Sowing Seeds: Legacy of Garland Warren

In late 2006, God had been stirring Rwanda in the very core of my being for about 2 years.  He finally “connected the dots” for me with a former colleague from my years at Pitney Bowes.  Phil Smith and his wife Becca were relocating to Kigali, Rwanda, where Phil had accepted the position of Country Director for World Relief Organization in Rwanda.  After convincing them that God was indeed calling me to Rwanda, as well (and I wasn’t completely crazy), they agreed to host me for a vision trip. It was wonderful to finally know that something God had breathed into me was finally going to come to fruition.

I had already been volunteering my summers in Mozambique where I lead capital campaigns and mission trips to serve Chicuque Hospital, a rural hospital serving a community of over 500,000 people in southeastern Mozambique.  In late 2006, I had made application to form a nonprofit organization to better support the work in Mozambique, knowing God was placing Rwanda deeply in my heart.

I was thrilled God was ready to bring me to Rwanda.  I had enough frequent flyer miles saved (from flying to Mozambique) to get me to Johannesburg, South Africa, which incidentally, is the wrong route to travel if you are going to Rwanda.  I now needed to raise the funds to get from Johannesburg to Kigali.

A very dear man, Garland Warren, is someone I had known for awhile.  After hearing me speak about my plan to go to Rwanda, Garland quickly offered funds to help me with the rest of my ticket.  Garland sowed seeds into True Vineyard Ministries before we were ever officially a nonprofit organization.

Many mornings after my return, I would go and have coffee in his restaurant at Centerpoint Station. We would often pray together and share what God was doing in our lives. What I knew of Garland Warren was that he pretty much sowed seeds anywhere he felt God led him, until his death in 2010.

Since that vision trip in June 2007, my life has never been the same.  The future work of True Vineyard Ministries was imbedded deeply into my life.  God had surrounded me with loving friends to support my efforts and more importantly, a family and husband who understood the incredible calling he had placed on my life.  To date, True Vineyard Ministries is supporting 58 people in fulltime employment in Rwanda, 44 of those, women who were made vulnerable by genocide, subsequent civil wars and HIV/AIDS.  Today, through seeds Garland planted in our ministry, 235 people are being fed, clothed, educated and counseled.

In 2009, after seeing the financial support that could be raised for TVM through reselling products we purchased in Africa, our Board of Directors prayed and voted to rent a small house on San Antonio Street in San Marcos.  It was to be called The Vineyard Marketplace and its purpose was to help us cover the administrative costs of a local office for me. That was over 6 years ago. My, how God has changed the purpose of that little store!

The Vineyard Marketplace has become an arm of our ministry, now supporting organizations and artisans in nine African nations.  Sales from the store support women in sewing cooperatives, which employ genocide survivors, women who have been made vulnerable by the sex trade, and women with HIV/AIDS.  Additionally, the store supports orphan-headed household organizations, one employing the deaf in Kenya, as well as individual artisans in all of the nations where we shop. It is remarkable how the store has grown. 100% of the funds produced by the store are reinvested in the ministry in some capacity.  

About two years ago, we literally outgrew our space and had to move much of our back stock and fixtures to storage.  We began searching and praying that God would reveal a “new” perfect place, at a price we could afford.  Each time we thought we had found the right location, it didn’t work out, either because the price was too high or the location was not conducive for what we felt we needed.

In early January, my two incredible staff members and I went out of town for a 2015 strategic planning meeting.  We spent a large amount of time praying for wisdom. We asked God to lead us to the place he wanted us to have as our new location.  We promised to trust him, even if it meant we had to stay on San Antonio Street for another year.  Within hours, God laid a very specific location on my heart – an old general store that Garland had moved behind Centerpoint Station and used as his private museum.

We began to pray over this location, knowing it was not available for lease, but knowing this is where God was calling us.  I contacted Garland’s daughter, who I did not know and began to converse with her about the possibility.  We prayed for God to open the door for us…and he did!

On June 1, 2015, we will be moving operations to Garland’s general store, directly across from Starbuck’s, behind Centerpoint Station in San Marcos!  We are thrilled with the potential this will mean for the ministry and know that it will bless us, our women in Rwanda and the many organizations we support in Africa!

We ask for your continued prayers as we follow God’s leading for this miracle for our ministry!

Many Blessings-

Diana


#LoveGives

February has already proven to be a wonderful month for True Vineyard Ministries! Our new flock of Merino sheep has finally arrived in Rwanda and we are very excited about finally having a good source of wool for our ladies! 
With more sheep comes the need for more land. We are presently working on collaborations with two other organizations who have a presence in Rwanda. We hope to announce these collaborations soon!  Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our organization as we seek to go where God is leading.

February also means it is time for our 13th  Annual Chocolate-covered Strawberry Sale! All pre-orders qualify to receive FREE delivery in the San Marcos/New Braunfels area! Please help us spread the word about this important fundraiser and hashtag #LoveGives on your social media!

Please stay up to date with all of your news by following us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/TrueVineyardMinistries

Sheep Update!

Our Rwandan team is preparing to receive 100 new Merino sheep arriving from Kenya in the next few weeks!  New collaborations regarding our arriving flock are currently in development and will be announced soon. We are looking forward to creating more job oportunites for more of the "least of these" in Rwanda. Stay tuned...

Merry Christmas From True Vineyard Ministries!

True Vineyard Ministries has had a phenomenal year! Under God’s guidance the organization continues to advance. I want to take this opportunity to update you on our successes in 2014 and also share the exciting developmental plans He has laid before us for 2015.

Currently, we support 44 widows economically through a program called Handspun Hope in Northern Rwanda.  The women earn salaries from crafting organically dyed yarn, produced from the wool of our own flock of Merino sheep.  The yarn is then sold to socially responsible business partners and at our retail store, TheVineyard Marketplace in San Marcos, Texas.

Last year, we began collaborating with Kate Spade & Company, a national design and retail business based in New York. Kate Spade & Company began their own cooperative, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda in 2014. These artisans assemble products for the Kate Spade & Company On Purpose brand. The ladies employed by True Vineyard created the yarn used for a selection of their holiday products, which debuted in the Jack Spade  stores on November 14! In 2015, we will continue our partnership to create the only products completely sourced in Rwanda for the On Purpose brand.

   Due to an increased demand for our yarn, we saw a need to increase our flock of Merino sheep. In November, we launched a capital campaign through social media to fund the cost of importing new sheep. This campaign was so effective that we were able to purchase 100 more sheep for our flock in just seven days!  These sheep are currently in Kenya under quarantine and will arrive in Rwanda at the end of this month. With such a tremendous blessing, we are in pursuit of more land, fencing and sheds. Enlarging the flock will also require hiring two additional shepherds, bringing our current staff to 60 full-time employees in Rwanda!

Most importantly, our objective is to provide positive emotional, mental and spiritual support to our ladies who continue to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress due to genocide, extreme poverty, homelessness, HIV and hunger. For the past two years a focused team has worked to develop an intensive counseling program for our ladies. In August, we hired a full-time Rwandese Psychologist, Olive Muhanimana, who has continued to improve our counseling program. Olive has also continued developing the Lay Counselor Training Program, established in 2013, which equips local leaders to administer trauma counseling. Last summer, the second class graduated from the 10-week course and now there are 38 Lay Counselors offering counseling in their respective communities. Homeless children, persons with disabilities and families who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS are just some of the recipients of the free trauma counseling.

In 2015 we will be implementing a microfinance program that will encourage long-term financial freedom for our 44 ladies. For women who apply and qualify, True Vineyard will be granting individual loans. This opportunity will equip the women to create personal savings accounts, develop leadership skills, maximize profits, and invest more fully in the future of their families. The loans will be repaid with a low interest rate, ensuring the funds will continue to grow and be available for future business opportunities. Once a woman achieves financial independence, she will be encouraged to pursue her own entrepreneurial endeavors. True Vineyard will then fill her position with another woman who is marginalized and is seeking to holistically improve her life. This cycle of employment opportunity for impoverished women will ensure long-term impact and involvement in the surrounding community.

Our continued accomplishments in Rwanda would not be attainable without the financial support of dedicated donors. We humbly ask for your financial support in 2015 through a widow sponsorship or a year-end gift. Gifts may be made online or mailed to our office address below. There is no gift too small as we follow God’s lead to ensure these women are equipped spiritually, emotionally and economically through Jesus Christ.

On behalf of the entire team at True Vineyard Ministries, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Blessings,

Diana Wiley

Executive Director

Grateful For God's Leading

True Vineyard Ministries has had a phenomenal year! Under God’s guidance the organization continues to advance. I want to take this opportunity to update you on our successes in 2014 and also share the exciting developmental plans He has laid before us for 2015.

Currently, we support 44 widows economically through a program called Handspun Hope in Northern Rwanda.  The women earn salaries from crafting organically dyed yarn, produced from the wool of our own flock of Merino sheep.  The yarn is then sold to socially responsible business partners and at our retail store, The Vineyard Marketplace in San Marcos, Texas.

Last year, we began collaborating with Kate Spade & Company, a national design and retail business based in New York. Kate Spade & Company began their own cooperative, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda in 2014. These artisans assemble products for the Kate Spade & Company On Purpose brand. The ladies employed by True Vineyard created the yarn used for a selection of their holiday products, which debuted in the Jack Spade stores on November 14! In 2015, we will continue our partnership to create the only products completely sourced in Rwanda for the On Purpose brand.

Due to an increased demand for our yarn, we saw a need to increase our flock of Merino sheep. In November, we launched a capital campaign through social media to fund the cost of importing new sheep. This campaign was so effective that we were able to purchase 100 more sheep for our flock in just seven days!  These sheep are currently in Kenya under quarantine and will arrive in Rwanda at the end of this month. With such a tremendous blessing, we are in pursuit of more land, fencing and sheds. Enlarging the flock will also require hiring two additional shepherds, bringing our current staff to 60 full-time employees in Rwanda!

Most importantly, our objective is to provide positive emotional, mental and spiritual support to our ladies who continue to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress due to genocide, extreme poverty, homelessness, HIV and hunger. For the past two years a focused team has worked to develop a solid counseling program for our ladies. In August, we hired a full-time Rwandese Psychologist, Olive Muhanimana, who has continued to improve our counseling program. Olive has also continued developing the Lay Counselor Training Program, established in 2013, which equips local leaders to administer trauma counseling. Last summer, the second class graduated from the 10-week course and now there are 38 Lay Counselors offering counseling in their respective communities. Homeless children, persons with disabilities and families who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS are just some of the recipients of the free trauma counseling.

In 2015 we will be implementing a microfinance program that will encourage long-term financial freedom for our 44 ladies. For specific women who apply and qualify, True Vineyard will be granting individual loans. This opportunity will equip the women to create personal savings accounts, develop leadership skills, maximize profits, and invest more fully in the future of their families. The loans will be repaid with a low interest rate, ensuring the funds will continue to grow and be available for future business opportunities. Once a woman achieves financial independence, she will be encouraged to pursue her own entrepreneurial endeavors. True Vineyard will then fill her position with another woman who is marginalized and is looking to holistically improve her life. This cycle of employment opportunity for impoverished women will ensure long-term impact and involvement in the surrounding community.

Our continued accomplishments in Rwanda would not be attainable without the financial support of dedicated donors. We humbly ask for your financial support in 2015 through a widow sponsorship or a year-end gift. There is no gift too small as we follow God’s lead to ensure these women are equipped spiritually, emotionally and economically through Jesus Christ. 

On behalf of the entire team at True Vineyard Ministries, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Restoring and Growing the Flock

Thank you to all who have prayed for our sick sheep situation in Rwanda. God indeed moved a mountain last week by brining some veterinary volunteers to our farm on Friday.

Following an investigation, we discovered our sheep to have a parasitic infestation, resulting in anemia. Although this is a very common problem among livestock, it can be detrimental if left untreated.  Our routine treatment process has been quarterly but due to a long rainy season in Rwanda, treatments and supplements need to increase. 

We are grateful for your prayers over the protection of our flock.  We are happy to report that no more sheep have died since you started praying for us. Moreover, we continued to see God’s direct hand in restoring and replacing our lost 6 sheep. Sunday, the congregation of a tiny church in Ingleside, Texas raised immediate funds to replace the sheep.  They not only raised enough to replace them, they raised enough to purchase 11.75 sheep!

Driving home from Ingleside, I received an email from our contact in Kenya who imported sheep for us several years ago.  He shared about a truck of goats going to Burundi next week.  Fortunately, we have the ability to add a trailer to the back of the truck, which will hold up to 100 pure Merino sheep! If we move fast, we can purchase each sheep for $170, instead of $280 we would now pay per head!

Our True Vineyard Ministries team has continued to fervently pray for this thrilling opportunity.  Given the situation to purchase more Merino sheep at a reduced cost as well as a very large impending order from a national retailer, we are asking that you prayerfully consider helping us with our campaign to purchase more sheep at the reduced cost of $170.  A donation of any amount will be appreciated towards this effort.

With your permission, we will post names and gifts and keep you well-informed of our sheep count in progress.  Our wish is for this to happen very quickly so we may share this trailer that is already traveling through Rwanda.

Tax-deductible contributions may be designated for sheep and given on the online at www.truevineyard.org.

Thank you so much!


Diana and the True Vineyard team