By Emily Ferguson

Daniel and Kylie Sih expected their ‘call to mission’ to take them overseas to somewhere like Cambodia – not to Hobart, Tasmania. That’s where they have spent the past 15 years finding ways to reach and disciple Australians.

It was the COVID-19 pandemic that inspired Daniel and Kylie to implement the Hope Groups initiative, which is now multiplying across the globe.

Daniel will be training Fresh Hope churches in the concept of Hope Groups on Wednesday 14 October, with two session times – 10-11.30am or 7.30-9pm.

Hope Groups are a way for everyday Christians to support their friends and neighbours who are feeling socially isolated and to share the hope of Jesus with them. Groups of three to four people meet weekly online and follow a simple format of asking, “What are you thankful for this week?”, “What has been a challenge for you this week?”. Time is also spent reading and dissecting a story of hope from Jesus’ life, discussing how to practically help friends in need, and there’s also a time of prayer.

“All around the world, people are asking questions they have not asked for a long time – about meaning and purpose and why they exist on this earth,” Daniel said. “I realised this is not a moment about the Church; this is a moment of God preparing the harvest.

“I started to ask the missional question: ‘How do we raise up harvest workers for this enormous harvest?’ I trained a small handful of people in my own church community and we asked 15 of our unchurched, non-Christian friends. I just phoned people and said, ‘There’s this new idea called a Hope Group I’ve heard about: it’s a way of connecting as friends, helping people during this pandemic, and experiencing hope by reading stories of hope from the life of Jesus. Are you interested?’ And they all said yes!”

Daz Farrell, Pioneering and Mission ministry leader at Fresh Hope, commented: “Anyone can facilitate a Hope Group – it’s not a ‘specialist’ type thing, but rather an activation. In fact, it seems that running a small group stream like this, parallel to larger church gatherings, could be the way forward for discipleship. It can be both, rather than either/or.”

Hope Group leaders are equipped through a practical 1.5-hour online training session and are stepped through the process of getting their group off the ground following that training.

To join Hope Group training next Wednesday 14 October, register for either the 10-11.30am or the 7.30-9pm session HERE.