Torchbearers International (initially known as the "Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers") began in northern England at Capernwray Hall (pictured above) in 1947. It was a God given vision born out of the devastation of World War II when Major Ian Thomas, returning from the war, determined with his wife Joan to open their hearts and doors to European young people. Providing them with lodging and food in a holiday setting, Major also gave insightful teaching from the Bible and soon these guests began to discover the adventure of knowing Jesus Christ personally.

It was the German youth who came in those early years to Capernwray who began calling themselves the “Fackeltraeger” or “carriers of the torch”, and so the name “Torchbearers” was born. The dynamic reality of the Christian life as a relationship with the indwelling Christ began to rekindle the lives of hundreds from all over Europe as Bible Schools sprang up first in Germany and then Austria. Now the ministry has spread to every continent in 25 different Centres, and thousands of people each year have been changed by the reality that first touched the life of Ian Thomas at the age of 19.

But let’s have him tell the rest of the story:

"As a young evangelist, my love and enthusiasm for Christ as my Saviour kept me very, very busy until out of sheer frustration, I finally came to the point of quitting. That was the turning point which transformed my Christian life. In my despair I discovered that the Lord Jesus gave Himself FOR me, so that risen from the dead He might give Himself TO me, He who IS the Christian Life.

Founder - Major W. Ian ThomasMajor W. Ian Thomas
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Instead of pleading for help I began to thank Him for all that He wanted to be, sharing His Life with me every moment of every day. I learned to say “Lord Jesus, I can’t, You never said I could; but You can, and always said You would. That is all I need to know”. From that moment life became the adventure that God always intended it to be. That was the beginning of Torchbearers, and this continues to be the main thrust of our ministry around the world the - Saving Life of Christ.”