After arriving in Japan, it did not take long for me to see that Japanese people often find it very hard to come to a Christian church. It is nothing like their own traditional religion and there have been many negative experiences with cults in this country. It is therefore difficult to connect with people, let alone share the gospel with them.
While praying about how I might better connect with people in the community, I also noticed the isolation and lack of support for young mothers in the local community. I could see them struggling to take care of themselves and to find time for themselves. God gave me a great burden for them, and I began to wonder if I could do something to help with this need, and be able to meet people at the same time. This thinking became the foundation for Young’s Cottage Café, a safe space for young mothers to come, relax and connect with others who are facing similar challenges.
When setting things up, I knew that it would not be helpful for the café to be located at the church. It was also too expensive to rent another location, so I decided that I should create it in my home. My accommodation at the time was small, so I prayed that God would provide something bigger and more flexible (at the right price). After a short visit to NZ in late 2019, he did just that and Young’s Cottage Café became a reality.
After a few years of operating, it has been such a blessing to see how this ministry has helped others in so many ways. Many of the young mums who started coming initially, ended up also inviting their Japanese friends to come along. One of the areas that we were able to connect over was an interest interest in kimonos. This, plus other fellowship has allowed me and my team mates to build lots of new relationships with the local ladies. We have then been able to invite many of them to other events at the church including English language classes, prayer meetings, youth group events, and women's bible study groups.
We have rejoiced at the fellowship and deep trust that has grown between us all. It has helped break down the barriers of fear that they have concerning Christianity and church. It has also allowed me to share about my faith, and to bring love, support and hope to their lives. There is still much we would like to do to grow this work, so we pray that God will continue to lead us and bless us as we share tea and coffee, friendship and Jesus’ love with young mothers in Japan. I look forward to keeping you posted as to how God impacts their lives.