Thank you for patiently waiting as we prepare for the opening of our new Vineyard Marketplace location. We are hoping to open our doors in the very near future. Additionally, we have postponed our Grand Opening celebration and community blessing to September 11 and 12, 2015.
In conjunction with the opening of our new location, we will be rolling out a brand new online e-commerce site to make it easier for you to Shop For Good!
Thank you again for your patience and your tremendous support. We look forward to celebrating with you very soon!
As you may be aware, True Vineyard Ministries is in a period of great transition. We are expectant of all God will do in the coming months to further His work stateside, in Rwanda, and across Africa. Thank you in advance for reading what is ahead for our organization as we seek to partner with you to further His Kingdom in Africa.
In Rwanda, the rainy season has just ended. We are currently in the last phase of construction for our new facility, being built on land we purchased in June 2008. We expect construction of our new facility, called Gihunga Center, “meaning to cultivate”, to be completed by the beginning of the next rainy season, which begins in September. The new center, complete with wool washing stations and gazebos will be the new worksite for the 44 widows we serve. Our ability to help more widows overcome extreme poverty is being directly impacted by the limited workspace at our current office. Located in a government-designed neighborhood for widows and orphan-headed households, the new site is prime real estate for hiring more women who have been made vulnerable by HIV, genocide, and subsequent civil wars.
At home, our fair-trade boutique, Vineyard Marketplace, is also in transition. We began our move from its original location in May with big plans on the horizon for August.
The marketplace has become a very important branch of our ministry, easily supporting over 1,000 artisans in eleven African nations. Impacting organizations that are comprised of mostly single mothers, Vineyard Marketplace has become the source by which these artisans are paid fairly for their incredible craftsmanship. This allows for fair wages so these artisans can feed their families, and in most cases, educate their children.
Recently, we came to the realization that the demands of our orders were too much for a cooperative of women that make our silk scarves in Central Madagascar. Through our conversations with their director, we learned some of the embroidery work was being outsourced to women in a local prison. These women can now be paid and take care of their children on the “outside”. God is revealing how much He cares about all of these groups and how He is using us to further the Gospel in places we would have never dreamed.
In preparation for the opening of our new store, we are expecting our sales to increase dramatically. Therefore, we prayerfully decided to ship a container of new product from Kenya to the Port of Houston in early August. This 20-foot container will be full of fairly traded goods representing organizations in Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Madagascar.
Without our store fully functioning for the next eight weeks, it will be a challenge to raise the funds needed to complete construction and ship our container of product. Therefore, I am humbly asking for you to pray for us and consider a financial contribution to True Vineyard Ministries, which will help us through this exciting transitional time. A gift of any amount is greatly appreciated and can be given online at truevineyard.org or mailed to our new mailing address, below.
True Vineyard Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 1962
San Marcos, TX 78667
On Friday, August 21 at 6:00 PM, please join me at our brand new store behind Centerpoint Station and across IH 35 from the outlet malls, in San Marcos. God’s fingerprints have been all over our journey to this new location and I look forward to sharing the story at this private time of blessing before our Grand Opening at 9:00 AM on August 22.
Have you heard? Vineyard Marketplace is moving! We are so excited to announce the location of our new store at IH-35, Exit 200 behind Centerpoint Station and across from Starbucks Coffee in San Marcos, Texas.
For the past six years we have been operating Vineyard Marketplace on San Antonio Street in San Marcos. We will be closing our doors for business at the San Antonio Street location on Friday, May 29th. We are thrilled that God is expanding our marketplace operations and increasing the reach of our ministry by planting us in a new location.
The ministry and mission of True Vineyard are based on providing holistic support to Africa’s most vulnerable. Our objective is to empower Africa’s poorest through job creation, community building, and spiritual counsel. Through our “Shop for Good” concept, Vineyard Marketplace achieves the mission of True Vineyard Ministries by directly supporting the work of artisan cooperatives in eleven different African nations. Our buying practices follow fair trade principles and support more than 500 African artisans. “Shop for Good” means that through every purchase made at Vineyard Marketplace a consumer is sowing into the life of an artisan working in Africa. Many of our artisan partners are single mothers struggling to provide for the basic needs of their children. Some are young women working to put themselves through a trade school, while others are outcasts overcoming stigmas and adversities because they are living with HIV/AIDS. Through working relationships with these artisans, we are able to share the powerful message of Jesus Christ and experience His kingdom transformation in the lives of many. We envision Africa’s most vulnerable people transformed into healthy, prosperous, and collaborative communities of social change through Jesus Christ.
Come visit us at our new location (IH 35, Exit 200) opening mid June. Stay tuned for details regarding our grand opening events, giveaways, and in-store promotions!
Lastly, enjoy buy one product; get two free at our San Antonio Street location until May 29th! Come by and pay us one last before we move to our exciting new place.
Edith Mugirasoni was born in the Bugesera District of Eastern Rwanda in 1977. She was the youngest of nine children. Edith had a very self-reliant family since they owned many cows and enough land to produce plenty of food. Her three brothers were teachers at a primary school and Edith loved studying very much. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi happened when she was in the second year of secondary school. Every child in Edith’s family had a vision for the future and her big vision was to study and have many degrees. These good people, who had been enjoying the blessing of being members of such a beautiful family, were forced to die. All of their visions and plans ended there. The entire family was exterminated except for Edith and one of her brothers. They continue to live with terrible memories of the Genocide.
During the Genocide, Edith and her family went to hide in Ntarama Catholic Cathedral, only 300 meters from Edith’s home, with hope that no one would dare kill people inside a church. The church didn’t slow the perpetrators from their killing. God saved them that day and they fled to hide in the swamp of papyrus and marsh plants. The swamp was filled with snakes and biting insects and many people drowned in these swamps before they were killed. Edith and her family had no choice but to go into that impossible place. This is where most of Edith’s family was killed, along with thousands of other people. After torturing Edith in different ways, they cut her with machetes and threw her on the pile of dead bodies, believing that she was also dead. By God's grace she was still breathing! As the killers kept adding other dead people to the pile, Edith was buried and spent 3 days unconsciously hiding there. It is still very difficult for her have hope for the future even to expect that there are people who exist who can love her and give her a value as a human being.
As a result, Edith has been living with very serious trauma. Through God and the counselling program at True Vineyard Ministries, there is hope that she will slowly be healed. Empowered by the counselling program, for the first time since she left Bugesera in 2000, Edith agreed to return during the memorial period this month, to join other people in remembrance. This is something Edith has been avoiding for a very long time. The counsellors helped her understand it was important for her to return to that place and meet other people and hear other stories about the genocide. Understandably, it was difficult for Edith. The counsellors tried to console her as she saw and remembered every place where she witnessed family members being killed. She believes it was helpful to return to the place where she survived.
Because of the tremendous trauma, Edith was not able to continue her studies even though she was a very intelligent student. This is something that troubles her very much. When she tried to study again, she couldn’t perform well because of post-traumatic disorders. Her hope seems to have been lost completely. However, there is expectation that through continued counselling, God will restore her hope.
Edith joined True Vineyard Ministries two years ago. She is a very good spinner of yarn and also has a gift of sewing. Edith now dreams of owning a sewing workshop and we hope she will be encouraged to pursue this dream through our micro-finance program.
Below: Edith visits the papyrus swamp with a priest earlier this month
A few weeks ago, I was asked by a colleague to write an article about one of our two full time counselors, Marie Claire. From our limited interactions during our weekly staff meetings, I established a great deal respect for her and was honored to take on the task. After gathering the information needed to write the blog I came to the following conclusion: Her journey is incredible. Her strength compelling. Her faith extraordinary.
Marie Claire was born in 1960 to a large family. During secondary school, she found an interest in the field of education and pursued it throughout her career. Four years after completing secondary school, she was married and was abundantly blessed with four children (3 boys and 1 girl). In 1994 everything came to halt. With Rwanda’s tumultuous government and the Genocide, Marie Claire sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a challenging year living in a refugee camp, but through God she persevered.
After one year, she returned to Rwanda and continued her work with the Shyira Diocese Women’s Ministry. Marie Claire experienced many opportunities to enhance her professional and academic life. After she returned to Rwanda, she connected with World Vision. Through their Healing Program, she was equipped to provide basic counseling services to her community. She still yearned to learn English and increase her proficiency in the Bible. Through God’s grace, she received a scholarship and continued her education with All Nations Theological Seminaries (ANTS).
However, as the old adage goes “sometimes there is a tragedy, and it is then that we find our purpose.” In 1998 she tragically lost her husband to post genocide insurgencies and immediately became the primary caretaker and breadwinner of her family. She also began to care for a destitute widow with HIV and four orphans, increasing her household to nine individuals. Regardless of her limited basic and financial resources, she was compassionate, faithful and continued to submit all her burdens to God.
If we are aspirant, trials and tribulations can be our greatest asset. For Marie Claire, her trials and tribulations led her to True Vineyard Ministries. In March 2014, she began working as a part-time counselor. She had much to learn about our 44 widows and slowly began to establish the rapport needed to effectively console and counsel them. By January 2015, Marie Claire was hired as a full-time counselor. Her successful counseling methods positively impacted the widows and their emotional, professional, spiritual and interpersonal growth.
Marie Claire knows that counseling is her calling and gift from God. Through it she is determined to create long-term growth and healing. This is her way of testifying God’s grace and His truth. She remains optimistic on behalf of the widows and believes that through counseling and training other counselors, the ladies can be permanently transformed. Finally, she wishes to be a spiritual asset to the staff, widows and her own family. Marie Claire hopes that one day she can organize and facilitate spiritual conferences so that others might know Jesus and experience the life changing effects of salvation. So who is Marie Claire? She is a dedicated Christian counselor, with the goal to set others free from the bondage of trauma and pain.
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!
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