Joseph Skelly, Belfast, N. Ireland
My interest in recording tapes began in the early 1960's, when I was doing an electrical apprenticeship in Belfast and attending Windsor Gospel Hall. Their Missionary Conference was coming up and I thought my parents, who lived eighty miles away in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, would like to hear some of the missionaries that would be speaking. Using an open reel tape recorder with a microphone hidden behind the platform, I recorded the meetings. My parents were very pleased and from time to time I did other recordings for them at various Gospel Halls. Several of us also recorded the Easter conferences in the Grosvenor Hall from underneath the large platform. Needless to say, the sound quality in those days wasn't the best!
Around the same time a friend asked me to deliver a weekly recording to a disabled person living on his own. This request grew to taking tapes into Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, where patients had the opportunity to hear the gospel for the first time, and several were brought to Christ in this way.
After several years people started asking for copies from my library of recorded reels. A good friend, the late Gordon Bronte, spent many hours compiling a catalogue, and this was the beginning of Tape Teaching. A message by Mr. Robert McLuckie at the 1966 Easter Conference challenged me. He spoke on the subject of 'Others' from Philippians 2, and in particular about the importance of esteeming others more highly than yourself. I felt called by the Lord to use tape recordings to minister to people who didn't have the privilege of being able to attend the meetings.
In the early days, copying had to be done in real time using two reel-to-reel tape recorders. Even when cassette technology arrived in the mid 1970's, open reel machines were used to record longer messages which would then be transferred on to cassette masters. Fast duplicators meant I could copy up to five tapes at a time from each master.
The ministry became a family affair, and my children say they have memories of compiling catalogues during school holidays, typing labels for me, and using the unopened cassettes as building blocks! Initially we used part of the living room for duplicating the tapes, then moved to a bedroom, and later back downstairs to the sitting room. We now have a large dedicated office in the garden.
Cassettes also meant people could listen to the messages in their car, and easily post them to friends and missionaries living overseas. Technology does not stand still however, and with the help of others with an interest in the ministry, we now produce CDs. Robert Eadie, Jnr, has set up and continues to maintain a Tape Teaching web site. This allows people to browse the catalogue on-line, order tapes and listen to ministry in MP3 format.
Nowadays most halls have their own amplification and recording systems. This allows meetings to be recorded easily. There is a large informal network of men, young and old, who do the recordings. They can bring the cassettes to me for copying and the masters are also added to the Tape Teaching library.
Over the years a library of ministry by brethren such as Harry Bell, Jack Hunter, Albert McShane, Albert Leckie and many others has been built up. The Belfast, Christmas and Easter conferences, Craigyhill and Lurgan conferences are available from 1964 onwards and I've been involved in recording the annual Northfield Bible Fortnight for almost twenty years. Currently, Tape Teaching sends out between eight and nine thousand tapes a year all over the world. The bulk of the work comes from more recent series of meetings, although older recordings are often requested. Once an order is completed the tapes are posted out, or there is always the option of collecting them from my home in Belfast.
Tape Teaching is a charitable trust, and after overheads are taken out, any additional funds go back into the Lord's work.