10
He further stated that true fulfillment comes from God, not man! You see, even though we are created to serve, the first priority is simply Jesus himself. It is when we follow Jesus that we become ‘fishers of men’:
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19
It’s only as we follow Jesus, live in a dynamic love relationship with God, that we can bear much fruit. We are called to serve, rather than seek our own self fulfillment or try to please other people. When we seek to please God, we’ll become the masterpiece he intended! It is in this mystical, spiritual place: a love relationship with God where we will ultimately find our true identity.
You see, “You are God’s Masterpiece!” And God is in the business of using broken vessels. I’m one. Aren’t you?
It was a beautiful Sunday here in Tokyo—a day that inspired my hopes for Japan, and for the world. I was more than ready for some inspiration, as the American presidential election that had taken place earlier in the week seemed so divisive.
That morning, Silk, John and I made our way to attend services at Saikyo Nozomi Chapel, led by Pastor Joshua Hari. Joshua is Asian Access/Japan’s associate director, due to step into the national director’s position next April. Joshua and his wife Megumi lead a vibrant church; it was exciting just to be there. In addition, Asian Access missionaries Jeffery and Akiko Sonnenberg partner with Joshua and Megumi to support the integration of a missional vision.
First, the church service celebrated the children. Just look at all these kids pictured here. A church with this many children is a sign of hope for the future of the Church in Japan. The entire day was dedicated to celebrating these kids; we even sang a song of blessing over them.
Second, Joshua and Jeffery shared stories about their church planting ministry. It was a thrill to hear what God is doing through their efforts. As they had a meeting of their church-planting teams prior to services, I was able to meet many of the men and women who will be leading these new churches in the coming years. They have three church plants in motion, one in an area that is considered the least reached area of Japan. How exciting is that!
Third, there were many missionaries in attendance who have been called to serve in Japan from all over the world, including a team of young missionaries from one of the largest countries in the world. This team is the fruit of a partnership A2 has with their mission organization which we are particularly excited to be a part. You can learn more about that movement here: 20,000 Missionaries by 2030!
This special day included words of wisdom from Pastor Joshua for parents. In his sermon, he focused on how to raise up a child in the way they should go. He did reference the recent American presidential election, including a sobering quote from 2 Tim 3:1-5:
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."
I’ll let you interpret that passage for yourself, but as an American who has just come through this election process, it made me feel embarrassed for our country. My sense of embarrassment was reinforced by an email I got that same day from a colleague who had just concluded a visit with leaders in another one of our key Asian Access countries. His summary: “We have a lot of explaining to do.”
Overall though, I am hopeful. When leaders can stand up and speak truth (even when it may be embarrassing), the world is a better place. Even more so, to see so many children being raised up to worship Christ in a country considered to be one of the least reached of the world—and to meet missionaries called to serve here from all over the world—left me inspired and hopeful. And hearing about the new churches being planted put me over the top. How exciting!
I’m so proud of Joshua, Megumi, Jeffery, Akiko, their fellow church members, their colleagues on the church-planting teams, our missionary friends, and especially those children. They are bright lights in a world that so desperately needs the light of Jesus. Thank you all for giving me new hope on a day when I really needed it.
What are your stories of hope? Do share with us!
Silk and I will be in Kyoto, Japan for Thanksgiving this year with our son John. While enjoying the beautiful fall colors of the country, we remembered you and the rich partnership you share with us at Asian Access.
On behalf of all of us here with Asian Access in Japan, across Asia and around the world, I want to thank you for your friendship, prayers and support. Silk and I hope you enjoy our brief video of thanks.
You are a treasure in God’s kingdom and I am grateful for you this Thanksgiving season!
As our gift to you this season, I was privileged to share in the Billy Graham Center's Advent Devotional. It's a free download, if you'd like to use it this year. We hope you enjoy it: http://www.wheaton.edu/BGCE/Evangelism-Resources/Personal-Evangelism-Tools/Where-the-Light-Shines-Brightest-Advent-Devotional
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kym42bQula4
God bless you,
Joe Handley (for Silk, too)
I just came away from an inspiring working session. Asian Access is looking to both deepen and expand our efforts in empowering women who are in ministry.
One of my colleagues quoted Mao Zedong who said,
“Women hold up half the sky!”
This is so true. In all my years in ministry, it’s astounding to see how many women are the key movers and shakers in the Church globally and in mission. They lead from behind, below, beside and now increasingly from the front.
The sad part is that they receive such little investment and empowerment. One of the key sessions during the Cape Town Congress in 2010 walked through these issues: Men and Women in Partnership. You can learn more by reviewing that link and the various videos posted there.
Asian Access has seen tremendous fruit from investing in women but we realize we can do so much more. And, now we have women across Asia from many countries who are asking us to invest in them. So this weekend retreat/working session was our opportunity to explore how can we go deeper and grow further. We’ll be exploring this in the coming year and I’m very excited about what God has in store for us.
I’ll never forget co-teaching with my colleague Mary Jo Wilson this summer in South Asia. Many pastors wives attended the sessions and their eyes just lit up when Mary Jo was doing the teaching. It was so encouraging just watching them beaming from ear to ear. You’ve never seen such big smiles!
Most of them as well as other Women in Leadership in South Asia have been asking us to come and so I invite you to pray for us as we look to deepen our roots as well as expand our territory. Pray for us as we seek to empower women in ministry and pray that God provides the resources enabling us to further this important part of the Great Commission.
Mao was right. Women do hold up half the sky! The work they do for the kingdom is simply amazing and I often wonder, maybe they hold up far more than just half the sky!
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
— Galatians 3:28
If this type of ministry inspires you or you feel compelled to help us, especially in funding this enterprise, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!
I just returned from a phenomenal week with three teams that are vital to the ministry of Asian Access:
It was a thrill to spend a week with so many men and women who embody our vision of a vibrant community of Christ-like leaders.
You may have heard that 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of Asian Access. Even though it is still 2016, we are already celebrating BIG TIME!
A2 began in 1967 with the entrepreneurial spirit of our founder. Early on in his ministry in Japan, he asked a key Japanese pastor to share his vision. This pastor shared his heart for the country. When the pastor finished, he asked our founder to share his vision for Japan. Our founder’s answer set the tone and spirit for Asian Access that continues today:
“My vision is to empower your vision!”
Our founder’s response was to launch the unique learning-community approach that is now known as Asian Access. Our founder credits Doug Birdsall, A2’s third president, with the wisdom and foresight to bring a gift for strategic focus to A2’s ministry. Doug birthed our 2020 Vision for Japan while he also led the expansion of A2’s disciple-reproducing ministry into Mongolia, Sri Lanka, India, and other countries in Asia.
Today, we are a remarkably diverse community spread across 11 countries, soon to welcome the Philippines as the 12th country in the Asian Access family. The momentum is building for our April 2017 Jubilee in Jakarta, where we both will celebrate the last 50 years and look ahead to what God has for us in the future. It’s going to be exciting—and we would love for you to join us!
I’ll never forget our founder’s words to me the night I was installed as president just over eight years ago:
“Joe, I just returned from __________ [one of the largest and most influential countries in the world] and met with 40 of their top pastors. Half of them have been trained by Asian Access. It’s the West Point of Christian Leadership Development and you are equipping the Field Marshals of the Church. There’s a problem, though: Asian Access has plateaued and there are pastors all over Asia that are desperate for this process…
“You Have Got to Expand this Mission!”
Those words ring in my ears to this day!
We are seeking God to serve 20 countries by the year 2020. As this photo shows, this is just one of many innovative goals we believe that God has placed before us.
Pray for us as we seek to fulfill this God-sized mission AND join us in celebrating 50 years of Jubilee!
P.S.: We need your help! If you’d like to know how you can participate in our 50th Anniversary Celebration, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
“Making disciples means making servants. That is what Bob Moffitt shared. Just like Jesus, disciples are called to serve. How? By loving and helping their neighbors. And Bob emphasized that service was not just words…it means action.”
Our National Director was sharing about the A2 session that had just been held in their country. (For security purposes, we will not reveal the location, or our leader’s identity.) Bob Moffitt, the faculty for this session, was teaching on how Christ followers can make a difference in their communities as a practical expression of their witness.
“One evening at the session, we brainstormed how we could be of practical benefit to our neighbors and neighborhoods. As we talked, one of our leaders sat up. ‘What is one of the most chronic everyday problems in our country?’ he asked us. ‘Potholes! Our roads are terrible. Potholes are everywhere. Every day, motorbike drivers and bicyclists are injured by potholes hidden under water or debris. Even pedestrians are at risk. When we return to our home communities, why don’t we take on repairing our roads?’”
“We were all struck with the beauty and simplicity of his idea,” our National Director continued. We decided, ‘Why not?’”
These leaders returned home, committed to reaching out to their neighbors through road repair. But how to do it? “Our leaders make very little income, and come from poor communities,” our National Director said. “They don’t have the money or resources to initiate project like this. But they were determined to find ways to make it happen.”
One pastor who runs a children’s home scraped up the money to hire a truck, a load of gravel, and shovels. “He and his children went out and filled the potholes in their area,” our National Director told us. “Their neighbors were so impressed, they came out with food and drinks to thank them for their work! It was a great opportunity to make connections with their neighbors and begin to share Christ with them.”
And our National Director?
“There is a small guest cottage on our compound. I tore down the back wall of the cottage and used the rubble to fill in the potholes on the main road that runs by our home (see photos). Our neighbors were very appreciative! It was a wonderful chance to continue to build the relationships we have developed with our neighbors over the years, and to demonstrate Christ’s love in a tangible way.”
At Asian Access, we believe that effective curriculum is content that has practical application. Bob Moffitt’s teaching is a perfect example of this. And the leaders in our country took that practical application right down to street level—literally.
Philippines (MNN) — It takes a discerning crowd to recognize the needs of the Church in one nation. In the Philippines, church leaders are pulling together to advance the Gospel, and they’re asking Asian Access to help.
Joe Handley of Asian Access is excited to announce they are expanding their ministry into the Philippines. The need? Church leadership, church planting, and healing across the Body of Christ. God has uniquely equipped the ministry in these three areas.
Handley says in the late 80’s there were only 7-8,000 churches nationwide. Church leaders set a goal of having 50,000 churches by 2000. They believed this would give every Filipino access to the Church. So they started praying and moving.
By 2001, there were 51,000 churches across the Philippines. And the Church kept growing — today there are around 65,000 churches.
But, Handley says the growth seems to have plateaued, and it’s no wonder. During an election a few years ago, a major disagreement arose surrounding elections.
Handley says “Half the majority churches in the country were on one side of that election; the other half were on another. And it caused a major rift between these two large movements of churches in the nation.”
But, God has started to bring reconciliation to the Filipino Church. And, the timing has been amazing.
“A few years ago, right as Asian Access was sensing maybe God would be calling us there, just as we were making our first trip into the country, those two movements actually came back together, reconciled, and said, ‘We need to be working together again.’”
Through this process, Asian Access has been able to discern many things they can help the Church with.
First, they are skilled at bringing the Body of Christ together in Unity for the advancement of the Gospel. With these skills, they can help continue to heal the rift created.
Second, they can help the Church work towards their next goal.
“They want to now see 120,000 churches, almost double what they currently have, by the year 2020. That’s just here in four years.”
Asian Access works with church planting and can help them develop healthy strategies. The final thing they are able to assist with is leadership training.
Handley says sometimes church leadership education skips over important areas of leadership. For instance, it might be assumed that a pastor knows how to grow in his walk with Christ, and so there won’t be classes on how to keep a healthy relationship with the Lord while you’re leading others.
Neglecting the cultivation of faith of a leader leads to other issues. A big issue, Handley says, is character. Leaders might struggle with integrity or humility — things we all struggle with, but which are more obvious and damaging on a leadership level.
“The important aspects of character and walking with Christ and treating each other in respect and honor, those were not treated in these school systems.”
But here is another way Asian Access hopes to help.
“Those are the elements treated throughout Asian Access in a way that helps bolster the Church. It strengthens the life of a pastor, it strengthens his walk with God, it strengthens the life of his marriage and in his family, and from that strength, from that deep-rootedness in Christ, his character begins to change.”
With this, they’ll be able to lead more effectively.
In January the team will be meeting with about 30 leaders in the Philippines. It is the launch session for the work to be done there.
This is an exciting new venture, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Would you walk with Asian Access in prayer?
You can also support them here.
"Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
— Matthew 13:8
I just returned from a land of the richest soil. The fruit of what God has been doing in this country the last 25 years is enormous.
Some of the key alumni gathered to meet with me expressing a new found enthusiasm for the future of what God is doing in their country and how Asian Access can assist. It was one of the most deeply enriching experiences you can imagine.
One of the men was inspired the night prior to our breakfast. He went out at nearly midnight and knocked on the door of a shopkeeper who sold large scrolls. That’s how motivated he was! He spent the next few hours crafting the calligraphy that you see in this picture. The message speaks of Leading Like Geese and he was praising the local leadership of Asian Access for the way in which they have fostered an environment that brought so much profound change. Listening to their praise reports was nothing short of amazing!
One of the pastors said that he has been to a vast number of leadership trainings in his country, but that he had never experienced anything like Asian Access. He spoke of how most leadership training is so task focused and how A2 was life-focused. He said:
“I couldn’t wait for the sessions to begin. It was more like a brotherhood that met the longings of my heart. It ended up being a significant enrichment to ministry and to our country as it birthed a United Prayer Movement in our city. The alumni connection is like nothing we have ever experienced here. If I had to choose between training opportunities, I clearly would choose A2!”
Oh, how I wish I could share all their stories. It was so profound listening to them!
One of the wives who’s husband went through what may be one of the darkest personal periods in modern church history in their nation and who felt both betrayed and wounded by her husband said this:
“I cherish A2. Of all the ministries I have seen in the last 30 years, nothing has impacted me more than A2 and my theology tutor. Please tell all the friends outside our country what a profound difference A2 has made in our country.”
As she shared this with me, my eyes filled with tears as I personally invested about 3 years of my own ministry life in this couple. To see God’s grace unfold in the course of their marriage, family and life and to see what God is doing today is so incredibly moving!
At the close of our time, one of the key leaders said:
“I sense a new spirit alive among us today. For a few years we have lived under a spell of fear in our country but it is clear something fresh begins today. The future of our work together holds a lot of promise and will be significant for the next generation of leaders in our country.”
The whole experience reminded me of two parables:
As we continue marching toward our 50th year of Jubilee celebration with Asian Access, I praise God today for the amazing work he is doing.
How is God working in your life? What lessons do you have for us to learn?
Come celebrate our Jubilee year with us! We are thanking God for 50 years of ministry in Asia. Join us as we both reflect on what God has done for the past five decades, and look forward to what God has for us into the future.
Dr. Ajith Fernando, a gifted speaker and Bible teacher from Sri Lanka, will explore the theme of Jubilee, with special focus on how it applies to A2’s vision for the next 50 years. Gather with our A2 community from countries throughout Asia as we fellowship together and engage our calling to see a vibrant community of servant leaders leading the Church in Asia.
If you are hoping to attend our celebration in Jarkarta, please send a note to email@example.com to let us know.
For up-to-the minute updates, check out these sources:
How fun it was seeing Emi and Sterling Miller and their girls last weekend. We had a blast together catching up and going out for beef BBQ. It was one of the best meals we’ve had in Japan so far.
Seeing how their family is growing was such a joy for me as their oldest daughter took a liking to me from the moment she met me when she was just a toddler. I get to see Sterling quite often because he serves with me in sharing about Asian Access in several countries across Asia. But, it was fun seeing the better half as we say and those precious little girls. Reminds me of when my girls were little!
Their church, Kokobunji Baptist had a nice message that dovetails with one of our key teachings at Asian Access. The pastor’s wife preached a message from Matt. 25:14-19 sharing about the talents we have and the importance of focusing on our strengths rather than comparing ourselves to others.
She shared several illustrations about how even just one talent can be plenty and that many apparently here believe or are led to believe that “one talent is not enough”. We at Asian Access encourage pastors to find their strengths and gifts to build on for ministry. You see God has wired you and me with a particular set of gifts or, as in this parable shares, talents.
He wants us to be fruitful and multiply no matter how many talents we have. I often share that I’m only a five talent guy. There are many with more talents than me and some with fewer. I don’t need to compare myself to the ten talent people or to think I’m better than a one talent person. My role is to simply rest in Jesus and share those talents that I do possess.
It doesn’t matter if I’m different than others so as this pastor shared, “Don’t be afraid to be different.” Or, as many might say, Simply Be Yourself.
Every pastor and ministry leader is designed with a different DNA and wiring. With that God wants us to live into our calling to bear more fruit. As we lean into Him and His calling and giftedness in our lives, we will do just that.
It’s fun to see Emi and Sterling here in Japan leaning into what God has called them to do and be.
How about you? Are you leaning into God to see how your talents can be multiplied?
A few weeks ago, our national directors and key working team members from each country gathered for some rich times of fellowship, growing together and learning in community.
It was time well spent as we dug into creative ways to share in the Asian Access communities. As you can see in these pictures, we had a lot of fun together! My colleague David Dayalan shared about it here, too.
Being together like this was so helpful to our goals in developing local faculty. We made great progress as each country spent time mapping out who could be teaching from their own countries as well as setup times to visit one another’s countries. This is significant because it helps move us forward in a profound manner toward being a more sustainable ministry in every location.
It was also a rich time spiritually. Our devotions and special assignments were all geared toward expressing our creativity. Check out this set of photos from one of our national directors. In our quiet times, we were asked to share what God was telling us and Brother W drew a picture of a tree and shared how God was telling him that the Church needs to grow deeper roots in Christ in order to truly bear fruit. What a beautiful metaphor of the Essence of Asian Access!
In another sharing, Meng Aun Hour shared how we must first grow UP toward God and then IN with one another before we grow OUT to the community and world around us. Here’s a photo of him illustrating his points and it provided another classic meditation on the focus of Asian Access.
Then, later brother W shared a lesson about Christ-like leadership. He showed us the differences between secular leadership and Servant leadership. It was another wonderful example of the fruit of Asian Access. As brother W shared, my heart was warmed knowing that God is showering Asian Access with such remarkable community, wonderful friendships, and deeper and deeper roots in the kind of leadership He is calling us to as Shepherds of the Flock!
What a joy it is to see our community grow together. I pray that this week will be one of great inspiration that helps take us to new depths and heights in growing in Christ, with one another, and out to the world around us!
Love to hear how you are learning these days. Share with us please… We are a learning community and eager to learn from you and how God is shaping your life and leadership.
It’s been a wonderful week here in Singapore learning together with Asian Access National Directors.
Leaders from across Asia just wrapped up the Asian Access' National Leaders Gathering in Singapore. We brought in Marlene Le Fever to help us consider how adults learn, so that we can continue improving the effectiveness of the A2 Leader Development program.
We also tackled translating the Vision, Mission and Values of Asian Access into each of the languages where we work. And we prayed together and had fun together!
Take a look at this video from David Dayalan, our VP for Program Development to get a glimpse of the joy we are experiencing this week!
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN2PqKJa88Y
Joe Handley, President
By Rod Denton, Equipping The Next Generation
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 :
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
ABOUT 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
In 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.
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!
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.
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!”
Joe, 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?