go2japan.org - Home https://go2japan.org/a2/ Sat, 27 Feb 2021 11:21:08 -0800 A2-Com en-gb 10 years after Fukushima disaster, 7.1 earthquake rocks Japan https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1494-10-years-after-fukushima-disaster-7-1-earthquake-rocks-japan https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1494-10-years-after-fukushima-disaster-7-1-earthquake-rocks-japan

The header photo shows a radiation hotspot near Fukushima in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Japan (MNN) — Nearly ten years ago, a powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake unleashed a massive tsunami near Fukushima, Japan. 20,000 people died and over 100,000 evacuated after three nuclear reactors suffered damage and melted down, releasing radioactive materials into the environment. Read more about the ongoing effects of the catastrophe here.

Saturday, the region suffered an aftershock of the 2011 quake, according to the Japanese Meteorological Society. Aftershocks can continue for years after a major earthquake. In fact, this isn’t the first major earthquake to hit the region since the disaster.

An inspection of the Fukushima area in 2012 (Photo courtesy of Global 2000 via Flickr)Thankfully, no casualties were reported this time, and nuclear power plants in the area showed no sign of damage or abnormalities. Joe Handley of Asian Access says, “I’m hearing people are safe, but the anxiety levels are high. The shaking was so bad that books were thrown across rooms, glass was broken. It was a pretty severe shake. I believe I’m hearing it was about 7.1 on the Richter scale.”

Lingering anxiety

The Fukushima disaster remains one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. The Japanese government will continue cleaning up sites contaminated by radioactive materials for decades. Several areas still exude higher than normal amounts of radiation. Many people have never returned to their homes in Fukushima.

This new earthquake has further unsettled people living nearby. Handley says local Christians want to embody the hope of Jesus in an anxious time.

“It’s in moments like these that we the Church can rise above. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, Japanese leaders in that region, and missionaries that we work with, as they try to come in and be a presence for Jesus. If they can be that light of Christ and be His hands and feet in the midst of what’s happening, I think it’s a great encouragement to the people.”

Pray the Holy Spirit will empower Japanese believers in this work.

Listen to the broadcast (top story)

Direct Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Feb16-2021.mp3


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Mission Network News (https://mnnonline.org)Mission Network News exists to inform multitudes about stories that matter and empowers them to take action that changes lives. Join over 1 million radio and internet users each day. Hear stories of what God is doing around the world – and how you can be involved. Each MNN broadcast includes pray, give, or go opportunities that help you find your place in the story. Sign up at mnnonline.org to receive daily news in your inbox. Or check out MNN on social media and share them with others. MNN is a ministry of OneWay Ministries.


Featured Latest News News Tue, 16 Feb 2021 11:00:00 -0800
What's the key to thriving in every season? https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/president-blog/1493-what-s-the-key-to-thriving-in-every-season https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/president-blog/1493-what-s-the-key-to-thriving-in-every-season

resilience book

My colleague John Houlette just completed an outstanding book for Japanese pastors. And, the principles and stories are ones that will help you thrive in every season.

I encourage you to get a copy and learn, not only how Japanese church leaders can thrive but also how you can thrive. You can access a copy here:

How Japanese Pastors Can Thrive in Every Season

As the cover points out, the book is an encouragement to excel in four key endeavors:

  • Departing Well
  • Arriving Well
  • Leading Well
  • and Finishing Well in Life and Ministry

houlette john 2021 300pxI’ve worked alongside John for many years and he’s been in the thick of recovery seasons over many years. With me, he has served leaders following the Triple Disaster of March 2011 and the Kumamoto Quakes and Floods. In each of these, he has come alongside pastors to encourage and strengthen them.

Recently, I was with a Japanese pastor who highlighted John’s ministry saying, “He was my friend when I was lonely. He came alongside and helped me through a very tough and dry season.”

These kinds of praise don’t happen often so I know John has served well.

After reading the book, I wrote this endorsement:

Resilience is a wonderful resource unpacking a life full of lessons for the stages of ministry a pastor goes through. Dr. John Houlette draws from his own story, integrating some of the best resources available along with keen spiritual and scriptural wisdom giving us a resource that will help you thrive in the course of your ministry. As a ministry leader and pastor, I found the book filled with practical strategies to approach each stage and was particularly appreciative for this stage of my own journey in ministry. I hope you’ll take a deep dive into the treasures that John reveals in this important resource.

Today, as I reflect on my own journey through difficult seasons and on the coming 10-year anniversary of the Triple Disaster that hit Japan, I could not recommend John’s book highly enough. There is so much wisdom offered so I hope you’ll dive in, learn and listen to the stories of pastors being shared. It’ll give you insights into your own journey as you seek to thrive through the ongoing waves of life that hit us from every side.

May the words the prophet Isaiah shares strengthen you on your journey:

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." – Isaiah 41:10

Praying that you are living well and thriving,

joe sig blue
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
President, Asian Access

Joe Handley emailjhandley@asianaccess.org


More Information

  • Where to find John Houlette's book Resilience...
  • See John Houlette's staff profile
    • John & Eriko Houlette partner with Hokushin Calvary Church in Fukushima city, assisting the church in leader development and church planting. John provides clergy care and leadership training in Japan and Greater Asia. Since 2011, John has been the director of Three Stream Ministries (TSM) providing clergy care and disaster response chaplaincy training for the church in Japan. After Japan’s triple disaster, he spearheaded WorldVenture’s disaster relief strategy and along with Eriko worked closely with Asian Access to provide Oasis Retreats for pastors.


jhandley@asianaccess.org (Joe Handley) Featured From the President Blogs Thu, 21 Jan 2021 04:00:00 -0800
Survey says: no Tokyo Olympics in Summer 2021 https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1492-survey-says-no-tokyo-olympics-in-summer-2021 https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1492-survey-says-no-tokyo-olympics-in-summer-2021

courtesy of Tokyo Organizing Committee

Japan (MNN) — Support for the Tokyo Olympics just hit a new low in Japan. The latest spike in Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections has 80-percent of Japanese residents saying the Summer Games should be rescheduled again, or canceled altogether.

“People have different feelings. Some [are] saying, ‘it’s impossible so let’s give up’; [the] government hasn’t,” Takeshi Takazawa explains. Takazawa is Vice President for Missional Engagement and is the former National Director for Asian Access in Japan.

Asian Access had high hopes for Olympic outreach, but those plans were put on hold last spring. For now, leaders focus on more pressing needs – stemming the rising depression and suicide rates in Japan.

Tokyo Olympics and mental health

With fewer than 200 days remaining before Tokyo Olympics begin, authorities say everything will go forward as planned. However, uncertainty remains high and sadness often follows canceled plans.

Depression rose 477-percent among professional athletes between mid-March and August last year, one study found. Athletes and sports enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who struggle. Depression and suicide rates skyrocketed in Japan, too.“

The depression, suicide rate has sharply shifted from older generation into a younger generation. [The] female [suicide rate] has increased since last summer, when two of the famous celebrities committed suicide,” Takazawa says.

As described here, more Japanese people died from suicide than COVID-19 last year. Self-induced deaths declined annually from 2009 to 2019, but soared to new heights during the pandemic.

Ask God to give believers the right words as they share Christ’s hope with hurting individuals online. Pray for wisdom for Japanese church leaders as they navigate changing regulations. Support Gospel work in Japan through Asian Access.

"We need to stand in the gap. Let’s stand together as a global faith community [and] encourage one another to pray for all [of these] things,” Takazawa suggests.

“Crises sometimes push us away from God. But God wants to want us to draw near to Him, so challenge each other – are we praying more because of this crisis?”  


Listen to the broadcast (top story)

Direct Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jan12-2021.mp3


More Information

Mission Network News (https://mnnonline.org)Mission Network News exists to inform multitudes about stories that matter and empowers them to take action that changes lives. Join over 1 million radio and internet users each day. Hear stories of what God is doing around the world – and how you can be involved. Each MNN broadcast includes pray, give, or go opportunities that help you find your place in the story. Sign up at mnnonline.org to receive daily news in your inbox. Or check out MNN on social media and share them with others. MNN is a ministry of OneWay Ministries.


go2japan@asianaccess.org (Mission Network News) Featured Latest News News Tue, 19 Jan 2021 16:30:00 -0800
COVID-19 surge puts Tokyo under state of emergency https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1491-covid-19-surge-puts-tokyo-under-state-of-emergency https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1491-covid-19-surge-puts-tokyo-under-state-of-emergency


Japan (MNN) — The world’s most populous city is now under a state of emergency thanks to soaring COVID-19 infections. Japan reported 6,100 new cases on Thursday, with roughly half coming from Tokyo. The emergency declaration began Friday and will end on February 7.“

Over the Christmas into New Year’s holidays, we couldn’t change the trend of steep [infection] increases, especially in the bigger cities. Hokkaido and Osaka requested ‘state of emergency’-type restrictions; however, Tokyo never went into that stage,” Takeshi Takazawa explains.

Takazawa was born and raised in Tokyo and currently serves as Vice President for Strategic Engagement for Asian Access. From 2015-'17, he served as National Director of A2/Japan. “Because of [the economy], Tokyo never went into a state of emergency or major restrictions,” he says.

“We just continued [our routine], hoping that people will somehow prevent transferring the virus or receiving the virus, but it didn’t work.”

Uncertainty surrounds the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, previously rescheduled for Summer 2021. More about that here.

Church workers adapt to overcome

Critics say the current restrictions on Tokyo aren’t strong enough to keep the surge contained. “[They are] milder than before; it’s more targeted restrictions,” Takazawa says.

(Photo by Nelly Antoniadou on Unsplash)While schools remain open, “people are discouraged from leaving home after 8 pm, that’s number one. Number two is 70% of all the workers, that’s the target, [should stay] home [and] work remotely,” Takazawa says, describing two primary changes under the state of emergency orders.

Believers may not be meeting in-person right now, but God is still using them in mighty ways.

“We’ve been helping church leaders to minister online since April of last year. Eight times, [once] every month, about 100 Japanese pastors get together online [to] discuss issues and spiritual health,” Takazawa says.

On a practical level, “we’re emphasizing listening – listening to God more, and listening to people more, not talking all the time because [the] airborne transmission risk is very high,” he continues.

“Even in a small group [setting] we try to listen; to explore listening to the issues of the people rather than [going] out to tell people.”

Learn how you can support church leaders in Japan through Asian Access. Most importantly, keep praying for Japan. “Whenever we see the news, that’s the call for prayer – ‘God, have mercy on us, we’re all struggling,” Takazawa says. These trials are testing believers’ faith, but strengthening their hope.

“We cannot do anything without Jesus Christ, so pray that we remain in Him.”


Listen to the broadcast (top story)

Direct Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Jan11-2021.mp3


More Information

Mission Network News (https://mnnonline.org)Mission Network News exists to inform multitudes about stories that matter and empowers them to take action that changes lives. Join over 1 million radio and internet users each day. Hear stories of what God is doing around the world – and how you can be involved. Each MNN broadcast includes pray, give, or go opportunities that help you find your place in the story. Sign up at mnnonline.org to receive daily news in your inbox. Or check out MNN on social media and share them with others. MNN is a ministry of OneWay Ministries.


go2japan@asianaccess.org (Mission Network News) Featured Latest News News Tue, 19 Jan 2021 12:30:00 -0800
Looking Back on 2020, Praying Forward https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/president-blog/1490-looking-back-on-2020-praying-forward https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/president-blog/1490-looking-back-on-2020-praying-forward

looking back praying forward 600x190

Dear Friends,

As 2020 wound to a close, the Lord impressed on me the following passage:

"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." —John 1:4


2020 was such a disruptive year. Yet the life of Christ is the light of the world. That gives me hope heading into 2021. I pray that your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations brought joy and the reminder of what is most important, even in the midst of the challenges from 2020, some of which continue to persist.

Though many understandably were eager to flip the calendar to 2021, there were tremendous advances during 2020 that we want to celebrate God at work. I trust you enjoy seeing some of the highlights from Asian Access listed below.

My reflection Dark Clouds. Silver Linings. captures the hope I sensed from John chapter 1. With your help, the Lord used Asian Access to see:

  • Mighty movements of God in places like China and the Philippines
  • Creative ministry approaches in Japan building a foundation for hoped for revival
  • 3 new countries started via a soft-launch since July
  • Our digital platform initiated and used in those three countries
  • 2 of these countries in the MENA region where we are now engaged with The Last Mile initiative 

2020 God at Work 600x190

Amid the challenges you have faced this year, I pray that the Lord showed you some glimmers of hope as well.


Today, we envision engaging some of the darkest corners of the world for the Gospel’s advance. Praise God and thank you for your part!

As we enter 2021, we trust we can finally celebrate the completion of Asian Access 2020 Vision for Japan.

That historic benchmark for Asian Access prepares us for the Lord’s next phase of mission advance, which for 2021 includes the following:

  • The new season God will bring to Japan stirred by the upcoming Olympic Games
  • New forms of evangelism, church planting and digital training in Japan becoming a catalyst for the world
  • Engaging The Last Mile initiative as A2 begins working in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Empowering more women, younger professionals and various spheres of influence building on our success equipping pivotal pastors all these years
  • Strengthening our Digital Platform with Phase 2 which we hope will be more secure in dangerous zones of the planet


Pray for us as we strengthen our digital platform and recruit new missionaries to serve in Japan. Pray that we might be able to assist The Last Mile initiative to make deeper disciples, equip leaders and foster church planting in the Middle East and North Africa. And, pray for the Lord’s provisions during a very challenging economic climate.


I’ve dedicated every Friday to concerted prayer this year and would love to simply pray for you every week. Feel free to share your requests and Silk and I will be sure to lift you up to our Father in heaven.

"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind."

That passage goes on to add that Light shines in the Darkness and Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. May we shine his light, ever so brightly, in a world trapped in darkness.

Happy New Year and thank you for your prayer and support!

Praying forward in 2021,

joe sig blue
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
President, Asian Access

Joe Handley emailjhandley@asianaccess.org


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jhandley@asianaccess.org (Joe Handley) Featured From the President Blogs Fri, 15 Jan 2021 15:43:51 -0800
2020 Highlights: God at Work During a Trying Year https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/jeffjohnston-blog/1489-2020-highlights-god-at-work-during-a-trying-year https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/jeffjohnston-blog/1489-2020-highlights-god-at-work-during-a-trying-year

2020 god at work 600x190

God at Work During a Trying Year

2020 has been a very trying year for everyone. Yet God was at work in amazing ways. These stories help us remember His faithfulness through the past year as He continues doing a good work in us. Thank you for your partnership in prayer and giving that made these stories possible!

Now, out of the 128 blog posts from this year, here are some of our top stories from 2020...

Indian Christians say "enough" to violence against women

2020 violence in india 250pxIndia (MNN) — The Indian government is taking steps to punish violence against women. Most recently, four men were sentenced to death for the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old female student in New Delhi in 2012. However, not much has changed at the societal level. Joe Handley with Asian Access says many Indian women still suffer marginalization, domestic abuse, and sexual assault. “Gang rape is a huge problem in India,” Handley says.”... Read more...

“We’re small; but then again, we’re slow.”

2020 small slow 250pxI was addressing a group of leaders, the first cohort in a country where Asian Access was beginning a new program. My goal? Explain why Asian Access takes an approach to leader development that runs counter to everything else these leaders have experienced. Throughout Asia, one of the consistent realities for the lives of the leaders we work with is the fast, even frenetic, paces of their lives... Read more...

God has brought us through major disruptions before...

doug-and-joeDear Joe: Thank you for your note. Though we were eagerly looking forward to being together in Portland, we certainly understand. Hopefully, our online meeting will allow all of us to be together.You and the needs of the mission have been on my mind in light of the uncertainty brought about by the virus and the turbulence of the markets.I have been thinking about 5 significant disruptions that have profoundly impacted the life of our mission over the years... Read more...

When things go wrong, God shows up strong!

2020 when things go wrong 250pxGreetings 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? ... Read more...

Out of Calamity, Compassion—and a New Vision for Ministry

2020 vision 250pxUpdates from National Leaders in Asia: “We are experiencing 'Forceful Sabbaths' – time to slow down, be with our families, recalibrate the focus on our ministries. God is causing us to rethink how we can serve the people in our communities in new ways.” ... “We are seeing a shift in how we do church, how we minister to our congregation and others; this lockdown is causing us to connect in new and different ways.” ... “There is a new spiritual hunger in our country,...  Read more...

To Unite the Church... in a Polarized World

2020 polarized 250pxOur planet is in a period of sustained grief: a season hit by a global pandemic, it’s corresponding recession/depression, and the tensions rising from emergency lockdowns and shelter in place orders and advisories. In addition, we are struck with racial tensions flaring, and the mistreatment of ethnic minorities by many and the killing of African Americans by police officers gone bad. Now the lockdowns have turned into curfews across the nation because of the reactions of rioters and looters on a scale like we have not seen in decades... Read more...

House Gatherings Multiply in Japan

2020 hari joshua 250pxLast week I learned some encouraging news: During COVID-19 emergency suggestions here in Japan, churches in Japan are seeing some intriguing growth. We have shared previously about a monthly webinar Asian Access has been hosting for pastors. It’s been a tremendous experience as everyone is learning from one another, seeing ways to experiment with new ways to reach their communities, and learning from the global church (especially other countries in Asia) about how they are navigating these unusual times. Joshua Hari, Asian Access/Japan national director gave us a very encouraging report... Read more...

When God does something new

2020 philnew 250pxIt has been six months since the lockdown began in Manila and to this day churches have not been allowed to operate fully. Restrictions on mass gatherings have severely crippled what we call “corporate churches” or churches that manages the ministry like a corporation, with paid pastors, board of elders, and facilities (rented or owned). For months we cried out to God to intervene so that we can go back to the way we used to do worship, but what if God has a new agenda for his church? A few months ago we reported that our house church network has grown from 0 to 50 house churches. Today, we already have 85 house church groups... Read more...

Learning from the Valley of Baka...

2020 baka 250pxA few weeks ago, Asian Access held our annual fall national directors gathering virtually due to travel restrictions from COVID-19. While not ideal for us, it was such a rich time of fellowship given the limitations of in-depth relational connections via digital formats. Nevertheless, most were delighted to see one another, commune together, and grow in Christ. We spent a great deal of time resting in the public reading of scripture, especially meditating on Psalm 84:5-7... Read more...

My Journey toward Ethical Awareness

persecuted leaderTrue Confession: Even though I am the founder and director of one of the very few social enterprises in Japan for women, I have not been very aware of the issues surrounding the fashion industry and ethical sustainability. That all began to change two years ago. After some deliberate consideration, my husband and I canceled our planned seaside vacation to instead go as a family to Cambodia. Upon arrival, we were hosted by wonderful Cambodian friends also working with Asian Access. We told them that our goal was to see and experience “real life” in this developing country... Read more...

2020: Dark Clouds. Silver Linings.

2020 silverlinings 250px2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. COVID-19, the global economy, and polarizing politics have left their marks. The 2020 Olympics were delayed and countless people have suffered and hundreds of thousands have died from the pandemic. It all certainly made for a tough year for you and me. Amid the Dark Clouds though, I was able to report several Silver Linings during our recent Asian Access board meeting. For these, I praise God and am reminded of the importance of giving thanks, even for the challenges we have faced... Read more...


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For more stories, visit Asian Access Blog Centre — https://asianaccess.org/blogcentre  A2 Blog Centre

jjohnston@asianaccess.org (Jeff Johnston) Featured Johnston Journal Blogs Fri, 15 Jan 2021 12:17:13 -0800