Joe Handley

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT

 

Stories from Joe Handley, president of Asian Access

Lesson from Japan's triple disaster

Our Greatest Need is LeadershipMakito Matsuda is pastor of Oasis Chapel in Rifu, Japan, one of the key hubs for relief efforts after the triple disaster in northeast Japan. Pastor Matsuda, a graduate of Asian Access’ leader development program, is one of the emerging generation leaders in Japan.

Immediately following the disaster, people from outside the disaster region wanting to help, continually asked Pastor Matsuda: "What do you need?" Because there were so many needs early on—such as food, clean water, clothing, blankets, dry places to live, emotional support—the pastor struggled to know specifically how to answer that simple question.

But then something happened to make the answer crystal clear.

One month after the tsunami, Matsuda Sensei visited this village washed away by the tsunami.  He met an amazing survivor.

Mr. Abe, 70-year old survivor from the disaster, who lost close family members, found his 90-year-old mother alive and ran up the hills carrying her on his back. After rescuing his mother, this man sought other survivors and created a temporary housing campsite for his community. Assessing the situation, Mr. Abe determined to build a shelter, grow a vegetable garden to feed the people, dig a well for all the survivors and encourage those who remained. He led.

When Pastor Matsuda arrived, he noticed that everyone was lively and vibrant. He had brought food to hand out, but was treated to a meal himself. He came to serve those in need, but the ravaged community actually served him. Having visited many other survivor outposts, Pastor Matsuda was shocked at the way this village responded to the catastrophic situation.

Why was this village so different?  Clearly, it was Mr. Abe’s leadership that made all the difference.

From that point on, Pastor Matsuda began responding to that simple question by saying: "Leadership is our greatest need!"While there are many needs following a disaster the size and scope of what hit Japan 3.11, Pastor Matsuda saw the deeper and more enduring need—leadership.

Following this discovery, Pastor Matsuda felt a renewed challenge that Oasis Chapel should also take up the mantle of developing leaders during this crisis. For example, they found a city without power and water for several weeks. The church determined to collect water from a church member’s well and distribute it to those in the community who were without supply. This was followed by several endeavors to help empower the local community: everything from coming alongside fisherman to creating a leather-works micro-enterprise. These gave survivors something to do and provided at least some form of income.

Oasis Chapel determined that, better than simply delivering aid for physical and emotional help in the moment, they need to focus their efforts on fostering local leaders, who would make a huge impact their communities in both immediate and long lasting ways. Put simply, leadership transforms.

Our Greatest Need is Leadership

Pastor Matsuda and his church embody a core belief of Asian Access: Leadership is a huge need of the Church of Asia! Without leadership—like the 70-year-old taking ownership of the situation and rallying his community to rebuild and press on—the people falter.

Proverbs states it this way, "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." - Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)

The world needs more leaders who provide leadership for communities, as well as guidance to other leaders toward God’s present and eternal purposes.

Asian Access comes alongside of leaders like Pastor Matsuda, helping contribute to a vibrant community of effective leaders who make eternal impact. In this way, we endeavor to work with God, who transforms people, communities, and nations.

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