Monday, January 31, 2011

A Weekend Getaway ...

Kristin and I had a short weekend getaway to Ruhengeri and Rubavu over January 29th to 31st.

[A Lake Kivu beach scene]

Ruhengeri is the capital town of Musanze District, a 2-hour drive from Kigali. There we had a fellowship with Dr. and Mrs. Youngmo Kim. He is a senior member of KOICA, the Korean international cooperation agency. Dr. Kim worked long for the Korean government's institute for forest development until he retired several years. He has since been volunteering in such countries as Indonesia, Guatemala and China. They grow all kinds of vegetables in their yards and they supply all their needs themselves. All home grown and organic, in other words. He is eager to help Rwanda achieve transformation in many agricultural areas. He is now teaching at ISAE, Rwanda's agricultural college.

[Mt. Sabyinyo...-->]

Ruhengeri is the home to Virunga National Park that comprises five volcanic mountains, namely Karisimbi, Muhabura, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Bisoke. Karisimbi is the tallest at 4,508m that I climbed in December. Sabyinyo looks most beautiful as shown in the photo. Virunga National Park is home to mountain gorillas that are living only three mountries: i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. The head of a gorilla family is called "silver back" because he has gray hair in his back. On average, a silver back weighs 400 pounds. I had an opportunity to trek them in December 2009 when our daughter Joyce visited us.

We stayed over night in Ruhengeri. On Sunday, we worshiped at St. John Cathedral that is the only church that has English service. Then, we headed out to Gisenyi, the capital town of Rubavu District. Gisenyi borders with DR Congo and is by the northern tip of the Lake Kivu that is the largest lake in Rwanda. Lake Kivu is known for its methane gas contained in the Lake by the water weight. Since methane gas is hazardous and harmful to people, this lake is one of the risky areas. But the government started an methane gas extraction project to convert it to the electricity. Once it is fully implemented, Rwanda will be able to increase its power capacity dramatically by 20 times, enabling itself to export excess power to neighboring countries.
This extraction project is like catching two birds with one stone. In other words, it removes the risk and generates the power.

[Entrance to Lake Kivu Serena]

This place is beautiful and gives you a moment of tranquil serenity. We both had a good time of rest and relaxation. We thanked the Lord for the opportunity. - Jeffrey

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blessed are the Pure in Heart ...

I have been preaching at UOB devotions (Mondays and Fridays) in January on the "Beatitudes." On Friday, January 28th, I shared the message about Matthew 5:8.

[Next to me is Daniel, Director of Transformational Impact, who interprets for me most of times.]
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (NIV)

There are several types of purity.

Absolute Purity exists only in God. No one else can have it.

Relative Purity existed with angels and humans before the fall. All humans have since fallen and part of angels have also fallen out of purity.

Positional Purity is granted to people who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord because He washed our sins through His redemptive work on the Cross.

Ultimate Purity is secured for the Christians who will have it when the Lord returns as the King of kings and the Lord of lords on the Day of the Lord and when He restores His Kingdom completely.

Practical Purity is what Christians strive to achieve during their earthly lives through sanctification. It is not easy, but should be neglected. It is possible because God has shown us the ways to pursue it. When facing temptations, we should put on the believer's whole armor. (Ephesians 6) When failing and making mistakes, we should repent by confessing our sins and receive forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

Apostle Paul urged us to strive for practical purity in 2 Corinthians 7:1.

"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purity ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (NIV)

This purity is more applicable to heart because out of it come all thoughts. The bible says heart is the wellspring of life and therefore we should guard it. (Proverbs 4:23)

Those whose hearts are pure are blessed or happy because they will see God. They will comprehend God. They will realize that God is there. They will experience the presence of God. They will be able to know what God's will is. Purity of heart cleanses the eyes of soul so that God is visible.

Christians are already blessed because they have positional purity and have the promise of ultimate purity. Those who pursue practical purity in their earthly lives are even more blessed because they will be able to see God in their lives and walk with Him, rejoicing in His presence and perfecting holiness out of reverence for Him.

May this message bless and encourage all who commit to pursuing practical purity in their lives, no matter how difficulty it may seem. Amen! - Jeffrey

Sunday, January 16, 2011

'I Have a Dream' - Breaking Racial Barriers in Christ's Love...

In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, we should remember the commandments of Christ's love and dare to obey them in our lives no matter what the world tempts us to believe and say to us.

[The following article is an excerpt from Billy Graham Evangelic Association's Blog. Please click below to watch a video clip that shows Billy Graham in action in 1965, breaking racial barriers in Alabama. It is a touching and inspirational 13 minute video clip. May you have "Shalom" in your heart under any circumstances! - Jeffrey ]

BGEA: 'I Have a Dream'

January 14, 2011 - As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the holiday recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., learn about his friendship with Billy Graham and pray for racial unity in our nation.

Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend, Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.

“I have a dream,” cried Martin Luther King, Jr., on August 28, 1963, “…that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, 'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.'"

In 2011, as people debate whether the United States of America has achieved that dream of racial equality, we pause to celebrate the man who uttered those profound words.

Martin Luther King, Jr., entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in February 1948 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, at the age of 19. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

While there, King was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

In was in 1957, that King was invited by Billy Graham to give the opening prayer at a major Crusade event in New York’s Madison Square Garden. That same year, Mr. Graham asked King to join him at a private planning retreat to help Billy Graham Evangelistic Association team members understand the racial situation in America more fully.

As their friendship grew, King asked Mr. Graham to call him by his nickname. “His father,” explains Graham, “who was called Big Mike, called him Little Mike. He asked me to call him just plain Mike.”

King credited Mr. Graham with having a significant part in reducing the tension between whites and blacks in the South. In 1965, Mr. Graham canceled a tour of Europe to preach a series of crusades in Alabama, praying that the Gospel would tear down walls of division between the races and seeing the importance of his work alongside King’s.

King later said, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend, Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”

During the civil rights movement, Mr. Graham preached, “Jesus was not a white man; he was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world!”

Mr. Graham was in Australia at the time of King’s death. He remembers the moment someone approached him with news of King’s assassination, followed by journalists seeking a quote. “I was almost in a state of shock. Not only was I losing a friend through a vicious and senseless killing, but America was losing a social leader and a prophet, and I felt his death would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Korean Seniors in Rwanda (KSR)...

[At Prof. Shin's dorm at KIST.... A feast prepared by Dr. Kim's .....A group shot at the Dr. Kim's]

There are a dozen Korean seniors living in Rwanda. Many of them are volunteers through KOICA and others are missionaries and the like ministering to the Rwandans.

They formed an informal gathering and named it "Korean Seniors in Rwanda." The purpose of the gathering was: 1) to fellowship with each other, 2) to share relevant information with each other and 3) to do good works together for the needy.

KSR has chosen to collect and build up a fund to assist a boy who was begotten by a Korean father and born of a Rwandan mother. He was named "Daehan" that means "Great Korea" in Korean. Unfortunately, his father disappeared some time ago and now is rumored that he died in S. Africa. KSR members wanted to establish a fund that will help Daehan go to college and settle down when he grows up.

KSR also wanted to expand its charitable work as time goes by.

KSR members include three professors at ISAE, an agricultural college, one professor at KIST, a technical college, one professor at NUR, the largest national university and a vet doctor as a missionary, a representative for Korean New Village Movement, the chief representative for KOICA and myself. There are wives of some of the members who also participate in the gathering. There are others who are eligible but have not joined the gathering yet. I pray that this group of people may bring some value and assistance that Rwanda needs. - Jeffrey

Friday, January 14, 2011

Presentation for KOICA members and Korean NGOs

On January 14th, I gave a presentation about UOB and micro finance in general to KOICA representatives and several Korean NGO representatives.

Micro finance is an integral part of most of NGOs in helping the rural poor and it is getting done in an unorganized manner.

As the largest MFI in Rwanda, what UOB is doing may not be imitated by them, but at least they may tasted what it may be like with a full scale MFI.

I hope it has been helpful to them. - Jeffrey

MoU Signing Ceremony with all Business Unit Leaders

On Jan. 14th, we held a meeting with all business units to share the annual goals and sign MoUs with individual business units for their own goals and objectives.

These business unit leaders are the actors in the fields. We have lofty goals and objectives for 2011 to grow approximately 50% to achieve the sustainability and to scale up our transformation programs for clients. By the year-end, we plan to increase the number of clients that receive at least one training per month to 17,000. It is a challenging goal but we agreed to pursue it.

Also the branches will hold "UOB Nights" at least once a month to provide training for the clients.

I pray that the good Lord will be gracious to us in 2011 to achieve the goals we have established for ourselves and for our clients. - Jeffrey

Saturday, January 8, 2011

UOB Day - January 2011...

[Top to bottom, left to right: UOB Gospel Singers leading the praise... all staff praising together... Six staff who are scheduled to get married receiving the "key to new life"... "UOB Day Banner" ... Gary Sheer delivering the message]

Every second Saturday of January and July, we hold the UOB Day. It is the day for all UOB staff to gather together to praise and pray to God, share thanksgiving and the bank's vision, mission and plans, and fellowship with colleagues for encouragement and edification.

On January 8th, we held it at La Palisse conference center. Approximately 200 people gathered. Every year, we select a theme for the year and it was "Shalom!" for 2011. Gary Sheer, a missionary from Colorado, was the guest speaker. He h
as been ministering in Rwanda for the past 30 years and his Kinyarwanda was absolutely fluent. Many staff said that his Kinyarwanda is even better than many Rwandans.
So he delivered a message about "Shalom" in Kinyarwanda.

Gary hit the nail right on the head.

He said that we do not become Christians just because we sing Christian songs. We should have "Shalom" (God's peace) in our hearts in relation to the creator God by repentance and confession of faith in the Lord. Also, we as a Christian micro finance bank should keep in mind the role to promote "Shalom" among ourselves as well as the clients. Our role to provide the money for the clients is not enough. We should facilitate "Shalom" among ourselves and clients. "Shalom" is a profound word. It implies sinlessness, unity, reconciliation, restoration, perfect harmony etc.

"Shalom" existed at the Garden of Eden. But it has been broken by the sin. God has provided us with the way to restore "Shalom" and it is Jesus Christ. With the gospel of Jesus, we may restore the broken "Shalom" to the harmony with God, self, others and the rest of the creation only through our faith and spiritual growth in Jesus. We will never have it perfectly, the way it was at the Garden of Eden in this life, but we trust that it will be made perfect again when the Lord returns and completes His Kingdom. Until then, "we should make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3)

I also shared the organizational "S.H.A.L.O.M." As an acronym, it represented "Scale up!, Harmonize!, Achieve! Optimize! and Maximize/minimize!" With the Lord's mercy, we will be able to achieve the sustainability (stop losing money) and to relieve the lending staff from handling cash in their credit activities in 2011.

[Beata receiving the gift from Eugenie and staff.... With Beata ..... Beata with all current and former team members]

One of the staff, Beata, declared her plan to retire and we had a small celebration. She was one of the founding members of UOB and has been working for the past 13 years. In the Eastern Province, UOB and Beata are the mirror image. Her former and current team members plus several other staff shared their farewell messages and gifts. It was wonderful to see one of the staff retire with an honor after long years of service.

We acknowledged those who have been promoted and have received different assignments. We also acknowledged those teams who have excelled in their transformation work on Process/Service Fit Test and in documenting "transformation stories."

I learned that UOB had 15 weddings and 23 babies in 2010. What a blessing to be part of God's plan to multiply and prosper! We also had six weddings coming up and we had a small celebration. Each bride or groom to be received a key necklace. I learned that the key was to open the door for a new life. One of the senior staff members prayed for them.

We all shared the excitement for what God has in store for us in 2011 in great anticipation. Praise the Lord! - Jeffrey

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Health Education at Kininya Church...

On January 3rd and 4th, 2011, the first two business days of the New Year, Kristin conducted a seminar on body, sex and health for the men and women at Kininya Church. This church is pastored by Pastor Muhizi with the assistance of Missionary Bohye Kim from S. Korea. The church is located in Kininya, close to Kigali, but the way to the church is challenging particularly on a rainy day because of the muddy road that is even slanted. Once Kristin's car got stuck in the mud and it took quite bit of time and effort to get out of the mud.

Because of the gender difference, the education had to take place in two different groups on two different days. These people include many who are HIV/AIDS-positive, but they can control the worsening of the disease with proper attention. Youth was also included in the group, but some are more interested in avoiding pregnancy rather than abstaining from premarital sex. An on-going education with the gospel message seems to be the only answer to this issue, seeking the Holy Spirit's works in their hearts.

Thanks to a supporter's financial contribution, we were able to provide them with lunch. Many live with one meal a day and any extraordinary meal will be helpful to them. - Jeffrey

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shalom Bible Study (SBS) in Transition...

On January 5th, 2001, Shalom Bible Study (SBS) finished a 3-month long study on "Jesus and Kingdom Life." This day was also the last bible study session for three of the members: Jooheum, Jihoon and Sangmin. They all are KOICA members and they are going back to Korea after their 2-year volunteer service in Rwanda. Their departure is the second time after Junghee went back to Korea a few weeks ago.

[This is how we started almost 2 years ago. me, Kristin, Jooheum, Jihoon and Sangmin.]

They were the founding members of SBS so my sadness was deep. Jooheum was sincere and faithful to his promises. Jihoon has shown significant growth in his faith. Sangmin led us in our praise and he was very steady. Despite our sadness, we remembered that we could not fellowship among ourselves forever. They were called away to be sent off to Korea. They all appreciated our fellowship and expressed their growth in faith and commitment to the Lord and His Kingdom life.

Jooheum is a PhD candidate, but he plans to complete a venture project first, which he was involved before he came to Rwanda. He is specialized in e-Business. Jihoon and Sangmin will go back to school to finish their college education in computer science.

Thus, SBS is now in transition. Currenty, SBS has Yurim, Anna and Missionary Hwang who have all recently joined us. Yurim is working in Nyamata in the South, an one-hour drive, and Anna is working in Ruhengeri, a two-hour drive. Missionary Hwang's recent addition is a blessing since we now can share the ministry. Additionally, Eunyoung and Seungbaik will be joining us from next week. They are volunteering also in Ruhengeri, so we will change the meeting date to Friday. Also, Minjung in Kigali will be joining us. Yeonhee and Heejung also want to join us, but I am not sure if our small living room will be big enough to accommodate them all. We will see...

It is a blessing that we are able to study the Word and grow together in our faith and commitment to the Lord. "Oh Lord, may the SBS continue to seek Your favor and blessing as a new group! May we witness a growth in our "Shalom" with ourselves, with You and with others!" Amen! - Jeffrey

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Billy Graham's Prayer for the New Year...

Billy Graham's Prayer for the New Year

[This prayer from Billy Graham, written for "The Saturday Evening Post" in 2008, is just as relevant in 2011. ]

Help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.


[Copied from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Blog. Reprinted rom The Saturday Evening Post magazine, © 2008 Saturday Evening Post Society. Reprinted with permission.]