Thursday, November 26, 2009

First Thanksgiving Day in Rwanda...

Traditionally, our family got together on the Thanksgiving Day and shared with each other the blessings that we received from the Lord throughout the year.

[We did not have this feast (<-), but we had a good meal.]
This year, we all are scattered. Kris and I are in Rwanda. Amanda is in Arkansas. Joyce is in Pennsylvania. Today, we had a dinner together with Sillas who is our Kinyarwanda teacher.

This year's Thanksgiving Day, as usual, we have so many reasons to be thankful for to the Lord, but we are sharing the partial list of them as follows:

1. We are thankful for the opportunity for Kris and me to live, work and minister in Rwanda.
2. We are thankful for the marriage of our daughter Amanda to James.
3. We are thankful for their graduation from intelligence school and pilot school, respectively.
4. We are thankful for the graduation of our daughter Joyce from college.
5. We are thankful for the Joyce's employment despite the tough job market.
6. We are thankful for all friends and supporters with prayer, time and talents to stand with us.
7. We are thankful for the wonderful people at UOB with whom Jeffrey works to serve the poor.
8. We are thankful for the underprivileged people of Rwanda whom we get to serve.
9. We are thankful for the health that we have enjoyed, including a few occassions of sickness.
10. We are thankful for the bible study group that we have been leading.
11. We are thankful for the local church where we worship and fellowship.
12. We are thankful for some conflicts that Jeffrey faced initially, which humbled him deeply.
13. We are thankful for the transformational progress within UOB and with the clients.
14. We are thankful for the opportunities to meet new people who are like-minded in the Lord.
15. We are thankful for the laughs, giggles and agonies that we shared together in our lives.
16. We are thankful for the traveling opportunities to various African countries.
17. We are thankful for the spiritual growth that the Lord allowed us to experience.
18. We are thankful for the opportunity to study and learn the Rwandan language and culture.
19. We are thankful for our parents who have lived with decent health.
20. We are thankful for the privilege of documenting and sharing our lives through this blog.
21. We are thankful for the blessing of memorizing the scriptural passages.
22. We are thankful for the growing list of prayer requests for others as well as ourselves.
23. We are thankful for His amazing grace that we experience more deeply everyday.
24. We are thankful for the hope to which we have been called to witness to others.
25. We are thankful for the Habaneros who are our committed prayer partners.
26. We are thankful for the opportunities to share the Word at UOB and other churches.
27. We are thankful for Elder and Mrs. Ham who are sharing our family administrative burden.
28. We are thankful for Chuck and Eunice Lee who are our remote medical and dental doctors.
29. We are thankful for Hwayoung, Sammy, Mike, Hyunjoo who have been reliable supporters.
30. We are thankful for all other reasons that we are unable or fail to remember and list.
(The order is random and not of importance or significance.)

Oh, Lord, there are so many blessings that we have received from You throughout this year. We are deeply and greatly thankful to You for all of them. May Your name be praised and honored eternally! Amen. - Jeffrey and Kristin

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Care Package.... What a Joyous Gift!

Kristin and I received two care packages back to back on Monday and Tuesday. One was from my friends in New York (Mamokhwe)and the other from a church small group, called Habaneros, who are our prayer supporters at the Logos Central Chapel in Denver, CO. What a great joy it was to receive such surprise gifts!

They were full of precious goodies, kitchen necessities, children's clothes that can be used for our outreach to the orphans and books that will enrich our minds. It took one of the packages several weeks to arrive, but we were so grateful that they both arrived! Praise the Lord! Rwanda's mail system is still under development and it is not reliable.

Thank you, my friends in New York and the Habaneros, for your love! We much appreciated the contents, but your caring hearts were even more appreciated. THANK YOU! - Jeffrey

Sunday, November 15, 2009

UOB Gospel Singers at St. Etentien Cathedral...

On Sunday, November 15th, UOB Gospel Singers intorduced their first album CD. It has taken them three and half years.

UOB Gospel Singers are 15-18 members of UOB staff who love to praise the Lord and to sing the gospel. They practice twice a week after work and hold an overnight prayer meeting once a month. They lead the praise during UOB's devotion times on Mondays and Fridays. They are, to me, music evangelists.
[Their pictures will be posted later when I receive some photo images from the members.]

Why does a bank have a choir or a gospel singing group? Because UOB is not an ordinary bank, but a bank dedicated to the Kingdom purpose. So it is a Kingdom Business. It is a business with a clear mission and the business is a mission. It is Business As Mission or BAM.

On Sunday, November 15th, UOB Gospel Singers shared their music evangelism at St. Etentien Cathedral (the picture) where Kristin and I worship and fellowshop. The church has its own choir, called "The Prince of Peace", but to me UOB Gospel Singers have a better harmony and sing more spirited songs. (I may be biased, but a few others made the same comments.)

I had the honor of preaching God's word during the worship. The message was titled "The Coming of the Messiah: In Isaiah's Eyes" based on Isaiah 9:1-7. While the Israelites were seeking peace that was without war, conflicts and opporession, God desired to see His people restore their peace with God and fully enjoy the peace of God: the peace of God that the world cannot know or give. The peace with God can be restored only with justification that comes through faith in Jesus who is the Prince of Peace. (Romans 5:1) With the genuine peace of God in us, we should strive to be peace-makers, as Jesus modeled for us. We would then be blessed for we will be called "sons of God." (Matt. 5:9) During the Advent prior to the Christmas, the first coming of the Messiah, two kingdoms clash: The Kingdom of God and the Godless Kingdom. We as people of God belonging to the Kingdom of God should be alerted to this clash and should be faithful to the first coming of the Messiah.

I am so grateful for the passion and sacrifices that the UOB Gospel Singers have. It is truly a blessing to share the yoke of the ministry with those who love the Lord and love to sing His gospel. --- Jeffrey

Friday, November 13, 2009

Banking Network Group Leaders Workshop...

We held a whole day workshop for the Banking Network Group (BNG) leaders. It includes all credit business unit leaders and branch banking division leader. This group's staff totals approximately 140.

We began the workshop with a time of devotion. We praised the Lord and listened to God's message spoken through the Chief Relationship Officer, leading the BNG.

We discussed the bank's 5-year business plan and 2010 budget. Each business unit leader shared his/her business plan for 2010. It is going to be a challenging year, but we lifted it up to the Lord.

I showed and shared three components of transformational competency: i.e. Christ-centered Client-focused service, triple bottom line management and triple transformational impact models.

[The picture is of the Leadership Retreat held earlier this year.]

I also talked about our goal to be the best bank in Rwanda in five areas: asset quality, creative solutions, operating efficiency, customer care and transformational impact. Again, these goals are challenging, but we resolved to strive for the goal.

Our Transformational Impact Manager talked about the Code of Conduct on Customer Care. All staff will be required to review and sign a statement that shows the bank's Vision, Mission, Values and this Code of Conduct.

Chief Operating Officer discussed about several risks that the bank is facing and Director of Credit Support shared the information about the bank's asset quality trend and some of the steps that we are taking to tighten the control.

We finished the workshop with a collective prayer, seeking His guidance. - Jeffrey

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Hope Homes...

New Hope Homes is a ministry of Christian African Leadership Ministry or CALM in Rwanda. New Hope Homes is ministering to orphans, but in a Christian family environment. Each house has a mom and three aunts who take care of them like their own children. The children are treated like they are growing up in their own homes. Currently, New Hope Homes has three houses and plan to build two more in 2010.

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, Kristin started to visit New Hope Homes to minister to the orphans together with young volunteers from S. Korea. They played with them, making baloons, painting on their faces, making paperkrafts. They also told them bible stories and showed them movies. More than anything, they needed love. They needed someone who plays with them. Young Korean volunteers (KOICA) were sincerely ministering to them. What a bright smile they had after they spent several hours together!
Kristin plans to continue ministering to them regularly. She is also considering getting involved in other CALM ministries. Please pray for many orphans in Rwanda who need someone else's caring until they grow up to be self-sustainable. - Jeffrey

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ministry Updates October 2009

[Tea fields on the hills in Rwanda]

Dear friends and fellow Kingdom citizens

Usually, October is a slow month to many Rwandans and it was indeed a challenge to UOB as well. Nonetheless, God's grace was sufficient. I have put together the monthly ministry updates as follows:

1. During October, UOB's loan balance decreased by $140 thousands to $6.6 millions, evidencing the challenges. Many rural farmers go hungry as they get into a new agricultural cycle. Many farmers also suffered from the flood particularly in Rubavu.

2. Nonetheless, we were able to add 829 borrowing clients to total 33,116 as of the month-end. Almost 91% of these clients were women. Praise the Lord for increasing our outreach to the poor!

3. We opened a new rural branch in Rwamagana in October. This will be a regional hub serving the clients in the Eastern Province. (Please refer to a blogpost on this.

4. I met with our staff of the EBUs (Enterpreneurial Business Units) in Ngoma, Rwamagana, Gatsibo and Musanze to discuss effective ways to serve our clients.

5. We finally ended our study on the Book of Romans in five months. (Please refer to a blogspot on this.) We have begun another study on Ephesians. This will again take 4-5 months to complete our study.

6. Two of our lending staff riding on motorcycles were attacked back to back over two days. One of them was able to avoid the attack, but the other was robbed of the money that he was carrying. By God's grace, he was not injured. One of the three robbers was caught on the same day and part of the money was recoverd. But two others are still at large. Please pray for the security of our lending staff in serving the poor.

7. Kristin and I attended a conference for Opportunity International Africa Region CEOs in Cape Town, South Africa. Along with this two-day conference, we took a holiday weekend in Cape Town. On the way, there were some fiascos in our return trip, but the good Lord led us to meet an Indian missionary. It was a blessing! (Please refer to two blogposts on this.)

8. We received approval for a credit facility of EUR1.1 millions ($1.6 millions) from Oxfam. This will be used to expand our activities in 2010. We are also working with a few other creditors for credit facilities.

9. We have continued our efforts to expanding our alliances with other organizations/ministries, such as Techno Serv, Dutch Embassy, CompuScan, IFAD's PPPMER, PDCRE, CRB Africa. Beneficial strategic alliances lead to synergy.

10. We conducted another training for 20 trainers of EBUs on HLI (Holistic Life Improvement) modules. There will be two more trainings to equip our EBU lending staff to provide transformational training for our clients in the rural areas.

11. We continued our study on Kinyarwanda and finally we finished the lessons on all 10 noun classes. These 10 classes of nouns require different conjugation on noun prefixes, adjectives, some verbs and possessive prefixes also differently by singulars and plurals. This was a big hurdle, but by God's grace we have overcome it. Praise the Lord.

Prayer Requests:

1. Please pray for the security of our lending staff. It is a growing concern, but the Lord has inspired us to come up creative solutions. It will take some time before the new solution is implemented so the lending staff's security remains a concern. Please pray for God's mercy.

2. Many of our clients are suffering from hunger and natural disasters, like flood, particularly during this rainy season. Some choose to borrow less or not to borrow at all, and others face challenges in making loan payments. Please pray that the faithful Lord will be gracious to them during this difficult period.

3. We are working on securing a few funding sources for 2010. Please pray that these funding sources will be secured adequately so that we do not end up being unable to serve the growing needs of the Rwandan poor.

4. We are preparing to launch a mobile branch in December. It will be the first of its kind in Rwanda, so there are many challenges in the construction process. Please pray that it will be launched successfully and it will accelerate our outreach to the rural poor.

5. During October, I got injured with my right leg and got sick with severe nose bleeding. Thanks to the fervent prayer of many of you, to the grace of God and to the wonderful care of Kristin, a long-time private nurse for me, it stopped only after 5 bleedings. We witnessed the power of prayer again. The workload has been overwhelming and is expected to continue so for some time. Please pray that we may maintain the balance among all works to be done and not lose the health of the body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (Please refer to a blogpost.)

Thank you all for standing with us with your interest in, attention to or prayer for our ministries in Rwanda.

Jeffrey and Kristin from Kigali, Rwanda