On the first Saturday in July, around 125 gathered for the first PBS Birthday Rally in the Gospel tent in Portage la Prairie, MB. This included students, parents, and teachers. We were marking the 10th anniversary of Postal Bible Studies in Canada. The occasion proved very successful, with several parents hoping that we would repeat it in the future. Over 200 invitations had gone out across the province, including to all the Hutterite children who are enrolled in the program. It was encouraging to see a number of these attend.
It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the very first student enrolled in July ’99. The Lord has faithfully blessed this correspondence ministry and we acknowledge His goodness and provision. We currently have around 1450 students, including 150 adults doing the New-Life Bible Studies. Since we launched our new revised color lessons in January 2009, we have seen increased interest and we are grateful to the Lord for enabling us to move ahead with this major development. Back in December 2008 we leased a new color digital printer and now produce all our lessons in-house. This has had the advantage of eliminating waste, plus trips into Winnipeg to collect the printing. It has also saved us time, as we no longer have to collate the lessons by hand, as the machine prints, collates, folds, and staples each lesson for us in one go!
In April 2009, we also launched our new PBS website. We are grateful to our designer, Joo Young Lee (Richmond, BC) and our webmaster, Mike Badgley (Ottawa, ON) for their tremendous efforts, without which this project would not have been completed. Our main aim was to allow the general public to view the lessons, so that parents and their families could check them out and then apply online. We also wanted Sunday school and Bible class teachers to be able to download the lessons, so that they would have ready-made worksheets to use. To that end, we have in our archive files the whole three year syllabus of the original design, for the four grades of Bible Time. Then as these have been replaced by the new design each month, we have been adding them to the website. We would encourage you to view the website and then get your neighbors, family, and friends who have children, to do the same. Please pray that we shall see a large number recruited through the website. God willing, in the future, we hope to take out some large newspaper advertisements promoting the PBS and giving the website address in a number of the northern territories, where presently we have only a handful of students.
Currently we have two translation projects underway. Our goal is to have the adult course – New-Life Bible Studies – available on the website in both French and Spanish. We have now completed translating all the units into French and have begun to do the layout with the help of a sister from Winnipeg. A small editorial team in Ontario is overseeing the proofreading under the leadership of Gerry Labelle (Kapuskasing, ON). Please pray for all involved in these two ventures, that the work will progress steadily and will prove a real blessing when completed.
We are assisted in the daily running of the Center by Eunice Vanstone and our eldest daughter, Helen Knox. Our youngest daughter Danielle, also lends a hand. Please remember them in prayer, along with our faithful team of some 190 teachers. These teachers live right across the country from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland. Saints of all ages mark the lessons and what unites them is a love for children and a common desire to see them reached with the gospel and saved. Each teacher is in happy assembly fellowship and marks between 6-12 lessons each month. If anyone would be interested in helping, please contact us for further information, as there is always a need for more teachers, especially men to mark the adult courses!
Recruitment is through fair booths and children’s meetings, while our best advertising is done by our existing students! They are encouraged through a bonus scheme to introduce their friends. As they are able to show them their lessons, letters, and prizes, their enthusiasm quickly leads to new contacts. In recent months we have seen the number of Hutterite children doing PBS on the Prairies decline, while in Ontario, the numbers of Mennonite and Amish children has substantially increased. Sadly we have hardly any native children enrolled. When the new lessons were introduced, the names of the lessons were changed to Level 1 instead of Primary, Level 2 instead of Junior etc., in the hope that we could encourage more native children to perhaps do an easier level, though they may be older in age. Please pray that we shall be able to interest more from the First Nations communities.
A new idea has been pursued as a result of a conversation one of our teachers had at a local Christian Bookstore. The owner offered to put up a poster about PBS and to display our application forms. To date around a dozen stores now have our letter-size color poster on display; please pray these will prove fruitful. If you would like to receive a PDF of the poster to take and show your Christian Bookstore, please email us. Once permission is granted we will then forward on to you one of our laminated posters and 25 application forms. This has set us thinking of possibly contacting Christian Bookstores across the country. We are also wondering about slightly altering the design and seeing if local libraries would be interested in displaying a poster. We value the interest of the Lord’s people in the work of PBS and appreciate your continued prayers for the Lord’s blessing.
Pete & Elaine Smith
Portage la Prairie
MB, R1N 3B2