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Asian Access President to Step Down to Devote Full Time to Lausanne Movement, Interim President Named

Contact: Jeff Johnston, 626-914-8990, ext. 240, jjohnston@asianaccess.org; Alex Coffin, 704-364-2049, ACoffin@InChristCommunications.com; Download photos and press kit at www.asianaccess.org/media

GLENDORA, Calif., June 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Asian Access, an evangelical mission organization that develops leaders and serves as a catalyst to multiply churches, announced today that its third president, the Rev. S. Douglas Birdsall, will step down on Sept. 30 to devote full time to his position as executive international chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism (LCWE).


Photo: Rev. S. Douglas Birdsall

Bruce Johnson, vice president for leadership development, will become interim president. The Asian Access board of directors established a search committee to find a permanent replacement.

Birdsall, 53, who assumed the position in 1991, will continue as an Asian Access missionary and member of the ministry's board of directors.

"After much thought and prayer, I realized that I could no longer effectively lead both organizations. I remain committed to the people and the vision of Asian Access. I am grateful for the evidence of God's providence in using everything I've experienced up to this point to prepare me for this new role with Lausanne. I want to give it my all. I also realize that Asian Access is at a point in its growth where it needs the undivided time and passion of a new leader who can take the ministry forward."

"The board deeply loves Doug and his wife Jeanie, and we wish them the very best as they follow God's call," said Ron McMahon, chairman of Asian Access' board of directors. "We appreciate how they have led this mission with progressive vision and untarnished character. Doug's 16 years at the helm sharpened our ministry by focusing all our work on developing leaders and multiplying churches.

"While we are sorry to lose Doug as our leader, our mission is to 'identify, develop and release kingdom leaders,'" McMahon said. "In keeping with this objective, we feel we are releasing him to pursue his expanded passion for the world, since Lausanne is global, extending well beyond Asia."

The Lausanne Committee is preparing for an International Congress on World Evangelization that will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2010. The Congress will be modeled after the 1974 Lausanne Congress, convened by Rev. Billy Graham. "TIME" magazine referred to the Congress as "possibly the widest-ranging meeting of Christians ever held."

Organizers say the event will consider new evangelism strategies in light of shifts in the global population of Christians. Christianity is growing dramatically in the developing world, while many churches in Western countries are losing strength.

Johnson, 56, joined Asian Access in 2004 as vice president for leadership development. He currently oversees the design and implementation of the ministry's pastor training model in 20 targeted countries across Asia. Prior to joining Asian Access, Johnson served as chief operating officer for Arrow Leadership Ministries, served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, and helped create and guide leadership development ministries as a consultant.

"Doug leaves us with a legacy of vision, expansion and focus," Johnson said. "While he will greatly be missed, God has stamped the same vision and focus on the hearts of the staff, country leaders and board of directors. So we go forward with a shared passion in partnership with Asian church leaders."

Asian Access (www.asianaccess.org) was launched in Japan in 1967 as Language Institute for Evangelism, pioneering short-term English teaching as a means of evangelism. In the 1980s, the organization became known as LIFE Ministries, and began to train Japanese pastors, as well as explore new models of church planting – the starting of new churches. In 2002, it adopted the name Asian Access to reflect its widening scope outside Japan.

Under Birdsall's direction, the mission expanded beyond Japan into several nations across Asia, with plans to establish work in 20 countries by 2012. Current countries include Cambodia, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and closed countries whose identity must be guarded. These networks have grown to include hundreds of leaders trained by Asian Access. The ministry is a member of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies (EFMA).