“So you’re really staying!” was our friend's reaction with a noticeable sense of relief and excitement.
Our conversation came after living in Japan for five years, enrolling our children in Japanese school, and learning the language. We assumed surely after those steps, we had communicated to our friends a desire to be invested in their culture and lives. But there was something missing as they waited for an abrupt and unexpected departure.
We realized there is something about working with a college club that had kept us from being viewed as committed members of society and life in Japan. However, we noticed an instant change while sharing our vision to start a business in Japan. It communicated our commitment to relationships and opened opportunities for our friends to participate. This friend in particular excitedly shared her own ideas and expressed desire to serve and help us. We believe that part of her reaction was her new ability to understand what we are doing vocationally, which also allowed us to move forward relationally.
As we have prayed over making the transition from "traditional missions" as full-time campus ministers to missional entrepreneurs (by pursuing a direct-trade coffee roaster and shop next to the university), we have felt like we are in a process of aligning what we believe with what we are doing.
Many of the ways God had been opening doors for us fell outside of our assigned ministry as collegiate staff, which gave our lives a slightly fractured feeling. The lack of alignment pushed us to explore the idea of an organic and incarnational ministry that goes to where people naturally reside contrary to an invitational ministry that calls students into a club outside of their day-to-day life.
As business owners, we believe that we will be able to be a better living witness of the gospel as contributing members of the community than as peripheral oddities with a job frequently misunderstood by the majority of the Japanese population. We believe that the whole of life can be sacred – whether roasting coffee, changing diapers, or working as a salaryman – and is a misunderstanding of the Gospel to only view time directly tied to Bible study and church as valuable. There is a great temptation to consider the remaining time as something simply to be survived or in competition with what “really matters.”
We hope to be change agents to what it means to be Christ’s followers in Japan by entering the business world and roasting, brewing, and selling coffee to the glory of God.
– Bryan and Jamie
GEN Desk Commentary –
How do we better incarnate the gospel in the setting God has us now? Please share your thoughts or comments below.