What a joy it has been for the Handley family visiting churches here in Japan every weekend. So far, we’ve made it to four different congregations and connecting with Japanese pastors and Asian Access missionaries.
You may have heard that next year Asian Access celebrates 50 years of ministry. And, many of you will know that it all started here in Japan. For most of our history, Asian Access was a Japan only ministry and even today, Japan take a pivotal role in all of what we do.
Visiting our partners and churches in the Kanto region brings such a rich repository of stories for which to celebrate. This past weekend, we were with Tim and Wakako Clark and their partner Pastor Abe. It’s exciting to see what God is doing through them. They have been coached by a long time faculty member and friend of Asian Access, Dr. Bob Logan. And, the sermon itself was a prime example of his investment in our ministry and in Japan. The series is on Disciplemaking and the focus of this day was: Engaging in Spiritual Conversations. It was classic Asian Access in that the sermon was brief and the majority of the learning took place in small groups discussing a set of questions that I’m guessing came straight from Dr. Logan.
Above and beyond this particular Sunday, I learned that Pastor Abe’s mother had helped our longest tenured missionary Dee Wirz in one of her original moves to Japan over 41 years ago. And, his father was instrumental in our English Language Institute during that era. He came after the service and you’ll see him pictured here next to his wife and along with Silk and me. How cool was it that just a few weeks prior we had visited Dee Wirz congregation as well and met the young preacher who is in a discipleship community with another Asian Access colleague, John Houlette.
Pastor Abe and Tim talked about launching cell group ministries in their church as a means to reach out to others. It’s such a blessing to see these principles gleaned from years of investment from people like Dr. Logan being implemented to help reach Japan today.
While all of this is happening, a 5 year report following the devastating disaster of 3.11 is being developed. My colleague, Dr. Paul Ariga who welcomed us to Japan with an amazing sashimi meal (see the photo here), told me that the response rate has been three times the normal rate in the disaster area. That is amazing.
In fact, the reports are so moving that my colleague Takeshi Takazawa, whom many of you are faithfully praying for since he’s in the hospital, said:
"Knowing that Tohoku is one of the most difficult regions in Japan for many years, the numbers are crazy high. I could not type and read without tears.”
What a joy it is to be here in Japan as we look toward celebrating 50 years of ministry at Asian Access. I’m so excited about what God has on the horizon for us in the future too. I sense a fresh move of God’s Spirit in Japan as pastors share a new vision for planting churches. And, the investment of all these 50 years is now spreading across Asia in such a powerful fashion. It’s amazing to see what all that God is doing!
Thanks for praying with us. We need you! And, most importantly, We need Jesus!