"Three years ago I accepted the leadership of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, with the thought that I would be able to continue my work with Asian Access while doing the Lausanne job. But as both ministries have grown, I've realized that both require the undivided attention of the leader, and I can't do that for both organizations."
Asian Access has both shrunk and grown in the last 16 years. In 1991 they were exclusively working in Japan. Initially they discontinued three types of ministry to focus on their strengths. "Our greatest strength was in the area of leadership development and church multiplication. And it was really by developing an even greater competency in leadership development that we were able to take that model and begin developing it in 20 countries across Asia."
According to Birdsall, this couldn't be a better time to make the transition. "Things are going well. The leadership team is strong. The board is strong. There is momentum. This is actually an ideal time to be stepping away from the ministry. And I trust it's an ideal time for a younger leader to take the organization to greater productivity and usefulness."
Bruce Johnson, vice president for leadership development, will become interim president. The Asian Access board of directors established a search committee to find a permanent replacement a year from now.
Ron McMahon, chairman of Asian Access' board of directors says, "The board deeply loves Doug and his wife Jeanie, and we wish them the very best as they follow God’s call. We appreciate how they have led this mission with progressive vision and untarnished character. Doug’s 16 years at the helm sharpened our ministry by focusing all our work on developing leaders and multiplying churches."
He added, 'While we are sorry to lose Doug as our leader, our mission is to ‘identify, develop and release kingdom leaders,'" McMahon continued. "In keeping with this objective, we feel we are releasing him to pursue his expanded passion for the world, since Lausanne is global, extending well beyond Asia."
Johnson, 56, joined Asian Access in 2004 as vice president for leadership development. He currently oversees the design and implementation of the ministry’s pastor training model in 20 targeted countries across Asia. Prior to joining Asian Access, Johnson served as chief operating officer for Arrow Leadership Ministries, served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, and helped create and guide leadership development ministries as a consultant.
Doug leaves us with a legacy of vision, expansion and focus," Johnson said. While he will greatly be missed, God has stamped the same vision and focus on the hearts of the staff, country leaders and board of directors. So we go forward with a shared passion in partnership with Asian church leaders."
Bruce Johnson will be named interim President until a replacement can be found.
Birdsall's resignation is effective September 30, 2007. However, he'll remain on as an Asian Access board member, missionary, and in essence will be on loan to Lausanne.