In November of this year, God willing, Emmaus Bible School UK will celebrate sixty years of the work in Britain. Over that time thousands of Christian folk have studied the word of God using Emmaus distance learning materials. Over that time thousands of people have come face to face with the Saviour of the world and had to make a decision. Lives have been changed and lives continue to be changed. This is especially true of the work in Britain’s prisons. Through the faithful provision and direction of the Lord, the work continues today and is expanding
Dr. Ed Harlow, a Canadian Missionary home on furlough in Toronto, Canada, was struck by the need for Christian men and women to be trained for their role in the ‘Great Commission’. Consequently, night school classes were arranged, closely followed by the emergence of a ‘study by correspondence’ ministry. The work of Emmaus Bible School, in all its various guises, had started.
During a lengthy business trip to North America, Harold Catlow, an eminent food scientist, met with Dr. Harlow and his colleagues and recognized the need for exactly the same ministry in the UK. Consequently, with the support of Dr. Harlow, Emmaus Bible School was introduced to Britain in 1951.
The aim of the School, as declared in its first constitution, was, and remains to this day, to see ‘the advancement of the Christian faith by the study of the Bible, Christian Doctrine and related subjects and by training and preparing Christians for Christian Service in the United Kingdom or abroad’.
Today, there are four members of staff. In addition, the Lord has blessed the work with an ever increasing number of volunteers. Most exciting is the development of a team of volunteer tutors based across the UK. Tutors are now operating in Northern Ireland, Manchester and Kendal, as well as locally. The School continues to look for Christian folk to add to the list.
In 2010 a website was created through which prospective students could find details of the work and the courses. Once interested, students can then order their chosen courses online. This facility continues to play a major role in attracting new students. In 2009 the School experienced its first increase in the number of current students to 586. By the end of 2010 the number had increased to 743, a rise of nearly 27%!
Far more important than any of these figures is the knowledge that souls are being saved and lives radically changed. For example, ‘N’, on rem and for serious drugs related charges, saved and now ministering to fellow inmates, and ‘J’ a young Brazilian teenager given a course to keep him out of trouble, asked for a second course and gave his life to the Lord. Week by week we receive such news.
As from 1 January 2011, the School no longer charges fees for courses supplied and tutored. Given 60 years of the work and 400 years of an accessible Bible in English it was felt that the timing was right to make this significant change in the way the School operates. Never has the need for the word of God been greater. Consequently, we wish to remove any hindrance that there may be to studying using Emmaus materials. We step out in faith knowing that the Lord will always meet our needs. However, be assured that we will be prudent stewards of the resources that the Lord has given to us.
This year the School is looking to undertake a major ‘outreach’ to assemblies and fellowships across the UK. This will be done by one area at a time. As already stated, the School is keen to add to its nationwide team of volunteer tutors. We also have a vision of establishing an Emmaus ‘rep’ in every evangelical church in the land. Most importantly we believe that the Lord would have us establish Emmaus Bible Centres in Britain. These would be satellite centres working from the Eastham ‘hub’ delivering and servicing courses nationwide.
The motto of the world-wide work of Emmaus is ‘The Word to the World’. In the UK we have adopted ‘The Word … for the UK’. We remain as committed as both Dr. Harlow and Harold Catlow in wanting to share the Good News with as many folk as possible and in equipping His people in doing the same.
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