Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Korean Missionaries in Rwanda and UOB...

Some of Korean Missionaries recently after fellowship lunch
There are 11 families of Korean missionaries, including a Korean American couple (us). They all are involved in the mission work they have been called to. Some plant churches and build nurseries. Others teach and train local pastors and preach on radio. Others help local churches through the Word and assistance for whatever the needs are. Others also get involved in providing health care. Others are doing development work, such as farming, planting trees or running quality nursery. Others teach children. They all play important roles in helping advance God's Kingdom on earth through their ministries and mission works.

Korean missionaries gather together once a month for prayer and fellowship. Through these fellowship gatherings, they pray for each other and encourage each other. Also some of them help the one and only Korean church in Rwanda, namely Agape Korean Church, through preaching and teaching children.

I am involved in holistic Christian microfinance through UOB and Kristin is involved in providing health care services and assistance in Christian education for young children. It is a development work with a mission for holistic transformation of the people we serve. Currently Kristin is involved in building a Christian nursery in Gicumbi. (Refer to the previous blog post.) Let me focus on UOB for now.

After one of the monthly fellowship gatherings
UOB is the first and largest micro finance bank in Rwanda. Its origin dates back to 1997 when World Relief started a micro finance as a post-genocide relief work. It became an independent entity in 2004 and merged with Opportunity International Bank of Rwanda in 2007 to become Urwego Opportunity Bank. It now serves more than 160,000 clients, the second largest institution in terms of the number of clients being served, in Rwanda, through 44 business offices operating in all 30 districts of Rwanda.

UOB is registered as a for-profit business entity, but profit is not the goal, but a means to be sustainable. Shareholders are international Christian NGOs that are not interested in financial return, but in holistic transformation of the people of Rwanda. So when profit increases, UOB finds a way to lower the interest rate charged to its clients or to go deeper into the under-served markets to serve those who have little or no access to financial services.

In fact, UOB has lowered its interest rates twice for the past one year because it has been profitable for the past two years. It has been God's grace that enabled us to do so. Since the pricing cannot be lowered too much to the subsidized level, UOB is seeking to go deeper to serve the under-served markets.

Along with providing financial services, UOB is providing its clients with the gospel and biblical lessons to life situations. UOB calls it Holistic Life Improvement modules or HLI. HLI has 60 lessons that help UOB clients learn to manage their business, their household finance and their health, all based on biblical scriptures and principles. UOB also distributes bibles. Two years ago, UOB distributed 6,000 local language bibles and in 2012/2013 UOB is distributing 7,000 English bibles to its clients. UOB is now thinking of engaging with local churches to share the evangelistic materials with them for their church congregation members. UOB staff goes through Process/Service Fit Tests by individual business units to make sure we are living up to the vision, mission and core values that we proclaim to stand for. We need to be transformed first to be transformative to others.
UOB's Home Office in Kigali

Thus, it is a holistic mission work. So I call UOB a Business As Mission or BAM, a business that itself is a mission of bringing the gospel to the underprivileged people of Rwanda holistically addressing all aspects of their lives. We have been privileged to be part of this mission work for the past full four years. They are 1,460 days and counting.

We wonder what God has in store for us in the next chapter. We pray for His enlightening guidance and we trust He will show us His way. In His time. - Jeffrey

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