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

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