Threads of Hope – On Mission to Sew and Sow – in Nicaragua


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.


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!


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!


RK Ulrich 2012Thirty 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:, Facebook: Threads of Hope/ Hilos de Esperanza






Prayer and Intercession for South Sudan

South Sudan - PrayersWhen South Sudan gained independence from Sudan proper on July 9, 2011, a forty year old armed conflict which had raged between the Muslim-backed Arab government in Northern Sudan, and the predominantly Christian Africans in Southern Sudan, ended. During this war, approx. 2 million people had been killed and 5 million displaced as refugees into the neighboring countries.

To establish their distinct national identity different from their Muslim neighbor to the North, the new country of South Sudan approved a Constitution built on the Judeo-Christian world view, providing a buffer against the advance of Islam toward the interior of Africa. Full of joyous anticipation and hope for the future of their families and their new nation, the South Sudanese in diaspora returned home in droves, thanking the Almighty God for their deliverance.

South Sudan is a country rich in natural resources: oil, gold, rare precious metals, forests, plenty of sunshine, fertile soil, and an abundance of water, i.e. the Nile – resources sought after by multinational companies and governments in the industrialized world.

The war had ravaged everything. The country was void of even the most elementary infrastructure – paved roads, municipal water, sewage, electricity, basic education, or healthcare. Rebuilding the nation proved to be very difficult and laborious, indeed.

The government was not prepared to handle the momentous task by good warriors becoming poor governors who have been open to bribes and corruption. In December 2013, an internal civil war (which also is a proxy war between superpowers competing over the country’s natural resources) erupted when President Kiir accused his former Deputy, Machar, of planning a coup.

South Sudan - Man prayingIt set off a cycle of retaliatory killings which have split the poverty-stricken country along ethnic lines, causing hundreds of thousands to flee. A fragile peace agreement was finally established, for again to be broken in July 2016. Last year alone, some 489,000 South Sudanese refugees fled to Uganda. The refugee settlement Bidibidi in northern Uganda, opened less than six months ago, is already one of the world’s largest refugee camps. It currently houses over 270,000 South Sudanese.

The country is in crisis – a combination of famine, conflict and disease is threatening the lives of millions. Since the war restarted in 2013 there have been recurring violence, with killings, rapes, abductions, displacements, children recruited into armed forces; schools and hospitals attacked and destroyed, and multiple outbreaks of disease including cholera. And now, famine is affecting thousands!

The leaders finally acknowledged their need to seek God for repentance and forgiveness, and intercede for the Lord’s healing of their land. On March 10, President Kiir called the people to an official National Day of Prayer!


Prasyer Conference SS (2)South Sudan’s Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro presided over Friday’s National Day of Prayer. He declared the government must choose between peace, unity, reconciliation and justice over rapes, killings and arbitrary arrests. He urged President Salva Kiir to “go pray alone in a room for peace in the country”.

The cleric further warned the President, stressing that torture, corruption, raping, arbitrary arrests and tribalism would continue if he later misuses his prayer.

“If this prayer is sincere, many things should happen in this country; peace, justice, love genuine dialogue and unity should happen after this prayer. Good governance, security, good economy, provision of service, we can expect then to happen after this prayer, if the prayer is genuine,” said the Bishop in a mixture of English and Arabic.

South Sudan - President KiirThe South Sudanese President, Kiir called delivered his own prayer before the crowd, asking for divine forgiveness.

“I pray not for condemnation but for forgiveness. I give over my heart and body for Your blessing. Guide me Lord to become who you want me to be. Give me wisdom not for my own merit but for your loving kindness,’’ said the President in a prepared prayer that he read in front of thousands of his supporters at John Garang Mausoleum in the capital, Juba.

President Kiir, who had never prayed in public since assuming chairmanship of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM), called for “the most merciful God” to redirect his deeds.

“Through my shortcomings, I have sinned against You in words and deeds for what I have done,” said the President, without mentioning any specific crimes he committed as a leader.

The country’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai and Vice President, James Wani Igga knelt as the South Sudanese President delivered his prayer.

“That your prayer should not be in vain, I hope you, President Kiir, called us out in this heat because you want peace. After this prayer, is the government going to choose evil?” asked Bishop Lokudu. Pentecostal Church Bishop, Isaiah Majok Dau called for “humanity in our hearts” during the prayer.

“If you are repenting today and you used to kill people, don’t kill anymore, regardless of who you are. If you are repenting today and you continue to talk badly about other tribes, cease and talk about South Sudan,” added Bishop Dau.                                     ©The Sudan Tribune


Levi Family (2)In  light of the current Crisis in South Sudan, I’m  counting on your support and networking  for a time of  National Prayer, Repentance and Forgiveness in Juba, South Sudan, March 26th-27th, 2017. This event will resonate with the National Peace and Reconciliation Initiative proposed by President Kiir.

This effort must precede our earnest desire to see people return from exile to their homes, which they abandoned in July 2016 in fear of their lives. We must dedicate the entire country to God, from the local to the national level. I call on like-minded church leaders  across the country and the camps to come together for this event.

South Sudan remains a spiritually  strategic country, blocking the spread of the Islamic Caliphate into the interior of Africa. The ongoing conflict within creates porous borders and opens the door for Islamic terrorists to invade from any direction. The  Islamic agenda is not done with South Sudan. They rejoice over our internal division.

  We must pray  for  those  serving in the government, military, and police; for civilians driven into exile; for armed rebels still operating inside the country. 

We  must recognize that our warfare is not against flesh or blood. We are not warring against specific persons or tribes, government, or rebels. We must learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, and call every soul to repentance and faith in Christ without showing partiality.  Tribalism is a national sin that must be renounced.

  It is only through the preaching of the Gospel and biblical reconciliation that South Sudan will see lasting peace.

Meanwhile, we have understood the plight of our people in exile and we will reach out to them with the same love of God we exercise upon those who are inside the country without discrimination. The Bible does not lie. Those who put their trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.

For us, the national dialogue for peace and reconciliation has already begun as The Bible instructs us, ‘First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men..’ See 2 Timothy 2:2.”


S Sudan - Matthew Preaching ccI met Matthew Deng Dut for the first time in 2008 in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was among the 1100 South Sudanese who had fled atrocities in Sudan and Egypt to find refuge in Israel. I visited his church, Elohim Shalom Ministry, which he had established among his fellow refugees there.

His preaching was focused around evangelism, prayer, and reconciliation. He told me with great enthusiasm about the hope he had for his nation—that one day, his people would be gathered back in their homeland, where they would become a free nation under God. Furthermore, that he had been called to be a voice and a vehicle of peace and reconciliation between man and God and the warring ethnic groups among his people.  

Matthew in Kampala 2 - 2017-02After returning to South Sudan in 2012, Matthew and his fellowship settled in the outskirts of Juba where he continues to pastor his flock. He has survived three severe malaria attacks, was robbed of all his possessions, and keeps on serving his people through a four year brutal, internal civil war, during which many of his church members have fled. In spite of the insurmountable problems he and his people face daily, Matthew refuses to give up, he has remained faithful to his call to seek reconciliation, and stands on Jesus’ promise in Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God.” His message is clear: Lasting peace only comes through The Prince of Peace!

In February, Matthew was invited as the main speaker at a Peace and Reconciliation Conference in the South Sudanese refugee community in Kampala, Uganda. Many were saved and encouraged in their faith!

Pray for SS (2)In May, Matthew and his fellowship, Elohim Shalom International Ministries, will also gather city– and region wide churches and church leaders and government officials to a Day of Prayer, Repentance, and Reconciliation on behalf od their country, government, and people. WOULD YOU PRAY AND HELP HIM FINANCE THIS EVENT?


For more background information on the people and ministries we serve in South Sudan, please click on the following link:







Immigration and Education – a Personal Testimony by R.K. Ulrich


Ulrichs - May 2016This month, I share  I share with you a slice of my life – the part of my testimony which encompassed both Immigration and Education, presently the two most divisive and passionate issues of our time.

A legal immigrant myself — and still one after 43 years living in this country, I want my story to be an encouragement to those who struggle to find their place in life, whether it involves immigration issues, or other things.  Ephesians 2:10 states that God has created us for His glory, and prepared us for good works.  He holds our future in His hands; He opens doors and makes a way where there is none, provided we obey His Word and the law of the land!


The situation described here took place in the mid-seventies in Upstate New York.  A Junior High school teacher from Norway, I had arrived in the States two years prior having been accepted into an eighteen month Fulbright post-graduate educational research program at the University of Hartford, CT with a study group of eleven other educators from various European countries.  The program included a year of teaching at an American school, which for me meant a job at a private Christian school in Connecticut. Our study group had been admitted into the United States on student visas which expired on June 30, 1974.  According to law, we were all required to return to our individual homelands, no exceptions made, especially since we were under the tight rules and regulations of the Fulbright Scholarship Grant.

The Love Inn Barn in 1974 when I first moved to New York and established the school there.

The Love Inn Barn in 1974 when I first moved to New York and established the school there.

In an unexpected turn of events that can only be described as a supernatural guidance of the Lord, I ended up with an unprecedented one year legal extension of my student visa, and found myself in the Fall of 1974 in a barn in Upstate New York called Love Inn.  Surrounded by several hundred former hippies, university students (Cornell University was located only 15 min driving distance from the barn), and a few local people, who had all embraced a living relationship with Jesus Christ, I realized I had been planted smack in the middle of the Jesus movement of the 60-70 ties! There, I established a grade school with the members of this young community who sought a Christian alternative in the education of their children. The task was exciting and challenging.

Love Inn School, presently called the Covenant Love Community School, started with five students in the tractor tool shed in the barn, without hardly any funds or educational material.  It was a small beginning, indeed.  What we did have, was  faith and a large vision that what God was starting, He would complete!

God was calling us to develop a well rounded Christ-centered and relationally-based education, its basis being integrated Christian Education built on the foundation of the Judeo-Christian Biblical world view. During the six years I was Principal of the school, we experienced on a grassroots level a philosophy/methodology emerge, which we called Kingdom Education.  It was an exciting and exhilarating endeavor!

After one year, in June of 1975, my extended student visa would expire, which meant that I would have to leave the country and the people and the school I had come to love.  Recognizing God had sent me  to head the school, and that the work had just begun, the community leaders and members, including myself, strongly felt it was not the right time for me to leave.  After much prayer and consideration by all, I filed change of status from student visa to permanent residency at the regional immigration office in Buffalo, NY.  Each profession had an immigration quota according to countries and regions.  There was no quota for teachers from Nordic countries since there was a glut of them already, so I did not qualify. My application was denied, and my subsequent appeal was also denied.

We learned we had one legal option left: My case could be presented to the highest Federal Immigration Court  in Washington, D.C.  We were not of a mindset to defy the law of the land, but rather, in faith trusting God’s guidance. Scott Ross, our community fellowship leader, called the church to prayer: “God is above human authorities. God sent Ragnhild, and has established her.  She needs to stay.”

With no money, no legal counsel, no arguments that would hold before the court, we nevertheless went forward and filed an appeal of the denial with that Court.  The good thing was, I was legally allowed to remain in this country while the case was pending.  A few months later, I received a document from Washington DC confirming my pending case.

More that a year passed.  Nothing was happening.  I continued my life’s work in the school and lived life to the fullest.

The Barn in the early eighties after renovation and change of name to Covenant Love Community

The Barn in the early eighties after renovation and change of name to Covenant Love Community

One day, I was in the middle of teaching a class, when suddenly the two doors — one at each end of the classroom— opened simultaneously.  Two tall, strong men in black suits walked in. They flipped out their i.d. badges and asked, “Are you Ragnhild Marie Kjeldaas?” “Yes, I am,” I answered.  “We’re from ICE,” they said. “You have overstayed your visa and you’re in violation of U.S. immigration law. Grab your bag, come with us, we will take you to the airport.  You are being deported.”

Stunned, I looked out the window and saw the black limo parked outside with the U.S. government seal on the side.  Dazed, I thought, “It is here, waiting to take me to the airport where I will be sent back to Norway in disgrace. I will be a Persona Non Grata in the United States!”

Upstairs, the Love Inn staff saw the black limo and knew they had come for me. One of the guys said, “We can take them on. We’ll run down, wrestle them, and grab her.” They were ready to go to prison for me!

Downstairs, my mind was racing. “Wait, I have a paper from the government!” I told them I had a document from the Federal immigration authorities proving I had legal permission to remain in the States till the Court had resolved my pending case.  “Can I go home and find it?” I asked. “No, come with us right now.”

Where else could that paper be? I knew that it wasn’t in my desk, but I decided to check in the file cabinet in my cubbyhole of an office. A copy of the document was there! The men looked at it, politely apologized and left.  We realized then that the situation was really serious!

Scott got on the Scott Ross Show, a Christian radio program he produced weekly which was broadcast to 70 stations in the country, and shared my case.  We received an avalanche of calls of support, as many professional groups saw this as a constitutional church/state issue.

Shortly thereafter, I received a document in the mail summoning me to appear at a pretrial in Washington DC and asking me to bring all necessary paperwork.  With no money and no lawyer, no ability to fill in the complex judicial paperwork, I had nothing to present at the pretrial. “I will be charged with overstaying my visa and immediately deported, but for a miracle,” I thought.  None of us knew what to do, so I kept teaching and we all kept praying.

Then, I got notice the trial was two weeks away. I was still able to sleep at night because the Lord had given me assurance, “Do you trust me? I will walk you through it.”

Three days later, I receive a phone call from New York City.  I picked up the phone, “Hello?”  “Are you the Norwegian school teacher with immigration problems?” a male voice asked.  “Yes, I am.”   “My name is Victor Anfuso. I’m an immigration lawyer. I believe I’m supposed to take your case.”  I was stunned. “I think I need to talk to my leader about this,” I said. “What is your number? I’ll have him call you.”

Scott dismissed the lawyer and his offer as most likely an opportunist wanting notoriety in handling the case, as my story had become more public. He initially refused to talk this lawyer, but Mr. Anfuso persisted and kept calling, day after day. After a few days,   Scott finally picked up the phone.

“I need to explain to you who I am,” the lawyer said. “I’ve been an immigration lawyer for 15 years. I once prayed, ‘God, if you can use an immigration lawyer to do something significant in your kingdom, use me.’ I just met a lawyer in California who, in a meeting, presented your case to a group of immigration lawyers.  When I laid the case notes on my desk at home, the glory of God entered my room. The Lord said, ‘You are going to take this case and you are going to do it pro bono.’”

He invited me to New York City to stay with his family for a few days to discuss the case. “I know that God is going to glorify himself,” he said as we sat in his Manhattan penthouse office. “I’ve looked at constant violations between church and state. I can’t promise anything, but God is at work.”  So I signed papers that listed him as my legal representative and we asked for an extension of several months. Then we dove into the details of the immigration law, which stated that no professional from northern Europe could enter the States and receive a work permit if there were qualified Americans to fill the position. However, if the job required a special qualification to be used in  50% or more of the job, and no American had that qualification, the foreigner would be admitted and given a work visa.

Transformation of the old Love inn Barn to today's up-to-date building, a well-known landmark in the area.

Transformation of the old Love inn Barn to today’s up-to-date building, a well-known landmark in the area.

Anfuso decided to file my appeal under that clause in the law.  What was my special qualification? We came up with a brilliant idea: My qualification was the Kingdom of God. At Love Inn School, we explored how the word of God fit into every area of our lives. Dissecting a frog became interesting because He made the frog. Anfuso prepared a brief for the Court in which he argued that Miss Kjeldaas did not use only 50% of her classroom time doing “Christian activities”, but rather 100%, since everything was taught in light of God as Creator and then integrated into all subjects and activities. Since there was no other school in the country that brought this awareness to all the subjects, he argued I was uniquely qualified to lead the school.

When Anfuso argued his case at the pretrial hearing, he was told it would not fly, that it was a religious argument, not a legal one. Gradually, the case grew even more public involving many professionals in the Christian legal communities where major discussions centered around the question: Who has the right to define “Christian activities” – the church or the state?  The courts had given Anfuso a stopwatch and a legal pad he sent on to me. Over a period of several weeks, I had to record the exact amount of time I spent on “religious instruction” in the classroom each day, specifically defined and limited by them as: reading the Bible, singing, praying, or saying the name of God. I tried my best to comply, but came sorely short of 50% by their definition.  We could not separate our lives from our faith.

Anfuso paid out-of-pocket for everything.  He even employed a couple of full time paralegals for two years.  The entire case must have cost thousands of dollars. Amazing!

After the pretrial, Anfuso called me and said, “This is a very exciting day because the courts of the world have said I’m not capable of winning our case with our argument.  We will lose.  But—now, it belongs to God. We shall watch the Red Sea part! All we can do is wait to see how He will do it on our behalf!”  Ten days before Anfuso would present our case in the highest court, he called again.  “Guess what? God parted the sea!” he exclaimed. “What happened?” I asked.  “A miracle,” he said. “Congress just published an amended immigration law.  The clause we are filing under no longer has the 50% requirement in it. Now we can argue the case and we will win! ”  We were all jumping up and down for joy!  In the Matter of Kjeldaas v. the United States, God had parted the Red Sea!  My winning case became the first precedent case under the amended immigration law!

Shortly afterwards, the Unification Church in Europe filed for permanent residency for 600 of their missionaries.  The government realized then there had been an omission in the clause, so that amendment was reversed, and that and subsequent applications were rejected.  God had parted the waters for me, alone — He had a larger plan for me remaining in the U.S.!  I received my Permanent Residency (“Green Card”) on May 10, 1978.

After 43 years, the Covenant Love Community School (CLCS) is still operating and continues to give an excellent, well rounded education to children ages K-8.  For more information, please click on the two links below: