A Passion for People

Jill Dannenberg has a heart for people. People around her. People she’s never met. People who live half a world way. The Lord has woven into Jill’s heart a passion for people that is changing the world.

Six years ago, Jill followed the Lord’s calling to start a ministry called Living Threads.

Living Threads ministers to grieving people through memory quilts. Volunteers make the specially designed quilts that honor lost loved ones, many times incorporating fabrics from the loved one’s own clothing. When families make a donation for the volunteer labor, 100% goes to support International Needs ministry to children in Kibera, an informal settlement of Nairobi, Kenya that has grown into Africa’s largest slum.

In 2012, while Living Threads was still a young ministry, Jill visited Kibera.

Kenya_SlumOverlook_Small_opt“The first thing that struck me was the enormity of the slum,” Jill shares. “The mud huts with the corrugated metal roofs as far as the eye could see.”

The slum was overwhelming with poverty so extreme she couldn’t imagine it until she saw it.

“The thing that came alive to me was the verse ‘blessed are the poor’ (Luke 6:20),” says Jill. “I never understood that until I went to Kibera. We think we’re blessed because we have a job. We think we’re blessed because we have money, food, and a home, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant.”

Jill’s interaction with the people in Kibera had a lasting impact on her. The people she met didn’t know when they would get their next meal – they were totally dependent on God’s provision – and yet they had such a high amount of trust and faith that God would be there tomorrow. “And that was all they had, because they had nothing the world would say is important,” Jill shares.

 

A Place of Safety

When Jill visited three of the Bible clubs that Living Threads supports, she saw how all the volunteer hours and quilt donations mattered for the children of Kibera.

“There might be a nine-year-old carrying a two-year-old on their back,” she says. “And whatever time the Bible club is open, the children arrive really early and get in line because they know they are going to get fed.”In a place where there is the constant threat of being sexually molested by adults, the children of Kibera find the International Needs Bible clubs to be safe havens.Kenya_ChildatFence_Small_optThe children have a sense of security at the Bible clubs, and there is a real bond with the teachers and pastors. And while the children may not have a physical Bible, they have it hidden in their hearts because they are memorizing and reciting scripture at the Bible clubs.

“So to know that while those kids were at the Bible club they were safe from any predator hurting them,” Jill shares. “And knowing that the staff at the Bible clubs were going to look out for them and check on their home life, and make sure they were okay. And if not, they were going to take action. That’s why our quilt donation money goes to the Bible clubs – because we believe so highly in them, because physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are being met.”

Through Jill’s obedience to the Lord’s call, He continues to bless Living Threads staff and volunteers, grieving clients who have lost loved ones, and hundreds of children in Kibera who hunger for a safe place where they can get a nutritious meal and learn more about Jesus Christ. The relationship between these groups of people is a living example of the body of Christ at work.