"Anything in it?"

a report by Doug McNaught, MA PhD
Principal of Emmaus Bible College

(A précise of this report was published in the August 2005 issue of
Assemblies Outreach magazine and titled "Emmaus Worldwide".)

On the plane

I knew I was in for an interesting experience when the steward served me breakfast on the plane. He asked me if I wanted coffee and then told me to give him the cup from my tray. As I was about to hand the cup to him he said, “Anything in it?”  After spending quite a few years in the country in Australia I wondered if there might be a squashed spider or a dead gecko in the cup so I looked inside and said, “No there’s nothing in it.”

The girl next to me, who was a manger from a McDonalds restaurant in Sydney, looked at me as though I was stupid and the steward laughed. He wanted to know if I wanted milk or sugar in my coffee. At that moment I realised that I had a lot to learn.

Julie Hansel, Ken Daughters’[1] secretary, met me at the Dubuque airport. She asked me if this was the smallest airport I had ever seen in my life. I told her that I had seen many smaller airports in the North of Queensland. In fact, the first time we visited Cairns the airport there was smaller than Dubuque’s.


I wasn't travelling to compare airports or learn new ways of talking. I was visiting Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque for a Consultation of people involved in training within the Worldwide Brethren Movement. Ken Daughters was kindly hosting the conference at his facility.

Every continent except South America and Antarctica was represented at the conference. While each training college had problems that were specific to their own area there were many issues that we had in common. One question that each college faced was the fact that some people questioned the need for any kind of Theological or Biblical Training. We also faced the problem of alienation from our traditional supporters.

John Hitchen, from Pathways College in New Zealand, reminded us that in 2 Timothy 2: 2 Paul encouraged Timothy to train reliable leaders[2] who would have the capacity to feed the church from the Bible and train others to do the same thing. In the Assemblies we have always been Bible based and our mission is to keep the next generation Bible based in their faith. In today’s fast paced world it is hard for people to find the time to study the Word of God for themselves and keep a full time job. It would be helpful for young people to take time to learn the Bible for a few years then return to their careers.

Training others

Whatever happens, it is important that we don’t forget that we are called to reach out to others and train them to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as obeying his commandments[3]. There is only one way to find eternal life and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has provided a perfect and eternal salvation because he is the perfect Saviour.

 Another question that was asked concerned the need for Bible or Mission Colleges when teaching could be done in the local assembly. After all wasn’t that the pattern in the New Testament? Ken Daughters pointed out that the Apostle Paul carried out a Bible College in Ephesus for two years[4].

 In some parts of the world an internship program is used for training. Ian Payne from Pathways College ran a session on that method. Young people are trained in a local assembly with supervision by the elders and by an accredited staff member from the college.

The words “teach”, “teaching” and “teacher” occur 125 in the New American Standard Version of the New Testament. Teaching is a Biblically sanctioned activity of the church. How can we expect someone to teach unless they have been properly taught themselves?

Walking together

Rene Daidanso from the Chad stressed that Christians need to walk together with the people they hope to reach. In France and other parts of Europe an important method of Christian outreach is through lifestyle evangelism. People who have previously walked with other Christian leaders can walk with their own mission field.

There are broadly three kinds of training available for leaders: in depth study at a recognised Bible College, ministry training at a training centre and on the job training through an internship program and then ongoing mentorship with more experienced Christians.

Rural Germany

After the conference in Dubuque, I went to a small town called Hohegrete in rural Germany. "ECS Ministries" was holding a Global Strategy Conference. ECS stands for Emmaus Correspondence School. As with the Dubuque conference, we were a group of small people involved in doing our own small work in our own small way, in our own small corner of the world. However, Almighty God was using these people to do a great work for his glory throughout the world. In 2004 five ECS courses were distributed somewhere in the world, on average, every two minutes. For every two courses that were distributed one course was returned and marked. This makes ECS Ministries the largest correspondence school in the world. Rob Tyler the international director stresses that ECS Ministries was not interested in distributing literature but in making disciples.

Emmaus Bible Centres

The main reason that ECS Ministries is so effective is that they are decentralised. Other Christian correspondence schools have tried to reach the world from a centralised base but have not had the same success. The simple methods of the early church, where people worked in their own area and then moved to another local area are being replicated by the EBC method. EBC stands for Emmaus Bible Centre. In some parts of the world the postal system simply doesn’t work so the work is carried out through small Bible Centres where the courses are delivered and then handed on to the students. When these students have completed their studies they are trained to form their own Bible Centre.

The Germans have an effective mission called ZAM[5], led by Martin Vedder, who use the EBC method. Jim Gillette is sending whole container loads of courses into parts of Africa as well. Eastern Europe has opened up into a fruitful mission field with the EBC method and some men who run short and longer time Bible Schools in various countries.

A spiritual dimension

There is an effective EBC work in Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union. I even discovered a new country that I didn’t realise existed. Sadly, modernism and consumerism are invading many parts of the world and it seems as though people are becoming immune to gospel. On the other hand, people who live in a world that denies any spirituality soon become hungry for a spiritual dimension in their lives.

George Khalil is a Palestinian Israeli doing an effective Christian work among the displaced and homeless people of the Middle East. ECS is looking for people with Arabic contacts in Australia to establish an Arabic work in our own country.

The Internet

For those people who are more interested in computers than in books ECS Ministries has a good website that is managed by Markus Wilhelm from Switzerland. Courses can be done over the Internet and marked quickly. Most of the questions are of the multiple choice type and are marked electronically. Each exam has a question that requires a written answer to establish some communication with the student. These are marked by online tutors. There is room for any person who would like to be an online tutor to be trained and take up that ministry.

Some people are looking on the Internet to find ways of learning English and they attempt these courses for that reason. While they are learning English they are learning about the perfect Saviour who offers them eternal life at no cost to themselves.

For an “instant generation” some people are exploring the possibilities of using SMS to send in the answers to the multiple choice questions but there are bugs to be ironed out. This means that the gospel is going out to those who are on the cutting edge of technology as well as those who are slightly more conservative in their approach.

Anything in it?

I wondered, at times, what I was doing at these conferences sitting with men and women who have dedicated their lives to serve our great God. In spite of this, the experience was encouraging as it is good to be part of a great work for the Lord Jesus Christ. I realised the importance of being humble in the Lord’s work as this gives greater scope to bring glory to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God knows that I have plenty to be humble about.

What about the Australian brethren movement today; is there anything in it? In the past forty years in Australia we have been too focused on men and ministry and not enough on the Saviour himself. We have the greatest resources available on earth and anyone can take advantage of these resources. A perfect Saviour who has provided a perfect salvation and Divine power from God the Holy Spirit. As Christians we have the simple job of telling our neighbours, “Come, see a man![6]” After that we can rely on Him to do the great work of salvation.

Christians need to be trained in the Word of God so that they can mature and enjoy the full benefits of an eternal but personal friendship with Almighty God. It us up to us to get our focus back on our Lord and Saviour and leave behind the divisions, factionalism and focus on individuals. It is a good time to confess and humble ourselves before the Lord then we will see him work. Unity among ourselves is the key to this.

As I am involved with Emmaus Bible College and the Emmaus Correspondence School I would like to see us return to days of Ian McDowell. In those days the assemblies understood the importance of an Assembly Bible College and they sent their young people to Emmaus to be trained in the Word for leadership and outreach.

My vision is to see a strong centre for ECS Ministries in each state and a local representative in each assembly working with the state directors. The Emmaus Bible Centre method can be just as effective here as it is in Africa, Asia and Europe.

[1] Kenneth Daughters is the president of Emmaus Bible College in the United States

[2] Peterson, E. H. (2003). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

[3] Matt 28: 20

[4] Acts 19: 9, 10

[5] This is a German acronym for Central African Mission

[6] John 4: 29

Emmaus Bible College USA
Emmaus Bible College, USA
Some USA Conference Attendees

Some Dubuque Conference Attendees

Venue, Hohegrete
Conference Venue, Hohegrete
German countryside
German Countryside
Strategy Conference Attendees
Global Strategy Conference Attendees
In the Conference Room
In the Conference Room
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This page last updated – 6 February 2006

Copyright of this article belongs to the author, Doug McNaught MA PhD