31 October 2002
Articles written by: Joshua and Maurie Hanauer

Highlight of the Month: H.O.P.E. Groups

Joshua: When Maurie and I first decided to come to Kyiv, we knew that H.O.P.E. groups would be one of the main things we would work with. Neither of us had ever seen how they work, but we had both done things similar, so we thought we could learn quickly. What we found out was that H.O.P.E. is much more than we anticipated!
Just a week before H.O.P.E. began, we were meeting at the British Council in order to get materials for the English lessons that go along with H.O.P.E. It was at that point we began to see what this program was going to be all about.
H.O.P.E. is an acronym for “Helping Others Practice English.” It is our church’s primary form of outreach. In the past, this program has drawn about forty to fifty people to the UEC to practice their conversational English and learn more about the Bible. Each session begins with singing some Christian songs in English. Then we pray and have a Bible lesson for about an hour. Next, the large group breaks up into three smaller groups for a discussion of the lesson. The groups are divided up according to their English level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. The discussion of the lesson goes on for another hour. Finally, each of the groups have an English lesson that lasts for the third hour.
However, we have had to modify the structure of H.O.P.E. quite a bit to meet the needs of those who are coming. The first week Maurie and I were at H.O.P.E. over eighty people showed up and that was far too many people for the Center to handle. We have since split H.O.P.E. up into two different sections. Now, the first session begins at 10 a.m. and ends at
1 p.m. But at 2 p.m., the second session begins, and we do it all over again! The second week of H.O.P.E. came and, instead of having about eighty people, we had about one hundred; fifty in each of the sessions.

Maurie: After doing H.O.P.E. for about 4 or 5 weeks now, we are getting the hang of it. We know what to do and what not to do from our mistakes, or times when things did not go as smoothly as planned. In order to feed 100 people each Saturday, the planning starts on Wednesday, when Monica and Katia, the cook decide the menu. Thursday mornings Monica and I have a grocery shopping extravaganza! We store the items for H.O.P.E. at the UEC.
Meanwhile Joshua or Cary Daniel, our other missionary here, is planning Saturday’s Bible lesson. This semester H.O.P.E. groups are going through the book of Acts. However, we are not studying Acts alone. Instead we are combining it with the Gospel of Luke. We feel like this will give non-Christians and Christians alike a view of what the church should be about. The church in Acts was simply trying to do what Jesus did in His ministry. Our teaching focuses on linking the actions of the early church to the life of Jesus. Joshua and Cary take turns teaching the Bible lesson. When we all split up after that, Monica and her English teachers Sveta or Yulia M. go with the beginners group, Cary and Sergiy go with the intermediate group, and Joshua, Yulia R. or Lily go with the advanced group. Each teacher helps to facilitate the Bible discussion, but then the Ukrainians take over to teach the English section. I usually get to participate in some of the groups, but I also help in the kitchen to prepare food and help with clean up.
However, that will not last for long! Two weeks ago Monica and I noticed the number of teens and preteens that were coming to H.O.P.E., which is mainly geared toward adults. We thought this would be a great opportunity to start a young people’s H.O.P.E., which I would head up. We prayed and shared the idea with some of the young people this past Saturday, and they seemed to really be excited. So, starting this Saturday, we will be introducing Young People’s H.O.P.E.! This is really an answer to prayer for me. I have been trying to find my place and focus ministry here, and this uses my degree, helps me practice teaching, and lets me spend some quality time with children, which I love.
Unlike the other H.O.P.E. groups, I will be leading both the Bible discussion and the English lesson, which will be quite a challenge! Hopefully one of the English teachers, Sveta, will give me some tips and let me use some of her curriculum materials. I plan on incorporating a lot of fun activities with both the Bible discussions and the English lesson. Drama, games, role-playing, and fun props are only a few ideas I am excited to try. As Joshua and I study the Russian language, we are finding that it is much easier to learn when we find other ways to remember words besides just knowing the English equivalent. This is my aim in using activities to help them learn English. I am hoping that it will be easier for them to remember that a hat is the thing you wear on your head when it is cold, not a shapka, and a kitchen is the place where you cook your food, not a kooknya. Are you getting the idea? I also think active learning is much more geared to the young person’s learning style.
Another blessing from H.O.P.E., and perhaps some evidence of its effectiveness, are the one on one Bible studies that are beginning with some of our students. One particular student, Lena, is a freshman at International Christian University (ICU). She has been coming to our Friday night Student Nights, and also to H.O.P.E. groups. Often we will invite people in our classes to church and tell them that if they want to come, they may pick up a card in the library before they leave. Recently, Lena made a point to join us on Sunday morning services, and also for our communion meal that follows. During that time, she was able to hear different Christians in our church talk about how God had blessed them during the week. After the communion meal, she asked Monica if she could have a Bible study with us, because she was having a lot of questions about her Introduction to the Bible class. We planned it for Friday afternoon at 2:30. When that day came, Lena told us about how on Monday, when she went to school, people were asking her what was so different about her. Did she fall in love? She said she had really been affected by our fellowship on Sunday! Wow.

Joshua: In addition to Maurie’s study with Lena, I have an appointment with a man from the advanced group. He has been asking some pretty intense questions about God and about the Bible. Then, this last Saturday, he asked if we could meet sometime during the week to talk. So, on Thursday of this week we are meeting at the U.E.C. for our Bible study. It is very exciting to begin to get deeper with these people that we normally only see once a week. Please begin praying specifically about these relationships we are forming.

On a Personal Note:

It is hard to believe we have already been here for two months! We are finally able to do a lot of things on our own now that we are familiar with where we are, know how to get places, and use a little Russian. We are sure God is teaching us tremendous things, especially as we interact with people. A big thanks to each and every one of you for your interest in our work and your prayers and support. Please enjoy the pictures below!