On January 11, 1988, the first term of the English Language Program began in Macau. They budgeted for 40 students, but 120 students enrolled. “God gave us the best beginning we could have imagined,” said Luke Fetters, one of the founding missionaries.
The team included two American pastoral families who had arrived in Hong Kong in Nov. 1986–Luke and Audrey Fetters, and Phil and Darlene Burkett–plus Carol and Cannie Chan, a United Brethren couple from Hong Kong. They leased space on the second floor of a building to use for ELP classes and church services for what became Living Water Church.
The ELP ran four nights a week, Tuesday through Friday, but each student came just two nights. They started at 6:30 with an hour of teaching. Luke and Phil did nearly all of the teaching; Audrey and Darlene, with small children at home, sometimes substituted. At 7:30, they opened the accordion doors between classrooms and all of the students joined for a ten-minute chapel period, which Carol Chan led in Chinese. The chapel was upbeat, with a very clear Gospel message.
Next came a ten-minute break, during which Luke, Phil, and the Chans tried to engage with students, perhaps asking them something related to the chapel message. After another 30 minutes of teaching, the first session ended. Then they started all over again at 8:30 with a second batch of students. The evening ended at 10:30.
There were six levels. Initially, they offered Level One, plus Level Four classes for students who already knew some English. Each term lasted 12 weeks. It took two years to complete all six levels. Two years for the Gospel message to sink in.