We’re so excited to be open! After 3 years of planning, preparation, cutting through swathes or red tape, remodelling, investment-raising and long days of hard work, the day of our café grand opening was nearly perfect. Lots of customers showed up, neighbors congratulated and welcomed us, and we received lots of positive feedback.
Everyone who walks in says nearly the same thing; some version of, “Wow, this place is beautiful, and so comfortable and relaxing. I might not leave!”
It is gratifying to see people come in and enjoy our products and our service, and then come back again. We have already noticed how this business is giving us greater inroads to be able to share Jesus with people.
The most encouraging thing about the opening of our café is the greater openness and acceptance from people that it has provided. The next door neighbor to our shop, who we’ve waved at and attempted to engage with over the past three years, has become our most frequent customer. He brought his family over and introduced them, and has begun having client meetings at our cafe. And, new people are coming around as well. We recently met Lek who was walking buy, decided to stop in, and then asked if I could talk for a minute. We talked about the business and then about him for over an hour. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to meet at another coffee shop in town to work on his English and my Thai.
Our café business being open has allowed me to make new connections at other specialty coffee shops in town as well. I had previously attempted to get to know some people in town who were in the coffee industry, but because I was only running a jewelry company at the time people seemed disinterested. Now I’m visiting two or three other coffee shops each week, spending time with the owners and baristas and seeing a new openness as a result of having my own coffee business.
New Year, New Business
The New Year and our café’s opening occurring at nearly the same time has caused us to be more reflective than usual. Opening a BAM company is something we were called to, as a couple, nearly ten years ago. For me, this has been something that I believe God has been leading me towards since I was in India in 2006 and had been affirming me in consistently since then.
The morning we opened, I was on a walk and felt like God was bring me back to why we had together begun pursuing business as mission in the first place, beyond just “God told us to.” The purpose has never been only to open a business.
God gave me the grace that morning to realize again and meditate upon the hopelessness and despair of the Thai people. They live according to the ‘kingdom of Buddha’. In this kingdom, if bad things happen to you it’s because you deserve it. People are there to help you to earn merit for yourself. If you’ve been born poor or disabled or into a life leading to prostitution, the best thing to do is simply bear it as best you can, because you deserve it as a result of your bad karma, until you die, hoping for an easier life when you are reborn. And this is just a small measure of the hopelessness felt here that I can convey in a few sentences. After having lived in this country for seven years now and having built friendships with many Thai people, I can say that Buddhism is not the beautiful religion we might perceive from postcards of golden temples, but a belief system that enslaves and destroys people.
Knowing and following Jesus will bring freedom and joy, making Thai people’s lives better – here on earth now – and then of course being with Him for eternity. When living according to the ‘Kingdom of Jesus’, there will be newfound joy, as people follow their new King as citizens of Christ’s Kingdom. Marriages will grow more intimate, families stronger, friendships deeper, and communities healthier – ultimately resulting in God being glorified. We want to bring this Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.
We are in business here so that we can show people what this Kingdom and this good news is about, each day in our company. This news is not difficult news to share. It is news we passionately seek to share every single day we are here. It is our greatest desire for the Thai people to know the hope and joy that can be found in Jesus Christ. This year, we are more excited than ever because we have more opportunities than we have ever had to share the greatest news we’ve ever heard with Thai people every day in and through our business life in this city.