That’s why the coffee shop’s director, TEAM missionary Steven Taylor, doesn’t even try to keep up with his fast-paced Tokyo competitors.
“We’re more like a ministry pretending to be a business. … If we were as busy as Starbucks, we would never be able to get to know our customers and have time to build relationships,” Steven says.
Step inside, and you’ll find delicious paninis, chiffon cakes and coffee drinks. But most days, those treats will be accompanied by English classes, a musical performance or a serious Bible study — three things that were critical in bringing Taijo to the Lord.
Showing God in Everyday Life
It began when Taijo and his wife, Yori, heard about an English class for children. Soon after they enrolled their son, Yori started coming to the café herself for one-on-one classes.
All the classes are designed to share about Jesus and simple biblical truths. But Steven says the staff lay a lot of groundwork before they can effectively present the full Gospel.
“Christian ideas are so unknown and foreign to Japanese thinking,” Steve says. “Sharing about the cross and grace are met with polite but blank stares. Even the concept of God is a swirl of Buddhism, animist Shinto and atheism.”
As the SonRise staff build relationships with students and customers, they try to present God as a normal part of everyday life:
“I prayed about … and God answered like this.”
“I was worried, but then I remembered God’s promise that says….”
“I don’t know what will happen, but I know God loves me so much.”
Meanwhile, they also look for ways to attract people to the church service held every Sunday at the café.
For Taijo and Yori, it was a musical performance by their favorite artist: their son.
A Surprise Worth Waiting For
One of the easiest ways to bring parents to church is to tell them their child will be singing a song during the service. Taijo and Yori proudly watched their offspring take the stage and then stayed to hear the Gospel.
A few months later, they told TEAM missionaries they wanted to learn more. They only had one night off a week, but could they do a Bible study then?
The answer, of course, was yes!
Now, TEAM missionaries have spent the last two years steadily pouring into Taijo and Yori — as well as the other seekers who have joined the study.
For a long time, it seemed like the Gospel wasn’t quite sinking in. But last month, Taijo gave everyone the best surprise they could ask for.
During the study, one night, the Bible study leader asked, “If you met Jesus what would you say to Him?”
Taijo replied, “Thank you for forgiving my sins. I believe in You.”
If you’ve given to TEAM or prayed with us, you helped make this story possible. And the story isn’t over!
Because of you, Taijo can be discipled by mature believers, and Yori and Genkei can continue to hear the Gospel until they come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you for taking part in their journey. And thank you for supporting ministries like SonRise around the world!
-Written by Bethany DuVal