Monday, October 31, 2011

7 billion people on earth...

Today, October 31st, 2011, the earth population reached 7 billion. This compares to 2.8 billion in 1955. It is projected to reach 9 billion by 2045. Can the earth take these many people?

Some call it a population bomb.

Every second, 3-5 people are newly born. On November 5th, the population has already reached 7 billion and 1 million. It is scary.

Can the earth supply the food for its population?

One out of every seven people will go to bed hungry every night. It is a cold reality of hunger and poverty.

Most of us who are reading this article do not worry about the hunger. But there are people who are hungry and in poverty. We cannot and should not ignore these people. We should do something to help these people graduate out of the chronic and absolute poverty. - Jeffrey

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shalom Bible Study (SBS) Completed the Acts...

Praise the Lord!

Shalom Bible Study completed the study of the Book of Acts over the past 7-8 months. We celebrated God's grace over our study and our successful completion. Through the study, we witnessed how the great commission was emphasized to all of us, how the church was born when the Holy Spirit descended upon the saints, how the early church in Jerusalem was established and ministering to people, how Stephan was martyred and how the church was forced to be scattered, how the apostles proclaimed the gospel with miraculous signs and wonders, how the apostle Paul was boldly witnessing who Jesus was and what He has done for us and how we may know God and may be saved. What a powerful journey of the Holy Spirit!

We all learned that the Acts of the Holy Spirit have not ended at the 28th Chapter of Acts. We Christians are called to continue writing the 29th Chapter of the Acts through our lives. Whether we participate or not, the Acts of the Holy Spirit will continue and when we do we shall share the joy of our God. If we do not, we will miss the opportunity to be part of God's grand salvation plan.

Shalom Bible Study dates back to 2009 when Kristin and I started a small bible study with three KOICA volunteers: Jooheum, Jihun and Sangmin. The SBS started growing gradually and we ended up splitting the group in August 2011 since it was getting far too big. For this study, some members started the study together but had to go back to Korea without completing the study, but new members also joined in the process. The members who remain in the SBS now include:

Missionary Koh's family (Mrs. Koh and their son Kyungchul)
Deacon Sejun Park
Jihye Moon
Minjung Kim
Hyeyoung ChoiSunghye Yoon
Isaac Baik
Garam Kwon
Kristin and me

From the list of topics and bible books that I suggested, we have agreed to study next on the "Sermon on the Mount." Many wanted to study on "Good Steward's Financial Management" but this study has been decided to be shared with the members of Agape Korean Church of Rwanda on one Saturday.

We rejoiced greatly together in the completion and encouraged each other to be faithful to the
next study.

I have included a few photos that show the SBS history:

[A group photo taken after SBS was split, August 2011]

[A group photo taken after the study of Ephesians, March 2010. Junghee, Jihun, Yeonhee, Sangmin and Jooheum]

[A group photo taken after completing the study on "Romans." A humble beginning in 2009 with Jooheum, Jihun and Sangmin.]

To date, SBS has completed the studies on "Ephesians", "Romans", "God's Names and Titles", "Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom Life" and "Acts." May God continue to lead us to improve our knowledge of God and His will so that our lives may reflect His will and love to bring Him the glory that He deserves! - Jeffrey

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Opportunity International CEO Conference

On October 24 and 25, there was Opportunity International CEO Conference held in Franshhoek, S. Africa. Franshhoek means "French Corner" that is 45 minutes away from Cape Town and is known for its Alps-looking mountenous scenery and wineries.

Originally, this conference was organized as OI Africa CEO Conference. But OI Network has newly appointed the CEO for its GMO (Global Microfinance Operations) and this new CEO wanted to conduct a brainstorming session on OI's triple bottom lines with the 9 CEOs in Africa
and 2 CEOs in Eastern Europe. Along with him, Chairman of the OI Network Board was also in attendance and so are many other GMO chiefs, such as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Risk Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Auditor and a few functional directors for African regions. There was a group of 26.

On the first day, all country CEOs gave a short presentation about how they are performing in their respective countries, YT September, and a snapshot budget for 2012 and their funding needs. On behalf of UOB staff, I was pleased to report how God has been graciously blessing UOB and its clients for the first nine months of 2011. A 77% growth in loans and 48% growth in deposits, operational self sustainability of 111% in September, an excellent PAR>30 of 0.74%, significant client growth, improved productivity and efficiency, apparent progress in client transformation etc.

Moreover, I was only one presenting that was not in need of additional funding for 2012, while all others asked for additional funding, except for Eastern European implementing members, since we have already secured all funding required for the projected growth of almost 50%. We praised the Lord! Besides, we were projecting an annual OSS of 102% with a projected ROE of 10%, the mandated maximum ROE.

On the second day, we spent an extensive amount of time brainstorming about OI's triple bottom lines: Transformational Impact, Sustainability and Outreach. Normally I remain quiet in the conference unless there are essential issues to be discussed. But I was encouraged by both the OIN Chairman as well as the new GMO CEO to speak up and share our experiences at UOB. I ended up presenting the Christ-centered, client-focused service graphs that are tied to the OI's triple bottom lines and triple transformational impact graphs. They all liked it and I was happy to share what has been used at UOB. The leadership also asked us to assist other implementing members to enhance their client transformation efforts, such as Holistic Life Improvement modules. Absolutely!

It was an intensive two-day meeting, but we all felt encouraged by the OIN executive leadership's commitment to the Christian-faith and to transformation. We all left hopeful for the progress to be made over the next six months or so until we meet and report the progress. May our good Lord bless the OIN leadership to steer the largest Christian microfinance organization in the world into the right direction where God's glory may be manifest in an uplifting way! - Jeffrey

Friday, October 21, 2011

Meeting with Mats Tunehag

On Friday, October 21st, 2011, I had one of the exciting moments of meeting someone you wanted to meet. I met Mats Tunehag. He is one of the world-renowned experts in Business As Mission or BAM. He is serving the Lausant Movement and writes many articles and books about BAM.

He came to us as part of Bridge 2 Rwanda's guests. B2R is an NGO founded by Dale Dawson, a Christian investment banker who turned himself to the Kingdom business of bringing resources and borrowed talents to Rwanda. He is a member of UOB board.
[Chuck, me, Mats, Tom and Russ. Dale had to leave for an appointment.]

Along with him, Dale this time brought several friends, such as Tom Phillips, a long-time supporter of UOB and Opportunity International. He has already started a chicken farm and is starting a mini hydraulic power plant. Both of them are Kingdom businesses dedicated to His Kingdom. We also had Chuck Weldon and Russ Bylsma who are in hospitality business. They came to Rwanda to see if they can start a BAM in the hospitality industry. Mats Tunehag has come to observe what is happening in Rwanda.

We had an exciting time, sharing what the Lord has done in our lives and what He has bestowed upon us. We easily clicked because we shared many common views and identified a few mutual friends. What a small world! He told me that after this visit to Rwanda he would be going to New York to speak to Korean American BAMers. We quickly identified 'who's who.' Isn't it amazing?

May God bless all my brothers in Christ and many of His people to be great blessings to others who are in need through the Kingdom businesses! - Jeffrey

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

IFC Corporate Leadership Program Delegates

On October 17 and 18, I had an opportunity to meet with 26 delegates from IFC (International Finance Corporation), World Bank's arm to assist the private sectors of the
developing countries. These delegates came to Rwanda as part of its Corporate Leadership Program designed to develop the emerging middle management leadership.

On 17th, a group of 9 delegates visited UOB and we talked about who we are and what we do. They also attended one of our client group meetings.

On 18th, I again met with the 9 delegates for one and a half hour about leadership: what it is and how it should be to be effective. I also shared my faith journey to Rwanda and Christian values. They all appreciated my sharing. Praise the Lord!

After this session, we met altogether with a couple
of other local leaders in a group setting for an hour. We discussed a few issues that were most appealing to them.

They are future leaders of IFC. UOB borrowed $2.5 million from them to finance UOB's micro finance activities. But, the process was far too long and we almost gave up a few times along the way. I emphasized to them that, in the information age, speed in providing service was critical. In the industrial age, a big fish ate a small fish. But in the information age, a fast fish eat a slow fish. They took my constructive criticism graciously. That gave me some hope.

They met also with President Kagame and they all were excited about this photo. Why not?
- Jeffrey

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rice University MBA Students

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011, I had a meeting with 23 Rice University MBA students over breakfast. This is the third time meeting with Rice University students. Rice University is a Christian school based in Houston, Texas, in the U.S.

These students come to Rwanda to work on business venture projects, primarily in health care and IT. This program is led by Professor Marc Epstein who used to also teach at Harvard University.

This time, the students had five groups, including one specialized in education. Each group had its own product brochure and they were quite impressive. One of them was solar-powered learning device that can easily be distributed at affordable prices to children.

I shared with them about micro finance and UOB. I also shared briefly about my faith journey to Rwanda as Marc dragged me into it. He told me later that he and many students appreciated my testimony about Christian faith and values. Praise the Lord!

It is always refreshing and encouraging to interact with young intellectual minds. Conversation is fresh and stimulating. That is how I learn and grow. Learning never stops.

May these business ideas be incubated into viable enterprises to help Rwandan transform! - Jeffrey

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 9, Sunday... Life Worthy of the Calling...

On Sunday, October 9, I preached at Agape Korean Church in Rwanda, the only Korean church in Rwanda.

The following is the summary of the sermon:

We all desire to be called by someone who is significant. Christians have been called by the Almighty God who created and has been operating the entire universe and everything in it, beautifully, perfectly and harmoniously. What a privilege it is! How? In many ways, but here is the most typical one. "Come to me." Some were called also by way of "Come and see" or "Follow me."

Matthew 11:28-30 describe "the Greatest Invitation" as John Stott called it. His invitation had two components.

First, Jesus called the most burdened and weary to Himself so that He may give the rest by lifting off the burden and carrying it on their behalf. Indeed, He carried the burdens of all sinners on the cross and died the redemptive death. This rest is not a physical one but a spiritual one, the salvation from eternal condemnation. (Isa. 53:6; John 1:29; Hebrews 19:28)

Then, is it an once-in-a-life time event? No. The calling to restore the relationship with God may be one if the calling is responded properly, but it is also an on-going event where we can receive and enjoy His rest everyday as we surrender ourselves to His authority.

The second component of His invitation was "Take my yoke" and this signifies the call to our surrender/submission to His authority. Jesus was the Savior in the first calling and Jesus is requiring us to submit ourselves to His authority as the Lord and Master in our everyday life. But His yoke does not produce another burden but instead, "you will find rest in your souls" for His yoke is light and easy. Christ's yoke is indeed the necessary boundary for our freedom we enjoy in Him. (Please refer to the previous blog-post for more details.)

Then, what are the spheres of our life that enable us to find rest for our souls? There are six spheres, the first two of which are related to God, the next two to self and the final two to others:

1. Worship: It is natural that we, as God's creations, find rest when we worship the Creator God. We worship Him through praise, confession of our faith, offerings. God commands us to worship Him alone, for there is no other God and none like Him.

2. Growing and maturing faith: There are so many voices that tempt us to believe: the Satan, the world and the self-righteous inner voice. But we will find rest for our souls when we believe what the Creator is telling us. He urges us to use the shield of faith against the flaming arrows, the ungodly temptations.

3. Holiness: Holiness is God's essence. He calls us to be holy also. (1 Peter 1:15,16) He even urges us to perfect the holiness. (2 Corinthians 7:1) We will find rest for our souls when we pursue God's attribute. Pursuing holiness requires cleansing unholy and ungodly attributes and behaviors. This process requires unceasing repentance and prayer for forgiveness. He promised to forgive our inequities when we repent. (1 John 1:9)

4. Living according to His will: Life require endless decision-making. Each decision is made on the basis of something that we believe and value to be right. No one wants or intends to make a wrong decision. Jesus is urging us to make our decisions according to God's will. God's will includes ones that are general in nature and that are particular to individuals. His general wills have been revealed through the nature (visually), the Scripture (verbally) and Jesus Christ (both visually and verbally). His particular wills that are applicable to individuals have been and are being revealed through the understanding of the Scripture, counsel with the wise and the godly. It takes commitment and obedience to live according to God's will, but when we do, we find rest in Him for our souls.

5. Sharing the good news: Salvation by His grace and through our faith in Jesus Christ is indeed a good news. If we choose to keep the good news to ourselves, it is a selfish decision. It is natural to share a good news with family, friends and even strangers if indeed it is a good news that does not bring you any harm. The spiritual good news that Jesus is the Way to the Father God must be shared with all nations as His witness to the ends of the earth until He returns as the King of the kings and the Lord of the lords on the Day of the Lord. (Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; Matthew 24:14) We find rest for our souls when we do the Great Commission of God.

6. Serving the neighbors in love: Loving and serving the neighbors, particularly the underprivileged ones, is also a mandate. (Deuteronomy 15:11) It is a new commandment and when we obey it the world will know that we are his disciples. (John 13:34,35) When we love others, we have completed the law. (Romans 13:8) When we love each other, God's love is made complete. (1 John 4:12) We find rest for our souls when we obey God's command.

Now we know that we have been called to come to Jesus to receive the spiritual rest and to take on Christ's yoke to find rest for our souls. Then how do you live such a life?

In Ephesians 4:1-6, Apostle Paul is urging Christ-followers to live the life worthy of the calling we have received.

1. Be completely humble and gentle: In Matthew 11:29,30, Jesus was describing Himself to be gentle and humble. They are Christ's attributes and He is urging us to be like Him. To be humble is before God who is almighty. When we humble ourselves before Him, He promised to lift us up in His time. (1 Peter 5:6) Humility comes before honor. (Proverb 15:33) To be gentle is towards others. John Stott called gentleness "tamed or controlled strength." Whatever strength we may have should be used in a controlled or tamed manner. This way, we will be able to live a life worthy of His calling.

2. Be patient bearing with one another in love: This is required not when everything is going well or as expected. This is required when things are not going well, when someone is rubbing you off, when you dislike what someone else is saying or doing, even when someone hates you or persecutes you for no reason. So it is not easy. It is easier said than done. Rather it is tough. Nonetheless, that is the way we should live. We recite in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Our forgiving our debtors comes before God's forgiving our debts. It is a sobering command. But that is how the body of Christ grows and we grow in Him. (Ephesians 4:15,16)

3. Keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: God is one. The Spirit is one. The Lord is one. We were called to one hope. There is one faith. One baptism. One body. (Ephesians 4:4-6) Before Jesus was arrested to complete His redemptive death, He prayed three times each for Himself, for the disciples and for all saints. In His prayer for all saints, He prayed for unity among the saints. So unity among saints is not an option but a mandate. We should make every effort to keep this unity. The best way to keep this unity is through the bond of peace. God is the King of peace and Jesus is Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) Jesus was the peacemaker between the Holy God and the sinful men by becoming the sin and the curse. So we Christ-followers must also be peacemakers. Peacemakers are blessed because they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9) The author of the Hebrews urged us to be in peace with everyone, if possible. (Hebrews 12:14)

We Christ-followers have been called to rest in Him and to take on His yoke to find rest for our souls. We are also urged to live a life worthy of the calling by being completely humble and gentle, being patient and bearing with one another in love and keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. We pledge to do so because we love Him and love to serve Him by honoring and obeying His commandments. May we all be living a life worthy of His calling! - Jeffrey

Monday, October 3, 2011

Christ's Yoke... Necessary Boundary for Freedom

On Monday, October 4, I preached at UOB staff devotion. The message was about "Christ's Yoke" based on Matt. 11:25-30. This was in commemoration of John Stott who now went to the Lord to rest in peace.

In the passage, Jesus gave two affirmations and made two invitations.

Two affirmations were that 1) God revealed Himself completely through Jesus Christ and 2) God revealed Himself only to His believers like little children.

There is no way any man may be able to know God unless He himself reveals. He has revealed some through nature and more through the Scriptures. But His revelation was made complete through Jesus Christ who Himself was God and came down to earth as human. Jesus was the Word made flesh. (John 1:14) In nature, God's revelation was visualized. In the Scriptures, His revelation was verbalized. But in Christ, His revelation was both visualized and verbalized. What a blessing it was to know Him.

Two invitations were to His followers that 1) "Come to me, you weary and burdened. I will give you rest." and 2) "Take my yoke for it is light and my burden is light." As Savior, Jesus invited people to come to Him for rest. His way of giving the rest was by lifting up the burden that we humankind were carrying. He carried the burden Himself on our behalf as the Lamb of God. (Isa. 53:6; John 1:29) At the same time, Jesus also invited us to take His own yoke. This is the claim for His Lordship over His followers and it balances against the rest that He provides. But, His Lordship is not burdensome to people. Rather it is easy and light. This is the necessary boundary for the freedom He provided when people accepted and believed the Truth. (John 8:31,32)

A good analogy for the Christ's yoke is fish that is in water. She enjoys all the freedom as long as she is in water. If fish decides to jump out of water to explore the world outside water, she immediately faces danger and risks her life. We as Christians need this yoke that is obedience to His authority, particularly His Word.

May we enjoy the freedom that is abundantly provided within the Christ's yoke that is easy and light! - Jeffrey

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Science Competition in Rwanda...

On Saturday, October 1, five KOICA volunteers jointly held the first Science Competition in Rwanda. The competition was held among high schools (secondary schools) for team competition and also for individual competiton. The areas of competition were:

1. Dropping eggs from the highest p
oint without breaking them.

[some of the samples]

2. Making bridges with chopsticks which can hold the heaviest weight

[photos of a bridge holding a weight of 20 kg, second right below]

3. Flying gliders longest

4. Shooting water longest

The participants also competed on solving mathematical problems.

The winners received NetBook computers and they all were excited about the significant and valuable gifts that they received.

It was very well organized, well attended and well executed. Kudos to young KOICA volunteers!

It is their hope that this tradition will be continued to spark the interest of young students in science that will be the basis for this country's dream to be the East Africa's ICT hub. - Jeffrey

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ministry Update - September 2011

Dear friends, family and fellow Kingdom workers,

We continued to experience God's grace also in September.

The following highlights the ministry updates for September 2011:

1. I visited four EBUs in September: Ngoma, Kigali West, Musanze EBU/Branch and Kigali East. I listened to their opportunities, challenges, transformation progress and requests. I met some clients to see how we can serve them better.

2. UOB did an outreach to Nyaruguru District in collaboration with a medical/dental mission team from S. Korea under an NGO called "Hearts and Hands International." Our clients and potential clients received medical and dental services from a total of 14 people, including a medical doctor, two dentists, a nurse, three dental hygienists and several assistants. Kristin joined the team for a week to serve Rwandans in Musanze and Nyaruguru Districts. They altogether treated 400 patients and provided medicines for hundreds of more people. They plan to continue to send mission teams every six months and we agreed to collaborate.

3. We held the quarterly board meeting. The board blessed three initiatives that we proposed on agricultural lending, EduFinance program and mobile/agency banking. We are thrilled to proceed with the initiatives.

4. We started providing "linkage loans" for the informal savings and credit groups in the villages. We hope to help build their economic and financial capacities to graduate up to the formal financial sector. We partner with Catholic Rescue Services and CARE International for now. We are also talking with HOPE. We hope to see up to 100,000 Rwandans benefit from this program by the end of 2012.

5. We signed a definitive agreement with Edify to provide private school development loans to Christian schools. We look forward to seeing Christian private schools expand their services to Rwandan youth. We will start a program under which up to $100,000 may be provided within a year.

6. As of September 30th, UOB's loan portfolio exceeded Rwf6.9 billion or US$11.5 million, up 4.5% or Rwf300 million (US$500K) from August 31st. This translates to a 77% growth from YE 2010! I am amazed by the continued growth that God is allowing for UOB in 2011. It is all God's grace and we praise Him!

7. UOB's outreach also continued to expand with its borrowing clients totaling 39,040, an increase of 1,506 clients from the previous month-end. This was attributed also to God's grace that enabled our staff to make an effective outreach.

8. We continued our preparation to offer the third-party remittance services, including Western Union, Money Gram and RIA This will enhance UOB's product offering, in addition to the US dollar, wire transfer services and FX services that have been launched recently.

9. Meanwhile, PAR (Portfolio At Risk) > 30 days remained strong at 0.74%, well below 1%. This is marvelous!

10. We have expanded our agricultural loans to rice, maize and Irish potato farmers.

11. UOB had an off-site monitoring meeting with the BNR, the central bank, in September. While we are still waiting for the final examination report from the central bank, the off-site meeting indicated an improved rating overall.

12. UOB received 1,000 English bibles from Bible League in the U.S., which are part of a total of 7,000 bibles to be supplied to UOB. These will be distributed to the committee members of trust groups in hopes that they will be passed down to their children to help spread the Word of God to young generations in Rwanda.

12. The Kininya sewing project that Kristin is handling continues to progress well. 20 women are now making more complex products. It has been six months since the projected started, but at their request we agreed to extend the training period for two more months.

13. Jeffrey continued serving God's saints through preaching at UOB staff devotion and a Agape Korean Church in Rwanda under establishment, and leading Shalom Bible Study. We are still studying the Book of Acts (of the Holy Spirit).

14. We have the following Prayer Requests: Please...

* Pray for the UOB's continuing holistic transformational development through Christian micro finance in Rwanda.
* Pray for the steady implementation of UOB's e-Wallet strategy.
* Pray for a scaled-up progress in UOB's agricultural lending program.
* Pray for God's wisdom and guidance in designing effective educational finance products that will benefit many students in Rwanda
* Pray for our children (Amanda + James, and Joyce) who are still trying to figure out what God has in store for their lives on earth.
* Pray for God's peacefulness in the heart of Kristin's mom during her last days of life on earth

We thank you for co-laboring with us in our ministry with your interest and support.

Joyfully and gratefully in His service,

Jeffrey and Kristin Lee from Kigali, RWANDA,