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Hasegawa Harue, 65

Tasty Gospel Message

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, October 30.

By Hasegawa Harue, as told to Andrew McChesney


wanted to open a restaurant in Japan where people could become healthier, just as I had become healthier at an Adventist health resort in the U.S. state of Alabama.

You see, my husband and I flew from our home in Japan to Alabama to seek treatment for his cancer. I was a Seventh-day Adventist, and I had heard that Adventist doctors working at a health resort might be able to help. My husband wasn’t a Christian.

As we ate vegan food and exercised, our bodies began to change. I lost a lot of weight. My husband quit smoking. He also began to read the Bible and was baptized at the institute.

My husband died a week after his baptism. He was only 56. I was sad, but I was also happy because we had agreed to meet again in heaven.

Returning to Japan, I counted my savings and realized that I had more than enough to live on. I wanted to use my money to spread the gospel in Japan, where only one percent of the population is Christian. So, I started praying, “Dear God, what should I do?”

One day, I read Isaiah 55:13 during my devotions. This verse says, “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (NKJV).

At that moment, I knew that I wanted to open a restaurant where I could help people become healthier and feel better just as I had in Alabama. Maybe I also could win their confidence and point them to Jesus. I decided to name the restaurant Myrtle after that verse in Isaiah.

That same day, I walked down a street in my hometown just outside Tokyo and saw a plot of land for sale. It was a perfect location, near three Adventist churches. I bought the vacant lot and paid for the restaurant to be built.

To be honest, I knew nothing about the restaurant business, so I attended an Adventist vegetarian cooking school to get some ideas and then created my own meals for the restaurant.

A good-sized crowd showed up on opening day, but it was chaos inside. I still knew nothing about running a restaurant. One of the diners, a former insurance client, knew someone who owned a nearby café and asked the owner to help me. She helped a lot!

Business has been good. Myrtle is one of the few totally vegetarian restaurants in the Tokyo area. I go to my insurance job in the morning. Then I go to the restaurant at 11 a.m. and serve lunchtime customers until 2 p.m. After that, I return to my insurance job. The restaurant is closed on Sabbath, of course.

This restaurant has given me the opportunity to do more than provide healthy food. One regular diner has breast cancer, and she asked for information about a healthy lifestyle. I shared some Adventist literature with her. Another diner, a single woman, told me that she was looking for new friends. I invited her to visit my church, and she has come several times. The main goal of the restaurant is to lead people to Jesus. Ellen White says, “Our restaurants must be in the cities, for otherwise the workers in these restaurants could not reach the people and teach them the principles of right living” (Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 142). That’s why I started this restaurant. This is God’s restaurant. God is helping me run it, and the owner is Jesus.