Asian Access making key contributions to Cape Town

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (MNN)  He was invited as a delegate from the United States. He will also be a table moderator. We're talking about President of Asian Access Joe Handley and his participation in Cape Town 2010.

Handley says he'll not only be listening to God, "but also kind of engaging the critical issues that the world is facing today and how the church can best help address them."

Joe Handley

Handley says A2 comes alongside pastors across Asia and helps develop them for ministry. He says, "So, there are going to be many issues that we're covering in the next few days that will help develop the life of pastors, help them strengthen their congregations, and then as well help them facilitate outreach in their countries and beyond."

These efforts are expanding the work of Asian Access. "We work in nine countries across Asia right now. And next year we're prayerfully going to launch our 10th country, as well as two new regions in a couple of the largest countries in the world," says Handley.

Handley says one of the plenary sessions focus on Christ being our peace, "and how does that reflect on our lives and our ministries today and how does that affect the church. And we followed that with some powerful stories of reconciliation in various parts of the world and how the body of Christ can be agents of change and transformation in the world."

According to Handley, he's expecting a great move of the Holy Spirit. "I really believe that the Spirit of God is going to speak in and through us, and at the end of the day we're going to come up with some significant sense of what God is doing for the next two decades in ministry for the church."

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* includes breaking news of a cyber attack against the Congress 

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Doug Birdsall of Lausanne at Cape Town 2010Doug Birdsall, an Asian Access missionary and member of A2's Board of Directors, serves as Executive Chair of Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. In addition, several board members, staff, faculty serve in key roles for Cape Town 2010, as well as the greater Lausanne Movement. 

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Asian Access taps veteran missionary for post in Japan

mjwilson-2009-webJAPAN (MNN) ― In 2008--the latest year for which data are available from the Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare, Japan's birthrate was 1.37 children per woman.

The average life span is roughly 80 years (79.29 years for men, 86.05 years for women) which means that the children have longer to support more and more members of the older generation. However, in 1997, sociologists noted that the elderly outnumbered the younger generation, and that number is only growing. 

Add to that rising unemployment and a flat job market, and younger people spend more time on the job making themselves indispensable. The combination has taken a fluid culture and created a clumsy replica of its former self. 

Asian Access saw the tremendous social challenges, which included rising suicide rates, latch-key/shut-in children, and disintegrating families. They also saw the spiritual needs of Japan with less than 1% of the population following Christ.

As a result, they understood God was calling them to expand ministry in Japan.   

To do that, they needed someone with a heart for Japan to oversee the growth. Enter: Mary Jo Wilson. Today, she launches into her role as A2's new Vice President to Japan. "Of course, our focus is always church planting, church multiplication, and partnering with the Japanese pastors. So I hope to strengthen that and prepare for what God has in the future."

Wilson sees her role as part inspirational, part counselor, and part director, as she develops the direction for the A2 Strategic Partnership. One of the challenges will be preparing the leaders. "In Japan, it's an aging generation, so the youth will be carrying that burden into the next several decades. I think we see that in the church our pastors are older and that it's a matter of passing that baton to the younger generation and seeing the younger generation reached."

The mission of A2 is "to unite the church, multiply leaders and congregations, and extend the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." This will be especially important as the society responds to its stressors. Wilson agrees. "I've heard some say that it's a fatherless nation because the fathers have been very committed  to their work, and the children have not connected well with fathers; after this goes on for a generation or two, there definitely is some fallout."

Wilson goes on to say the time is right to resource Christian communities. "I think the church is looking for practical ways to respond to that. We're seeing more emphasis on marriage issues, and I see just a more holistic approach to sharing the Gospel, ministering to individuals and families, and really transforming society in that way."

Why Japan? It all started with Urbana. Wilson picked up some literature about ministry in Japan but was still hoping to be a part of medical missions on "a real mission field." 

After Haiti, God reminded her about Japan. "Two years later, I looked at that, and God told me to turn that in. I thought, ‘This is one of those tests.' And I, in obedience, turned it in. I wound up going to Japan for the summer, and there was no turning back."

Wilson learned what defined a true "mission field." She explains: "The spiritual need is just overwhelming. He gave me new eyes, I think, to see what a mission field is and to understand the need there. Yes, I just fell in love with the people and fully became committed to sharing the Gospel with them."

Please pray for Wilson as she works to accelerate A2's church-planting work in Japan.

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JAPAN (MNN) ― Asian Access reports that their team survived the quake safely. 


The mission group was gathered for their annual retreat, about 200 miles from the epicenter. 

A group of visiting friends from the U.S. provided a calming presence and stability for the staff children during the early hours.  

However, Asian Access does have several partners who have likely been severely affected, but communications are limited. 

The team worked with a church in Sendai, which is the epicenter of the earthquake. While they successfully contacted a close friend from that church, this friend was unable to contact other friends from the church. Both the church and their old neighborhood are less than 2 miles from the coast, so the possibility ofdevastation is likely.  

Still, they remain confident that God will use the faith ofthese believers to reach out to the hurting in the community. 

A note of interest: six days ago, the leaders were part of an all-day training to help Christians in Japan be prepared to respond in case of earthquake. One of the team members was supposed to teach English that day, but they both felt that attending the training was more important. It is likely that one of them will be part of relief efforts. They are thanking God for His timing in preparing them to be able to help in practical ways.

Pray with them as they move to respond. Pray too that God will quickly move and unite the Church to reach out during this terrible tragedy.   

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JAPAN (MNN) ― Concerns are mounting over the economic fallout of Japan's triple disaster scourge.


Damage assessments are just beginning, but some areas are so fragile that the assessors can't get close enough to investigate. It is clear, however, that the destruction will rise into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

For some of the survivors, rebuilding is far off in the future, and the immediate concerns involve restoring heat, electricity, running water, and finding shelter, food and communications.

The official death toll nationally rose to 8,277 on March 20, with 12,272 still missing. Nearly 500,000 people are homeless.

Aid is most effective purchased from inside the country, but that often requires an established network for both getting the supplies and for distribution.

Asian Access has that ability. They've also received a $1,000,000 matching gift pledge to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of those who have been impacted the most.

This gift and the funds given to match the pledge will help them achieve their mission for Asian Access/Japan "to unite the church" and "extend the transforming power of the Gospel."

A2 is working with 400 pastors and 1800 churches--approximately 20-25% of the congregations in Japan--to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of several communities across the nation. They're also partnering with CRASH--a ministry of Grace Church which has grown into the largest Christian coordinating agency.

Details are still coming in, but A2 estimates nearly 300 churches were in the tsunami-impacted areas. They've launched a disaster response team for CRASH to set up a relief base in the affected areas. A few churches are already serving as shelters and are receiving those who have been left homeless.

If you can help, A2 has already set up a special Japan Tsunami Relief Fund. This will provide aid to hard-hit areas, delivered primarily through local churches. There may be no greater opportunity for the Gospel's advance in Japan than right now. Click here to learn more.

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JAPAN (MNN) ―officialusnavytsunami Life goes in the shadow of a disaster.

Japan's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis have shaken confidence in the surety of day-to-day life. However, survivors still need to eat, drink, and stay warm as they begin to wrap their minds around the enormity of rebuilding.

Asian Access is walking alongside the people through their network of churches, the unsung heroes of the catastrophe. They sent a First response team a week after the disaster.

Another team followed on the heels of the First Responders. Jeffrey Sonnenberg was a member of the team that wanted not only to figure out a more efficient resource plan, but also to share the hope stories.

Thousands are still in evacuation shelters with no idea how long it will be before they can go "home" again. On a positive note, the infrastructure is showing signs of improvement. Water is flowing again, and food is making its way into the damaged areas.

Moving out of the early days of the disaster, Sonnenberg says, "People are looking more for clothes and for containers to put clothes into as they're in the evacuation centers. So we're seeing it progress into a different stage."

Local churches are standing in the gap for those too far removed from the urban centers that are seeing the infrastructure repaired. "They were going in to assess and have been very involved in trying to bring relief aid goods to the evacuation centers, especially some of the more isolated communities."

It will take years to restore the damaged communities. However, "We've seen some great examples of churches going out into their communities, helping to deliver supplies to people who need them, helping people to clean out their homes, to get the muck and the junk out of their homes. Pray for the churches as they go out as the hands of Christ."

Naturally, with nearly every headline about Japan talking about the nuclear crisis, the question had to be asked: "Is the radiation affecting the team? Are they safe?" Sonnenberg responds, "Asian Access is very much aware of the radiation issue. There is the ‘no-access' zone that we have not sent people into."

Recent reports indicated that radiation was found in some vegetables grown near the crippled nuclear site. That report set off a panic. Is it becoming a concern for the churches involved with the food distribution?  Not really, Sonnenberg says. "Currently, the area we've been working in--Sendai, the radiation is a non-issue there. We're monitoring it very carefully."

While the Japanese have responded with great dignity to the crisis surrounding them, the strain is taking its toll. Their church teams are in place to help. "People are still very much in a state of shock. They're still really trying to grapple with the reality [of] what's going on. People are beginning to question and [they're] wrestling with issues of death and ‘what happens after I die.'"

Mortality questions could be the tool that gets past the traditional resistance to the Gospel. "We are seeing people being more open to hearing about Christ, but to be honest, a lot of the effort, up until now, is just being able to get people the most basic of needs. Now, we'll need to focus a lot more on the spiritual needs, as well."

The scope of the response in Japan is both taxing and mind-boggling. And Asian Access is asking for help.  They need prayer support for their teams, as well as wisdom for how they will continue to move forward. They also need funds. Damage estimates are in the hundreds of billions. Immediate survival needs involve food, water, shelter and heat for hundreds of thousands.

Asian Access received a $1,000,000 matching gift pledge to help meet the spiritual and physical needs. Their team is made up of 400 pastors and 1800 churches...and the potential for eternal impact is huge.  Effectively, for every gift sent to help A2 and their church teams, the impact is doubled.  

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