Mission Groups Team Up to Plant 1,000 Churches in Japan

An international missions organization and the Asian Access ministry are teaming up with plans to plant 1,000 churches in Japan within the next nine years.

The recent partnership between Serving in Mission (SIM) and Asian Access includes recruiting and sending missionaries to Japan to establish churches through 2020.

Together, the two organizations want to use their strengths to reach areas of Japan that normally do not have much access to the Gospel. The partnership will save both organizations a large amount of funding and help them spread the Gospel to Japan much quicker than if they were working alone, officials from the organizations said.

Joe Handley, president of Asian Access, said the partnership between the two organizations “is truly a new way of doing mission together, each bringing their strengths and committing to a common Kingdom vision.”

“This alliance immediately opens up a whole new country to send SIM missionaries, rather than having to set up a beachhead with a few pioneer missionaries,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, in a statement.

SIM is an international mission organization with U.S. operations based in Charlotte, N.C. It has more than 1,600 missionaries serving in more than 50 countries throughout the world. In the shared project, SIM will be responsible for recruiting missionaries, as well as for the financial functions of the missionary training and U.S.-based care.

Asian Access’ role involves promoting the overall work and vision in Japan. They will be responsible for managing the strategy of missionary deployment through its vast network of Japanese churches, and caring for Japan-based missionaries.

Handley said that his organization felt led to form a partnership with another organization partially for economic reasons, but also to help them with a bigger goal: "To establish a church-planting network across Japan."

Openness toward the Gospel in Japan has increased since the March 2011 tsunami, especially where the tragedy struck in one of the least-reached areas of Japan, Christian organizations report. Japan is also one of the least-reached nations in the world, according to Mission Network News.

Japanese pastors across the country, including in regions affected by the tsunami and nuclear plant disaster, want help planting churches. They have asked Asian Access for their support, the group said. It’s very important to send more people, especially now because so many people in Japan are responding to the Gospel in higher numbers than they had ever seen, the organization states.

In an email to The Christian Post Tuesday, Johnson said, “Asian Access works with Japanese pastors and is especially seeing a response in the tsunami-stricken areas of Japan. There is spiritual hunger and need for recovery."

Asian Access began its work in Japan in 1967 and has worked with more than 600 churches in every part of Japan. For over 40 years, they have deployed short- and long-term missionaries to partner with local Japanese congregations and national leaders to help start and strengthen Japanese churches.

Since the partnership took place, one couple completed training at SIM USA’s Charlotte campus last week and they are now raising support to go to Japan and join a team in the tsunami relief area.

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