by Terri Ellis
In 2009, I began a journey — as some seemingly minor partnerships with God often begin — which has now evolved into a personal role and call in a ministry organization.
Threads of Hope, or Hilos de Esperanza, started on the island of Ometepe, Nicaragua. This volcanic island of about 45,000 people is located in southwest Nicaragua by Lake Nicaragua. The inhabitants are primarily agricultural farmers or make a living in association with the tourist business. The average income is approximately $400 per year. Many are very poor.
It was here, when I first accompanied a short term mission trip from my church in Louisville, KY that I began to ask God how He could use my skills in sewing, business, and my love for Christ to change the culture of the island of Ometepe … spiritually, socially, economically, and even politically. How could the hope found in Christ conquer the sin entrenched culture of this enclosed society and be replaced with abundant life reflective of a culture and lifestyle based on Biblical values? How could something as innocuous as SEWING be part of God’s tool? This is my quest, my hope and visionary partnership with God… to sew and sow towards the rulership of the King and the furthering of His Kingdom on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Threads of Hope is that we work directly with local island churches who would like to use sewing as a missionary tool to reach un-churched people in their community. Many women would like to learn to sew and are eager to come to a sewing class even if it’s at a church. As they gather to learn the life-skill of sewing, friendships are developed. The sharing of scripture and offerings of prayer are part of every class as conversations of everyday joys and hardships unfold around the sewing table.
In this casual way, the Spirit of God works within hearts, drawing them to Him and “sewing” the hearts of women to each other and to Christ. (Col. 2:2) Like fishing for men, we are sewing for women!
Currently, classes are offered in six week sessions at three different church sites and one missionary center with hopes to eventually reach all towns on the island. At the session end, the church invites new women to attend a new class to learn to sew, make friends and carry the gospel message planted in her heart back to her family.
The HOPE of spiritual life is being realized as the body of Christ in Ometepe reaches out to their community. The culture of Ometepe IS being positively affected spiritually.
The ministry promotes personal responsibility by requiring each woman to pay a small, but reasonable amount, for the full set of classes. If she attends all classes, her responsible attendance is rewarded with the return of her payment! Faithfulness is rewarded and the ministry then pays the teacher in her stead, reflecting Christ’s willingness to pay the cost for others. Further lessons continue to require a payment from the woman either in the form of money or bartered services. Our ministry strives to reflect that all which is received as valuable, has a cost that must be paid.
SEWING MACHINE SPONSOR PROGRAM
Women of many countries hope for and dream of owning an electric sewing machine of their own. They know that a sewing machine would allow them to make and repair clothing for their family and would also allow them to potentially earn extra essential income. However, a sewing machine is not a basic necessity of life, and though Threads of Hope offers used machines for sale at a very nominal cost, for most women owning a sewing machine will always be a hope left unfulfilled in their heart.
The sponsor program receives funds from donors who would like to sponsor a women who wishes to “buy” a machine from the ministry. The applicant completes a request for a machine and agrees to an individualized contract between herself and Threads of Hope. By giving a set amount of time, along with specific service to her community, AND attending 12 sewing classes, she can earn a sewing machine of her very own. To date, more than 25 sewing machines have been earned from our program. The HOPE of a sewing machine is being realized and God-pleasing lifestyle habits are practiced. The culture of Ometepe IS being affected socially!
FROM EARNING EXTRA MONEY TO BUSINESS PLANNING
With sewing, our ministry seeks to draw out a woman’s God-given creative identity, give her a skill to better serve her family’s clothing and home needs and, as her skills are perfected, offer ideas and opportunities to earn money from the sale of sewn products. To date, women are now earning money from their home repairing clothing. Cottage industries!
A group of women have formed a cooperative business, sewing commissioned projects for local businesses, school uniforms and community events. Others earn extra income from sewn products sold to tourists and visiting missionaries. The ministry now employs four women to offer initial, free lessons and train new teachers. We teach simple business practices to basic business plans for those interested.The HOPE of financial freedom is being realized as women are trained well, choose to apply self-discipline, and work hard. The culture of Ometepe IS being shaped economically.
PARTNERS WITH HEAVEN – “The disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.” Mark 16:20
God calls us to WORK and serve WITH him. We labor with Him as His Ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). We speak His words and serve in His strength (1 Pet 4:11) to accomplish His purposes. Like a family business that could be named “Heaven-Coming-To-Earth”, God desires ALL of his family to work together with Him on His business to bring heaven to earth! We invite you to work with us. Work with your prayers for he influence of Threads of Hope on Island of Ometepe, WORK with your donations of machines and fabric, WORK with your money towards our efforts, WORK with your donations of time, skills and talents that would help sharpen this ministry “tool”.
Together, we will please God, creating His culture on earth as it is in heaven because HOPE RULES and HOPE IS REIGNING in our world today!
FROM R.K.’S CORNER
Thirty eight years ago, a young woman walked into my Principal’s office of the school in New York I was administrating, and asked if there were any job openings to teach at the school. There was indeed a position open, and Terri Ellis, fresh out of college, got that job. We became colleagues and friends during the five years she was teaching at the school, a friendship that has lasted nearly four decades! Although young and inexperienced, Terri had already received from the Lord a clear vision of the philosophy and methodology of integrated education which was our foundational approach in the school — meaning that all academic disciplines flow out of the knowledge and relationship with the God of the Bible.
Years later, after marrying and raising a family, while becoming a proficient businesswoman, I learned that Terri, not surprisingly, had started a ministry abroad with poor women on an island in Nicaragua to give them a hope and a vision for a better life by mentoring and encouraging them towards integrating their faith in Jesus Christ with becoming excellent in their craft as business women. Their tool: sewing!
I first reported about Threads of Hope in the November 2011 issue of The Bridge Report. For background information, please see:
Terri recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua, and has given us a fresh update from the field. It is uplifting reading, especially during this Easter season, reminding us of the transforming power available to those who embrace and believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ!
If you want to financially support this fruitful microbusiness, please click on the Donate button above and mark your gift: Threads of Hope.
You can contact Terri via postal mail at: Threads of Hope, 811 Foxwood Avenue, Louisville, KY 40223. Following are other ways by which you may reach the ministry and Terri:
Tel.: +1 502 432-0110 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Threads of Hope/ Hilos de Esperanza