We’d just arrived in Sendai. Power lines hung across the skyline. Concrete apartments and houses lined the streets. In the midst of unpacking, organising, and wrangling two young children, I needed a space to relax, to pray, and meditate on God’s Word. *Hanako’s café was a breath of fresh air.
The moment I stepped into Hanako’s café and saw her cheerful smile, I felt that she was someone I could become friends with. The first few times, we didn’t talk much. I would make a comment on the weather, her shop, or her baking, but it was always met with a short, polite response and the conversation would end. After visiting her café regularly for a few weeks, I told her that I had just moved into the area, how I came to know of her café, and also that I was a Christian working at a church. From the beginning, I tried to bring God into our conversations. I was purposely bold as I thought that if she were to react negatively, I could just go to another café, or visit less frequently. However, even though she had her own opinion, she never responded negatively.
After a few longer chats, I told her that I was doing a children’s talk in Japanese at church for the first time for the following Sunday. I asked if she’d be willing to be my practice audience. She looked a little taken aback at first, but she said yes.
A few months later she mentioned she’d seen a TV programme about the Bible being the number one bestselling book in the world. This led to conversations about the Bible and Jesus. Eventually I asked her whether she would be interested in hearing more stories from the Bible. She hesitated and gave a vague response. However, as we kept talking about the Bible, I asked her again whether she would be interested, and this time she agreed.
The first time, I told Hanako a story from the Bible, she was intrigued. She soaked it in, asked questions, and said she wouldn’t mind hearing another story. Later, she shared with me that one of her favourite TV dramas, adapted from a novel, was Freezing Point by Ayako Miura (a well-known Christian author).
Now we read the Bible together. However, up until recently, I wasn’t sure if she was only interested in reading the Bible because I strongly suggested it. Then, the other day, she told me that the stories resonated with her and she felt that there was wisdom she could learn from the Bible. It was comforting to hear from her directly that she was interested in the Bible.
This is just the beginning. Please pray for Hanako, that God would change her heart so that she will desire more than wisdom from the Bible, but eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Written by Jo.
* Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.