Friday, August 31, 2012


With the COOPAG representatives
COOPAG is an agricultural cooperative located in just outside Kigali City. It was started in 2006 with 105 members, but has grown now to 984 members, including 623 female farmers.

On August 29th, 2012, I had an opportunity to visit COOPAG with my colleagues. The purpose of the visit was to understand and learn more about the cooperative in conjunction with a loan request for maize production financing to help 178 farmers in 25 groups. The amount totals approximately $110,000 for all farmers.

Bean seeds
Milk Collection Center under construction
COOPAG members have three key areas of focus for their farming. They are maize seeds, bean seeds and dairy cows. Most of the farmers are engaged in all three sectors, which is unusual. In total, they own 420 ha and have 3,600 cows, including 62 cows of high volume of milk production. They also own numerous sheep and goats, but they are not counted as livestock they own and manage. From cows, they currently collect and sell only 5,000 liters daily but when the milk collection center construction is completed, expected for December 2012, they will be able to increase the capacity easily to 10,000 liters per day and more. They also experiment the growing of soya beans and mushrooms.
Mushrooms growing in the hut

A few dozens of farmers were present and we exchanged ideas and questions during our meeting. We promised to disburse the loan on Monday next week and will explore the ways to expand our relationship.

On the way, I was thinking of applying "biblical community development" approaches for this cooperative and possibly expanded community as an example of holistic community development project.

May the Lord bless us with guidance and wisdom to be able to work with them to build up a strong community based on Christian values and principles. - Jeffrey

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Man of God...

Man (and woman) of not a man who knows God, let alone a man who knows of God.

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder." (James 2:19)

Instead, man of God is a man whom God knows. A man who is of God, thus knows Him intimately, loves Him, loves to worship and serve Him, imitates Him in character and does things that will please Him. That is a man of God.

The expression of Man of God appears numerously in the Old Testament. But it appears only twice in the New Testament. They are:

"But you man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:11,12)

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

In 1 Timothy 6:11,12, man of God was addressed clearly to Timothy, Paul dearly loved. But 2 Timothy 3:16,17 clearly refers to all men, including you and me. All saints who believe and follow Jesus.

The following describes what man of God must do as God spoke to us through Paul.

1) Man of God should flee from the things that the worldly people are pursuing, including love of money, external godliness, desires of flesh. He is not just avoiding them, but actively and consciously running from them.

2) But running from them is not enough. It may end up being an aimless running man. He should pursue, actively and consciously, what belongs to God, such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

3) Moreover, in every situation, man of God engages in good fight of the faith. It is fight of the faith because he must decide between what he has heard from God and what he has heard from the world. He chooses to believe God and His words, using the shield of faith. It is a good fight because it serves to defend and manifests the goodness of God.

4) Man of God takes hold of and clings to the eternal life to which he was called. It is the hope from which love and faith springs.

Man of God... what a noble name!

I desire and choose to be man of God. A man whom God knows and loves. May it become reality, oh Lord! Help me, oh Lord. - Jeffrey

Mt. Kabuye

At the summit with children who followed us
On August 18th, Shalom Bible Study (SBS) members hiked Mt. Kabuye. It is a mountain accessible from Gakenke, located on the way to Musanze. Mt. Kabuye is approximately 2,500 meters high and it is the highest mountain other than the mountains in the Virunga Volcano National Park.

This hike was meant to be a special gathering before three of the SBS members go back to Korea in September: Minjung, Sunghye and Yurim. Two of the members (Jihyun and Youngsup) prepared sandwiches and one of the members (Jihye) prepared sliced cucumbers and carrots, plus bananas. Along with some snacks, rolls and nutrition bars, they were good meals.

The hike was tough and challenging, but most of us made it to the top. Yeah!!!

There is a legend about this mountain. People believe that there is a god, namely Gahonda, who reigns at the top of this mountain. We hiked to the top where his sister is believed to live and where people come to worship this idol god. There was a flat space at the top where we sat down and praised Jesus. We also took time to pray to God for His mercy upon three who will soon be returning to Korea, holding our hands.

This little boy followed up to the top carrying his sister
We were a group of 16 people, including one of UOB staff, Shami, and Missionary Bohye Kim. Throughout the hike, however, dozens of children were following us. Most of them were on bare feet, but they seemed all happy following us. Two of them made many of us feel so bad. They were brother and sister. He was about 6 or 7 years old and he was with a younger sister, may be 3 or 4 years of age. Both of them were on bare feet. Obviously the younger girl could not keep up with us through the journey. Then the boy carried her on his back. The girl declined our offer to carry the girl. So throughout the hike, we had to see these two children hiking up stiff hills we were struggling with. But they both made it to the top also. We felt so uneasy about having to leave them behind after providing them with a small drink and snack to eat after the hike. May the Lord bless them. - Jeffrey

IFC Approved $450K Funding Proposal...

IFC stands for International Finance Corporation. It is an arm of World Bank for the private sector. IFC is also helping the micro finance sector.

Previously UOB received a $2.5 million loan from IFC to help finance the growth in UOB's loan portfolio. UOB was the first micro finance bank or institution in Rwanda, which received a local currency loan from IFC, using its SWAP arrangement with the central bank of Rwanda.

This time, IFC has approved UOB's proposal for funding ($450K) to help develop UOB's branchless agent network. Praise the Lord! Until it is all sorted out, it will need a few more months, but we have passed the first hurdle.

Jehovah Jireh. God provides. I truly believe in His provision for His work, His way in His time.

He has provided us with a $200K grant from UNCDF for the m-banking and agent banking project initially last year. Later, through another Advisory Services organization, He has provided us with technical assistance on this project and it is on-going. Now with IFC's approval on this TA funding, we will be able to take it up to another level. It is a little too premature, but another development agency is showing an interest in helping us out with a grant funding for this project. So, there is a good reason for my statement and declaration.

Jehovah Jireh! - Jeffrey  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ministry Updates - July 2012

Family, friends and fellow Kingdom workers

Another month has passed by. I trust all is well with you and your family under His abundant grace.

July is a special month for Rwanda. It has Independence Day and Liberation Day. Rwanda celebrated its 50th anniversary of its independence from the colonists and 18th anniversary of its liberation from the genocide. 

The following is our Ministry Updates for the month of July 2012. I pray that you will be encouraged by what God is doing in and through our lives in Rwanda.

1. Jeffrey has been privileged to attend the 3-week long Boulder Institute of Microfinance courses in Turin, Italy. It is still going on but it has been a tremendous learning opportunity for me.

2. We held the UOB Day in July, praising God for who He is and what He has done to and through us. We celebrated the promotion of 10 staff and many who have served UOB for 10 years and five years. We also reviewed the six month performance and shared the plan for the second half of 2012.

3. UOB received a total of approximately $1 million from OI US and OI Canada in the form of convertible debt and grants. We are grateful for these resources to continue expanding our outreach and ministry to the economically active poor people in Rwanda.

4. UOB received many visitors in July, including an insight trip team from OI US, representatives from Kiva (US), a filming crew to cover UOB's transformation stories, representatives from Merry Year International (S. Korea) and several consultants who are working on two projects for UOB. It is our prayer that their visits have produced transformational inspiration and encouragements. Also, may their visits open the doors to different opportunities.

5.  As discussed above, Kiva has confirmed its current rating on UOB of "4 star" that allows us to raise up to $1.4 million. UOB is the only Kiva's 4-star rated MFI in Middle East and Africa Region. 

6. Merry Year International will work with UOB in designing and implementing tuition fee loan for secondary students. For this purpose, MYI has established a loan guaranty fund and sent an intern to work at UOB for the next one year. 

7. UOB continued its growths in all areas with excellent asset quality. Its loan portfolio has now reached Rwf9.5 Bn, an additional growth of 2% from June or  a 25% growth from YE 2011. Deposits have also grown steadily. Clients also continued to increase with the borrowing clients at 42,440, up almost 1,000 from the month earlier. PAR>30 showed a slight decline to 1.5%. To God be all the glory and honor! I am so grateful for all our staff who has been part of this journey!

8. UOB continued developing mobile and agent banking solutions. We are very close to completing our business model with customer pricing and agent commission. It has been and continues to be a challenging task to find the sweet spot that is affordable to our clients while remaining attractive to the agents. Please continue to remember us in your prayer. 

9. In July, UOB has resolved a significant portion of the G/L imbalance that resulted from the system glitch in June. We praise the Lord for His help! Please continue to pray for a quick and complete resolution.

10. The construction work for Ngoma Branch, which began in June continued in July. Also, we completed the renovation of the third floor of Home Office and a new office space has been made available to dozens of staff. The construction work continues with the branch banking hall. We have secured a new space in Huye and agreed to take over an adjacent space to convert the Huye Credit Office to branch also. Moreover, we have secured new Credit Office spaces in Rukomo, Nyagatare, Kirehe, Ngororero, Gisagara. This expansion will help us continue our outreach efforts into rural areas.

11. Shalom Bible Study completed a study on "Full Armor of God." (Ephesians 6:10-18) The SBS has now grown to 17 members, probably the maximum to accommodate at our living room. One has gone back to Korea and another three members will go back to Korea on September 2. Kristin and I will focus on disciple training for 12.

12. In addition to Joyce, our younger daughter, who went to Senegal, Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in June, Amanda, our older daughter, has been deployed to Djibouti Africa in July. Amanda's mission will be short but currently all Lee family members are in service for Africa in one form or another. Joyce has been well adjusting to a new life in Senegal and Amanda is doing well also. We praise the Lord for this great and rate opportunity for all Lee family to be in service for Africa.

13. Jeffrey continued ministering at Agape Korean Church, St Etienne Cathedral and Shalom Bible Study with God's Word. Kristin and Jeffrey participated in the Korean Missionary Fellowship prayer meeting. It is always encouraging to pray and fellowship together with Kingdom workers.

14. Please pray that:
  • All UOB staff will continue to put trust in the Lord in all they do and to honor Him for all He does.
  • God may bless and make His face shine upon the mobile and agent banking project, and also on the IFC funding proposal
  • All leadership at UOB may go on their knees first in all they plan to do.
  • Joyce may draw nearer to the Lord while she is living and serving in Senegal.
  • Amanda and James may deepen their faith in the Lord in everything they plan and do.
  • Amanda may finish her mission in an African country safely and well.
  • Our parents (Kristin's mom and Jeffrey's parents) may live their last years of life on earth in hope for the eternal time together with the Lord.
  • Kristin and Jeffrey may experience God's grace more and strengthen their relationship with God more intimately in all ministries they partake. 
Thank God for you, your prayer and your partnership with us.

Every spiritual blessing IN CHRIST,

Jeffrey and Kristin Lee from Kigali, RWANDA