History of Emmaus

The Scriptures recount the many amazing things that happened following the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. One of the stories in Luke 24:13-35 tells us about two men, disciples of Jesus, who are returning to Emmaus from Jerusalem. As they walk they speak about everything that has happened that Passover. Jesus joins them on the road. Distraught about the events the two do not recognize Him. He joins in their conversation and explains the Scriptures and their hearts are warmed. Their eyes are only fully opened to recognize Him when Christ takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it.

Joyfully they rush back to Jerusalem to share the news with the other disciples. The Walk to Emmaus gives contemporary disciples a parallel opportunity to rediscover Christ’s presence in their lives, to gain fresh understanding of God’s transforming grace, and to form friendships that foster faith and support spiritual maturity.

The story provides the image for the Emmaus movement, which came to South Africa in 1990 from the United Methodist Church in the USA, which in turn developed it from the Spanish Roman Catholic Cursillo de Christiandad (a short course in Christianity) which started in the late 1940’s. The movement is true to Protestant theology and is ecumenical in practice. God is using Emmaus in Southern Africa to bring renewal to Christians and their Church communities. Emmaus aims to inspire, challenge and equip local church members for Christian Action in their homes, church communities and places of work. It provides a means by which we can grow together in love and servanthood as members of the Body of Christ.

Emmaus is for growing Christians who are open to experience the Grace and Love of God in new ways through the Christian community. More especially, it is for those who will be committed to make a difference as a result of this experience. There is any number of Emmaus communities in Southern Africa at present. These fall under the jurisdiction of the Emmaus Ministries South Africa Board. The Emmaus Ministries South Africa Board receives and accepts guidance from the Upper Room and its executive International Advisory Committee.

An Emmaus community is made up of individuals in a local area who have attended the Walk. They meet in small groups or as a larger body for fellowship, Communion and encouragement. They also assist in conducting Emmaus Walks by agreement with the Upper Room.