The Emmaus work in Queensland prisons first began in the 1950’s by Miss Edith Flavel who travelled from Murwillumbah each week for 27 years to visit a number of prisoners in Boggo Road jail and, using the Emmaus Correspondence Courses, taught the Scriptures. She was visiting around a dozen men when she had to stop due to poor eyesight. She was well into her eighties at the time. She was presented with the ‘British Empire Medal’ by the New South Wales Governor, Sir Roden Cutler, for her work amongst young people and prisoners.
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Mr Lance Foley became involved in chaplaincy work within the Queensland prisons, particularly at Woodford Prison, and during this time there were courses being sent to a number of prisoners.
It was in 1987 that Mr Noel Sheen, made an approach to senior people in the Queensland Department of Corrective Services who agreed to allow the Emmaus Correspondence courses to be used in every Queensland jail. These courses are provided to inmates free of charge and postage free. We continue to trust the Lord each year to see the needs of this outreach ministry met through the financial gifts of His people. The Courses are channeled 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 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 with whom Emmaus works closely. Mr John Orr, and his wife Ethel entered the work in 2001 and began marking and processing courses. Since then the work has continued to develop within the Queensland jails with many men and women experiencing changed lives as a result of doing the studies. In 2016, Bryson & Ruth Thomas joined the work to carry on the ministry undertaken by those who had gone before them. Throughout 2016 a total of 1869 Emmaus Courses were supplied to people in prison with 1136 returned for marking.
Each year we provide an Emmaus Bible Gems Calendar to each inmate in Queensland. This contains an offer of an Emmaus Correspondence course. It was in 2004 that the Director-General of the Qld Department of Corrective Services approved the calendar for distribution into our Qld Correctional Centres. Each year this is undertaken with the assistance of the Prison Chaplains and in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Care package provided to prison inmates. There were a total of 10,200 copies of the 2017 edition of the calendar provided to inmates within all 14 of our major Qld Correctional Centres. A further 1900 calendars were provided for distribution within the Alice Springs & Darwin Correctional Centres in the Northern Territory.
Australia wide, in 2017 there were 33,845 Emmaus Bible Gems Calendars distributed to prisoners. These calendars are also provided free of charge to inmates and we trust the Lord each year to see the needs of this outreach ministry met through the financial gifts of His people.