Joe Handley

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT

 

 

Stories from Joe Handley,
president of Asian Access

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Reasons to be Hopeful in Japan

I’m so happy to be living in Asia, and most specifically here in Tokyo. Japan is known as the “Land of the Rising Sun” and it is this light that I find myself most hopeful these days.

You see, I’ve been bombarded with messages of inspiration ever since moving here in August! It’s such a contrast to the land of my birth where conspiracy and doomsday theories dominated the election cycle. It seemed that fear and anger drove most of the conversation but my time here in Asia has been markably different.

 

Increasing Responsiveness

Shortly after arriving, I received a report on the results after 5 years of outreach following the triple disaster in 2011. Tears of joy flowed from many of my colleagues who have spent most of their lives serving here. Following the worst disaster to hit Japan in modern times, there are glimmers of hope. God’s Son has filled “The Land of the Rising Sun”! Most are saying that people are responding to Christ 3 times the normal response rates in the disaster area. And, one network of churches alone has seen response rates of 5-7 times the norm. That is astounding!

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Deepening Unity

Just a month later, the Japan National Evangelism Conference was being held. I can’t even begin to tell you how hopeful my friends and colleagues were following this gathering. They came away with a renewed sense of optimism about the Church of Japan. They are seeing the Church unite across the country and are coming together with bounce in their steps and a hope for the future. This was no normal church conference. God is clearly up to something!

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Growing Church Planting Efforts

Then, just a few weeks ago, I was personally inspired by all the reports at our Asian Access National Conference. Story after story highlighted the good that is happening post-disasters and how churches are being planted and planned to be planted in increasing fashion. Knowing that church planting is the most effective means of evangelism, you can imagine how hopeful I left the conference. I’ll be posting a handful of stories about this conference soon as well. It was so encouraging!

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Poised for Growth

Now, I’m here in Asia (in Japan), on the cusp of Asian Access 50 year celebration. in 2017 we turn 50 years old as a ministry and there couldn’t be a better season to be living in Asia and serving as the president. Soon, we’ll be opening our 12th country, new regions have been launched in two of the largest countries in the world, and our new business venture is taking root in South Korea and India.

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These are great years. Everywhere I look I see signs of promise. I reflected on this during the Japan Conference and God gave me the same promise he gave Joshua. The future is before you and I’m going to open new territory and places for you. His charge to me:

“Be strong and courageous… The LORD your God will be with you wherever you go!” — Joshua 1:9 

That’s my promise for 2017. What’s yours?

 

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Joe Handley

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Japan in the News

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Reporting on Vision Festa & Upcoming Sports Ministry

Yoshiya Hari, A2/Japan national director shares a report on a number of ministry fronts... The Church Multiplication Vision Festa held in Tokyo as well as the Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics...

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An Olympic-Sized Opportunity

Next year an immense opportunity is knocking at our doors and you can play a part in it! Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics and Asian Access in partnership with SIM is mobilizing teams to participate through partnering with local churches in reaching out. I hope you’ll join us! We’re praying for a breakthrough and believing that God has a plan to see the Christian population double by 2023 and the Olympic year presents a unique springboard for this to happen. In a few weeks, Japan is hosting the Rugby World Cup which starts the wheels rolling. Then, next summer you can take part through teams coming to serve before the games as Tokyo hosts both the Olympic and Paralympic Games...

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Japan in recovery from two typhoons in two weeks

Japan (MNN) — Just weeks after the super Typhoon Hagibis, another storm raced in over the weekend: Typhoon Bualoi. Robert Adair of Asian Access says the area is still in recovery mode. For those who experienced the triple disaster in 2011, the typhoons have dredged up familiar fears. Adair says that visually, the aftermath looks the same. The remnants of the storms show the water’s pathways, and people’s belongings are scattered in the open...

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Helping to Make Camp Fun and Life-changing

"I don't think I believe in God anymore."

In our church there is a young girl in middle school; we’ll call her Y. Y has been coming to church since she was very young and has been involved where she can. As Y approaches entering high school next Spring, she recently expressed to her mother that she would stop attending church once she entered high school, saying, "I don't think I believe in God anymore." Well, you can imagine how heartbreaking this news was to her mother. In faith, her mother asked us to pray for direction and that God would work in Y’s heart. And we committed Y to the Lord in prayer. Soon it came time for church camp. Y was invited, but...

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Japan: Typhoon Hagibis aftermath

Japan (MNN) – Super Typhoon Hagibis—Tagalog for ‘speedy’—left a large and muddy footprint over Japan. Today, thousands of military personnel and first responders remain in search and rescue mode in the wake of torrential rains that caused 20 rivers to burst their banks. Even as the casualty rate climbs, Asian Access’ Robert Adair says the scope of long-term damage means this is just the beginning. “The storm came in just south of Tokyo, kind of in Chiba and that region, and then came across Japan up through Tohoku, which is the area that was hit by the disaster back in March of 2011.“  

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Reiwa - A New Era for Japan

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. — Isaiah 43:18-19

As I have traveled across Japan recently, the newfound hope I am sensing just keeps growing. Everyone seems enthused about the start of the new era as the new Emperor took his place in history. This era has been proclaimed as Reiwa – “Auspicious (or Beautiful) Harmony” ...

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Fake Jesus

Several months ago, one of our staff kids went on a school outing. On this outing, the class visited a neighborhood temple near the school to learn more about the culture and religion. As you would expect, her parents wanted to know how the day went and as good parents followed up with her that evening. “How did your day go today?” they asked. She said, "We went to the temple on an outing today." And, upon further prompting, “What was that like?” she proceeded to say...

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Emperor to step down as Japan approaches Reiwa era

Japan (MNN) — There’s a new day dawning in the land of the rising sun. Japan’s current emperor – Akihito – is stepping down at the end of April. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will take over this largely-symbolic yet culturally-vital role on May 1. The move basically amounts to resignation, which doesn’t seem like a big deal at first glance. Yet, as Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access explains, “This is the first time a current emperor has decided and requested… that he would resign [and for the] Crown Prince to assume the emperor’s position. “This is a brand new thing in our history.”

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Discovering the Joy of Parenting

I often speak with parents about the challenges of parenting and hear stories of the aches and pains people face or simply the frustrations of raising kids. How encouraging to know that Asian Access missionary Barbara Bauman, with help from her husband Gary, has updated her outstanding book Discovering the Joy of Parenting. I can’t wait to get a copy! The original book has been a lifesaver and game changer for many Japanese and Mongolian families around...

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The Little / BIG Principle...

 A basic building block in making disciples

It was John Maxwell who brought to my attention the fact that experience is not the best teacher. Otherwise, everybody would be getting better and more mature as they grow older. Rather, "evaluated experience" is the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the experience that is reflected upon and where lessons are learned and growth in maturity follows. As I have taken time to reflect on my own life’s experiences, certain discipleship lessons have come to the surface. One that has consistently occurred is what is called the little / big principle, and is mentioned four times in the parables of Jesus...

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