Joe Handley



Stories from Joe Handley, president of A3

What a thrill it is to be in Japan!


For several years, I have wanted to move here serving as the president of Asian Access. This year proved to be the perfect time! Our family was ready and next year Asian Access turns 50! What a joy to be here where it all began nearly 50 years ago.


It’s been an adventure… to say the least!

Those who follow us on social media are well aware. Even with a tremendous team in place to help us settle and with all these years of experience settling staff in country, we still faced a series of challenges that boggle the mind. As I reflect back though, I see it all as God’s divine plan. You know, at Asian Access we often talk about The School of God. The Lord has taught us many lessons the last few weeks and there are many more to discover I’m sure.


Our home came mostly furnished and stocked by our incredible team. Thank the Lord for such a fantastic crew of people. All of this while our national director for Japan, Takeshi Takazawa, has been in the hospital—the better part of 2 months so far. He’s been posting profound thoughts that we hope to capture in another blog someday. Please pray for him.

Even with this amazing setup and team, we have a treasure of stories of life challenges:

  • The local registration office requires a marriage certificate. This has never been required before according to all of our staff and Silk and I aren’t even sure we have one! We’ll have to ask California to provide us with the original. Otherwise, we’ll only be considered as relatives here in country. They at least see us as relatives because of our son John’s birth certificate. I must admit, it’s kind of weird being a pastor and the president of a mission and having people question whether or not you are married!
  • The local bank readily gave my wife and son a bank account. But, they were concerned about me! I guess there were identity theft issues tied to my name somehow that they had to check out. Again, it felt pretty weird being the odd many out and especially when your 16 year old son can get an account and you cannot! So, all money flows through my wife’s account. I finally got approved the other day.
  • It took 2 full days and 2 three hour visits to get mobile phones here. And, they wouldn’t accept our credit cards so we had to make several trips to the ATM to withdraw money because they couldn’t use our bank accounts either.
  • Our home internet took several weeks to arrive as well. So, we were living off a mifi which quickly was over extended and then nearly maxed out two of our phones data plans before it finally arrived last night. Trying to serve as the president of a mission with limited bandwidth is quite a challenge, even more so when you have a tech savvy teenager in the home!
  • Finally, the kicker was that my wife Silk fainted before school on her very first day of teaching. It was quite a scare, to the point of us needing to go to the hospital to ensure she was ok. Praise God that all is well and she just had either hypotension (low blood pressure) and/or benign vertigo. Whew, what a relief! She’s ok and we now have strategies for her to manage the situation.

As I look back, and as I see other colleagues of mine across Asia facing a number of illnesses, I realize that we are in a spiritual battle. I’m convinced that first and foremost our ‘battle is not against flesh and blood’ but ‘against the powers of darkness.” (Ephesians 6). Our work is spiritual in focus and we have an enemy who is bound to take us out!

Second, we as pastors and spiritual leaders can often neglect our health and lead very unbalanced lives. At the core of Asian Access teaching is that healthy churches grow and are lead by healthy pastors. When we are unhealthy, the churches we serve can also be unhealthy and fall into bad habits. It’s a reminder to lead healthy lives!

Third, the realities of cross-cultural living are immense and dynamic, even when you have strong support systems. Through each little trial, the Lord is taking us through his school: The School of God. He’s teaching us lessons for our character: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Each of these challenges gives us opportunity to stretch our faith muscles and display the fruit of the spirit. These are not easy traits but as we lean into Jesus, he gives us strength to be ‘salt and light’ to those around us.



Silk, John and I are grateful to be here in Japan, to celebrate 50 years of Asian Access next year and to live with and among colleagues here in Japan and across Asia. We are delighted to experience a little of what our partners and staff face on a daily basis to gain better perspective of life and ministry. 


We covet your prayers both personally and for the work of Asian Access. May we lean into Jesus and walk in a manner worthy of him so that he may be glorified among the many who have yet to hear about him!

Thanks for praying with us. We need you! And, most importantly, We need Jesus!

Joe Handley

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