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.
I am in awe of what God has done through True Vineyard Ministries, Inc. During the past seven years, He has continued to amaze me by the rapid growth and reach of this widow-centered ministry, which offers life-sustaining opportunities in Africa. Our 50 Rwandan employees, their families and the surrounding communities have realized the results of our presence in a place where genocide, civil war and HIV/AIDS have left many feeling hopeless. It is far beyond what I could have ever dreamed or imagined for the organization. Please allow me to share a few highlights from 2013.
Katie Scrafford joined our team in Rwanda one year ago. She independently raised all of her own financial support to work for us as a full-time volunteer. Her background is in family therapy, but she also previously worked as shepherdess on a sheep farm in New Hampshire. Yes, you read that correctly. God brought a counselor and former shepherdess to our organization in Rwanda where we counsel widows and have a flock of sheep needed for our Handspun Hope yarn production.
Trauma counseling is greatly needed in Rwanda. With this challenge in mind, Katie and our country director Simon Dufitumukiza developed a lay counselor-training program. In July, the first class of 14 lay counselors graduated. Free trauma counseling is now offered to individuals in schools, persons with disabilities, and several churches in northern Rwanda. A counseling network is currently being formed in the area and many who are in desperate need of this kind of healing are being impacted by the presence of TVM.
In the spring and summer, we worked to raise funds through a matching grant for the first phase of construction for our new workplace, Gihunga Center, to be built on land we already own. As the first phase of construction is finalized, our women will begin working at the new center. Having our own building is a huge step toward sustainable income for the 35 currently employed widows, support staff and their families with a total of 234 lives being directly impacted.
As TVM grows, opportunities are opening for the women to move to a place of greater financial independence. Through our Handspun Hope program, yarn making will continue to be a tool, providing for spiritual counsel and immediate expenses of food, shelter and healthcare. However, we feel that God wants more for the ladies and for other widows in the surrounding community. Through a savings group initiated by the women in 2010, we have seen the opportunity for them to save capital through microfinance initiatives. Using the property where the new center is being built, the women have started raising rabbits, which are sold to hotels and communities. This process moved us to begin praying about how God could potentially use TVM as a springboard for them to develop their own income-generating projects instead of remaining financially dependent on the organization. Gihunga Center—gihunga means “to cultivate” in Kinyarwanda—will serve this purpose. If the women can use their own creativity to build capital through similar microfinance initiatives, they can use the resources they've built through TVM to develop financial independence. This plan will allow us to bring more women into the TVM family!
Last summer, as a result of the success of the ministry and our store The Vineyard Marketplace, I was asked to go to South Sudan to consult with a newly formed women’s group on potential product development. It was an amazing process to watch how God used divine connections to bring me there. What is even more amazing is how He continues to use the ministry’s storefront to bring about lasting change to individual artisans and organizations in 11 African nations. We are the largest customer for many of the organizations from which we purchase fairly-traded products. This impact is far greater than we could ever hope to calculate.
In 2013, God used True Vineyard Ministries to bring more lives into realized change through employment, trauma counseling and the purchasing of products at a fair price. My prayer is that He continues to make provision for all the ways we feel Him calling us. It is a very exciting time for True Vineyard, and I hope that you will partner with us as we continue to grow. Please find enclosed a brochure on the opportunity for monthly widow sponsorship, outlining the different levels of engagement with TVM, as well as a “wish list” of our 2014 dreams for the organization. I ask that you consider supporting us through prayer and a year-end financial gift that will enable us to continue walking through the doors where God is calling the ministry. Should you choose, you may use the enclosed return envelope or give online at truevineyard.org.
Thank you for your continued support. On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers at True Vineyard Ministries, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Founder and Executive Director
It’s September and definitely time for an update on True Vineyard Ministries! It’s been a crazy wonderful summer with lots to report!
Our summer team traveled to Rwanda in early July and it is an understatement to say we were busy! We hit the ground running and worked along side the women to develop new products out of their beautiful new colors of Rwandan, Merino yarn. We were really excited to be arriving behind a visit from Nancy Zeller, of Long Ridge Farm, who spent several days with the ladies, teaching them how to dye with lots of new natural dye extracts. Be sure and check out our Facebook page to see some of the beautiful new shades…that are quickly turning into wonderful knit hats for fall!
True Vineyard has been so blessed by our full-time volunteer, Katie Scrafford, who has lived and worked with our women in Rwanda for almost one year! It has been a fast year…but “WOW” has she helped grow TVM to something great in Rwanda! Meeting Katie was a truly a divine connection. She actually lived and worked on Long Ridge Farm in New Hampshire as a SHEPHEDRESS several years ago. Katie received her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University in 2011. For the past several months, Katie has worked closely with our Country Director, Simon, in developing a lay-counselor training program. This program trains and equips other leaders to administer counseling to those who have experienced trauma. While our team was in Rwanda in July, we celebrated the first graduates of the new program and participated in their certificate ceremony. How wonderful to know that there are now hundreds of people being counseled through their traumatic pasts because of Katie’s heart for those who are in such great need. There are no words to express the organization’s gratitude to Katie and Simon for the work they have poured into this new program. How awesome it was to witness the fruits of their labor.
Now for the update on Gihunga Center... Although we believed we would have been well into the construction of Phase I of the new center, we are currently (and anxiously) waiting on final approvals from the Rwandan government. Just as everything was ready to begin, the Rwandan Development Board issued a new mandate, requiring all NGO’s (Non-governmental Organizations) operating in Rwanda (like True Vineyard), to “re-register”. We are currently in that process and are also proceeding with application for a “special building permit” from the local government sector. Unfortunately, the best thing for us to do is wait until we have gone through one or both of these processes. We want to be absolutely certain that our center is legally built, with all approvals in place. We promise to keep you informed as we make progress!
By now you are probably wondering what could the 50th Anniversary of the assignation of JFK possibly have to do with True Vineyard Ministries' work in Rwanda… We are thrilled to announce a GRAND-SCALE fundraising event coming to San Marcos, Texas this fall, Remembering Camelot Through the Lens of Jacques Lowe, the private collection of Frank Harvey. Mark your calendars for November 16th and 17th and in the words of Frank Harvey “get ready to witness history”. Please watch our promotional video and then visit our event site at www.rememberingcamelot.com to learn more!
Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow! We have 100% funding for Phase I of Gihunga Center! Thank you to all who contributed so generously to see that this project was funded by our July 1st deadline! Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are moving right into raising funds for Phase II, our final stage for completion of the new center in early 2014!
As promised, I wanted to give you an update on our fundraising efforts for the new Gihunga Center, a new permanent workspace for the widows we employ fulltime in Rwanda.
Over the past five years we have grown from employing 10 widows fulltime to employing 35 widows today. The new enlarged space will allow us to continue empowering the lives of even more widows and their children, impacting the lives of generations to come.
In April of this year we were awarded with a $12,000 matching grant for our new building. In mid-May we began raising funds to match this amazing gift so that construction could begin this summer.
I’m happy to share that so far our fundraising efforts have generated $7,914! We have raised almost 2/3 of our goal and are standing with God, believing him for the remaining $4,086 before July 1.
Additionally, we have had an amazing donation of some lovely cards, designed specifically for raising funds for our new center by Nancy Keplinger, surviving daughter of the late Ambassador to Rwanda, Leo Cyr. All proceeds raised from the sell of these cards will go towards our building campaign. They are available in our store, The Vineyard Marketplace or online.
If you have supported us financially or prayerfully in this endeavor we are extremely grateful. I ask that you continue praying for us and if you have not already given financially, that you consider a tax-deductible gift of any amount. There is no gift that is too small. Gifts can be given securely online or mailed to our office address at the bottom of this note.
We are thankful for your continued support and are ecstatic about the future of our organization! Be sure to follow our fan page on Facebook to stay informed about our progress!
Many continued blessings,
True Vineyard Ministries, Inc.
317 W. San Antonio Street
San Marcos, TX 78666
True Vineyard Ministries, Inc.
317 W. San Antonio Street
San Marcos, TX 78666
On May 22, we began a fundraising campaign to raise $12,000 for completion on funding for the first phase of Gihunga Center. Gihunga, meaning, “to cultivate” in Kinyarwanda, is what we prayerfully wish to see in the lives of our widows and in the lives of other widows and their children in the Susa community. This new work facility will provide much-needed space, but more importantly, provide our women with a building that belongs to them on land we already own. It will eliminate the need to pay rental fees and will enable True Vineyard Ministries to have enough room to rescue more impoverished widows and their children.
We are excited to give you an update on our fundraising efforts for Gihunga Center. As of June 9, we have collected $5,224, leaving a balance of $6,776 needed by July 1. We prayerfully ask, that if you have not contributed to this important campaign, that you consider giving a gift of ANY amount. You may give through our secure online giving page, or send a check to our office.
True Vineyard Ministries, Inc.
317 W. San Antonio St.
San Marcos, Texas 78666
We are thankful for this affirmation from God and are believing him for this next exciting step in the lives of the widows and their children. Our dream is that you will partner with us as we move forward to an even brighter future. Thank you so much for your wonderful support of our work.
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