Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ministry Update - February 2013

These boys are excited about the nursery...
Dear family, friends and fellow Kingdom workers,

Warm greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Rwanda situation remained tough in February at least economically. This is the worst time for us in the past four years of living in Rwanda. One of our staff who has been working for more than 10 years also said that she has never seen anything like this. So it is pretty tough. Apparently, Rwandan government is trying to make a breakthrough. The Rwandan President swapped the Minister of Finance with the Governor of the central bank last week, along with the reshuffle of several other cabinet members.

Despite all these challenges, we know that God reigns with His sovereignty over all challenges combined. We trust Him regardless, like we trust there is the sun over the thick clouds in a cloudy day.

The following highlights what God has done through us in February:

1. Two months in a row, UOB's performance has been declining. Loan portfolio balance and active borrowing clients have declined. Portfolio at risk (PAR) has been rising and operating revenues have also declined. Please pray with us that Rwanda will receive God's favor in its diplomatic relationship with the UN and other development partners so that the foreign aid may resume its inflow to Rwanda.

Some of the Senior Leaders of UOB
2. UOB held the leadership retreat with 33 senior leaders and learned about "Lead Like Jesus" based on a book with the same title authored by Ken Blachard and Phil Hodges. I had the privilege of leading the workshop and we all were encouraged by the learning. We also praised God for who He is regardless of what is happening around us and had great fellowship among ourselves to strengthen the teamwork. It was a blissful time.

3. UOB has revamped its microinsurance product with significantlly enhanced features, and renamed it "Humura" It means "comfort or relaxation" in Kinyarwanda. We really wanted it to be an effective life risk management tool as the only micro insurance product for the underprivileged people of Rwanda. What we are so thankful for is that we have been able to enhance the product without having to increase the existing premium. Praise the Lord!

Praising together
4. Finally, UOB has formally launched mHose, UOB's mobile and agent banking platform developed in cooperation with mVISA, VISA's mobile banking solution for the emerging countries. We have signed up agents and clients, and transactions have been made successfully. It has taken almost 18 months since we first began the process. We again praise the Lord who has been at the center of all this innovative initiative as an enabler. In February, UOB also began to distribute the UOB Grace Cards (smart cards for debit transactions) to its clients. They will now have access to almost 250 ATMs located nationwide. UOB is also installing its own ATMs at select locations.

5. Jeffrey has begun to serve as Director of Opportunity Kenya, Opportunity International's micro finance implementing member in Kenya. Jeffrey has also been asked to serve the board of RSwitch, Rwanda's national switch for electronic paymenes as the representative of the RBA (Rwanda Bankers Association). May God's will be done through these additional responsibilities.

6. UOB received several visitors, including Opportunity International US Marketing Team. They filmed our clients and our activities. May this media coverage introduce what is being done in Rwanda to many people around the world.

7. UOB held the first stakeholder meeting under DFID Rwanda's Innovation for Education program. UOB has received approval on its proposal for GBP610,000. Under this program, we plan to reach out to school entrepreneurs with school improvement loans and training, parents of primary and secondary students with school fee loans with education, and children/youth with financial education. This holistic approach is unique and innovative in Rwanda and we look forward to helping Rwanda's education system improve further. We have begun two baseline studies and one market research for this purpose.

8. UOB business unit leaders have all signed their performance MOUs for 2013. The extrinsic challenges make the performance goals somewhat daunting, but we all have made the move with our trust and confidence in the Lord.

Nursery with roofing done
Church Sign
9. Kristin's nursery construction project in Gicumbi (Yaramba sector) is going really well. All walls have been erected and the roof has been placed. So it now looks like a building. There are still a lot of works to be done before we can say it has been completed, but the progress has been impressive. Kristin has been visiting the site on a weekly basis on average. We thank the Lord for His guidance and provision.

10. Jeffrey has continued serving God's people through preaching and teaching the Word of God. These ministry opportunities have been blessing to himself first before he has been used as an instrument for God's blessing to channel through to others.

With Pastor Innocent and Hyun, Architect
11. Jeffrey's father has been discharged from a hospital to a care center for Alzheimer's disease patients, but persisting pains in other parts of his body have sent him back to the hospital. It has been 30 years since I left Korea and also my parents. His illness has made me feel very uneasy and uncomfortable about staying away for a long time from my parents, particularly as the oldest son in the family. I am seeking God's will and guidance under the circumstances.

12. We would like to request your prayer for the following subjects:
  • God's intervention in Rwanda's stalemate with the UN and developing partners on DR Congo issue so that the new cabinet members may be able to make a breakthrough.
  • God's strengthening of Rwandans, including UOB clients, so that they may remain strong and resilient under the circumstances
  • God's gracious encouragement for UOB staff to be strong and persevere under tough situations. They have to chase three rabits of controlling the portfolio at risk, disbursing loans to existing/new clients and implementing HLI (Holistic Life Improvement) training for clients. 
  • God's guidance in the upcoming Board meeting in March and the Board retreat scheduled right after the Board meeting.
  • God's care and protection upon the nursery project in Gicumbi.
  • God's empowerment upon His people through the preaching and teaching ministries.
  • God's peace and grace upon Jeffrey's father and Kristin's mother in their final days of life on earth.
We are always deeply grateful for your standing with us through prayer and support.

May God richly bless you and your beloved ones with His grace and peace

Gratefully in His service,

Jeffrey and Kristin Lee in Rwanda

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