Japan (MNN) — “Japan has been the toughest soil in the world amongst unreached people groups; very difficult to make some progress for the Gospel. In fact, it’s been known as a ‘missionary’s graveyard,’” says Joe Handley, President of Asian Access (A2).
Only 2% of Japan holds to Christianity. The rest of the population is either Buddhist or Shinto, if not both.
That’s why Asian Access focuses a large part of their ministry to spreading the Gospel in Japan. Recently, The Maclellan Foundation has committed to a matching grant challenge with Asian Access. Donations to Asian Access will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000 until September 30.
If this challenge is fully matched, it will bring in $400,000 to boost Asian Access’s ministry. This amount will fund one-third of Asian Access’s 2020 vision goal.
Handley explains, “That vision is to see 100 church multiplication networks launched, and from those networks over 1,000 churches will be planted that reproduce themselves. Via those churches we believe a million new people will follow Christ, and out of those new Christ followers and churches we hope to see 1,000 Japanese missionaries heading across Asia for the completion of the Great Commission.”
Asian Access already has two church networks in Japan planning to launch over 1,000 churches. Collaboration between Asian Access and The Maclellan Foundation started with both groups traveling together to Asian countries including Japan.
“During the trips to Japan, [members of The Maclellan Foundation] saw an enormous response spiritually in the people that we haven’t seen in decades in the country. Seeing the response rates spiritually as well as the aggressive goals that many of the pastors have in church planting that flows through our leadership development, they wanted to put forth this challenge for us knowing that this is a catalytic time to invest in the country,” says Handley.
Since the earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Japan in 2011, relief and aid efforts have been picking up the pieces. Handley says now communities are more in the development stage, and Japanese Christians have been the “unsung heroes” of these efforts.
“[They] have been at the forefront of providing emotional care and spiritual care, coming alongside people and talking to them. And they’ve done that without any strings attached. There’s no glitch or expectation that people would be making a commitment to Christ. It’s purely out of the love of their hearts and trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That serving spirit has led many people to come to Christ,” Handley says.
One thing Asian Access needs along with donations is people to travel to Japan for missions. According to Handley, “We are desperate for people to go to Japan. I’ve got pastors begging me for the first time in my mission career to send hundreds of missionaries somewhere, and in this case it’s Japan.” You can find out more about missions trips with Asian Access by clicking here.
“We need a might force of prayer warriors that are around the world praying for the people of Japan,” says Handley. “Pray that the soil would continue to be open for the hope of Christ. Pray that those that are on the ground…would have the strength in the midst of all they’re doing every day. And finally pray for more people to go to Japan…. Key to these efforts are those unsung heroes: the Japanese pastors and churches of the country. Pray for them as they are at the forefront of the current situation of relief efforts, but also providing spiritual and emotional care.”
We recently told you about the Nozomi project. The matching gift also goes to support projects like this. Click here to give to A2 and have your donation matched.