by Doug Birdsall, President of Asian Access (1991-2007)...
When I returned from our Asian Access 40th anniversary celebrations in Malaysia two months ago, I drafted a letter to give you a fresh report. However, it was so full of superlatives that I found it to be "over the top" even for a person of my temperament.So, I have taken time to reflect and gain perspective.During these weeks, we have received e-mails from many of the participants from across Asia.We have also enjoyed reading prayer letters from many of our missionaries in Japan and our staff in the U.S. to see how they reported on our 40th Anniversary festivities.
Now, as I write nearly sixty days later, I still find myself searching for categories of thought adequate to capture the dynamism, the joy and the substance of what we experienced...
Jeanie and I have served with Asian Access for twenty-eight of these forty years of our history.During that time we have attended dozens of conferences and retreats for our mission. We have also attended many gatherings for other mission organizations as participants and observers.In all of these years, we have never attended a gathering as joyful and as energetic as what we just experienced.
I have been asking myself the questions, "Why was this so significant? Was it as strategic as it seemed at the time? What is God doing that is creating joy and hope in this mission family?"
On a personal level, it was gratifying to see 152 people from across Asia, North America and Australia working together as one team. Many of the brothers and sisters from across places like Cambodia, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other nations were mere "prospects" only a few years ago. Now they are full "partners."On an organizational level, it was gratifying to see that the ministry is having an impact beyond what we could have asked or imagined. As I heard national leader after leader report on the work of Asian Access, I was stirred to hear them speak of the way the ministry is contributing to the unity of the church in their country, as well as to its growth, maturity and stability.
A number of times as I listened to the sharing of Asian leaders and missionary co-workers, I thought to myself, "Wow, this is really good. This is better than I had hoped or dreamed." I thought to myself, "I am not fully reporting the impact of the ministry to our board members, friends and supporters."
Now, let me use 10 "C" words in an attempt to capture what it is that makes the Asian Access family an exemplary "kingdom community." This will also help you to understand why Jeanie and I are grateful to God for the twenty-eight years that we have been part of a group of men and women, boys and girls who are growing in grace in a commitment to make Jesus Christ known, loved and served in Asia.
Countenance of Joy: The first thing you would notice about the Asian Access family is their hallmark is joy in Christ, joy in serving, and joy in belonging.
Confidence in the Gospel: As a mission family, we love to hear God's word proclaimed with power, and we take joy in seeing the Gospel change lives, families, communities and nations.
Community: When you are with the Asian Access family, you have a sense of participating in the life of the new humanity - board members, donors, national leadership, missionaries and staff interacting with one another on the basis of calling, gifting, and mutual respect.
Culture of Trust: This is foundational to our community. We believe that each person in the community is called by God and empowered by His Spirit. Thus, if each is developed to their full potential, they are capable of exceptional service to Christ.
Common values: We regularly affirm six core values which bind us together:
a.) Servant leadership
b.) People as God's priority
c.) Relevance to cultural context of ministry
e.) Networking and partnerships
Clarity of vision and mission: This creates alignment and synergy in any group of people. It helps to filter out those activities that are peripheral to an organization's life, thus enabling it to have greater focus and impact.
Capacity for growth: Asian Access is a vibrant mission with potential to grow in pursuit of its leadership development and church multiplication goals in 20 countries.
Communication: Excellent, open, timely communication that is and properly directed to supervisors, peers or direct reports is element of the mission that contributes to health.
Clearly defined roles: We continually ask the questions, "Who's responsible for what? Who's responsible to whom? Do we have the right people in the right place?"
Continuous improvement: We know that in a dynamic world, we must continually assess and improve (or discard) our models, strategy and process of ministry.
As we were celebrating 40 years of God's faithfulness, we reflected on Paul's words to the Philippians, "I am confident of this. He who began a good work in you will bring it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." This is our hope. Thank you for your friendship and partnership in the work that God has entrusted to our care. God's best to you.
Yours in Christ,
Doug Birdsall, President
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