Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Holistic Christian Transformation - Shalom

When you happen to meet someone who shares the exactly same view on critical thoughts, you get chilled and excited with goose bumps, to put it mildly. That was the case. I had that experience at the Hope Leadership Summit.

Luis Sena is Director of Institute for Christian Transformation in Dominican Republic. He is now collaborating with Esperanza International, DR, reaching out Haiti. He was serving for Food for the Hungry for 28 years with 24 years as National Director before he retired to this institute.

He was talking about Holistic Transformation that should be manifest in microfinance. In other words, micro finance is not just a means or tool to achieve the holism but microfinance itself should be holistically redeemed by God's grace according to His salvation plan. Microfinance is to help the poor. But the poverty is not just material. It is also mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual. When we sin, our relationships with God, others, self and other creation are all broken. Salvation is the process of restoring these broken relationships to the original sinless perfect harmony, called Shalom. In the bible, all things, not one thing left, but all things need to be reconciled to God, thus achieving the redemptive work in whatever we do. All things include micro finance or any thing that may look trivial in human eyes.

I think this is well summarized in the following sentence.

"the NATURE of poverty is fundamental RELATIONAL and the CAUSE of poverty is fundamentally SPIRITUAL" - Bryant Myers

This sentence is quite profound. In other words, our poverty is caused by the spiritual reasons: i.e. fall of humanity and the way it is manifest is through our relationships. Thus, all things, whether sacred or secular, need to be reconciled to God to restore the Shalom that God desires.

Even those who are living in affluent countries and who appear to be happy may want more (greed in the state of poverty) or unhappy because of complex relational challenges due mainly to human greed. We all have some state of poverty. We all are impoverished in one form or another.

Thus, all our efforts should focus on holistic outcome/transformation no matter what we do and how we do. That is walking the talk and living out the belief. May this truthful presentation transform many hearts and minds of Christians to help transform the world to be closer to the world to come when our Lord Jesus returns.

Luis and I agreed to stay in touch to learn from each other and to sharpen each other. May we experience mutual learning and edification. - Jeffrey

Joseph, Man of God with Forgiveness

[The Millenium Theater Entrace.... A statue of a lion and a lamb. Lion symbolizes God Father and a lamb symbolizes the slain lamb, Jesus. Salvation belongs to the Father God sitting on the throne and a little lamb who has been slain without a sin. They are our salvation.]

Usually, people talk about Broadway when musicals are discussed, whether they on-broadway or off-broadway shows.

I found one way-off-broadway show that is larger in scale and much godlier than most of on-broadway shows. It was not in Los Angeles or Miami or Philadelphia or Chicago or San Francisco.

It was in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. It is called "Millenium Theater" run by Sight and Sound. In the neighborhood, there are no other shows or commercial neon signs. Only this theater stands out next to a Amish farm.

This theater can house almost 3,000 guests at one time. The stage is the largest that I have ever seen for commercial purposes. The technological skills produced Joseph to fly in the sky in his dream. Dozens of animals were mobilized and used for the musical, including camels. Moreover, the actors were using the entire theater as the stage. People run down on the hallways and horse barns appear on the side walls. Egypt's palace, spinx, pyramids are all coming alive with the props and actors in harmony. Even more amazing than all these was that all they produce and show are biblical contents. For the past 35 years, they have been producing and showing only biblical contents, primarily people in the bible. It was all started by a photo grapher who wanted to share his work in a way to celebrate God's creation. With some sound and light effects, his show began drawing interest from the neighbors. So he has started producing Christian musicals solely for the purpose of praising God's grace. It has now grown to be one of the most prominent musical theaters in the nation over 35 years. It is unbelievable that this size of musical theater can sustain its operations in a relatively small county, producing and showing only Christian musicals. Ordinary talent offered in genuine spirit may turn to be fragrance to God and may bear many fruits beyond our human imagination. It cannot be sustained without God's grace.

Joseph was a man of God, upright with integrity and humility. He was patiently waiting for God's right time for him to be called into His ministry. He was also a man of wisdom, using God's perspective on all decision-making processes. The most powerful display of his godliness was when he boldly forgave all his brothers who sold him as a slave to Egyptian merchants and lied to their father, Jacob, that he was killed by wild animals.

His comment: "you have tried to harm me but God has turned your sinful intent to produce His goodness. He has sent me ahead of Israel so that Israel may be saved from the severe famine." What a tremendous confession of his faith in God! May this all be our confession in our lives, whether we are under God's grace or not. We should be thankful all the way. - Jeffrey

Sunday, May 22, 2011

HOPE's Thurman Award for Rebecca - Two Consecutive Years for UOB Clients

God has been so gracious to UOB in 2011 in many ways.

[Left: Thurman Award was given at Celebrating HOPE Event on May 21st.
Right: The Thurman Award for 2010 went to Chantal who is pictured with her husband. Unfortunately we did not
have Rebecca's photo as I was writing this blogpost. Lower Right: The Thurman Award 2011]

One of the special blessings that we have received is the winning of Thurman Award by UOB's client for two consecutive years from HOPE International. UOB's client, Chantal, won this award in 2010. This year, it has been awarded to Rebecca.

Thurman Award is an award given out to a special client whose transformation stories have been most inspiring and producing tremendous impact in the lives of other people. Many MFIs in the HOPE network (15 countries) are filing applications and only one client is selected for the Thurman Award in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Thurman who was the founding CEO of HOPE International. It is not common that one institution wins the prestigious award for two years in a row, so it was made possible only with God's grace.

Rebecca joined UOB's trust group in 2006 with a small $38 loan. Since then, she has continued to grow her business and along with the business growth her borrowing amount has also grown now to $2,000. She has several businesses: a retail shop selling drinks and groceries, a community gathering place and a banana plantation. All these have been done over 5 years. Rebecca is a tremendously gifted entrepreneur.

But it was not just her entrepreneurial skills that helped her transform economically, but also her social impact that she produced that made her eligible for the Thurman Award. She has four of her own biological children and she has four more of her adopted children. She cares for them equally with love. Moreover, she has been compassionate towards other less fortunate people in the same village. Her lending staff was giving an example of a young man who did not have a job or a business to run. Rebecca bought a motorcycle and now he is riding it as a motor taxi, earning money for his family. Rebecca is also inspirational to her friends and relatives with her commitment to faith in Christ. She attributes her success to God's grace without hesitation. She desires to help others as much grace as she has received from the gracious God. It is a story of economic, social and spiritual transformation.

I received the award on her behalf in front of more than 500 donors and HOPE staff. She has received a HOPE logo wooden sculpture and a $500 prize. This award will be given out to Rebecca on UOB Day in July in front of all UOB staff and some others who have been exemplary in their transformational activities. Rebecca is only one of 34,000 borrowing clients and one of 94,000 deposit clients whom we are privileged to serve. This kind of transformational stories may grow more and more as time goes by when we commit ourselves to providing transformational training for our clients as if we work for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)

Praise the good Lord for His wonderful grace poured upon UOB! - Jeffrey

Friday, May 20, 2011

D-100 - Hike Kilimanjaro 2011!

Seven friends and I have a plan to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2011.

[This photo was taken from an airplane in 2009, which gave me the dream to hike it.]

Today is D-100!

Now the countdown has begun.

Some statistics:

Two are from Rwanda, two are from New York and four are from S. Korea.

Seven are in their 50's and one in his 20's. (Originally all would have been in their 50's but at the last minute one has inherited to his son.) Their ages total approximately 400 years.

Five are men and three are women.

There is only one couple.

All desire to reach the summit, but the probability is only 50%.

So far we have exchanged 14 correspondences.

We all are excited!

Hooray! - Jeffrey

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seeing Friends and Family...

[From left to right: Rev. M.S. Ahn and her wife Shinjong in L.A....
Jennifer, Hyunjoo, Mike, Chuck, Lim and Eunice in Colorado...
Amanda, our daughter in Clovis, NM]
[NB: I regret that I forgot to take a photo of our daughter Joyce!!!]

[Jean-Suk, In Kim...................... Julie and Jean-Suk's wife.......... Mindy and Sunghoon Song in CA]

Traveling is such a joy. You get to visit and see new places that are beautiful and interesting. You can also get away from your daily routines for refreshment. These are fun.

But greater joy is to see family and old friends. Absolutely!

During our trip to the U.S. we have seen our daughters, relatives and many old friends.

We saw many friends and brothers/sisters at Logos Central Chapel in Denver. We stayed at Dr. Chuck and Eunice Lee's home in Littleton, Colorado for five days. We had a meeting with several couples to give them a ministry update. We saw Elder Hahm's family, Mr. Wonjoong Kim's couple, Rev. Randy Joo, Rev. Kenny Hong, Linda Paek, Lim and Jennifer Ko, Mike and Hyunjoo Kim.

We visited our daughter Amanda in Clovis, New Mexico. She is serving the country now as an officer at US Air Force. James was not there because he was deployed. We also saw Saul, Amanda's new dog.

We stayed at Mr. Sunghoon and Mindy Song's home in Rancho Palos Verdes, California for four days. We were Sunday school teachers together for Senior High School students at Oriental Mission Church, Los Angeles. They are lovely and godly people. Their home was high up in a peninsula with an ocean view. Spectacular!

In California, we saw Jinsoo's family, my wife's cousin in Irvine, California. We also had dinner with In Kim's couple and Jean-Suk Kim's couple. They are old friends from Oriental Mission Church. We ministered together at the Sunday school, too. We also saw many old friends who were students or teachers at the OMC College Department in the 1970's and 1980's. Wow... what a bunch of friends! Rev. Sunja Kang, Rev. Peter Song, Rev. Taejong Lee, Rev. Kangkuk Kong... Kristin saw Soonae Lee, her close friend while I was meeting Mijin Barret, a prayer supporter for our ministry. We also saw Ji-young Rhee, a long-time colleague for BAM (Business As Mission) while we were presenting to the believers at Irvine Baptist Church.

In New York, we saw Kristin's family, including her ill mother; her brothers and their wives, and many others, such as Mr. and Mrs. Yeunho Suk, Koomin Chung, Jun Kim, Yeonhee Han, Minja Lee (my sister), Mr. and Mrs. Jay Yoon, Mr. and Mrs. Jae-Sup Choi, Jennifer Oh (Kang), Dr. Karl Kim and Mr. and Mrs. Cho (Kristin's friend Myunghee Kim's couple) We could have met a lot more people if we wanted to, but we did not have enough time.

In Philadelphia, we saw our daughter Joyce. She is now working for Urban Outfitters, but she is heading to Milan, Italy on May 28th for an 8-month internship with Design Boom. She may continue to stay in Italy for a year-long program with Benetton, but it is uncertain. She has also been admitted to Peace Corps but the deployment date has been postponed. It was a great joy to see our children grow up to be independent.

We also saw Rev. Steve and Mona Park, shepherding Jubilee Presbyterian Church in a suburban Philadelphia. The church moved to a new compound even with a cafe, called Cafe 25 Ten, in reference to Deutoronomy 25:10 about Jubilee. We also spent time with Mr. Insoo Kang who is Director of Mission for Jubilee's English Ministry. Jubilee is supporting us with prayer. We appreciate their support.

Now I am in Lancaster, PA attending Hope International's Annual Leadership Summit. I see old friends and colleagues in the Hope International network.

Relational joy is greater than geographical joy, I would say. - Jeffrey

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dr. Bryant Myers at Fuller Theological Seminary...

Dr. Einstein is the icon in Physics. Michael Jordan is the star in basketball. Babe Ruth is the legend in baseball. ...

Who would be the guru for the international development industry?

It is Dr. Bryant Myers.

He was a VP at World Vision for several years. Now he is professor of international development at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is a practitioner as well as an academia. His book, "Walking with the Poor" is the bible for anyone who is pursuing a degree or a career in international development.

He emphasizes holistic ministry.

A quote:

"The NATURE of poverty is fundamentally RELATIONAL and the CAUSE of poverty is fundamentally SPIRITUAL."

It is a profound statement.

Why am I talking about this?

Today I met him in person. It was such a wonderful opportunity to listen to him. His advice was golden. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to meet Dr. Myers! - Jeffrey

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Long Distance Road Trip...

[At a coffee shop by a stream in Vail... Colorado Ski Museum in Vail...... A California coast scene..]

[Endless freeway in Arizona ... Pelicans in the sky in California.......... A beautiful California coast]

A road trip is fun in that you enjoy freedom and openness. It is inspirational when you sense God's marvelous creation from spectacular beauties abound on the way.

Starting from Denver, CO, Kristin and I took an extensive 25-day road trip from April 27th.

First, we drove up to Granby in the mountains. It was a short 2 hour trip. From there, we drove to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It was a 7-hour drive and the sceneries were panoramic and spectacular. I have already posted a blog on this trip.

From Pagosa Springs, we drove down to Santa Fe, New Mexico for 3 hours, continuing to drive to Clovis, New Mexico where Amanda is living. It was another 4 hour drive.

From Clovis, we drove to Flagstaff, Arizona for 9 hours. The following day, we continued to drive to Los Angeles, California. It was another 8-hour drive. Of course, we drove around in Los Angeles and Orange counties visiting friends and churches.

From Los Angeles, we drove to Green River, Utah for 9 hours and continued to drive to Denver, Colorado the following day for 5 hours. We stopped over at Vail, one of the finest and the most famous ski resorts in Colorado.

When we returned a rental car on May 17th, the total mileage that we had added to the Chevy Impala was more than 4,000 miles or 6,400 km. Wow...

During the road trip, we saw snow capped mountains, gushing rivers, evergreen pine trees, high flying eagles, white clouds decorating blue skies in free style, dry but crisp deserts, endless flat plains, incredible cliff dwellings, vastly scattered fire-burned forest, cowboy families herding cows and sheep. We also experienced mineral hot springs at Pagosa Springs, saw friends and families, and tasted delicious foods. It was well worthwhile.

I don't think I will miss long-distance driving for a while.

We thanked God for His traveling mercy on us during the trip. - Jeffrey

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cliff Dwellers at Mesa Verde...

[Mesa Verde National Park.........Cliff Dwellers lived in places like this and there are 4,000 sites like this, small and large]

Mesa Verde National Park is in Colorado, close to the Four Points where four states meet: Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The site above is called Cliff Palace, the largest of 4,000 sites. This place has approximately 130 chambers and it is believed that 125 people lived there and the place has been used as a town hall for many smaller cliff dwellers in the area for the purposes of gathering, trading and ritual activities.

It is mysterious that American Indians who chose to live in open caves like this for less than 100 years disappeared out of these cliff dwellings suddenly as if they all raptured. It is suspected that they could no longer live there because of the prolonged droughts that are estimated have lasted for 23 years around early 1900's.

Architects are said to find the construction of the buildings to be very sophisticated with accurate geometry used for the construction. Water was collected from drips and rains. They grew agricultural crops and made potteries.

Whatever the reason may be for their choice of living under the big rocks and for their sudden disappearance from these cliffs, it is amazing to go back to their ancient living through these sites. - Jeffrey

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

5-day Hiking...and 7-hour Spectacular Driving...

[Trees after snowing.... The whole world was covered with snow....... Have you seen this lately?]

While Kristin and I were in the Rocky Mountains, I had an opportunity to practice hiking for five consecutive days from April 28th through May 2nd. Every day, I hiked on average for 4 hours a day and the last day I was able to hike 20 miles from Grand Lake to the condominium in Silvercreek nearby Granby over 7 and a half hours. It was great joy and blessing to me that I was able to finish it despite weather challenges due to sporadic snowing. I originally planned to hike for 6 days to prepare for the 6-day hike that I am planning to do in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) in August along with seven others, but I had to settle for 5 days.

During five days, almost everyday it snowed. On Friday, I had to settle for walking on tread mill, but overall it was a wonderful experience to walk the beautiful Rocky Mountains covered with snow.

On May 5th, Kristin and I drove from Granby to Pagosa Springs. It was a 300 mile distance and it ended up with 360 miles because we got lost once in the mountains. It was a spectacular view all the way with the mountains still covered with snow and the blue sky contasting with white clouds. It was sunny and everything was photo perfect. I drove for seven hours but it was a very plesant drive and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Throughout the journey we praised almighty God who created this beautiful nature with His word. Much of the nature has been ruined by human destruction but we could still feel the unspoiled beauty of the nature. America is a blessed country. - Jeffrey