In March, aged 88, Mr Blanchard told the story of his life and ministry in a recording entitled Before they leave the stage. He was humble, sharp, precise, concise and godly in all his responses. This quote summed him up, ‘As much as I can, as well as I can, for as long as I can.’ His overwhelming burden was that the Lord would raise up a new generation of young people willing to be called into full-time Christian service.
Born in Guernsey in 1932, his mother died when he was 5 and he went to live with Auntie May – a regular attendee at an Elim Church. Evacuated to Scotland, he lived on a Hebridean farm speaking Gaelic. Returning to Guernsey after the war, he was converted aged 22. His early Christian life focused on the National Young Life Campaign (NYLC), an organization through which I was converted. With his first wife, Joyce, he led a Guernsey branch for some years with around 100 young people attending. Over 20 members went into full-time Christian service across the world. They ran some missions – including one in which the late Peter Jackson of Ammanford took part. John was convinced that this period of blessing was never matched throughout his whole ministry.
Convinced of his call to full-time Christian service, he started working for NYLC in 1962, then joined the Movement for World Evangelisation. Later, he founded Christian Ministries with the late Peter Anderson and Derek Cleave and in his latter years returned to being an independent preacher and evangelist. Alongside this, John was a gifted writer, and from 2003, most of his time was taken up with Popular Christian Apologetics, a project which aimed to present a defence to the belief in God through books, videos and public speaking. The Lord used him across the world.
I had the privilege in working with him when he spoke at a mission in Swansea and West Wales in 2012/13. The new Ffwrnes Theatre and the Arts Centre in Pontardawe were filled and I believe some were saved. Before one of these meetings I played golf with him. Every shot went down the middle – precise and consistent, and that is how he lived his life, centred on the things which really mattered.
Pastor Phil Swann writes, ‘John was often in our home, staying with us whilst speaking at three missions in Llanelli. He was such a great encourager of pastors too…he was quite professional in his approach but it was a discrete professionalism.’
We thank our Lord for the life and work of his servant, John Blanchard. Let us pray for the burden of his heart – that the Lord would raise up a new generation of young people to labour in the harvest fields of the world.