Monday, May 27, 2013

Institute for Biblical Community Development (IBCD)...

Dr. Kim with 2013 students and their products
Institute for Biblical Community Development (IBCD) was founded in Siloam Springs AR by Dr. Young-Gurl Kim, a mechanical engineer. He used to be a professor at John Brown University and thus IBCD was and still is housed on the JBU's campus. IBCD used to be part of JBU, but now it is independent but collaborates on certain areas.

A tractor made at IBCD
IBCD's mission is to equip mission field and international development workers with biblical principles and values so that His Kingdom may be advanced through the development and promotion of biblical communities.

IBCD has established Center for Integral Mission nearby, physically in Oklahoma. This CIM is on a land of 76 acres and has dormitories for men and women, kitchen, dining area, library, lecture hall, green houses, lab facilities for appropriate technology.

Mud stove
Vegetables growing in winter
This year, I had a privilege of teaching for two days in IBCD's 4-week long generalist training. My teaching was about Good Steward's Financial Management for one day and Holistic Transformational Development for the other day. These topics focused on developing and managing business as mission (BAM) effectively. This year's generalist training had 20 students from 13 countries. Some were students from JBU, but most of them were field workers and missionaries ministering in Uganda, Niger, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Zambia, Thailand etc.

Another tractor
It was a relaxing time in a sense the CIM was located in a serene place where there was no telephone connectivity with a lot of green and water, but it was a rigorous time because I had to teach for two whole days in a row particularly at the tail end of my 6-week travel. But with God's grace, I was blessed and inspired by their ministries and also by the truth that was revealed through the teaching. Students made solar cooker, water pump and learned about many aspects of using appropriate technology in helping the developing countries redeem themselves through appropriate and thus sustainable technology in developing various solutions to their life challenges.

Cement stove
Another tractor
They make cement cooking stoves, mud stoves, solar cookers, solar dryers, water filters using sands and gravels, water pumps, even simple vehicles. In making these appropriate technology solutions, there are a few factors that are very important. They are affordability, sustainability and environmentally friendliness. The price has to be low. The nationals should be able to find the parts and components so they they can sustain the solutions without depending on external aid. Also, they should be environmentally sensitive and thus friendly.

Dr. Young Kim explaing about a tractor he made
I saw a few tractors that have been made at IBCD and each of them would cost approximately $1,000. They looked very functional to me. Also cement stoves would cost $20-25 and can last for several years. Solar cookers were very handy and they would cost only a few dollars. But all these solutions are based on the basic Kingdom principles of restoring to the Creator God the broken relationships, including relationships with the environment or God's creation, as a result of the original sin. This restoring process is redemption in Christ Jesus. Thus, it is transformational development and in itself is based on Shalom. What a wonderful testimony of God's plan for restoring and completing the Shalom that existed before the Fall.

One of buildings at Center for Integral Mission
Dr. Kim is a friend of mine. We were involved in Integral Mission Alliance together. He is a man of God, who desires to see Thy Kingdom Come and Thy Will Be Done on earth as in heaven.

Devotion time
Dr. Kim is also a pastor shepherding Open Door Baptist Church in Siloam Springs. She dreams to build a biblical community by integrating the church, the training and research and businesses together through developments. What a noble approach!

During my class
Mrs. Kim and a staff serving meals for all
Mrs. Kim is a poet and also a psychology consultant. She writes books and takes care of Korean ministry at IBCD. She is a humble sister in Christ who loves to serve God's people in any capacity. While the training is in session, she provides three meals a day with the help of a few other sisters and staff. The meals were delicious and wonderful. We all thoroughly enjoyed  the foods.

On the way back, I reflected on what I saw and heard at IBCD, and prayed that God will build more Kingdom-centered people of God to help advance His Kingdom on earth until the Lord returns.

Dr. Kim and 2013 students with their products
A dryer using solar entergy
Here are some photos that exhibit what they were learning and getting trained upon. I prayed for God's continued blessings upon IBCD, CIM and Open Door Church where Dr. Kim is also pastoring. - Jeffrey

HOPE Leadership Summit May 2013...

HOPE International is one of Christian organizations that focus on helping develop micro enterprises by providing Christ-focused micro finance. HOPE has HOPE-led MFIs and partner MFIs in 16 countries. UOB is one of HOPE's partner MFIs.

HOPE has been holding the leadership summit by inviting the MDs or CEOs of all MFIs that are part of HOPE network and I have been attending this summit for the past four years, including this year. The summit takes place at the Welcoming Center of Mennonite Central Committee in Lancaster PA. Mennonites are exemplary people of God who exhibit their incarnational principles in their ministries and walks of faith. One aspect that I admire a lot is the way they share the gospel. They prefer to focusing on building relationship first than sharing the gospel in words. Their logo portrays it well.

Peter Greer, CEO
One of the most beneficial sessions to me is the sessions about spiritual integration that is coming from strong commitment to achieving holistic transformation among MFIs and their clients in the name of spiritual integration. This year, HOPE has introduced HOPE Quotient that is the first endeavor to measuring the impact of Christ-centered micro finance on clients. Once it is measured regularly over a few years, this could provide some indications of changes that take place in the lives of clients. It was appealing to me because it does not suggest to be one for all solution. Rather it admits the limitations and attempts to supplement it with focus groups, tangible metrics and MPI (multiple poverty index). This would in effect triangulate to a conclusion about an impact assessment which will likely lower the probability of mistakes on the impact assessment. UOB volunteered to be on the pilot program.

One of Panel Sessions
HOPE also held a fund-raising gala dinner, namely Celebrating HOPE, with current and prospective supporters of HOPE. This year's event drew approximately 500 people, the largest ever in HOPE's history. In this event, Thurman Award is given to a client that has exhibited the most inspirational transformation story. This year, the award went to a Philippino client through a partner MFI, CCT. HOPE also gives out a Honorable Mention award to one client for each continent where HOPE network MFIs are operating. This year, UOB's client, Antoinette received this Honorable Mention award. On her behalf, I had the privilege of receiving the award.

Celebrating HOPE
One of group sessions
Antoinette borrowed $50 in 2002. Now she is able to manage a $15,000 loan from UOB. Over the past one decade, Antoinette developed her tomato re-sale business to three different businesses, including wedding rental, grocery and wholesale business, and now hires eight employees. Also, she has adopted one child in addition to her own three children. In addition, she is taking care of her widowed sister and her own two children. She actively supports her community's public work such as road, bridge construction projects. Over the past decade, she bought her own home and a car as well. But this would represent only an economic improvement without spiritual transformation. She has met Jesus in person  through UOB's service for her and she has actively helped out other entrepreneurs with business management as well as sharing the gospel to them. Winning souls to Jesus is priceless and this would represent an infinite return on investments.
In the past, two UOB clients received this honorable Thurman Award back to back for two years.

Throughout the Leadership Summit, all people from all over the world gathered together to worship together,  witness how God is working in their individual, family and ministry lives, and learn the best practices from each other. It was a great encouragement to see people of God working tirelessly all over the world with strong commitment to serving the Lord.

Mennonites Logo
Noah the Musical
One of the highlights of HOPE's leadership summit is watching a musical at the Millennium Theater. It is a Christian theater where only bible characters are portrayed through a full-scale musical, which is even bigger than the Broadway shows in New York. This year, the musical was about Noah. At one point, the entire theater including the hall turns into the inside of the ark. It was a fascinating and panoramic scene. Wow... The past musicals that I have watched were "Psalms of David" "Joseph" and "Jonah" all of which were wonderful. The last scenes of each musical portrays Jesus who died on the cross to save whosoever believes in Him.and rose to be the first fruit of all resurrections to come. What a wonderful message it is! I was blessed and inspired. - Jeffrey

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jubilee Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia...

Pastor Steve Park
Jubilee Presbyterian Church was founded by the Lord some 15 years ago through Pastor Steve Park and many believers in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

Pastor Steve Park is a close friend of mine and a fellow worker for His Kingdom. I know him from the Oriental Mission Church in Los Angeles. I was serving the Senior High School Department as a teacher and he was a student. He went to college in Canada and studied at Westminster Theological Seminary for his M. Div. as well as Ph. D. in Systematic Theology.

Pastor Steve has English congregation as well as Korean congregation at Jubilee. Unlike many other Korean American churches, Jubilee has two congregations worship and fellowship in harmony. They meet and decide together on important church matters. From Korean congregation's standpoint, it is an investment in the next generation and they yield the prime time of 10:00AM to the English congregation. It is a healthy and community church that is not church-centered but Christ-centered, serving the people in the community under His Kingdom.

Pastor Steve also teaches at Westminster and in country C in Asia. He is a gifted teacher and preacher.

I was asked to preach to the English congregation and also teach a session on the ministries that take place in Rwanda. I shared the Word with a title "The Calling in Christ" based on Ephesians 4:1-7 and talked about Business as Mission (BAM) and UOB ministries/other ministries in Rwanda. Many told me that they were challenged. Praise the Lord.

We had dinner with the elders of the Korean congregation session. Their relationship seemed very cordial, exhibiting oneness that is also not so common among many churches. I was blessed and encouraged by them. After dinner, we also spent time with a young couple, Insoo Kang and his wife Sarah from the English congregation, over tea and dessert. It was very encouraging to hear their commitment to the Lord in their walk in faith.

I drove from Akron in Lancaster County to Norristown and drove back in the evening. Physically I was tired, but I rejoiced greatly the fellowship time with Pastor Steve and Mona Park, his wife, and his children. Pastor Steve and I participated in the Project BGAN ministry together and he also presided over the Passage of Life ceremony for Amanda when she turned sixteen.  I praise the Lord who kept us in wonderful friendship with Pastor Steve and Jubilee Church. - Jeffrey

Trip to New York (May 2013)

Empire State Building, NY's icon
New York City... is a city that is attracting many visitors for various reasons. The reasons for attracting visitors to New York City include the sky line of Manhattan, the Broadway shows, tens of museums, all kinds of foods from all over the world, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Time Square, Harlem, United Nations, 9/11 site, Wall Street and many more.

New York City is a special place for me and Kristin. Kristin first came to the U.S. and settled in New York. She worked as a nurse in New York and lived in this city for eight years. She still has her mom and three brothers and their families living in New York or New Jersey.

I worked in Manhattan for four and a half years and lived in Queens Borough New York. Joyce, our younger daughter also worked and lived in New York for a few years.

We had a family reunion briefly with Joyce, who is now serving as Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal Africa. Amanda and her husband could not join us because Amanda is finishing up her service at US Air Force and is getting separated from the service on May 23rd as Captain. Her husband, James, is a pilot. He is now in training to switch his responsibility to fly Special Operations Aircraft. So they could not join us.
ESB in artistic form 

On Mother's Day, May 12th, we worshiped at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which Rev. Tim Keller is the senior pastor. He preached on Sunday, May 12th, about Idolatry. We celebrated the Mother's Day over lunch at a restaurant in Chelsea, called Pounds and Ounces, a trendy place popular for young people. Sujin, my niece and daughter of my younger sister, also joined us. She studied and now works in New York. The foods were great, particularly the desserts, but our fellowship was only greater. After the lunch, Kristin and I strolled in Manhattan for a couple of hours walking more than 20 blocks.

On Park Avenue
Our visit to New York includes an important task, the task of purchasing a variety of supplies that we will need for the next one year. Many of them are food supplies, but also include other supplies, such as medical and clothes. COSTCO is our favorite place. It has all kinds and you can buy many in bulk at affordable prices. Whenever I see the foods and goods stored at COSTCO, I am amazed at the overwhelming abundance. Abundance precludes scarcity and thus diminishes our appreciation of them.

Another important things to do in New York include seeing family and friends. Both of us have family and friends. They are precious and highly valuable. Due to our short stay, we could not see all friends, but we had great joy of seeing some. Among them were our two friends who climbed with me Mt. Kilimanjaro in September 2011 and their wives. They are Mr. Jay Yoon and Mr. Jaesup Choi. My friendship with them is solid because of the six day hiking on Mt. Kilimanjaro slopes.
Yoons and Chois
Mr. Yeunho Suk and his wife are another couple we saw. Mr. Suk is a Yonsei Alumnus and senior to both of us. He has responding to my e-mails from time to time and has always been welcoming us to New York.

Mr. and Mrs. Suk
Another group of young people I get to see whenever I come to New York is my former colleagues from Colorado who are now working in New York. We cherish the time of working together in Colorado as well as New York.

In New York, it is great fun to eat a variety of foods. All experiences will be one time, but they are good enough to restore to us our appreciation for delicious gourmet foods.

Young friends from Colorado

Sujin and Joyce, cousins
 Kristin and I enjoyed our visit to New York, short but sweet. We lived and worked in New York, but we never toured New York. So we agreed to tour New York next time we will visit the Big Apple again. We will.

 Food... food... food...

We appreciated our visit to New York, but my mother-in-law did not recognize us, both my wife and me, when we visited her. A year ago, she welcomed me with a big and bright smile last year although she could not speak, but this time she gave us no facial expression. As before, I hugged her saying "I love you" she changed her facial expression a little bit but quickly returned to no expression. Nonetheless, we prayed for her that she may have peace and hope in her heart in the last days of her life on earth. Mercy upon her, oh Lord. - Jeffrey

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trip to Ecuador (April 28 - May 10)

As part of our 30th anniversary celebration, we toured Ecuador through a 10-day Ecuador Crash Course. Why Ecuador? Ecuador has been interesting to me for several reasons, one being that Ecuador is the country Jim Eliott, an American missionary, gave his life to win souls for Jesus.

A group of 23 people joined this tour organized by Sarah, an American nurse and former Peace Corps volunteer to Ecuador. She married to an Ecuadorian and has lived in Ecuador for the past 25 or so years. She works with Jonathan who was born in Ecuador to American parents. He has been running a travel agency for the past 15 years. They were assisted by Roger, another former Peace Corps volunteer, and Susanna, an Ecuadorian lady and yet another former Peace Corps member. Susanna was the Spanish instructor and Roger was a tour guide. Despite their different life backgrounds, they all have one thing in common. They all love Ecuador.

They organized the tour with all their hearts and energies poured into it. As the tour progressed, we could sense how much they love Ecuador and how they genuinely wanted to share the un-vanished version of what Ecuador offers. I am sure they have their own views on locations and lifestyles, but they worked hard to be as independent and objective as possible.

All participants had quite a variety of backgrounds also. Many have already retired or are quite close to their retirement. Their professional backgrounds were also quite diverse, from a retired pastor to a retired CPA. Ages varied from an 18 year old Canadian high school graduate to a 78 year old retiree who has great grand children. We were in the middle of the pack.

We traveled more than 1,500 km by a bus, starting from Quito and ending in Cuenca through traveling to the northern Ecuador close to the Colombian border and several beach towns on the coast. About half of the group continued for a two-day extended trip to further south close to the Peruvian border, after the 10-day crash course trip ended in Cuenca. The traveled routes are marked in the map included in this blog post.

The trip started from the capital city of Quito that is 9,350 feet high. Quito is a vibrant city with multiple ethnic peoples and cultures. We stayed at a small hotel in the Mariscal District where all commercial and entertainment activities take place. It was noisy until late night but we could feel the vibe of the emerging city. Note that Ecuador's average age is reported to be 21.5 years. Quite young.

We then traveled north to Otavalo, Ibarra and Cotacachi, northern cities of interest to many retirees. These cities are all located in the sierra between mountains. Otavalo has the largest handcraft market in Latin America. Ibarra is the provincial capital of Imbabura with approximately 200,000 inhabitants. Cotacachi is a small town with 10,000 of which 400 represent gringos or migrants from North America. It is also a capital for leather products. Great leather products at low prices. On the way, we crossed the equator line where southern and northern hemispheres meet.

Equator Line 0,0,0.
Our next leg of the trip was heading to the coastal areas, after one night in Quito. The stops included Canoa, Bahia, Manta, Puerto Lopez, Montanita and Salinas. We visited an American artist's house in Jama, namely Lisa. Her house was right by a lagoon and her entire house was an artwork. She was living without a refrigerator.

We stayed one night at Canoa Beach Hotel owned and run by an American architect, Greg, and it was a pleasant surprise with American quality rooms and services. Strolling on the sand beach in the morning the next day was refreshing despite the rain that soaked us up.

Panama Hats originally from Ecuador
The next day, we headed down south, passing through Manta, the largest port of Ecuador and the fourth largest city with 200,000 in population. We stopped over at Bahia for lunch. Bahia had both fresh water beach and salt water beach at the mouth of the Chone River. Most of us crossed the river by a small ferry boat. We ate at a restaurant by the water owned and run by an American entrepreneur, called Trip, who married to a Colombian woman.

We stayed another night at Puerto Lopez, a small fishing town, but the hotel we stayed, La Terraza owned and run by a German couple, had a panoramic view of the bay. It also had displayed a skeleton of a humpback whale, namely Fritz, that weighed 35-40 tons and was found dead around Puerto Lopez. On the way down south, we stopped over at Montanita Beach which is the surfing capital in Latin America. The beach town was bustling with young backpackers who came to try their surfing skills. It even holds international surfing competition.

We stayed the third night at a hotel by the Salinas Malecon. Salinas is nicknamed Miami of Ecuador. It is one and a half hour away from Guayaquil, the largest city of Ecuador with more than 2.3 million people in population. People of Guayaquil, or Guayaquilenos as they are called, travel to Salinas for their weekends or for their vacation. It was a crowded beach but well maintained. Along the malecon, dozens of condominiums rise to 10-15 stories high.

Ecuadorian Fabric
Ecuadorian Ponchos
One thing to note is that all these beaches maintain mild temperatures although they are located close to the equator. The secret was the Humboldt Current that originates from Antarctica, moves along the shorelines of S. American countries, Chile, Peru and Ecuador, and turns to the Galapagos Islands and returns to Antarctica. This Humboldt Current is upwelling from the bottom of the ocean to the surface, thus providing many nutritional elements. This upwelling thus attracts many kinds of fish, supplying 18-20% of fish demanded by the world. This Humboldt Current cools off the water and maintains the temperatures of beach towns around 65-80 degrees F year around. Every 5-8 years, these beaches suffer from the warm current from the South Pacific which results in heavy and destructive rain, called "El Nino." It is named as such because this El Nino occurs usually in December.

Ecuador is the rose capital
From Salinas, we traveled back to the highlands. The first stop was Guayaquil, the largest city of Capital. It is by the water where rivers and the Pacific Ocean meet. Also, the mouth of the river where the city is located is blocked by a large island. So it was hot and humid, with little benefit from the Humboldt Current. The city was vibrant with a lot of metropolitan flavor particularly around Malecon 2000 which is the board walk along the river. It includes gardens, IMAX theater, museums and many other amenities and facilities. At the city center, one small park, called Parque Semitario, has 70 large iguanas that are fed by the government.

Tricycles at Puerto Lopez
From Guayaquil, we traveled a scenic route to the top of the mountain, as high as 14,000 feet, over three hours. It was a rapid ascension but the view was panoramic and breath-taking. Then, we descended for 25 minutes to arrive at Cuenca at approximately 2,500 meter or 7,500 or 8,300 feet high.

Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador after Guayaquil and Quito, with the population of approximately 500,000. Cuenca was a lovely city. Many gringos from the U.S. and Canada have moved to live in this beautiful city, calling it their home, which offers low cost of living, wonderful climate, rich cultural flavor and many colors of Ecuador. It was estimated that the city has 3,000 gringos.

Andean Musicians
Woman wearing Panama Hat
Eduardo Vega's Work
Ecuador is a beautiful country. It offers many attractions including cultural and geographical diversity.

Lisa's Magic Carpet
Canoa Beach Hotel
It has the famous Galapagos Islands, many coastal beaches, cool highlands and Amazon jungles. Also, Ecuador offers Incan and Spanish heritages as well as indigenous cultures. The country is very fertile due mainly to the volcanic activities and anything that grows elsewhere grows in Ecuador. It produces crude oil and natural gas, so the energy cost is very inexpensive. Ecuador is the largest rose exporting country. Ecuador first produced toquilla straw hats in Montecristi, but they have been named Panama hats because US President Roosevelt wore the hat after his visit to Panama Canal construction site where most of construction workers wore them. It has the equator crossing the country. Ecuador means the equator in Spanish and it was adopted when the old Grand Colombia was broken into three countries: Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Because of this equator line crossing Ecuador, it claims to be the middle of the world. Ecuadorians are proud of their countries. They have high level of dignity and strong principles. Ecuador is colorful. And there are much more Ecuador can offer than what I can describe.
Simon Bolivar and Jose Martin

That is why people fall in love with Ecuador when they visit the country. We were not an exception. We have come to love Ecuador.

Additional photos of Ecuador are below. Enjoy them. Better yet, you should visit Ecuador yourself for the first hand experience. Chao~ - Jeffrey

Ecuador Crash Course Route
Chola Cuencana

E. Vega's Work

With Sarah who organized this wonderful trip

With Panama hats put on
Iguana at Parque Semitario
Sunset at Canoa Beach