The Emmaus Correspondence School is a ministry that was started in Canada in 1942 by Mr R.E Harlow to enable people to learn the basics of the Christian faith. In 1946 the Correspondence School commenced in Chicago, USA. In 1949 a missionary in the Philippines began using the courses as follow-up to a Gospel broadcast. The response was immediate and many wanted to study the Bible. Other missionaries became interested in the possibilities of reaching those in remote areas with Bible study by mail. This launched the use of Emmaus courses overseas. From these small beginnings the Emmaus Correspondence School has grown so that it now has distribution centres in 105 countries of the world, in 125 languages and supplies over 1 million courses each year.
The work commenced in Queensland in 1951 under the leadership of Mr Ian Irvine who used the courses for follow-up to contacts from the Sacred Half Hour radio programme. From the beginning the Correspondence School was an outstanding success. Growth was maintained over the years and saw Mr Lance Foley involved in the work during the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Mr Noel & Mrs Eleanor Sheen took up the reins in 1987. It was at this time that Noel made an approach to senior people in the Queensland Department of Corrective Services who agreed to allow the courses to be used in every Queensland jail. Courses were channelled through the Education Officer in each Centre, ensuring official recognition by the Department. Initially all courses distributed were the result of Noel’s personal visits and he, with his wife Eleanor, marked the large number of courses that continued to expand over the next 15 years. The work continued to grow as a result of these visits but in more recent times his promotion has been augmented by the Prison Chaplains themselves.
Mr John Orr (the current Qld Director), and his wife Ethel entered the work in 2002 and began marking and processing courses while Noel continued to visit the jails. Since then the work has continued to develop within Queensland. The year 2010 saw 2720 courses distributed in Queensland, with 1682 completed by students
The aim of these courses is to help people come to faith in Christ and then to help them learn what the Bible teaches. They are not intended as academic studies, which lead to an accredited diploma. However, a person may feel that having completed some of these courses they would benefit greatly by undertaking further Bible studies at a Bible College.