Joe Handley

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT

 

 

Stories from Joe Handley,
president of Asian Access

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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.

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Why did this day bring me so much hope?

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Joe Handley

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