Joe Handley



Stories from Joe Handley, president of Asian Access

jpn pastors conf 2022 group

This was the most encouraging Japan National Pastors’ Conference I remember in my 14 years with Asian Access.

The theme as set by Pastor Yoshiya Hari, Asian Access/Japan National Director, was “From 2020 to 2030” and Pastor Shinji Takita’s words captured it best:

The first Asian Access National Conference in three years was a heart-gripping challenge for the future of Japan's mission, rooted in the love of theology and practice of young teachers who lead the future of the Japanese mission, and the challenge of the young teachers. Thank you Lord.

A2J 2020 2030

My predecessor, Rev. Dr. Doug Birdsall reflected on the 2020 Vision sharing insights into how we discern the Lord’s calling. All the pastors shared in small groups and several highlighted the influence the 2020 Vision had on the nation. Perhaps most telling was the influence that vision had on church multiplication. Today, pastors across the country have a heart for church planting that was not apparent in decades past.

jpn pastor conf 2022 insetsIn fact, prior to the Japan Evangelism Congress of 2017, those gatherings didn’t even have church planting as a core element. But today, as we head toward the next JEC Congress in 2023, Asian Access chairman, Pastor Makio Kodaira is at the helm of the event and our director Yoshiya Hari is leading the way for church planting.

I was asked to share after Doug on the State of the American Church to see what implications that might have as Japan contemplates their future. After my presentation, I encouraged them for their bold new vision to reach 2% of the population (doubling the number of believers in the country). I believe it’s fair to say that these new initiatives would not have surfaced without the Lord’s direction in the 2020 Vision. Praise God!

What inspired me further though was the next generation, or should I say Now Generation! Graduates of our U40 and U30 programs (for under 30 and 40 something pastors) shared what they have been learning so that we could discern further what the Lord may be telling us as we look ahead to 2030. What encouraged me was that the average age of this event was about 45. Why was that so encouraging? Because in my previous 13 years the average age had to have been around 65. A 20 year differential! For Japan, this is important and pivotal as the Church nationwide has been aging for years. To see such vibrant young pastors sharing their heart for the future was remarkable!

Yoshiya Hari designed the congress so well with the intent of preparing for the Japan Evangelism Congress 2023. I am praying for a great wave of people coming to Christ and many churches being planted in new forms all together. They might not look like what we think of as church. And, from the lessons learned about the American, or even Global Church, disciple-making must be key!

jpn pastors conf 2022 arigaRev. Dr. Paul Ariga, Global Ambassador for Asian Access/Japan, shared this:

There were Great messages delivered on 4 challenges this year: Discipleship and Leader Training, Churches to Send, Connecting with Churches to Communities, and Inter-Church Connections! The best is hidden in Japan!!!

The participants were 100% satisfied! I felt the foretaste of the 7th Japan Evangelical Conference in September 2023! With a new commitment to see with God's eyes, act with God's heart, connect with regions and realize God's kingdom! It was such a meaningful gathering. The Best Is Yet To Come!

I believe he is right. Japan’s future is as bright as the promises of God. Just as Doug Birdsall often shares Adoniram Judson’s famous response to what hope there might be for Burma years ago, Japan’s future is as bright as the promises of God. The best is yet to come!

Can we Double the Christian Population of Japan? – Of course we can! God can do all things!!!

joe sig blue

Joe Handley
President, Asian Access

Joe & Silk HandleyemailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


All Stories

How Not to Teach Middle School

Throughout the week, I share the story about my faith journey A LOT. As a mobilizer with SIM, I’m one of the first conversations people have with us as they seek to discern God’s calling for them in His kingdom work around the world. An important part of every conversation is getting to share my journey and inviting the person on the call to share theirs.

A favorite line I like to share in my story is “If you don’t have a firm sense of your identity in Christ, and you don’t have a firm sense of His calling on your life, then you probably shouldn’t try to teach middle school English!”


Dear Brothers and Sisters at Asbury University

…and beyond: encouragement from a big sister

I first heard about what God was doing on your campus on Friday, February 10. At the SIM USA sending office, we take our motto By Prayer very seriously. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, we come together corporately for a chapel service to pray over each one of our fields and our missionaries. On Mondays and Fridays, we do the same, but this time we gather in smaller groups by our departments. One of my coworkers brought up what God was doing on your campus, and we began to pray for you. 


New, But Not: Our Journey to Japan

By Linda Koyama

Hi, I’m Linda. Nice to meet you. I’m currently writing from Yamagata, Japan, where my family is partnering with a local church. You’ve probably never heard of Yamagata. Don’t worry, neither did I until it was presented as one of the potential prefectures we’d be serving in. 

So where exactly is Yamagata? Think north of Tokyo about 200 miles (300 kilometers), or a 4 1/2 hour drive by car. It’s in the southern part of the Tohoku region, closer to the Japan Sea side (rather than the Pacific Ocean side). It’s definitely not one of Japan’s hot tourist spots, but this region is known for its ski slopes, onsens, and delicious fruits.


It's a Different World...

By Tia Blassingame

Okay, if you look like me you probably started singing that song title and know exactly where I got it from. Perfect, because it has been playing in my head all week! This is truly a different world. Right now, I am at a homestay with my onēsan (pronounced ohnay-sahn) and her family. That term right there is already different vocabulary for you I’m assuming. Onēsan is “older sister” and a “homestay” is when you stay overnight (or more than one night) with a family. In basic “Tia terms” (that’s me), I’m at a sleepover with my sis and her fam. Let me backtrack a bit...


Counting the Cost 3: The Shape of You

Leaving what I’ve found:
You helped me find my true self.
Wishing you were here. 

During one of my first annual Asian Access retreats in Japan, Dr. Sue Takamoto led all of us first-term missionaries through a special training specifically designed for our experience. One of her warm-up exercises had us flexing some of our creative muscles: we were to write haiku that showcased our experiences during our first term. I wrote the above haiku for my church family back home in St. Louis.


Living a "Relevant Life"

Rethinking how God's Word is "relevant" to our lives and ministries

By Kent Muhling

I sometimes pray Psalm 143:8 at the beginning of my morning devotions. It reads, 

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, 
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, 
for to you I lift up my soul.” 


Asian Access takes new name as ministry expands to the Middle East and beyond

International (A3) — Asian Access, known widely as A2, is expanding its ministry into some of the most dangerous and volatile parts of the world.


And Our New Name is...

February 3, 2023

Friends of Asian Access,

I am thrilled to announce today that Asian Access has a new name. I have been waiting a long time to tell you, and I have simply been bursting to get this out there!


2023... New Name and Encouraging Developments

This week Asian Access will be making a significant announcement and we want you, our friends, to be the first to know.

February 3 (2.3.23) is the day we have targeted to share the news of the ministry's expansion which is also driving the moment for a new name for the organization. I think you'll agree it's a wonderful connection to the past and a bridge to the next era of ministry to which we're called. Stay tuned for this exciting news!


Making sense of Urbana and your own personal journey

Because Urbana '22 has just concluded, we thought it would be especially helpful to repost an article written after a previous Urbana by Asian Access missionary Sue Takamoto, who first attended Urbana '84.

Decision-Making and God's Perspective

  • "Oh no… It's been several weeks since Urbana, but I haven't signed up with a mission agency yet. Am I out of God's will?"
  • "How will I ever decide?!"
  • "I think God and my parents have very different ideas about what's best for my life…"
  • "Urbana still doesn't make sense to me."


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