In 1938 the Lord gave Ed 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 traveled to Toronto, Canada where, in 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 first 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. So the Lord led Harlow and Smart to create correspondence courses from the material being taught at Emmaus. The first three titles offered were Doctrine, The New Testament, and Child Study.
Within a few months, 137 students (from Alberta to New Jersey) were reading and studying the Bible lessons. The Correspondence school continued to grow, and by 1948 there were 17 titles available with over 2,000 courses distributed.
In 1949, two developments significantly expanded the correspondence ministry. First, William MacDonald recognized the opportunity of reaching the lost by using the study courses. This led to the writing of What the Bible Teaches, which provides instruction about the basic truths of the Gospel. The second development was the idea of Cyril Brooks (a missionary in the Philippines) to broadcast sections of What the Bible Teaches over the radio, and then to offer the full printed course free to anyone who requested it. This free-offer promotion launched the overseas correspondence ministry.
The Lord continued to bless and ECS grew through the 50's and into the 60's. By 1965 there were more than 35 titles available, 3 million courses had been distributed worldwide, and 80 languages had at least one course in print.
But it didn't stop there. In 1977, William MacDonald wrote Born to Win. This course (specifically written to address issues relating to prison inmates) was an instrumental tool that brought about a tremendous time of growth in the prison ministry during the 1980's.
Emmaus Correspondence School (which had always been a part of Emmaus Bible College) became an independent organization in 2002.
ECS Ministries now administers three major areas: The correspondence school, the prison ministry, and a variety of publication activities. With the correspondence school now 73 years old, the Lord continues to bless. Over 40 million courses have been distributed! Our goal is to help men, women, and children understand the Gospel message and grow in their faith. This is accomplished by bringing "the Word to the world."