Saturday, April 24, 2010

6,303 Bibles Distributed...

UOB has distributed 6,303 Kinyarwanda bibles (Biblia Yera = Holy Bible) to the committee members of community banking trust groups. These bibles were gifts for them as token of appreciation for their dedication in leading the trust groups. They validate the profiles of members, organize the group and conduct group activities regularly. They are the essence of community banking.

Some are not Christians, but they appreciate the gifts. We pray that the Holy Spirit may work in their hearts to be receptive to the truth and to meet Jesus who is the Truth. We also pray that the Holy Spirit will help Christian leaders grow mature in their faith and experience transformational impact in their lives through the Word.

These bibles have been purchased with the funding from Hope International, a Christian microfinance organization and one of UOB's stakeholders. Many thanks!
- Jeffrey

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OI Africa CEO Conference ...

For two days from April 19th to 20th, I attended the Opportunity International Africa CEO conference held in Franschhoek, S. Africa.
[Conference participants chatting after the conference before the dinner on the last day]
Various topics were discussed, including each implementing partner's challenges, creative solutions, the areas that Supporting Partners and/or OI Network Service Organization can help, and main business priorities for 2010. Peter Thorington shared about the new developments that are taking place in leadership changes with Opportunity International. It was encouraging to hear that the full time chairman for the OI Global Network Board will also work on expanding the list of support partners into different countries, such as Japan, S. Korea, Singapore.
The information about new products were also shared, including cell phone banking for OIB Malawi and micro leasing for UOB. One CEO shared how to implement the Self-Assessment Template (SAT) on risk factors with branches. The network CFO shared the network-wide financial analysis of the operating performance and the funding needs for 2010. He also shared the 8 priorities with implementing partners from the Network Service Organization's perspective.

The new CEO for OI US, Bill Morgenstern joined us for the first time and Peter Thorington, Chairman of the OI US Board also attended. The Africa regional chairman, Francis Pelekamoyo led the most of the meeting.

Several people could not attend the meeting because they were stranded somewhere in the U.S. and Europe because of the ashes that were floating in the air in the aftermath of the Iceland volcanic eruption.

Overall, the meeting schedule had to be changed quite a bit because of several people not showing up due to unexpected air hazards, but the conference was fruitful and informative.
- Jeffrey

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Transformation through Meeting the Resurrected Christ...

On Sunday, April 11th, I had the privilege of sharing the message, titled "Transformation through Meeting the Resurrected Christ at St. Etinne Cathedral in Kigali. The scriptures used for the sermon were Luke 24:13-35 and Acts 1:3-8.

I shared the testimonial about two great men in Christianity: Peter and Paul. The focus was how drastically their lives were transformed. It was not when Jesus was still alive, but after they met the risen Lord. Two disciples who were going back to Emmaus after they were saddened to witness the death of Jesus. They were disappointed and depressed about His death despite the news about His resurrection. Their hearts were burning when Jesus opened the scriptures in their dialogues although they recognized Him only after they saw Him break the bread.

We as the followers of Jesus must meet the resurrected Christ. We could truly transform our hearts only after we meet Him. After the disciples met the risen Lord, they became fearless and bold warriors of the gospel! Their encounter with the risen Lord was even more empowered by the Holy Spirit. Oh what a wonderful message! We all need to meet Him and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Only then, we would be able to witness the risen Lord with the gospel of hope and salvation to the ends of the earth! May this truth be a blessing to you all, too!
- Jeffrey

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

16th Anniversary on Genocide Memorial...

April 7th, 1994 was the day that marked another milestone in the human history with one of the most infamous stories of the genocide. Almost one million people were killed just over 100 days, or ten thousand people slaughtered a day. It was the fastest massacre among all genocides in the history. The United Nations was was so reluctant to use the term "genocide" to avoid the triggering of mandated actions that it had to take if the term "genocide" were used. It was only the denial of the reality. Human massacre was taking place in Rwanda and the news was being reported, but the reality was being ignored. Finally, the United Nations had no choice but to accept the reality and resolved to send some armours and troops. But the UN's rescue resources never reached the soil of Rwanda until the Rwanda Patriotic Front soldiers expelled the extreme Hutu militias out of the country and brought the genocide under control. Even after the massacre was stopped, the RPF soldiers had to kill all dogs because they were eating human dead bodies. Rwanda was a chaos.

And it was only 16 years ago.

16 years is not a short period of time, but it was only 16 years ago when the entire country was in total ruins, in despair and in extreme anger and bitterness. The anger was against the killers, against the neighbors who turned to become killers, against the priests and pastors who betrayed those who trusted them as the last refuge, against the western world that was ignoring the reality and against the former colonists that created the hatred among Rwandans for their control purposes, who were living in peace. In the midst of hatred and bitterness, however, the entire country was in hopelessness.

For the past 16 years, Rwanda has gone through unbelievable transformation. Transformation has been not only economic, political and diplomatic but also social and psychological. Rwanda has achieved remarkable economic improvements, political stability and diplomatic advancements in the world as well as in Africa. They have been impressive. But Rwanda has also attained tremendous psychological relief among people and incredible social reconciliation among the perpetrators and the victims during the genocide. It has been painful and unbearable to many. Nonetheless, they have come through and are still going through the process of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

At the same time last year, I only had intellectual knowleddge of the incident with very little sense of reality, and did not have sufficient experiences about the country and the people. Over the past one year, I have heard many live stories and met many people who went through the human tragedy. So I am better prepared than last year to talk about Rwanda and Rwandans.

I find great hope in this small country: the land of thousand hills. At the size of Maryland, Rwanda is land-locked and has no natural resources that are abundant in many African countries. Nonetheless, Rwanda is upbeat and hopeful now. Rwanda is aiming to be one of the exemplary countries in Africa, which is self-sufficient, self-reliable, self-governing and self-esteemed. Rwandans are proud people. They are not in a hurry. They are buhoro buhoro (slow slow). But they are determined and hard-working. They are open-minded and willing to learn. They do not mind being corrected and making changes. But they stand firm in their own identity, not being easily swayed by the western world's ethno-centric views.

I like Rwanda. I am grateful for Rwanda and for God's grace extended to Rwanda. I pray that He continues to bless this small country and use it to make the bigger and stronger countries ashamed for their corruption, selfishness and greed. It is my reflection on this humanly tragic memorial day, looking forward hopefully to the future that only God knows. - Jeffrey

Monday, April 5, 2010

Integral Mission Alliance Forum in Nairobi, Kenya...

[ACGC under construction] ...................................... [Africa Inland Church worship service]
From Thursday, April 1st to Sunday, April 4th, Integral Mission Alliance (IMA) held a forum at NEGST (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology) housed in Africa International University in Nairobi, Kenya. Kristin and I attended the forum together. It was a great blessing to both of us.

IMA was started by a handful of Christ-followers a couple of years ago with a concern over fragmented mission activities, losing the holistic and integral perspective of the gospel and His great commission.

All sessions were inspiring, challenging, thought-provoking, assuring, educational, encouraging, equipping, empowering and uplifting. More than anything else, the fellowship among all participants was priceless. We all shared the issues with which we deal in our day to day ministries and received group consultation from other participants. A couple of participants focused on serving the Muslims and they received great encouragement from each other. A participant is a member of the senior leadership team for a renowned international miaaion agency and shared what the organization is going through to renovate the corporate culture to be holistic and integral.

The session included a visit to ACGC (African Center for Great Commission) run by a missionary from Korea Lee who has been living and ministering to Kenyans for the past 15 years. The missionary is also a member of IMA. He has recently relocated to an unfinished new building where he provides existing local pastors with holistic education/training for more effective ministries. The building construction is expected to be completed in three weeks.

On the Easter Sunday, all participants attended two services at a local church, one in English and the other in Kiswahili, ministering to the inner city residents in Nairobi. One of the participants in the IMA forum is a professor at NEGST and serves this church as one of the part time volunteering pastors. Two of the IMA forum participants preached at two services with each service lasting three hours. The praise was lively and the messages were powerful. Despite the tin roof and unviting environment, the church has been growing with its members, particularly young people, now totaling approximately 1,500. We praised the Lord who blesses the churches that are worshiping Him genuinely, following His footsteps authentically, serving His people holistically and witnessing His love to others through integral life.
The IMA ended its official session Sunday evening with evaluation and plan for the way forward.

We praised the Lord who has been at the center of this alliance and all that have been developing in several countries among those who are like-minded. May this alliance grow and spread among all genuine Christ-followers with the commitment to loving and serving Him through authentic faith, holistic approaches and integral life in their ministries! - Jeffrey

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rwanda Presidential Advisory Council's (PAC) Visit to UOB...

On Tuesday, March 30th, Rwanda Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) members visited UOB's Nyamata Branch as part of PAC's focused review of Rwanda's education and finance sectors. For the finance sector, PAC members visited Banque Populaire, RIM (a non-bank microofinance institution) and Bank of Kigali in addition to UOB. The PAC members who visited UOB's Nyamata Branch included prominent people, such as Francois Kanimba, Governor of Rwanda's central bank and Sir David King, Oxford Professor and Chief Scientific Advisor to the U.K. Government).

Rather than my own description of what happened, I wanted to quote what one of the PAC members (Dale Dawson, Founder and CEO for Bridge2Rwanda) said in his e-mail to the UOB board members. (Dale happens to be one of the UOB board members.)


Friends – I’m sorry that I won’t be joining you for the UOB board meeting in April. I just returned home to Little Rock after being in Rwanda for most of last month. The last 3 days of the March, Bishop John and I attended President Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) meeting in Kigali. At this meeting, we focused on Rwanda’s education and finance sectors which included a field trip day last Tuesday to visit banks and schools.

As board members, I want you to know that Jeffrey Lee and UOB were singled out and praised as one of the most positive developments in Rwanda’s economic development. I joined other PAC members [BNR Governor Francois Kanimba, Sir David King ( Oxford professor and Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government), Eliane Ubalijoro (Professor at McGill University in Canada), Doug Shears (Agribusiness Entrepreneur and one of Australia’s wealthiest) and Dr Emmanuel Ndajiro (Intelligence and Security for Rwandan Government)] to visit the Nyamata branch and hear from Jeffrey and one of our extraordinary clients.

It was a stark contrast to our visits to Banque Populaire, RIM (Catholic MFI) and Bank of Kigali. Each of the other institutions have important roles to play in delivering financial services in Rwanda, but UOB’s professionalism, innovation and clear commitment to serve the needs and to transform the lives of the majority of Rwandans was impressive and inspiring.

The next day, all the team, including the Governor, raved to the President and the rest of the PAC about UOB’s current and potential impact on Rwanda. I want to thank Jeffrey and the rest of our UOB team for doing such a great job. We can all be proud of what Jesus is doing in Rwanda through UOB and our opportunity to be His witness. In His hands -- Dale

J. Dale DawsonFounder & CEO501.350.6269ddawson@bridge2rwanda.org


The Lord has been gracious to us so far and I trust that He will continue to hold our hands in our journey to serve the needy in Rwanda creatively and holistically in His name ultimately for His glory. Praise the Lord! - Jeffrey