W. Ian Thomas

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Walter Ian Thomas
Born13 September 1914
Hampstead, London, England
Died1 August 2007
Estes Park, Colorado, US
Spouse(s)Joan Thomas

W. Ian Thomas (13 September 1914 – 1 August 2007) was an evangelist, Christian evangelical writer, theological teacher and founder of the Torchbearers Bible schools.

At the age of twelve he was invited to a Bible study group of the Crusaders Christian Youth Movement by a lad of thirteen. The following summer, still twelve years old, he was converted to Christ at a Crusaders' Union camp.

At the age of fifteen, he felt convinced that he should devote all of his life to the service of the Lord Jesus. He told God that he would become a missionary. He began to preach out in the open air at Hampstead Heath. He was also actively engaged in Sunday School work as well as in the Crusaders' Bible class. Life became a round of ceaseless activity.

He thought the best thing for him to do was to become a doctor. At the university Ian became a leader in the Inter-Varsity Fellowship group. He started a slum club down in the East End of London "out of a sheer desire to win souls, to go out and get them. I was a windmill of activity until, at the age of nineteen, every moment of my day was packed tight with doing things. Thus by the age of nineteen, I had been reduced to a state of complete exhaustion spiritually, until I felt that there was no point going on."

"Then, one night in November, that year, just at midnight, I got down on my knees before God, and I just wept in sheer despair. I said, 'With all my heart I have wanted to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure.' That night things happened. The Lord seemed to make plain to me that night, through my tears of bitterness: 'You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.'" Thomas later reflected: "I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years!"

Major Thomas served in the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium at the outset of World War II and took part in the evacuation at Dunkirk. He would also spend time during the war (oftentimes fighting) in France, Italy, and Greece.

When he was not traveling, Major Thomas resided in Estes Park, Colorado, where his wife, Joan Thomas, and his eldest son, Chris Thomas, live along with Chris's family.


Early life[edit]

Ian Thomas was born in London on 13 September 1914.

He joined the British Army in World War II. He was decorated with the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) for conspicuous gallantry in taking out a German machine gun nest, and the T.D. (Territorial Decoration). When the Germans surrendered at the Battle of Monte Cassino, Major W. Ian Thomas went and took the flag of surrender.[1]


After his service in the British Army, Ian Thomas was probably best known as a Bible teacher, author and as the founder of both Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers (based at Capernwray Hall, England) and subsequently Torchbearers International (based in US).


  • The Saving Life of Christ, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961. ISBN 0-310-33262-1
  • The Mystery of Godliness, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1964. ISBN 978-0551051256
  • If I Perish, I Perish : the Christian Life as seen in Esther, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1968. ISBN 978-0310-332428
  • The Indwelling Life of Christ : All of Him in All of Me, Multnomah Publishers Inc, Oregon, 2006. ISBN 1-59052-524-8

His first book, The Saving Life of Christ, seems to have had a profound effect on Bert Harned, M.D., and the many individuals he has discipled in his lifetime.[citation needed] This can be seen in Harned's book, Any Old Bush – Christ Living in Us.


Thomas died on 1 August 2007 at the age of 92.


  1. ^ "Article | Pastor Life". www.pastorlife.com.

Further reading[edit]