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Tokyo Yogen (Prophecy) Café

Tokyo Yogen (Prophecy) Café

A church whose primary ministry is running an upscale coffee shop for the sole purpose of giving personal prophecy to all customers who want it. (They all do!)

This is a short report on Tokyo Yogen Café. It is the primary ministry of Tokyo Arise 5 Church. The church is led by Apostle Kazuyo Yoshida and her husband, Hiroshi, and is located in the trendy Shinjuku ward of metropolitan Tokyo.

History: In 2005, I asked Kazuyo Yoshida to lead our struggling Tokyo church plant. We had planted the church three years earlier and there had been some growth, but necessary changes were in order. The Lord showed me that a bold step was needed, and I felt led to ask her if she would consider leading that church. Her husband was in agreement and she stepped into the position. After a year, their lease was up and they needed to move.

Vision: She felt the Lord prompting her to relocate to a busy street near Waseda University, a prominent Tokyo school, and also felt a street-level location was essential. She consulted with me about her vision to open a “prophecy coffee shop.” She felt the Lord showed her that people (mostly Japanese non-believers) would come for prophecy. I was excited to hear about it. During our early affiliation with Christian International (CI), the Lord had repeatedly stated that prophecy would be a key for reaching people in Asia. Also, Bill Hamon had prophesied to me that people I had raised up would want try new methods and would have new ideas of ministry. In that prophecy, I was told that no matter how unorthodox their approach might seem, as long as it wasn’t unbiblical, I should encourage them to run with it. Clearly this was one of those things. I agreed with her vision and told her to go ahead.

Details: They would establish themselves as a fully licensed coffee shop, meeting all the regulations and city ordinances to do so. Their name would be “Yogen (Prophecy) Café.” She felt it important to have a classy décor. Everything would attest to the shop’s upscale nature.

At the beginning, the numbers were quite small, but the Lord was working to give them favor. Two things happened. The first was a visit from a man with media clout. He was so impressed that he began to give them free publicity. Second, was that a few of the top “spiritualists” (fortune tellers ) came and were profoundly touched. They they began urging their own followers to come and “hear the word of the Lord.” If you “fast forward” to the present, you will find that some of the key church members came out of those spiritualist backgrounds.

What Kinds of People Come? At the beginning, the majority of customers were Christians who came because they wanted prophetic ministry. But alongside them, many non-Christians also frequented the shop. As time went on, the numbers of non-Christians gradually increased; now the majority by far is non-Christian. Housewives, business people, and even politicians have come. Also, many are those who have dabbled in the occult and have regularly gone to fortune tellers (a very common practice not only in Japan, but also across most of Asia). They didn’t find answers there, and now wanted to try the “Christian version.” Again, some core church members were heavily involved in spiritualism, but met the Lord and became passionate believers.

Results: They are now in the sixth year of operation and in their second building, a venue that has twice the floor space, which makes it easier to handle the high volume of customers. (The line of people waiting to receive prophecy is literally hours long.) Some details regarding their operation are as follows:

  1. Business hours: Tuesday–Friday, 2 p.m.–6:30 p.m. They average between 130–150 people per day. (A figure that works out to about 30,000 per year).
  2. Most (at least 90%) customers are non-Christians who know little or nothing about Christianity and would never consider going to church. They come because they want to receive prophecy.
  3. Each customer comes in and orders coffee. There is no need to ask if they want to receive prophecy—that is the reason they came. Then a member of the prophetic team ministers to them. The following procedures are used:
    • Each customer is clearly told that this is the word of the Lord for them, and that the team is prophesying in Jesus’s name.
    • Each prophecy is recorded either onto a cassette tape or onto an MP3 device, and the prophecy is emailed to them. Many customers also record their prophecy onto their cell phones.
    • Each is given an card explaining what prophecy is. The card also contains Biblical guidelines on what to do with that prophecy.
  4. Staff and operation:
    • Yogen Café is fully licensed in Tokyo as a commercial coffee shop.
    • Six people work each day. They rotate jobs regularly. Some make coffee, some take and deliver the orders, and some prophesy. Everyone takes part in all three duties.
    • The staff is composed of church members. Often, just a couple years prior, these members knew nothing of Jesus and were involved in the occult. Then they were saved through Yogen Café, grew in the Lord, and were trained prophetically. Now they minister to the very people they once were.
    • Yogen Café operated four days a week until this past September, when they expanded to five. Church events, prayer meetings, and seminars are held on weekends.
  5. Reasons for its success:
    • Miracles. Often, people initially visit the café because they have a desperate situation in their family, or a problem with their finances. Without knowing this (of course), the prophetic teams often prophesy exactly about that problem. Naturally, this amazes the recipient and gives them hope. But there is much more. Prophecies not only address specific problems, but also often release miraculous solutions (e.g., the family problem clears up, or there is a financial breakthrough). Thus, word-of-mouth testimonies attract others who are in similar predicaments.
    • People can sense it is the Lord speaking to them. As explained earlier, many are very familiar with fortune telling. These people insist that it is a completely different experience. They say it feels “clean” and “right.” They feel they’ve been strengthened and given hope.
    • Yogen Café made the list of the “Top Four Unique Coffee Shops in the Greater Tokyo Area.”
    • People come from great distances, not just Tokyo. They will travel hundreds of kilometers to come and receive prophecy. Once I was doing meetings in Okayama (a four-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo). There, I met two people who had come from three hours even further away, who attended because they heard I was a prophet. They told me they had first heard about the Lord when they went to Yogen Café. (A seven-hour one-way journey shows spiritual hunger, right?)
  6. Follow up:
    • We don’t have hard data, but perhaps 90% revisit Yogen Café. Sometimes multiple visits occur over a period of a few months; others revisit after a longer duration.
    • Quite a few will attend follow-up seminars and Bible studies on weekends (a Bible study for newcomers is held after the Sunday service).
    • By word of mouth, we know that many have become Christians through the ministry of other local churches. I minister in many different churches throughout Japan. It is not uncommon for people to tell me they first heard about Jesus because they went to Yogen Café for prophecy.
    • Recently, I have been ministering at the Tokyo Arise 5 (Yogen Café) Church one Sunday a month. A high percentage of non-believers attend each week—most are there because they first received prophecy at Yogen Café. On any given Sunday, over half the attendees are first-time visitors who learned of the church’s existence by going to Yogen Café. I love doing meetings there–almost always several make a decision to receive Jesus.
  7. Factors contributing to its success:
    Naturally, when people hear about the great success of this ministry, they want to attempt a similar undertaking. Most places that have tried (within Japan, as well as in other nations [Taiwan, most notably]), have found a degree of success and feel doing so has yielded “good fruit.” However, none have come close to having the impact Tokyo Yogen Café does. Here are some of my observations as to why they are so successful.

    • Vision and commitment. Kazuyo had clear vision from the Lord to do this, so there is 100% commitment. It is their main ministry, not an afterthought.
    • Leadership. Kazuyo is one of the strongest prophets I have had the privilege of raising up in Japan. She is very bold in the Lord and has no problem thinking “outside the box.” Her concern is not what people think, but what the Lord wants her to do. She wants to know she’s doing it properly for Him. She is not swayed or hindered by outside criticism.
    • Single-mindedness. They know it is God’s assignment for them and they focus fully on it. It is not one of many ministries, but a primary focus.
    • Training. Tokyo Arise 5 church is an apostolic-prophetic church. Thus, prophetic training and activation is an essential tool for every believer. Prophecy features prominently in their meetings. As such, the café staff are continually being trained. It really is amazing to see people who, a couple years ago didn’t know anything about the Lord, now ministering prophetically and with great passion for Him.
    • Apostolic mindset. They know the Lord is the one who will build His church. Ephesians 4:11–12 indicates believers need to be trained up to do ministry. Having that mindset releases a vibrancy. People are expected to rise up, and they do. They quickly become fruitful members.
    • Quality. There is a strong sense of professionalism. All is clean and orderly, and everything is always well prepared. At Yogen Café, the quality of excellence and the commitment to it never waver.
    • Prayer and faith. There is intercession covering—and special prayer for—this ministry. However, more than that, Kazuyo and the church are walking in faith. That faith and zeal pervade the atmosphere.
    • Apostolic covering.I mention this last, because it is one of the most important factors. It is not enough that Kazuyo is a strong prophetic leader and that the people are committed to the vision. Kazuyo and Hiroshi are under the apostolic covering of Arise 5. This results in several things:
      • An anointing for breakthrough to gain an open heaven for this ministry. An open heaven is not gained by one person individually; it results from apostolic covering and being part of an apostolic center (in this case, Arise 5).
      • A flow of the Holy Spirit for life, blessing, and miracles.
      • Spiritual protection. Any ministry that is making significant inroads into the kingdom of darkness will come under serious attack. But, because they are connected to the Arise 5 apostolic center/network, “the gates of hell are not able to prevail” against them (Matthew 16:18).

I would strongly encourage any who are interested in doing this kind of ministry to be sure of the following things:

  1. Be sure it is the Lord’s leading, and commit fully to it.
  2. Be sure you have proper prophetic training (this is not for novices).
  3. It is of utmost importance to be under apostolic covering.

I trust this short article has been a blessing to you. For additional information please see the Tokyo Yogen Café website (http://ciatk.exblog.jp) (Japanese only), or contact us at info@arise5.com.

Blessings,

Ron Sawka