Japan (MNN) — About 80 Japanese pastors met for encouragement, training and fellowship this month at a forum hosted by Asian Access.
The gathered pastors were all graduates of the Asian Access pastor training program, 13 of whom have graduated within the past year. The seminar was filled with encouraging stories, including that of a pastor who has baptized over 70 people in the last two years.
"It's just phenomenal numbers for Japan," says Asian Access' Chief Executive Officer Joe Handley. "It was very encouraging for the other pastors."
Handley explains that Japan has never been easy to reach. In the past it has been called the "missionaries' graveyard" after multiple missionaries would go, get discouraged, and leave. This spiritual drought has led to great excitement when sparks of interest are manifest.
The conference was spent discussing church planting and the "missional church." Handley says pastors were left encouraged and inspired to harvest any curiosity toward Christianity.
"At the end of the day, we were talking about reaching Japan for Christ and taking what we've learned in Japan and exporting it to the rest of Asia," says Handley. "All the pastors were super-jazzed about that. Many were crying and weeping for their country, wanting to see more people led to Christ, wanting to see more churches planted, and having a real desire to see that spread across Asia."
The passion of these pastors is clear, but the numbers are still inadequate. "Our goal in Japan is to see over 1,000 churches planted," says Handley. "[Japan] is some of the toughest soil on the planet to crack for the Gospel," explains Handley, and Asian Access is prepared to train many more pastors to loosen it.
As with any mission project, prayers are vital in Japan. Handley asks that you "pray for open hearts, open minds, and the passion of these pastors not to get discouraged when it's so slow going."
If you can help Asian Access in reaching the people of Japan, click here.