Never underestimate the influence you make on a very young child! New Hope started as a ministry to children. Now those street kids, who used to smoke and do drugs, are pastors and well-known Christian leaders in Ukraine. When the Soviets ruled, if you belonged to a church, you were an outcast and kept from many opportunities. Now, we have this beautiful time to preach the gospel. The churches these street kids established are the fastest growing churches because they know how to approach people outside the church.
As President of New Hope Ukraine, Stepan is focused on building and maintaining relationships with authorities and government personnel within Ukraine. He also spends time getting to know the pastors and ministers from other churches. He came to know Christ at age 15 at his grandfather’s church. It was his wife, Nadiya, who first worked with New Hope International to put on conferences for Sunday School teachers not far from Lviv in 1992. He quickly started to help in small ways behind the scenes and became more and more involved as the years passed. At the time, he was a manager at a perfume factory. After Ukraine declared its independence, things began to change and in 1996, as New Hope International looked for local leaders to begin managing the ministry, Stepan was asked to become director and New Hope became an official non-profit organization. He had no idea it would grow to include all the ministries it does today. He says, “It’s a real miracle that I could never predict. We really appreciate our American friends and their support. The resources we have now are mostly translated from and based on resources we received from others who came to help.”
Stepan often says there are three things that are the most important for every person: education, work, and spiritual education. Two of the three, the government grants to us, but without the third one, the other two are meaningless. The church has the responsibility to provide spiritual education. The churches in Ukraine have an unlimited amount of work, especially after being controlled by a godless system for so long. A lot of churches are still living in the past. Their conservative views don’t allow them to reach out beyond the walls of the church to people in need. They are focused on themselves and keeping the members they already have. It is our goal to influence these churches, train them, and give them resources to use to reach the communities around them.
Since 2016 Stepan has been engaged as a church plant leader together with Roman and Iryna Matviyv and Nazar and Iryna Ilkiv. His sense of humor is very attractive for people of his age and helps in his ministry with adults. Stepan also leads the Bible study small group that gets together on Wednesdays.