A summary from three blogs: A2 Community + From The President + A2 Stories on Mission Network News
"If you give the driver chocolate, he will drive you wherever you need to go."
This joke didn't actually come from our taxi driver, but from a successful pastor who has been a part of planting over 300 churches, starting multiple children's homes, and having a voice in the creation of Nepal’s new constitution that will protect religious freedom of minority groups. Last week I had the privilege of serving alongside this pastor and his colleagues with three of my Japanese friends.
Following the 3.11 (3/11/2011) disaster in northeast Japan, volunteers and relief came from all over the world to bring help. God has been redeeming the pain and suffering to cause growth in the church in Japan. When Nepal was devastated by an earthquake in April 2015, it caught the attention of believers throughout Japan. Having been the recipient the last few years, many churches gave generously and sacrificially to help Nepal. Within Asian Access, we began to discuss if we could help facilitate a group going directly from the area impacted by the tsunami to serve our brothers and sisters in Nepal.
Last week was a national holiday in Japan, which allowed us to go for a quick trip with four work days. The first two were spent cleaning up debris around a children's home on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Repairs on the main building are progressing, and they hope to be able to move the children back into their home within a month. It was satisfying to look at the yard at the end of our second day and see that children would soon be able to play there again. As we left, hugs and tears were exchanged between a team member and a girl she had grown close to over our few days together.
On our third and fourth days, we went to a village on the top of a hill that had received minimal help since the disaster. Although around 150 people had lived there before the earthquake, only a handful remained. Homes were still sitting where they had collapsed. We learned that nine people had been killed including a child who was in Sunday school at the time.
Over two days, the team helped clear the land where six homes had stood. The work involved digging through mud and clay to remove supports, staircases, and other materials that had once made up the homes. We then flattened the remaining soil so that the residents—Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists—could begin to rebuild. Although we could communicate very little, there was a warmth communicated through smiles and other gestures as we worked and sweated alongside a few local Christians as well as other residents of the community.
On our final work day, a 3,000 liter tank arrived that will supply water to the village in the future. Residents currently have to carry water up from the river below. Our partners are committed to continuing to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of this community.
"How can we apply what we have learned this week to our context in Japan?"
This was one of the themes for our team during our time in Japan. While we were in Nepal to help with an immediate physical need, we also wanted to learn from our Nepali brothers and sisters. In a time of political unrest and following a natural disaster, they are still seeing people steadily place their faith in Christ. We were challenged by how the church is engaged in multiple levels of society as they strive to see the Kingdom of God come to this mountain kingdom. With limited resources, they are aggressively and compassionately reaching out to their nation.
Although back in Japan now, all four of us desire to return to Nepal. It is exciting to see how Christians from multiple countries, languages, and cultures can come together for mutually beneficial trips like this. It’s my prayer that this relationship continues and that the churches of both Japan and this beautiful mountain country will be blessed through their interactions.
Asian Access has just reached it's goal for Nepal Family Rebuilding Packages!
In an article entitled "Nepal Earthquake 2015 - Petition to Transparency International, CIAA Nepal and United Nations," Sanju Lama levies pretty harsh allegations of corruption in Nepal that have kept relief funds and supplies from the quake victims.
Following the initial devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25-April-2015 and the 7.3 aftershock on 12-May, bureaucracy and corruption severely hampered the distribution of aid. She writes,
It has been reported that the government of Nepal has received funds and pledges of Billions of Nepalese Rupees from countries all over the world (Wikipedia article; Financial Tracking Service report). The generosity has been overwhelming, but most of these funds have not reached to people who are in desperate need of it, due to ongoing corruption and bribery which is deeply rooted inside the political system of Nepal.
Sanju Lama goes on to further say:
"Most people have not even received the basic needs like tents and food supplies which does not tie up with the billions collected so far by the government. It is as simple as that. Committing to transparency and actually implementing it are two different things."
At this time of adversity, everyone is helping out each other in their own ways and the work of volunteers, NGOs, INGOs, Armies and civilians have been commendable. We would still need lot more funding and aids to get back to normalcy so please carry on donating to credible organisations and groups. Every little helps.)
Aljazeera reported that, "Giving reconstruction funds directly to Nepal quake survivors could cut out corruption and administrative waste."
This is precisely why it is recommended to give through NGOs, who have delivery systems on the ground. Asian Access is delivering aid directly through a network of local churches right to quake victims.
In fact, Asian Access has been distributing funds since June through dozens of local churches that have a pulse on where the greatest needs are. Due to the enormous homelessness, A2 is currently raising funds for Family Rebuilding Packages, which can get directly to homeless family with in a matter of a couple weeks. Each package is only $130 and includes:
Would you consider giving $130 to help a homeless family get back on its feet?
...or send your check to Asian Access,
PO Box 3307, Cerritos, CA 90703.
After this Family Rebuidling Package campaign, Asian Access will continue distributing funds through local churches that have the flexibility to get relief to the victims who need it the most.
We can't speak for all groups, but we can say with integrity that relief funds donated to Asian Access are getting directly to the people of Nepal.
Related articles on inefficiency and corruption:
Noel Becchetti with Asian Access says, “What they’re doing right now is basically blackmailing Nepal and saying, ‘If you don’t amend that constitution and make it more to our liking, we’ll starve you out.’”
Becchetti and his wife were visiting friends in Nepal when they saw that ire take shape. “The third day that we were in the country, our friends let us know that India had just sealed the border between India Nepal and had blockaded anything coming into the country–any goods, any supplies, any equipment.”
Here’s the problem: “Nepal receives all of its oil, petroleum, and gasoline–everything–from one supplier: the Indian Oil Corporation. And they just...stopped.” Nepal began rationing fuel on Monday as hundreds also blockaded a key import hub on the Indian border. Becchetti says, “Right now, if things do not change, they’re going to start stopping international flights to Nepal.”
Why the kerfuffle? ”They [India and Hindu nationalists] are unhappy with the fact that Nepal approved a secular constitution. You might recall: the radical element of that group basically is wanting to go back to what they called the Greater India,” which includes Bhutan and Nepal, he adds.
“They think it’s their manifest destiny ultimately to take all of that back over. This is just a piece of that process.”
Over the weekend, the government decided to limit the number of vehicles on Nepal’s roads as the landlocked Himalayan country faces a looming fuel shortage. “You can only drive your vehicle every other day. It depends on the last number of your license plate. So, if you have you an odd number, you can only drive on odd-numbered days,” says Becchetti. He says they were in Nepal as the blockade took hold. “Our friend had to check his license plate, and then he said, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t take you. I’m not allowed to have my car out today.’ We had to chase down another vehicle that was legal to drive to get to the airport to fly out. “
The fuss is over the new constitution that is in the final stage of a peace process that began in 2006, when Maoist rebels laid down their arms after a 10-year civil war. The draft was accepted by the voters and the Parliament calling Nepal a secular nation. India’s response, while not unexpected, was still scary, says Becchetti. “Nepal’s a poor country. They’re trying to dig out from a big, and they just don’t have that many friends or big visibility in the world.
“The government held an emergency meeting with the prime minister and the cabinet. The very same day, the [leaders of the] evangelical Christian fellowship in that country…held an emergency meeting of which some friends of ours were a part.” How does one respond to a bully? Stand up to him. That’s more or less what Nepal has decided to do, Bechetti adds.
”Both groups basically said, ‘We are not going to knuckle under. We think we need to stand firm on this.’”
Really, Nepal is a country under siege. Becchetti is urging prayer for their partners, some of whom sat on the constituent assembly. They have brought a unique worldview to the writing of their country’s governing document. However, “If this continues and the shortages get acute, that’s a lot of pressure. We need to pray for endurance in the face of this kind of pressure.” Becchetti is asking other believers to pray for “strength and wisdom for the leaders [who are] under a tremendous amount of pressure. I think we need to pray for the world’s conscience to become awakened here, and for some world pressure to be brought to bear.”
A petition drive is circulating in Nepal, where people are asked to share it on their social media networks in order to generate the 20,000 signatures needed to make sure the blockade gets on the United Nations’ agenda. (Click here if you want to take a look.)
Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 0:16)
Continuing to prototype its A2.business ministry to marketplace leaders in Seoul, South Korea. Just recently 9 CEOs and entrepreneurs gathered for the second ever A2.business session.
The Asian Access model passionately focuses on four missional outcomes:
In session two, the nine participants wrestled with the second outcome: becoming a Christ-like leader. In particular, this session was focused on being such a leader at home (in their marriages and families). Yet, most of the men in this cohort are not yet married (but are hoping to get married!). Pastor Leo Rhee (CityLight Seoul Church) shared with them:
“Marriage is probably the decision that will most impact the rest of your life after your decision to follow Christ.”
As the group interacted on this topic in their vibrant learning community, they encouraged and supported one another in the challenges they face developing relationships while launching startups and running businesses. Through these sessions they are forming life-long relationships.
Every A2.business session reinforces our first missional outcome, living in a love relationship with God. In this recent session, they focused on worship as our entire life, not just what happens at church on Sunday. They addressed the sacred/secular divide that so often happens between Sunday and Monday morning. As CEOs they challenged each other with ways to integrate their life of worship into their workplace. Seeing them apply their natural creativity and initiative toward kingdom transformation in the marketplace was personally exciting for me.
This cohort of young leaders finalized the remaining 4 sessions over 2015 and 2016. Pray for the next A2.business initiative as session three will be held in just a few weeks over the last weekend of October. Pray for God to be very present as they meet together and as they strive to be missional business leaders. Emerging kingdom leaders in the marketplace are critical to the advance of the gospel across Asia.
"There's a desperate need today for business leaders to become Christ-like transformational leaders. That's where A2's marketplace training fills a strategic niche. A2.business is building on a proven track record in empowering leaders for over 35 years. Now they are investing in business leaders who want to transform their communities and nations."
Mr. Ram Gidoomal
Chairman of the Board, Lausanne Movement
"Asian Access is one of the most effective ministry organizations in facilitating genuine respect-filled partnerships across cultures to further our Father’s global mission. I have witnessed how A2 has drawn together the experience and formal training of Jesus-followers in one culture with the spiritual vitality and ministry innovation of those in another culture in which the church is experiencing rapid growth to do remarkable things to His glory.
I believe God has raised up A2 to play a rather unique role in God’s promise to establish a people made up of every people group, language and nation to “with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf., Rev. 7:9; Rom 15:6).
I recommend Asian Access as a gospel-centered, biblically directed, cost-effective global ministry partner.”
Dr. Greg Waybright
Senior Pastor at Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA
When you spend time with Byron MacDonald, you quickly sense the peace in his life, as well as his love for the Word of God. That's what participants of A2/Bangladesh class 2 (and I) recently enjoyed.
Pastor MacDonald ministered in Bangladesh for a couple weeks in August. He brought a team from his church Rolling Hills Covenant Church in an ongoing partnership with a national leader. They visited children at several orphanages and also trained many church leaders. It was evident to me that this congregation has been passionate about Bangladesh for quite a while.
In his second week, Byron gave quality time to invest deeply in the lives of fourteen Asian Access/Bangladesh leaders. He led the group with an in-depth study of 1 John, teaching principles of hermeneutics—equipping them to be "workers approved"—and how to deliver God's Word to His people. I watched the leaders wrestle with interpreting passages and grow in drawing out practical principles from the text. It was a great week of learning!
Bangladesh has clearly gotten into Byron's heart. Upon returning home, he preached a sermon, "The Ultimate Gift" about the Holy Spirit, who indwells and empowers believers. In this message, he included his reflections on Bangladesh and some pastors there who impressed him by their boldness coming from the Holy Spirit—even in the midst of persecution. Listen to these brief excerpts in this informative video clip:
Asian Access is privileged to have high-caliber faculty with this kind of character, heart and passion. Our participants are fortunate to enjoy the teaching from these mature believers. You can hear deep admiration whenever the graduates all across Asia share of the impact of these faculty mentors.
A love for the Word of God and a commitment to life-on-life mentoring are just two of the reasons I'm honored to serve with Asian Access.
A one-two punch by Typhoon Goni and Tropical Storm 18 (Etau) forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people and left large parts of one town submerged. Asian Access missional partner Sterling Miller explains, “It’s been a really harsh summer here in Japan. We’ve had the longest stretch of continued heat in Tokyo in the last 100 years. There’s been about two weeks of persistent rain.”
The heavy rain also caused additional leaks of radioactive water at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The damage has triggered unpleasant memories. “It’s pretty eerie to see the helicopters lifting aunts and uncles away from houses, levies breaking and towns being washed away,” he says, adding, “More traumatically, four and a half years ago–almost to the day–where the triple disaster of 3/11 hit, many of those same towns are undergoing landslides, water, and flooding damage.”
The triple disaster Miller refers to is the combination of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that hit the Fukushima area. In the time since then, some homes have been rebuilt, although many hundreds are still shelter in temporary housing, which is why so many were displaced. Emergency responders are already gathering. Miller says mobilizing an aid response will be quick. “The strength of Asian Access is that they already have a friendship, they already have a community that is allowed to come together so that international workers or NGOs can come work side-by-side with the local church. I think that’s where our prayers are tonight.”
Floods move earth and create landslides–an ever-present danger in Japan–where many smaller communities live on or close to mountains. The government ordered the evacuation of tens of thousands of people across the country. Miller says the local church is already moving to meet physical and emotional needs in the affected communities. “They have an ongoing relationship and the trust that’s been able to be developed over the last four years of bringing relief to Japan I think that allows us to get the people’s support, their prayers, to the victims in a timely manner.”
Funds are needed, Miller admits, but so is prayer. “Just by reaching out in simple prayers tonight as you gather for your meal, you can think about the people that are in temporary housing units–whether it’s from the triple disaster or having their own homes wiped away from the most recent rain storms. Please pray for them.” To have a community of believers and a support system allows a small, local church to do more than their capacity. It really shows the compassion of Christ, says Miller. ”We generally see that 99% of Japan doesn’t know who Jesus is, or doesn’t recognize themselves as ‘Christian,’ So any time that we go out and serve as compassionate hands of Jesus and serving in disaster zones, or even just coming together alongside a local church, we get to serve unreached people groups.”
Listen to the audio broadcast (story starts at 0:24)
Pray for Japan following the Tropical Storm Etau which pounded Japan's eastern coastline this past weekend. These are things to remember in prayer:
1. Pray for our partner local churches in all the places Etau has hit. These churches, pastors and church members are consistently serving the disaster area. Asian Access' role is to help empower these local churches to minister effectively to their own communities.
2. Pray for people in Fukushima.
One of the areas Etau hit hard was Fukushima, site of the nuclear reactor damaged in 2011 by the tsunami. Decontamination efforts are continuing and water has been put into sealed containers, so that no more radiation leakage would occur. In spite of the effort, there are about 70,000 people still not been able to go back home. There is still a strong focus on ministering to those people still living in temporary housing. Asian Access is coming along side churches there to continue to minister to those who are desperately need Jesus.
3. Ministry Reminders
"I believe that the test of leadership is found in the third generation. It involves mentoring leaders who would reproduce leaders. This is why I thank God for Asian Access! It is an outstanding movement that's strategically committed to sustainable leadership development! Mentoring leaders. Multiplying disciples. YES!!!”