Gospel workers balance joy, lament in first summit since 2019

By October 5, 2022

Asia (MNN) — Asian Access holds its annual Global Summit at a secured location in Asia this week. We’re not revealing the event’s location because Gospel workers attend from dozens of Asian countries, some of which are hostile to Christianity.

“In many ways, it (the summit) is a celebration. Because of the pandemic restrictions, we haven’t seen each other in three years,” President Joe Handley says.

“We celebrate the fact that we can be in community once again; we’re not going to have to live on Zoom forever.”

The occasion is bittersweet in several ways. “We have had two very significant losses; these are people of profound influence within our history,” Handley says.

Adrian and Ophelia de Visser
(Photo courtesy of Asian Access)

“The first [loss] was Jan Wendling; her husband [founded] Asian Access over 55 years ago. And then, on top of that, Ophelia de Visser from Sri Lanka [passed away].”

Calling the women “unsung heroes” of Asian Access, Handley says Wendling and de Visser had a tremendous impact on the organization.

“Their presence, encouragement, strength of character, faithfulness, and investment in younger ladies and men have been profound. We will miss them immensely,” he adds.

Furthermore, many leaders at the summit lost loved ones to COVID-19. Some Gospel workers who attended past conferences leave an empty chair today.

“I would ask the global community to pray for Asian Access and the leaders we work with, that we could hold these two things in tension,” Handley says.

“[Pray that] we could enjoy one another’s presence, but not lose sight of the deep sense of loss and lament that has happened to us.”

At the same time, this is the first summit held in person since 2019, and the Lord has exciting opportunities ahead. Pray believers will have comfort and hope during this bittersweet season.

“God never wants us always to be looking to the past. He wants us to look to the future, and Asian Access has some incredible opportunities God has called us into,” Handley says.

 

 

Header image  is a representative stock photo courtesy of AdenArdenrich/Pixabay.