When Slow Business Brings People to God

sonrise cafe missional coffee shop
For a missional coffee shop in Tokyo, slow business is a good thing. Photos by TEAM

If SonRise Café were more concerned with making a profit, Taijo might not know Jesus today.

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


English classes at SonRise Café provide a natural way for workers to serve the community and teach non-believers about Christ.


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.”


sonrise cafe

The relationships built between staff and customers open doors for Gospel conversations.


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


sonrise cafe tokyo

SonRise Café facilitates services and Bible studies for seekers to encounter the truth and believers to grow deeper in their faith.


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!

TEAM missionaries have been serving the Japanese for more than 120 years. Click here to learn more about Gospel ministries in Japan.



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About the author

Bethany DuVal

Bethany DuVal served as TEAM's marketing manager and editor. She is passionate about helping others tell their stories, whether they're missionaries on the field, new believers or part of a missionary support team. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading books and hiking in the Smoky Mountains.


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  • Thanks Beth for the testimony of the family. It is these kinds of testimonies that give us joy in writing the check the following month to our Missionaries.

    • I’m so glad! This work truly wouldn’t be possible without your support, so thank you for faithfully giving. Your compassionate heart is making a difference!

  • What a marvelous story of he power of God to open hearts wherever he chooses to do so. Thank you for the wilingness of TEAM memberss to give their lives to His service around the world. No doubt this coffee house brings a smile to God’s face. GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME! ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD!

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