Joe Handley




Stories from Joe Handley, president of Asian Access

pink flower in snow

Greetings on Good Friday. When it looks dark, that's when God shows up.

Economic Downturns

The year I joined Asian Access was the year the economy last collapsed. I was responsible for raising more money than I had ever dreamed of before and suddenly, the stock markets dropped to the floor. We had come to the end of the year and had set up a special meeting to begin closing major portions of the ministry.

The same day of that meeting, I had a lunch appointment with a pastor and told him, “What was God thinking calling me to this post? I knew he wanted me to step out in faith, and raising funds was a big part of that, but I had no idea the funds wouldn’t come in.” I would likely have to cut staff and perhaps close a lot of ministry.

That same lunch hour, a call came in letting me know that a $500,000 check was in the mail. When I called our team later that afternoon, I told them “God showed up—we don’t need to worry!”

A few years later, during a similar episode, I simply called a friend asking him to pray. He said, “Interesting that you called. The stocks in my country actually went up and I felt the Lord calling me to send an additional $200,000 to Asian Access.” Again, God showed up strong.

tsunami2011 Triple Disaster in Japan

You may recall that in 2011, Japan faced a triple disaster of the magnitude that rivaled few disasters before. It was devastating. And yet, God showed up strong once again. The Japanese and global Church rose to the occasion to bring the hope of Christ to Japan. And, one day after the triple disaster, I got a call with a gift offer to match $1,000,000 to help the Japanese people.

2015 Earthquake in Nepal

Nepal earthquakeJust a few years later, a terrible earthquake hit Nepal. It was overwhelming. The country was not prepared for such a horrible quake and people were in turmoil with the loss of lives, homes, communities. They were shaken to their core. Once again, when things went wrong, God showed up strong! The global church came alongside the Nepali church to bring hope and life amid the pain and devastation.

Just after that quake, I was visiting a church in Fukushima, Japan, the area of the nuclear meltdown. The church there had to abandon their church property, and many had to abandon their homes. Over two-thirds of the church could not return to the town.

As the church was re-grouping, they invited me to their new facility to help encourage the people. In their deep loss, they handed me a check for US$10,000 because they knew I was leaving for Nepal the next day. Wow! That blew me away! Even amid their horrendous loss, they wanted to help their brothers and sisters in Nepal that were so downtrodden.

A Flower Blooming in the Snow

The other day I was fasting and praying for the world given the coronavirus pandemic. I was praying for you. And, it was snowing that day. I looked outside, and there on the snowy ground, flakes falling from the sky, on a cold day—a day on which we all were worried about what was going to happen—was a flower blooming in the midst of the snow.

God was reminding me of his faithfulness and that when things go wrong, He shows up strong! He reminded me of his promise to make all things new (Rev 21:5) and He gave me hope.

A Global Pandemic

Coronavirus pandemicHow timely! During our most challenging global crisis in over a decade—some say all the way back to the Great Depression—God is there for us. He is faithful. And, he shows up strong. Hope is around the corner.

This week we celebrate Easter and right before Easter was a dark day—Good Friday—when we recall that Jesus died on a cross. Three days later, he rose from the dead to bring us life, hope, and peace eternal.

When things go wrong, God shows up strong! He will see us through this global pandemic and hope is around the corner.

Easter on Your Own, Together

sermon to empty pews; courtesy Easter season is different than any I remember. You are likely in the same situation as Silk and me—Easter Sunday will be celebrated in your living room with a computer or tablet. I can only imagine how else this coronavirus pandemic and corresponding market fluctuations have impacted you, your family, your church and perhaps your job or business.

Praying for One Another

During it all, I want you to know that we are praying for you. And, if you need someone to talk to, please contact me via the email below. Silk and I would be happy to spend some time together on a call if we can schedule it with the time difference in Japan. If you don't have time for a call, please send us an email with any prayer request you have. We would be honored to pray for you more specifically.

And of course, I do appreciate your prayers for Silk and me and for Asian Access. This week I’ve been in touch with all the country leaders. Many of their stories are heartbreaking: numbers of pastors who have died from the virus already, believers living in isolation and fear, not trusting their government to give them proper information, and doing their best to share face masks, hand soaps, and to visit shut-ins when possible.

Pray too for Asian Access as we try to find creative ways for our cohorts to meet since we cannot meet in person like we normally do.

Reconnection During Isolation

While I am experiencing the loss of connection, especially as I call family members back in the US and my colleagues around Asia, and the deep losses that are so devastating in the reports I am hearing, I am reminded of how when things go wrong, God always shows up strong.

It may be Friday right now, but Sunday is coming.

With His peace that passes all understanding,

joe sig blue
Joe Handley, President

P.S. I am grateful for you and your prayers are crucial. And don’t forget—we are praying for you!

Joe Handleyemail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
twitter @jwhandley

More Information


All Stories

Connecting for Ministry in a Socially Distanced World

Globalization—and the current pandemic—have tied together intercontinental personal relationships and socially distanced ministry in ways we would have found difficult to imagine not so many years ago.

The following true story from one of our Asian Access Japan staff highlights how intercontinental friendships and digital media can partner together in ministry even in a “shelter in place” world. Thank you for your prayers for our Asian Access family as our members share God’s love through every means possible. Here is their story I wanted to share with you...

A Japanese university not far from our current home in Japan has had a sister school relationship with my alma mater in the USA for over 50 years. Decades ago...


Japan: Online church, first A2/Japan webinar, and more

Creativity started before COVID-19 now deepening in Japan

God is clearly doing something new these days… While we mourn the deep losses of people and our sense of community living in isolation, there are signs of promise. We hope a solution comes soon for the coronavirus but during this season, something fresh is stirring. This video interview with my colleagues Joshua Hari and Jeffery Sonnenberg highlights some of what God is doing. In fact, as Joshua shares, it seems that God was preparing things in advance as well as setting the stage for fulfilling our longer-term vision for Japan. Watch and see what God is doing…


Japan finally social distancing after April COVID-19 wave

Japan (MNN) — Japan faces a new wave of confirmed coronavirus cases as the government starts testing more people. Many have referred to the April uptick as a second wave, the first happening in March, but Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access views it as a delayed wave. Up until the beginning of April, Japan had not seen many cases, even though the virus first arrived in January. Read our full COVID-19 coverage here. Takazawa says of active cases, “I think the number has been... 


A Family Opportunity in Japan | Missionary Perspectives, Ep 5

Miller family featured in 'Missionary Perspectives'

In this video from Jonathan Wu, Sterling and Emi Miller, missionaries in Tokyo, share about their work as a family in Japan. They also discuss the spiritual needs of the Japanese and offer advice on those going on short term missions trips. Missionary Perspectives is an educational series bringing insights from missionaries around the world. You can use this video clip as part of a Bible study lesson plan or curriculum...


When things go wrong, God shows up strong!

Greetings on Good Friday. When it looks dark, that's when God shows up.

The year I joined Asian Access was the year the economy last collapsed. I was responsible for raising more money than I had ever dreamed of before and suddenly, the stock markets dropped to the floor. We had come to the end of the year and had set up a special meeting to begin closing major portions of the ministry. The same day of that meeting, I had a lunch appointment with a pastor and told him, “What was God thinking calling me to this post? I knew he... 


Asian Access adapts as Olympics officials reschedule

Japan (MNN) — The coronavirus dealt another discouraging blow this week. Officials are postponing the Summer Olympic Games to 2021. More details here. The Olympics have been cancelled three times but never postponed. “Japan as a society is disappointed that we’re having to delay. Likewise, all of us that are doing ministry related to the Olympics have a sense of disappointment. However, we also want the world to be safe,” Joe Handley of Asian Access tells MNN. “We realize what’s at stake so we’re trying to reach out in a different way...


We are in this TOGETHER!

Dear Friends, One of the hallmarks of Asian Access is our belief in community. In fact, one of our three core values is “We LIVE Community!” In light of this, several of our countries are saddened that they cannot be meeting at this time due to the coronavirus impact. Despite their loss of meetings, they have expressed more concern for the people in their communities and for you than for their ability to meet. Herman Moldez, our director in the Philippines said, “Please pray for us as Metro Manila is now on lockdown… Pray for us as we seek to bring help to our communities.”


Nozomi Project founder reflects at 9th anniversary of disaster

Sue Takamoto shares the story in an interview with Joe Handley

Nozomi Project started in 2012 as a response to Japan's terrible tsunami in 2011. And through this creative ministry, God is making something beautiful in brokenness. Sue Takamoto of Asian Access, through Be One Network, launched Nozomi Project (or "Hope" Project) to provide employment, dignity, biblical community and hope for women whose lives were broken by the disaster. Using broken shards of ceramic pottery, these workers create beautiful pieces of jewelry—not only as a way to make sustainable income, but more importantly to put their lives back together. The waves ruthlessly took away their loved ones, their homes and their hope; Nozomi Project is gracefully helping these women put the pieces back together... {addthis off}


Hope is Rising on Japan's 9th Anniversary

March 11, 2020—This title may seem surprising to you in these days of fear and ongoing polarization in the world. – Hope Rising, really? The coronavirus impact seems to have the world gripped in fear: the markets have been in a free fall, businesses have closed, schools are shifting to online formats, and people are constantly thinking about washing their hands and whether or not they can buy facemasks. Certainly, the impacts have had a ripple effect and Asian Access is no exception. However…{addthis off}


Fearing coronavirus, Japan closes all schools through beginning of April

Japan (MNN) Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has closed schools in Japan through the month of March amid concerns about the upcoming Olympic Games. The Northern Japanese island Hokkaido has also been quarantined due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and Prime Minister Abe asked citizens to stay inside during the weekend. The move has surprised many, including working parents who now have to care for their children at home. Others questioned the effectiveness of such a move since parents will still have to go out and work after having contact with their children. Asian Access’ Joe Handley says the decision makes... {addthis off}



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