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Asian Access Japan Developing Emerging Leaders

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A value we stress in the Asian Access leader development program is finishing well. For leaders to be effective throughout their personal and ministry lives, and to successfully fend off the burnout that cripples so many Kingdom leaders, setting a course intended to help leaders stay the course all the way to the finish is vital.

U30So what better way to do this than to help younger leaders to start well? That is the vision behind the launch of U30, an Asian Access Japan learning community adapted to meet the needs of younger leaders. The inaugural U30 cohort has just held its first session, May 28 – 30, 2018, at Hongoudai Christ Church in Yokohama City.

hari joshua 2017 headshot“In Japan, we have an aging challenge in our society, which also impacts the Christian church,” Asian Access National Director Yoshiya Hari told me. “There is an acute need for younger leaders who are capable to step up and lead in their churches and other ministries.

“U30 is an effort to tailor the Asian Access program to empower the next generation of leaders,” Yoshiya continued. “If we are able to help these leaders to start well, it vastly increases the chances that they will minister, and ultimately finish, well.”

The tailoring begins with the length of the program. “U30 is a one-year program, compared to two years for the classic A2 program,” Yoshiya told me. “The cohort will hold three, three-day sessions; then, they will conclude with a two-day graduation session.”

Jeffery SonnenbergThis tailoring also includes many first-time innovations. “The U30 cohort is an intentional mix of men and women, pastors and missionaries, Japanese nationals and expats,” says Asian Access missionary Jeffery Sonnenberg. Along with Yoshiya Hari and Pastor Hikari Suzuki, Jeffery is a member of the U30 Ministry Team. “This is the first time we have formed a cohort that combines national pastors and missionaries.”

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U30 will be held completely in Japanese, with no translation. “Bethany Panian and Sabrina Yee are A2 missionaries, both new to Japan,” Jeffery told me. “They are taking a courageous step to participate in this program, given that it will be entirely in Japanese.”

Sabrina Yee“The biggest challenge for us is language,” Sabrina Yee told me. “Given where we are at in our language acquisition, it is mentally and physically exhausting to be in a Japanese language environment, 24/7, for three days at a time.”

Bethany Panian“Language is definitely a challenge,” Bethany Panian added. “But I am already strategizing how I will approach the next session from a language standpoint. And I am excited that the U30 Ministry Team invited us to be part of this initial cohort.”

There are additional first-time innovations. “The faculty for U30 are experienced pastors and leaders in their 40s and 50s,” Jeffery says. “In the Japanese context, this represents a much younger demographic for teaching faculty. This will be the first time these leaders have taught in this context.”

Adair Robert headshotYet another innovation is one-on-one coaching. A2 missionary Robert Adair is one of the coaches. “Each cohort member will have a ‘Barnabas coach’”, he told me. “We will have the opportunity to get to know, come alongside, and mentor a U30 leader. Once a month, we will take time together to follow up on what is being taught in U30, how our mentoree can apply what they are learning, and basically invest in their lives. There will also be periodic group coaching via Skype.”

The U30 Ministry Team is working to match the program to current technology. “U30 will be paperless,” Jeffery told me. “The content will be delivered through a digital platform. The leaders in U30 are used to operating with current technology. We plan for U30 to be just as current.”

So what are the BHAGs (Big Holy Audacious Goals) for U30? “This is a unique opportunity for the cohort members, the faculty, the coaches, the U30 Ministry Team—everyone,” Jeffery told me. “The opportunity to build into the lives of younger leaders as they are launching out in ministry is huge.” “This is an historic opportunity for the Church in Japan,” Yoshiya said. “It is our best chance to begin to build a healthy, vibrant, and effective Church for the future.” “U30 will be great for Japan,” Robert added. “And it’s possible that this could become a model for training younger leaders that could grow beyond Japan—perhaps throughout the entire Asian Access network of nations.”

It is exciting to envision what U30 could mean for the Church in Japan, in Asia, and even throughout the globe. Thank you for praying for the U30 Ministry Team, the Barnabas counselors, and most especially, the men and women who have committed themselves to the challenge of starting well—through Asian Access Japan’s U30 program.

Noel Becchetti


becchetti noel headshotNoel Becchetti | VP for Leader Development
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Noel Becchetti is the editor of Eastern Voices, which underscores Asian Access' value of empowering national leaders across Asia and platforming their voice.

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