Joseph W. Handley, Jr. is president of Asian Access. Joe was born and raised in Southern California and attended Azusa Pacific University, where he earned a BA in psychology. He spent nine years working at APU, where he founded and directed the Office of World Missions and directed one of the first multi-national high school mission congresses, Conquest ‘96. During his time at APU, both Joe and his wife, Silk, were earned their MAs. In 1998, the Lord called them to Rolling Hills Covenant Church, where Joe served as global (and lead) outreach pastor. In June 2008, Joe answered the call of God to become president of Asian Access.
What is your main focus in ministry and why you are passionate about it?
My primary focus is to develop leaders who multiply communities of faith that transform nations across Asia. I'm convinced that coming alongside significant indigenous leaders to build the Church is one of the most crucial needs in the world today. Like the Apostle Paul invested in the life of Timothy, Global Church leaders are asking for friends, mentors, and shepherds as they lead their congregations to impact their countries and world. As an esteemed Asian pastor shared with me, "Joe, we have no spiritual fathers. Please send us seasoned veteran pastors to shepherd and mentor us." I believe that by coming alongside to partner and empower these influential leaders, the Church of Asia will be key to fulfilling the Great Commission.
What does evangelism mean to you?
Evangelism is the process of walking with people in such a way that they will get to know Jesus on a personal level. In some cases, that process can happen rapidly as people recognize their need for help and reach out to a Lord who cares for them and who gives them 'living water,’ water that will last forever.
At other times, as is often the case in Asia, evangelism takes significant time. Just yesterday I met a Japanese lady here in Seoul who shared that she attended church for five years before even understanding what it meant to truly know Jesus. It was the process of the Lord and people walking with her during those five years that led her to accept Christ as her savior. Today, she is a mission professor in Korea.
Tell a story of how you shared your faith in Christ and saw God woo an individual/s one step closer to himself.
These days, I spend a lot of time on planes and people are often curious about what I do. As I share with them, some show interest and we have long conversations about Christ. Not long ago, I was on a flight to Beijing and an overseas Chinese professor spent the entire flight—all 12 hours—talking to me about my faith. He was a non-believer teaching at a Catholic University. He was taking a group of MBA students on a tour of China to learn more about international business. After talking with him, he said he had a new appreciation for Christ. Before this, his perception about Christianity was more of a typical view of any religion. He shared with me at the end of the conversation that he appreciated the way that I shared and that he was interested in looking more carefully into the realities of faith in Jesus. I was exhausted, but how cool is that!
What is your favorite quote/scripture?
When I was young, I went through a troubling season and the Lord led me to Philippians 4. As I read verse 7, his promise of peace was overwhelming. Through the years, this promise continues to comfort me during difficult challenges and seasons: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).
How can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Learn more about the work of Asian Access >> or browse our distinctive page >>
ABOUT THE WORLD
What is the biggest issue the Church in your part of the world faces today and why?
It seems to me that the American Church is struggling with being authentic in following Christ. The key to the gospel is living a winsome life and sharing that hope with others. Given the rapid changes happening in American society, the Church can often live and react out of fear, rather than simply abiding in Jesus and letting his overflow touch the lives of others.
As the various issues push the boundaries of our faith in American culture, the winsome move of the Spirit in our lives is what will make the most difference. Whether the issue is the struggling economy, the changes in values and morality, or fears of global terror, the key will always be the same as Jesus shared: "Abide in me and you will bear much fruit… apart from me, you can do nothing."
What is the biggest issue the Global Church is facing today and why?
I believe the Global Church is facing a similar issue as the American Church. The ongoing tension between globalization and tribalism across the planet poses an interesting task for the Church worldwide to figure out how to effectively engage. Again, it boils down to being salt and light, knowing when to speak humbly prophetically and balance that truth with grace and love. Key for the Church will be its capacity to work in love with one another. Unity in our diversity as the Body of Christ will make a significant difference.
What is your hope for the Global Church in the next ten years?
I believe that if we focus our energies and work together in partnership, we can see every nation touched with the love of Christ. It is possible to eliminate the concept of unengaged people groups within the next ten years if we commit ourselves toward that end. We can take the whole gospel to the whole world. We can see significant advances in major global issues and be that winsome witness that Christ's calls us to fulfill.