Updates from National Leaders in Asia
“We are experiencing Forceful Sabbaths – time to slow down, be with our families, recalibrate the focus on our ministries. God is causing us to rethink how we can serve the people in our communities in new ways.”
|“Actually we are in a revival kairos in my country. All churches around the country connected in the cloud. We are doing the mobilization in a more tight agenda now. Always 300-700 gatherings online. This has never happen before. Thanks for the encouragement from the A2 family! I believe the worse economics situation could help us be more humble and depend on HIM. It's not so bad for the spiritual reality.“|
“We are seeing a shift in how we do church, how we minister to our congregation and others; this lockdown is causing us to connect in new and different ways.”
“There is a new spiritual hunger in our country, among nonbelievers as well as believers. In the midst of disaster and suffering, there are new opportunities for the Church to meet the spiritual needs of our people. How will we prepare to do that?”
Reconnecting to Share and Pray
Last week, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began its swath across the world, Asian Access gathered its key national and regional leaders for a time of sharing and prayer together, via the Zoom communications technology. While we were not able to get every leader on the video call, we were blessed that over 90% of our leadership were able to join.
The initial goal of the video call was simple: Let’s see one another’s faces and find out how everyone is doing! In the midst of global tragedy, it was a joy just to see each other, compare homemade haircuts and new beards, and bask in the warmth of the fellowship, albeit digitally. Secondly, we wanted to learn more about the situations in one anothers’ countries as it is being experienced on the ground. Third, we wanted to take the opportunity to pray for one another in smaller groups (which you can do through Zoom). And finally, we wanted to hear from Joe Handley, our president, as he provided an overview of Asian Access’ situation within the current pandemic and offer words of hope and comfort from the Scriptures.
Inspiring Fresh Vision
What was encouraging and perhaps a little surprising (to me, at least) was the degree of inspiration and new vision that seems to be arising from the ashes of the ongoing coronavirus disaster. Let me be clear: None of our leaders were trivializing the gravity of the situation, nor the depths of suffering many of their fellow citizens are experiencing. Several of our leaders shared the travails of the thousands, sometimes millions, of people—the poorest of the poor who literally live day-to-day—who have been pushed to the brink of starvation through the loss of their jobs, with nowhere to go and with no safety net. “It is heartbreaking,” more than one leader shared.
Yet through this calamity, God is causing these leaders to view their ministries, and the ministries of their churches, through fresh eyes. One key shift is from viewing the ministry of the Church as primarily, almost exclusively Word-centered (preaching and teaching) to being Jesus’ hands and feet in tangible ways to the suffering and needy in their communities. “In addition to raising money to buy food for the needy, we are considering opening our church buildings to be used as quarantine quarters for people who have been infected with the virus,” one country leader shared.
Working Out the New Realities
Our leaders are learning how to connect their churches, communities, and the Asian Access programs through virtual means. One leader described what the other leaders affirmed: “Our churches are meeting online. We now have a daily Zoom prayer group that is growing day by day.”
There was certainly disappointment expressed at the necessity to postpone upcoming Asian Access programs, which thrive so much on deep, person-to-person contact and interaction.
“We have had to postpone our upcoming marriage and family session,” one leader shared. “It was a deep disappointment to everyone. Our marriage and family sessions include the children—they are all-family events. Everyone had been looking forward to this for over a year.”
But many leaders shared how they and their working teams are brainstorming how continue their Asian Access programs virtually, if it is necessary to postpone in-person sessions for a longer period of time.
A Mixed Blessing
Our time on Zoom was indeed a mixed blessing—joy mixed with sorrow, grief mixed with hope, struggle mixed with inspiration. It is quite possible we will be experiencing this mix of blessings for some time; but within that mix, there is Hope—the hope we have through Christ—expressed well by Joe Handley as we closed our time together:
“We need each other and we are in this together. May the Hope of Easter Resurrection be with you, not only as we celebrate this week. Also as the world fights this virus and as we continue serving Christ while staying healthy. And, may that resurrection lead to revival among the nations!”
Noel Becchetti has been serving as Asian Access' VP for Leader Development since 2012. Noel and his wife Kyle are currently residing in El Cajon, California, where they will likely be for some time while they stay connected to their families, friends, and Asian Access colleagues through Zoom.