Beginning of Emmaus Ministry
In 1938, the Lord gave R. E. Harlow, a young missionary in the Belgian Congo, a desire to establish a Bible school in North America. Shortly after Harlow left his mission station and travelled to Toronto, Canada, wherein 1941, he (along with John Smart and Ernest Tatham) founded Emmaus Bible School. During the first year of classes, 144 students enrolled to study God’s Word. After that year, it became obvious that many other people wanted to learn from the solid Bible teaching that Emmaus Bible School offered. However, not everyone could attend the school in Toronto because young men were serving their country in the armed forces. So, the Lord led Harlow and Smart to prepare Bible lessons with test papers. They cyclostyled them and posted them to young men serving in armed forces in different parts of the world. Thus “Emmaus Correspondence Course” ministry was started in Central Hall Toronto, Canada in 1941.
Since there was a demand for those course books, additional course books were prepared and printed. Normally each course book contains 12 lessons and 12 test papers. Missionaries who were serving the Lord used the Gospel course books such as “Word of God” (John’s gospel) and “Servant of God” (Mark’s gospel) in their evangelistic outreach. William MacDonald wrote many Emmaus course books.
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Emmaus ministry in India
R. E. Harlow of Canada visited missionaries in India in 1952. He contacted Wilfred Munning and, he agreed to act as coordinator for “All India.” Wilfred Munning was in South India. By his efforts, four Emmaus centres were started. In all the four centres, missionaries were Regional Directors. Allan Livten was in Meerut handling Urdu course books. Ken Smith was in Calcutta using course books in the Bengali language. E. F. Bullock was in Bangalore distributing course books in Kannada. Wilfred Munning who studied in Emmaus Bible College in U. S. A. was serving the Lord in Palayankottai, Tamil Nadu. He distributed course books in Tamil. Miss Shirtliff from Australia was the Regional Director for the Malayalam language. She was based at Kumbanad, Kerala. The Regional Directors of these places were missionaries and they distributed Emmaus courses in 5 Indian languages such as Urdu, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam. Wilfred Munning was the coordinator for India.
After Miss Shirtliff left for Australia, she handed over the Malayalam Emmaus work to Bro. E. V. Thomas, Angamaly. When he became old, he handed over the Emmaus work to Dr. K. C. Johnson. By this time Bro. John Sebastian also became a Regional Director for the Malayalam language. Missionaries serving in Meerut, Bangalore, Calcutta and Palayamkottai left India. After that, Indian Brethren managed the Emmaus Correspondence ministry.
From 1970, Bro. Victor Sundararaj, Chennai worked as All India Coordinator for ECS. He visited many states in India, encouraged and persuaded the full-time workers of Brethren Assemblies to become Regional Directors of Emmaus work in addition to their Assembly ministry. As such many Emmaus centres were formed in many states of India. In 2008, Emmaus Ministries was registered as a Trust to lead the ECS work in India. Bro. R. P. Samuel, New Delhi, became the Chairman and Bro. Jesson S. Kenneth, Guwahati, became the Secretary of Emmaus Ministries and they promoted the ECS work in many states. Later due to certain technical reasons, Emmaus Ministries was re-registered in 2015 as Emmaus India.
The Lord has enabled Emmaus ministry to spread throughout India, and in a limited way in the Middle East and neighbouring countries. Today we promote Emmaus courses in 21 languages (18 Indian languages, English, Nepali and Dzongkha).