I wanted to open a restaurant in Japan where people could become healthier just as I had at an Adventist health resort in Alabama, United States.

My husband and I flew from our home in Japan to the state of Alabama to seek treatment for his pancreatic cancer. I was a Seventh-day Adventist, and I had heard that Adventist doctors working at a health resort called Uchee Pines Institute 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.

Hasegawa Harue, 65, standing outside her restaurant in a suburb of Tokyo, Japan.
One of Hasegawa Harue’s signature dishes contains soy meat and bell peppers doused in a sweet and sour sauce.
A dessert plate includes, clockwise from bottom left, a banana-topped carob brownie, frozen banana puree, soy vanilla pudding, and fresh fruit with an edible flower.

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 here, 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 total vegetarian restaurants in the Tokyo area. I go to my insurance job in the morning. Then I go to the restaurant at 11 o’clock and serve lunchtime customers until 2 o’clock. 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.

Urban Centers of Influence

Global Mission supports wholistic mission to the cities. This includes a rapidly growing number of Urban Centers of Influence (UCIs) that serve as platforms for putting Christ’s method of ministry into practice and provide an ideal opportunity for Total Member Involvement in outreach that suits each person’s gifts and passions. 

From refugee assimilation centers, juice bars, and secondhand shops to cooking classes, cafés, and after-school childcare, UCIs provide long-term, on-the-ground ministry that connects with people on a local and personal level. 

To learn more about UCIs, please visit UrbanCenters.org and MissionToTheCities.org.

Christ’s Method of Ministry

“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 143).

Hasegawa Harue
By Hasegawa Harue as told to Andrew McChesney, Office of Adventist Mission.