7th Dec, 2012, by Adeline Lum CM-
T.J. and Janice met in August 2006 in a colleague farewell party. Both sat silently side-by-side until her colleague pointed out that T.J. was the organizer for futsal, and Janice was a zealous futsal player and fan! Bind by their football fever, they hit off right away comparing notes about the field.
During their first outing, T.J. said, “he has never prayed harder before” for the traffic to clear up so that he could pick up Janice. They eventually started dating after a few months. After working together for one year, T.J. moved on to another company, while Janice stayed back.
So, how did Ninja Joe start?
During a Chiang Mai trip, they found themselves having pork burger from a local 7-11 store. Chomping down their burgers, Janice thought it was quite cham (meaning pitiful in Cantonese) that Malaysian pork eaters have to travel overseas to satisfy their cravings for pork burgers.
“Got idea ah?” asked Janice, to which T.J. replied, “Yes.”
“Can cook ah?” rebutted T.J.
“Can……” said Janice.
And so the Idea Became a Project!
Six months into their marriage, Janice and her mother started working together as chefs in cooking up Ninja Joe’s delectable recipes of pork burgers. T.J., on the other hand, worked in designing the layout, theme and brainstormed for a name.
“We wanted something naughty, cheeky and bold,” said Janice, to which T.J. added, “Samurai Jack (a cartoon character) had a catchy name, so it had to be along these lines. What we knew was we wanted the brand to be associated with the Japanese culture as the Japanese are famous for being trend-setters, loud, and of high-quality."
Also, during the pre-Ninja Joe era, you could only have pork burgers in high-end steak houses. We wanted to make it accessible to anyone (the average Joe). And Ninja Joe was born!”
But how did God come into the Picture?
Not from a burning bush, both were very practical in following God. Both prayed earnestly and asked for His guidance.
Through the Bible, God told Janice that the young should do what they can and seize any opportunity when they are still young. Prior to starting, they sought advice from family and friends to which all of them thought it was a huge risk to take. They also had to mortgage their house to finance this business. Having the peace in them despite the challenges faced was a confirmation of the Word.
Ninja Joe is now OPEN
Ninja Joe started operations on November 2009, with the help of Janice’s elder brother, who set up the first shop in Tropicana City Mall.
By praying constantly for God’s guidance and committing the business to the Father, the business just grew.
“For the first and second month, my dad was sweating (colloquial word meaning anxious) because Ninja Joe was kind of quiet,” said Janice. However, in year 2010, sales shot up dramatically, as they gained loyal customers.
In the third month of operations, T.J. had to quit his job to run Ninja Joe full time and to start on a new idea which was to build a mobile food finder. Again, by God’s grace and abundant blessings, the mobile food finder, Wootfood, was eventually funded by the government and now, TJ runs a mobile development company, Alphapod, doing iPhone & Android apps.
The Major Dip in Business
Janice eventually quit her job to join Ninja Joe full time. However, in year 2011, their business took a plunge. It was a hard lesson from God.
“We learn to depend on God, especially in waiting for an answer from him,” said T.J., which Janice added, “Things was going so smooth and we were so caught up in running the business and making decisions.”
One decision made nearly destroyed the business when they entered into a partnership without waiting for God’s answer. They simply thought that it was just part of doing business, weighing all the pros and cons and making the decision.
“It was a slap to reality. And I feel that it is very important to commit everything to God. Put Him in the centre of everything, small or big and especially in business,” said T.J. “Because without God, it is a gamble.”
Because of the plunge, they started to pray together as a couple every day, committing both businesses and every area in their lives to God.
It took almost a year trying to “save” and stabilize the business from the damage that was done by the previous partner. We were facing problems in all areas, all at the once.
“We certainly learn to trust God, and only He can give you that peace when everything is crumbling”
“You can do your best but it is God who brings in the blessings. Doing business is a minefield. Everything could go wrong. Nothing can be certain except God,” said Janice.
Another nugget of wisdom shared by Janice is how we cannot take God for granted. God’s blessings are for us to be good stewards. And although God blesses His children, we must also work hard, similar concept with studying for an exam.
We are managers of His blessings so we need to work hard and manage well.
Another thing highlighted is that tithing is a non-negotiable practice at good and bad times.
“If you can’t manage 10% of the little, how is He going to give you more than that?” said Janice. “Greed is the problem, the effects of money”
They are also hiring people from homes or orphanages, providing them jobs if they need employment. Despite their hectic schedule, T.J. and Janice served their church in Seremban, where T.J. serves in the PA ministry while Janice leads the dance ministry.
Without God, We Are Nothing
What a wonderful couple in the Lord who understood that without God, they were nothing. But with God, they have everything.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Let us not lose sight of the giver, and focused on the gifts. We worship God not because of what he did before and not what he is going to do, but because of who He is.