Major Influence: A Tribute to Major W. Ian Thomas

Title: Major Influence: A Tribute to Major W. Ian Thomas
Category: Biography
Subject: Influence
Major Influence: A Tribute to Major W. Ian Thomas
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey

Walter Ian Thomas was born in Hampstead, London, England, to Albert J. and Jennie Thomas on September 13, 1915 and went to be with the Lord from Estes Park, Colorado, on August 1, 2007.

As a young man, Major Ian Thomas courageously served in an infantry battalion in the British Army and fought all during World War II. According to his wife, Joan, he fought in Germany, was evacuated at Dunkirk, then [he was] sent to North Africa, Greece, Italy, and his last year was in the Army of Occupation in Germany. In response to my question about the meaning of the D.S.O. and T.D. often following his name, Mrs. Thomas explained, “The D.S.O. stands for Distinguished Service Order which, after the ‘Victoria Cross’ is the next highest award for service given to Army officers. The T.D. stands for Territorial Decoration which is another Army award.”

Major W. Ian Thomas has been and will continue to be a major influence in the world. He is frequently cited by many Christian leaders in sermons, articles and books.

His work that began over 60 years ago expresses itself through the Torchbearers of the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship, an international Christian missionary organization involved in evangelism and Bible study, which he founded, with world-wide headquarters in Carnforth, England and United States headquarters in Estes Park, Colorado. There are twenty-five centers located around the world like the Ravencrest Chalet in Estes Park.

Scripture tells us about believers: “and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13b). Major Thomas’ works are worthy of reward because they were wrought in God. His surrendered will gave focus to his works. Testimony to the effectiveness of his ministry will echo throughout eternity by many like Luis Palau, D. Stuart Briscoe and a great multitude who have been motivated by the mission undertaken by the Major. No doubt many will rise up and call him blessed because of his life of trust and obedience.

His words continue to carry weight and to wield influence in the lives of men and women all over the world. Many of the Major’s words are recorded on audio with Capernwray Media Ministries (formerly know as Torchbearer Tapes) and are available at a reasonable price on the Internet. Thomas authored several books which include, The Mystery of Godliness; The Saving Life of Christ; If I Perish, I Perish; and The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me, all of which are available in many bookstores and on His latest book, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me, published on January 16, 2006, will provide great encouragement to all who read and heed the message. His unshakable hold on the Word of God was the power behind his words. His watchword was “You can’t—He never said you could—He can, He always said He would. So let Him.” God gave him this message through Galatians 2:20, where he 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.”

His worship of the true and living God continues to inspire as “deep calls to deep” in the lives of those who encounter his witness. The Major practiced and promoted worship with the spiritual depth and reality upheld by the Keswick tradition. His worship was like that of Abel, who by faith, “offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,” and as Abel, “he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4). He also understood the principle that Jesus shared with the woman at the well: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). This type of worship is the essence of revival that we desperately need today.

Major W. Ian Thomas was truly a giant in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will no doubt hear our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21).

I am forever grateful for what Christ has done in and through me by the Major's biblical teachings recorded on audio and in the pages of his books. He continued to the end of his earthly life to be generous with his time and encouragement to others in the Lord’s work. I am deeply indebted to Major Ian Thomas for all of his uplifting telephone conversations with me and for writing the preface for my book, Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

We pray that our Lord will comfort his dear wife Joan and their family with His presence, strengthen them by His power, and guide them all in His purpose.