Alex’s thoughts and reflection on TianLu’s mission in China 

 

My journey with TianLu mission started 7 years ago. There are so much to learn about mission in China. It took 3 years for me to be accepted by the local community in Xiamen. Relationship takes time to build. The key important element is people. It is important to find a right mission minded Chinese that have the heart for China. It also takes time to nurture and cultivate their mindset for the purpose of the great commission.

 

I learnt that finding a chinese mission minded person is the greatest challenge for any mission work in China. Sad to say that they have their own mind being educated differently. It is very hard to convert their thinking

 

Timothy is a gift from God whom I found him studying in Chiang Mai University 7 years ago. After his graduation, I asked him if he would like to work with me back in China and he said yes. From there, I have spent 7 years of my times in this young man’s life to build a brotherhood relationship. And because of this relation, he knows the purpose of our mission in reaching people for Christ.

 

It took 3 years to build TianLu Coffee Business. We have went through a lot of challenges and today we are a small Coffee Labo & Roastery focusing on specialty coffee. We supply coffee beans to cafes and curates high quality 86- 90+ points specialty coffee beans to our regular customers. A small team business that able to turn around quickly with small overhead, able to paid our staffs and make a little profit. The idea is not to go into a F&B business, but to develop a craft in a niche market in coffee business industry. So that this business is still able to the time to focus on our mission.

 

Each trip to China could be my last. I would often asked Timothy, if I could not come back to China anymore, can you still continue. He always responded yes. Maybe somehow the Lord has prepare me and him, even during the covid 19 I could not visit China for coming 2 years now Timothy is still able to continue the coffee business without making a lost. In fact we did not make a lost and yet making a little profit. Many would think that the business would have been close by now. I want to thank the Lord for His blessings over TianLu.
 

 

FUTURE TIANLU

I see the purpose of TianLu as a bridge for mission in China. We would be a great help to churches and mission groups to setup a cafe/coffee business in different part of China. Why cafe? Cafe is a social public place, an environment where people gather together to relax and talk over a cup of coffee. A perfect situation for any outreach.

 

While we know setting up a coffee business require research study on each location’s foot paths, what kind of customers around that area and rental cost etc,. Making sure that the research study able to run a profitable business. But for mission it should a different story. It’s about outreach in reaching people for Christ. That’s where TianLu play an important role.

 

Operating a coffee business and making it profitable is not easy. It requires multiple functions and a big team to manage it;

  • Trusted person in-charge regards to money

  • Good and less expensive coffee bean supply

  • Business operation & accounting

  • Procurement 

  • Hospitality

  • Coffee knowledge 

  • Packaging design

  • Sale & Marketing

  • Contents and publicity

  • Cost of staffs, rental and coffee machine and other gears 

 

Selling per cups of coffee itself may not be able to cover the operational cost, especially when the overhead is high. In mission location may not have so many customers. Can be too busy operating a F&B cafe business. Very stressful in making the business profitable.

 

TianLu is able to help and support by taking away some of the cafe work load;

  • Coffee beans sourcing with competitive price control

  • Roasting and supply

  • Contents and packaging designs supply (OEM)

  • Coffee knowledge impartations training to new missionary

  • Sale & marketing ideas and guidance to operate a cafe

 

With TianLu supporting the supply chain it would allow each mission cafe to have the time for outreach by operating the cafe in serving the people.

 

 

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS


Here are a few key elements that I think we are doing it correctly for our WOFE business in China:

 

Business present must be clear to the Chinese government. Foreign company operating in China must not make the Chinese government guess what kind of operation are you doing in China. It needs to be loud and clear.

When I was in China, I was not afraid to show my present to Singapore consulate general office in Xiamen to present my name card, likewise I have also visited the Chinese government office to talks about possible coffee bean business collaboration and supply. Instead of being invited for tea, I brought our coffee to visit them. 

 

 

A business function that allow mission’s outreach:

 

Operating a coffee business social space allow our function to be closer to the public, anyone could visit and it would not seen as illegal gathering. During my visit to China, I even organised inspirational talks and brought overseas speakers to share with young adult groups. Social work in helping society are very welcome in China. I was invited to talk on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and speak on TEDx platform in Xiamen to young adult to inspire them.


I also spent time with young people during his stay in China, by God’s grace 1 professor and 2 young people prayed the sinners prayer in TianLu Coffee Business to received Christ as their personal God and saviour. 

 

 

TianLu business help ODB Mission to research and arrival at the strategy of setting up multiples WeChat personal platforms:

 

Beside operating a coffee business, TianLu's team successfully helped ODB developed the WeChat daily ODB sharing strategies. The idea is to invite the Chinese to take ownership in reaching their people for Christ and to work with the local sons and daughters to use WeChat personal platform to spread the word. The team help each account to setup and facilitate their WeChat with daily post of ODB articles. Each account and posting comes with unique reflection sharing from the learning of ODB readings, making the whole article different from the others WeChat ODB accounts. Today, ODB continues to use WeChat personal platform in spreading the words