Left To Tell

Immaculée Ilibagiza huddled with seven other women in the 3' x 4' bathroom of her pastor’s home, silently praying and clinging to her rosary beads as she heard Hutus shouting her name outside the door.

“We know she’s here somewhere,” they yelled,
 stomping through the house, overturning furniture like a tornado. This wasn’t the first time the Hutus had come searching for her — and it wouldn’t be the last.

“Every time they came looking for me, I thought I would be found. I thought I would die,” Ilibagiza said.

She was never found, and she didn’t die. Ilibagiza — a member of the Tutsi tribe — survived for 91 days in the hidden bathroom, while genocide raged outside the pastor’s home and throughout the small, central African nation of Rwanda.

“The only thing that got me through was my faith in God,” she said.

Ilibagiza was a 23-year-old electrical engineering student when the genocide began. It was April 1994, and she was home from the National University of Rwanda for Easter break.

Suddenly, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down over the capital city of Kigali. The assassination of the Hutu president sparked months of massacres of Tutsi tribe members throughout the country. Not even small, rural communities like Ilibagiza’s were spared from the house-by-house slaughter of men, women and children.

Ilibagiza’s father urged her to run to the local pastor’s home for shelter. There she sat for three months, praying with her rosary beads. The beads were a gift from her father, who was a director of Catholic schools.

Food was scarce at the pastor’s home. In three months, Ilibagiza dropped from 150 pounds to 65 pounds. Though her body atrophied, her mind and spirit remained strong. Using a Bible and a dictionary, she spent countless hours in the cramped bathroom learning English. She was already fluent in Kinyarwanda and French.

After 91 days of terror, Ilibagiza’s prayers were answered. She was liberated from her bathroom prison cell only to face a horrific reality: Her entire family had been brutally murdered, with the exception of one brother who was studying abroad. Nearly 1 million Tutsis were massacred during the 100-day genocide.

“Deep inside of me, I knew my family had died while I was hiding in the bathroom,” Ilibagiza said. “I also knew they were in Heaven, and they had died in the most honorable way trying to protect their family.”

In 1998, Ilibagiza emigrated to the United States to work for the United Nations promoting peace. During that time, she shared her story with coworkers and friends who encouraged her to write it down.

Ilibagiza’s first book, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” was published in March 2006 and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. The book, which has sold over 1 million copies, received a Christopher Award, “affirming the highest values of human spirit.” A movie based on her story is in the works.

Ilibagiza, 43, has received honorary doctoral degrees from several universities and has been honored with numerous humanitarian awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.

Altogether, Ilibagiza has written seven books about the Rwandan genocide, faith and forgiveness. She travels the world speaking at conferences, events, schools and churches.


True Vineyard Ministries will welcome Immaculée to St. Edward's University in Austin on September 6 and to the Oblate Center on September 7.  Tickets on sale at www.truevineyard.org.

Genocide Survivor and New-York Best Selling Author Comes to Central Texas!

Immaculée Ilibagiza is New York Times best-selling author of Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.  On September 6 True Vineyard Ministries is honored to bring Immaculée to Central Texas for two very special speaking engagements!


Left to Tell recounts Ilibagiza's experience during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. She survived hidden for 91 days with seven other women in a tiny bathroom. During the horrific atrocities of 1994, Interahamwe soldiers killed most of Illabagiza's family. 


Please watch one of Immaculée's earlier interviews here. Her story of faith and how she found forgiveness has inspired countless individuals.
Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear an incredible message on faith, love and forgiveness from this recipient of the 2007 Mahatma Gandhi Reconciliation and Peace Award. A limited amount of tickets and sponsorship opportunities are now available at truevineyard.org.


An exclusive Patron of Peace Reception will be held prior to Immaculeé's speaking engagements with a personal opportunity to meet Ms. Ilibagiza as she is presented with an Ambassador of Peace award.


We hope to see you in Austin or San Antonio on September 6 and 7!


Blessings,


Diana Wiley
Executive Director

Exciting News!

It is so great to be able to write you today with some very exciting news! I hope you will be as thrilled as I am for the women of True Vineyard Ministries and for the progress that is being made in Rwanda!

For over a year, I have been working closely with the Corporate Social Responsibility division of Kate Spade & Company in New York. Our management team has worked very meticulously to improve the quality of our yarn and bring it to the standard of excellence for which Kate Spade & Company is known.

Several months ago Kate Spade & Company started their own cooperative in Rwanda, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda. At the beginning of May, their organization launched their On Purpose brand, promoting products made by the artisans of Masoro. The goal of this new initiative is to develop a viable resource for their organization while promoting artisans in Rwanda. Women employed through this program will be knitting hats and scarves out of our high-quality Merino yarn beginning later this month. The first of these products will hit the shelves of Jack Spade, their men's line and brand store, for Holiday 2014!

This is especially exciting for both organizations, as this partnership will allow Kate Spade & Company to produce their first products completely sourced in Rwanda! They have done similar projects in Bosnia and Afghanistan, but all raw materials were imported from China, as are all the other materials for products currently being assembled in Rwanda for On Purpose. It is a huge step for Kate Spade & Company and a very exciting time for us. We are confident that this will be an ongoing and growing relationship as we begin to create yarn for their other brands. Additionally, this project is already driving other organizations to seek True Vineyard as a raw materials source in Rwanda! We have seen and felt the hand of God's guidance all the way through this process.

It is very exciting to announce that this order created a need for us to employ 7 more widows - a new total of 44 women and their children being served by True Vineyard Ministries. As you can imagine, employing a total of 44 women in the space where we originally employed 10 is challenging. We cannot wait to move into our new workspace, Gihunga Center, in Susa Village!

In a few weeks, a team of 19 people (our largest team ever) will be traveling to Rwanda where, God willing, we will see the completion of construction for Gihunga Center. We are looking forward to a day in the near future when we can finally move operations to our very own property. The team will be working with local workers on the construction of a large gazebo and beatification of the grounds at the new center. The women love to work outside, and we want their new center to be a beautiful and aesthetically peaceful place to come to work. I know the team would covet your prayers as they are preparing for their journey.

I am also seeking prayers over a growing issue we are seeing with some of our women.

When we first began our work in Rwanda, we built 10 houses for 10 widows. As God opened up the opportunity to hire more women, we made the decision that it was more important to employ as many as we could rather than employ a few and build them houses. While we have no regrets about this decision, we are seeing a developing issue-unsafe living conditions for many of our ladies.

Our focus has always been about empowering the women we employ to take care of themselves and their families. However, due to some challenges and government building restrictions for new homes in Rwanda, this has become an extremely difficult task. Would you pray with us as we seek wisdom over this issue?

Lastly, I would like to tell you about a very exciting guest we have visiting us this fall. Immaculée Ilibagiza, New York Times best-selling author of Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide will be in Austin and San Antonio, respectively on September 6 and 7 for two very special speaking engagements for True Vineyard Ministries. Immaculée hid and survived for 91 days inside a tiny bathroom with 7 other women during the horrific 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I encourage you to read her book and join us in September. Tickets will go on saleJuly 1 through our website at truevineyard.org.
 
Thank you very much for your continued prayers. We are grateful.

Diana Wiley
Executive Director

Exciting News!

It is so great to be able to write you today with some very exciting news! I hope you will be as thrilled as I am for the women of True Vineyard Ministries and for the progress that is being made in Rwanda!

For over a year, I have been working closely with the Corporate Social Responsibility division of Kate Spade & Company in New York. Our management team has worked very meticulously to improve the quality of our yarn and bring it to the standard of excellence for which Kate Spade & Company is known.

Several months ago Kate Spade & Company started their own cooperative in Rwanda, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda. At the beginning of May, their organization launched their On Purpose brand, promoting products made by the artisans of Masoro. The goal of this new initiative is to develop a viable resource for their organization while promoting artisans in Rwanda. Women employed through this program will be knitting hats and scarves out of our high-quality Merino yarn beginning later this month. The first of these products will hit the shelves of Jack Spade, their men's line and brand store, for Holiday 2014!

This is especially exciting for both organizations, as this partnership will allow Kate Spade & Company to produce their first products completely sourced in Rwanda! They have done similar projects in Bosnia and Afghanistan, but all raw materials were imported from China, as are all the other materials for products currently being assembled in Rwanda for On Purpose. It is a huge step for Kate Spade & Company and a very exciting time for us. We are confident that this will be an ongoing and growing relationship as we begin to create yarn for their other brands. Additionally, this project is already driving other organizations to seek True Vineyard as a raw materials source in Rwanda! We have seen and felt the hand of God's guidance all the way through this process.

It is very exciting to announce that this order created a need for us to employ 7 more widows - a new total of 44 women and their children being served by True Vineyard Ministries. As you can imagine, employing a total of 44 women in the space where we originally employed 10 is challenging. We cannot wait to move into our new workspace, Gihunga Center, in Susa Village!

In a few weeks, a team of 19 people (our largest team ever) will be traveling to Rwanda where, God willing, we will see the completion of construction for Gihunga Center. We are looking forward to a day in the near future when we can finally move operations to our very own property. The team will be working with local workers on the construction of a large gazebo and beatification of the grounds at the new center. The women love to work outside, and we want their new center to be a beautiful and aesthetically peaceful place to come to work. I know the team would covet your prayers as they are preparing for their journey.

I am also seeking prayers over a growing issue we are seeing with some of our women.

When we first began our work in Rwanda, we built 10 houses for 10 widows. As God opened up the opportunity to hire more women, we made the decision that it was more important to employ as many as we could rather than employ a few and build them houses. While we have no regrets about this decision, we are seeing a developing issue-unsafe living conditions for many of our ladies.

Our focus has always been about empowering the women we employ to take care of themselves and their families. However, due to some challenges and government building restrictions for new homes in Rwanda, this has become an extremely difficult task. Would you pray with us as we seek wisdom over this issue?

Lastly, I would like to tell you about a very exciting guest we have visiting us this fall. Immaculée Ilibagiza, New York Times best-selling author of Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide will be in Austin and San Antonio, respectively on September 6 and 7 for two very special speaking engagements for True Vineyard Ministries. Immaculée hid and survived for 91 days inside a tiny bathroom with 7 other women during the horrific 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I encourage you to read her book and join us in September. Tickets will go on saleJuly 1 through our website at truevineyard.org.
 
Thank you very much for your continued prayers. We are grateful.

Diana Wiley
Executive Director

Reflections of April

I’ve served in Africa for more than 10 years now…7 of those have been in Rwanda. Each and every April I am reminded of the pain and trauma so many endured during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.  For most in the western culture, it is easy to dismiss as a time they would rather not think about. However, for a very significant Rwandese population…they will never  forget.

I can hear the individual stories yet I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like for them. I pray that True Vineyard Ministries continues to be a safe place that provides a steady income, healthcare and individual counseling for these women.  Most of all, my prayer is that we provide a conduit for their healing along with spiritual council that will lead each of them to a deeper relationship with Christ

When we hire a new woman, she is given an opportunity to share prayer requests and her story with us.  Sometimes we are not prepared for what we hear.  Such was the case last week with Edith who was 17 years old in 1994.

Edith was one of 8 children. Her parents and 6 of her siblings were murdered during the genocide.  Edith spent 3 days lying unconscious in a heap of dead bodies where killers had thrown her body. They believed she was also dead after hacking her body multiple times with a machete.  By the grace of God Edith survived.  Her physical wounds did not heal until six years later in 2000.

We have been enormously blessed with a remarkable staff in Rwanda who cares deeply for our women and are committed to counseling those who have suffered so much. I never imagined that God would use this ministry to bring about healing for so many who have experienced unimaginable things.

All of us are grateful for the opportunity to know and love these women.  Mostly, we are honored to serve God in such a unique and special way. 

Please join us this month as we pray for our management staff and the 44 women we employ. God is doing great things through this ministry

Blessings,

Diana


Pray for Rwanda

Please join us as we pray for Rwanda as we remember the horrific genocide that ravaged the country for 100 days in 1994.  Almost one million people lost their lives in the extreme violence and bloodshed, which began 20 years ago.

We are proud to be working in Rwanda as an organization answering the bible's call to care for the widow. We are thrilled when we find other organizations in Rwanda that are women-centric and are promoting continued reconciliation through creating beautiful works of art. Thursday evening we will feature one of these groups, More than Sparrows, along with other organizations and artisans working in 11 African nations at our 6th Annual Springtime Trunk Show.

Please join us for this wonderful evening and opportunity to Shop For Good.  The show will be from 5:30 until 8:30 pm at our storefront, The Vineyard Marketplace in San Marcos.

For Erwin, With Love


True Vineyard Ministries along with the San Marcos, Texas community suffered a great loss last October when our beloved and faithful friend and volunteer, Erwin Janek, passed suddenly.  Erwin practically ran our Annual Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Sale. He was our volunteer cheerleader who kept us motivated, dipping and selling year after year.  He knew exactly what we needed and was always ready to help us in any way he could. He happily dipped, packaged, delivered and stood on street corners dancing with signs every February – year after year.  If a volunteer didn’t show up for their shift, Erwin was always willing and ready to serve in any capacity and under any weather conditions.  This year, for our 12TH Annual Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Sale, we would like to honor the legacy of serving that Erwin left for us.  That is, to serve willingly and selflessly wherever it is that God calls us.  Thank you Erwin for 11 great years of Valentines Days.  We miss and love you very much.