In the early 20th century, Hubert Phillips, a young civil engineer in England, had been led to start printing gospel tracts on a small homemade printer. Some years later with two friends, he was producing 1000s of English tracts and even one consignment in Portuguese! Eventually, called by God, he went to South Africa, and settled in Nelspruit.
In 1930, Charles Austin Chawner, a linguist and educator whose British parents had moved to Canada, felt the call of God to reach the Tsonga people of Mozambique with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some friends had donated funds for a small side lever printing press, capable of printing a 6”x 8” sheets. It was immediately put to work to fulfill their desire to produce Christian literature: pamphlets, songbooks and tracts were being published from a mud hut near Shingwedzi in South Africa. There was much rejoicing even though ants ate holes in the paper and termites chewed the wooden blocks on the cuts. Austin decided to move to Lourenco Marques, (Maputo) Mozambique but the political restrictions were prohibitive, so in God’s overruling, he moved to Nelspruit where he met Hubert Phillips. Their synergy was God-given: Hubert and Austin walked in unity as the presses ran!
So, in 1938 with premises in Nelspruit this little concern had a name change and “Emmanuel Press” was born! The work grew extensively and rapidly. In 1947 this fledgling company was recognised as a ‘Section 21 not for gain Company’ as seven men of God signed their commitment on 8th October 1947: Hubert C. Phillips the first Chairman and Austin Chawner the first secretary.
Seven years later, David & Loreen Newington from England, joined the team, and under Holy Spirit inspiration brought into focus a wide vision for reaching the lost through literature evangelism. This was unprecedented in literature evangelism and through ensuing years they moved into larger premises as God inspired massive growth.
During these amazing times of the 1970s and 1980s, many helpers from Britain and Canada joined in the rapidly expanding work of Emmanuel Press under the dynamic and inspirational leadership of the unique David and Loreen duo. The Heidelberg Press, folding machine, guillotine and other specialized equipment churned out thousands of pieces of Christian literature each week.
The move to White River…
In 1977 new facilities were built at No.2 Hennie Van Till Street, in White River, just 20 kms from Nelspruit, and some years later at the far end of this street, residential accommodation was built for some of the overseas workers.
In 1992 the decision was taken to cease printing operations, as modern commercial printers achieved the same more efficiency.
At the close of the 20th century, late in 1999, the aged David & Loreen passed the baton of leadership to their daughter and son-in-law. Nancy and Oskar Rottcher provided oversight to the ministry until Nancy’s illness and death in 2004.
In 2005 Dean & Wendy Skinner arrived from Canada to lead ‘Emmanuel Press’ endeavouring to maintain the impact of this incredible work. In 2014 amidst the many technical advances of computers, DTP and new photocopying, Emmanuel Press once again began printing its own Gospel Tracts and Bible Correspondence Courses for distribution through the ailing postal service. The old ‘Victor’ hand-press now rests in Emmanuel Press Reception, as a reminder of those humble beginnings and how the Lord had led and multiplied HIS Gospel message. Statistics proved the battle for growth was a struggle.
Into the 21st century, the challenges within Africa’s postal service presented a foundational shift for how we offer ‘The Courses’, and the need to prayerfully consider best effectiveness for links across the continent. Introducing an ‘E-learning’ component became a priority with a declining audience.
Early in 2018 Peter & Kay Goodchild arrived from England in response to God’s call, to take up the challenge to bring the unchanging message in a 21st Century way. Sharing the same message, but in today’s language is the challenge. The power of the written Word, carried in the power of The Holy Spirit to people still waiting to hear… ‘Bringing God’s written Word to You’ is the task defined!