This has been an extraordinary year in the life of the Church of Asia. Every day, we hear of political tensions, natural disasters and religious intolerance. But in the midst of disturbing news, the church of Jesus Christ is on the move. And you can help to move the spiritual needle in Japan!
My predecessor Doug Birdsall recently reminded me of how the 2020 Vision for Japan came to be. Back in 1986, Doug was sensing the Lord might be calling him away from the mission of Asian Access. Then one night, he woke up—and all he could see and hear was the phrase, repeated over and over,
“Plant Churches… Plant Churches… Plant Churches!”
God confirmed Doug’s call to stay with the mission. As he assumed the presidency of Asian Access, Doug unveiled a vision that God had given him—the 2020 Vision for Japan:
To deploy 100 church multiplication teams to start 1000 reproducing churches that would enfold 1,000,000 new followers of Jesus and send 1000 missionaries from Japan to the major cities of Asia.
The Impossible Vision?
Everyone thought the 2020 Vision was impossible. We struggled to keep pace with our own yearly church planting goals. There were no breakthroughs. The vision truly seemed unreachable.
Then in March 2011, the triple disaster—earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear-plant meltdown—struck Northeastern Japan. In the midst of the devastation, God began to redeem the tragedy. The Church tirelessly met the needs around them. Huge barriers were broken down between Christian denominations and between the Church and Japanese society. Missionaries moved into the area and joined with Japanese churches in the relief, rebuilding, and outreach efforts.
These efforts have given Japanese believers a new sense of hope that the 2020 Vision could be within reach. More churches have been planted, more quickly, than we ever could have imagined. And the vision of Japanese pastors grew substantially—well beyond what we could have envisioned. We now have pastors in Japan dreaming of planting 50,000 churches by 2035!
Significant Signs of Growing Vision
Consider what happened recently at the Vision Festival, an Asian Access/Japan-sponsored gathering that drew together over 60 Japanese pastors to discuss church multiplication:
- Research indicates that Japan can absorb up to 50,000 convenience stores before it is saturated (there are currently 45,000 of these hugely-popular stores). Given that there are currently about 8,000 evangelical churches, pastors assert Japan needs at least 42,000 more churches.
- Another pastor talked about how his group of churches is achieving church multiplication by using a “strawberry evangelism” paradigm. Just like a strawberry plant, mother churches are sending out church members as “runners” to plant daughter churches.
- Yet another pastor is praying for Japan’s population to reach 10% Christian by 2024—an amazing growth goal!
Japanese people are spiritually hungry. They are looking for hope. Jesus intrigues them. The harvest appears to be ripening in Japan. That is why I am writing you now about how you can maximize your gift to support the visionary work of our Japanese brothers and sisters.
A Vision for So Much More
What seemed impossible in 1986 has exploded into a vision for so much more. There is significant synergy now. But we need to strategically harness this energy and do what Asian Access does well—come alongside visionary leaders who can catalyze missional movements.
Your investment will help to empower these movements of God. This is evident when you review the projects outlined in the flyer, Japan: Finding Its Way. God is doing a new work in Japan. It’s simply remarkable.
Putting Our Feet Where Our Vision Is
In fact, it is so remarkable, that my wife Silk and I have decided to move to Tokyo next year. We will base in the heart of Tokyo for 2016/2017, our 50th anniversary as a mission. What a joy it will be to celebrate this grand occasion together in the very city where Asian Access focus all began!
Bolstering This Vision
On top of all of this, Dan Amos, CEO of Aflac Insurance, has given us a remarkable giving challenge: $250,000 by December 31, 2015 to help reach Japan for Christ. Here is what Dan wrote to me:
“I have been a strong supporter of Asian Access for over 15 years. Their work in Japan has led to nearly a thousand churches being planted and hundreds coming to Christ. The Daniel P. Amos Family Foundation and SOMA Foundation were happy to support Asian Access when they were at the front edge of providing hope and healing to the people of Japan following the triple-disaster of 2011. I have full confidence in their president, Joe Handley, their board, and the mission that they oversee. That is why I am proud to offer this $250,000 matching challenge to help reach Japan for Christ. I hope you’ll join me in praying for Asian Access and supporting them by meeting this match so that more Japanese people can come to know Jesus as their Savior.”
— Dan Amos, CEO, Aflac
As we enter this final quarter of 2015, I want to thank you for your partnership with us to help reach Japan for Christ. We are investing in key leaders who are making a transformational difference.
An Invitation to Participate in This Vision
As you review the ministry goals outlined in the flyer, would you prayerfully consider a gift to help us reach this $250,000 giving challenge? We praise God for visionary pastors in Japan, being moved by our Lord to dream big dreams. Your gift, which will be augmented by the challenge, can help these big dreams to come true!
...or send your check to Asian Access, PO Box 3307, Cerritos, CA 90703.
Thank you for your consideration. God bless you and your loved ones this holiday season.
Joseph W. Handley, Jr., President