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Good News Bible Study

History

By Rev. Geoffrey Donnan

The Good News Bible Study Basic Course was written by Rev. Geoffrey Donnan when he was a missionary in Suriname, South America. It was originally written as a way of assisting church members to evangelize their neighbors with the gospel by using this course instead of having to memorize some particular evangelism method. The course was intended to take all the pressure off the person sharing their faith and let the Bible do the talking.

Initially, it was introduced as a Bible study at Open Door Bible Church, Paramaribo, Suriname.  After the completion of the course, members of the church were to begin opening up conversations with friends and neighbors in order to interest them in studying the Bible course together.  At that time, the course did not have multiple choice questions and was much more involved to grade. 

Eventually, the members began asking for copies of the course to send to friends and relatives in the neighboring country of Guyana and before long each of these began asking if we could send other copies to other friends in Guyana.  Unexpectedly, this process was growing more than was the use of it for neighbors because the people were finding more reception in Guyana than they were in Suriname.

As a result, it was decided that we would reorganize the Bible for mailing purposes and run an advertisement in Guyana which took place in 1980.  An advertisement was run in the Guyana Chronicle offering a free Bible for students who completed the course.  One advertisement resulted in over 800 requests for Bible courses.  We did not run any more advertisements at the time because the response was simply too great.  Because we did not have multiple choice questions at the time, the grading required too much supervision and fell behind.  Furthermore, we were sending only one part of the five part course at a time.  This was both costly and extremely time consuming.  Furthermore, the cost of mailing between Guyana and Suriname was quite expensive at the time, so we generally waited until we had people going over the Guyana to carry the mail and post it locally.

For two years, we attempted to respond to the 800 people who requested the course and the other 300-400 who they referred to us by this tediously slow system.  At the suggestion of a businessman in the U.S., we decided to rewrite the course using multiple choice questions and print it regular size paper with a mailing envelope on the outside so that it could be folded and mailed without an envelope (very expensive and often unavailable at the time) along with providing the same process for returning the answer sheet.  We further decided to send the first part of the course and then send all four remaining parts once the first was successfully completed.  We made an answer key to the course making the grading process considerably faster.  We also developed a network of couriers to carry the Bible courses from

Once this was completed, we began advertising the course not only in Guyana but also in other parts of the Caribbean.  Voice of the Caribbean Radio Station in Dominica and several other related stations in other Caribbean islands began freely advertising the Bible courses to their listeners.  The Bible course answer sheets were returned directly to Suriname and graded by qualified graders in the church and school.  Many school students worked for their school fees at Christian Liberty Academy by helping to process the addressing and stamping of Bible courses and packing them up for delivery to Guyana through a route that went from Paramaribo by bus to Nieuw Nickerie and then by boat to Guyana to be offloaded directly at the Springlands, Guyana Post Office.  Everyone was most helpful in making the arrangements to spread the word of God.

This process continued until about 1989 when the administration of the church changed and it was then decided to transfer the responsibility to a church in Lauderhill, Florida near where the Donnans had moved in 1986.  Eventually, the operations moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan and then back to Florida and finally now is handled by Mr. Brian McRae in Georgia in conjunction with our main office in Fellsmere, Florida.  Individual churches send out the large majority of the Bible courses to over 40 countries around the world.

We estimate through our record keeping up through 1994 that over 30,000 courses were sent out and roughly 3,000 persons completing the course confessed their conversion to Christ as a result of what was learned from taking the Bible course.  We have not had the computer processing software since that time of moving to more modern computers to analyze the data since then.  We are, however, working on a fully electronic processing system that will again enable us to keep such information and report it back to all the churches involved.  Individual churches are able to keep track of individual responses to their own grading centers and are quite encouraged by the results of those who complete the entire course of study.

Hopefully, there will be more history in the near future.

 

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