Jim's Blog: Observations and Perspectives

Friend Focus: John Blanchard

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Why Focus on a Friend?

I’ve previously mentioned how my work in books introduces me to some delightful people. In serving them, it is my privilege to have made new friends over the years, so I thought it would be good from time to time to point the camera, as it were, on some of them, and the excellent ministries that they themselves conduct.

Right with God

I first heard the name of John Blanchard in 1979. His book, Right with God, was known as a popular and standard explanation of the gospel. But it was not for another several years that I was to meet him in person. At the time, recently married, I was living in South Africa and Martin Holdt, pastor of a church in the Johannesburg area, had invited him to speak at key meetings throughout South Africa.

Somehow, I managed to get his phone number in about 1987 and (it was a big deal back then in the 1980s) I put through a person-to-person phone call to him in his home near London. “You’d like me to take a special meeting in Pietermaritzburg…?” asked the voice with a melodious sounding Guernsey accent. “Well, that should be no great problem. Yes, I’d be glad to do that!”

A few years earlier, Sue and I had seen his excellent color illustrated booklet, Ultimate Questions, and immediately purchased 100 copies to be used as giveaway items. We cleaned out the suppliers almost all in one go! We knew that, if we could get him to come and speak in our church (we met in a school hall), we could pack the place out… and we did, with a few people coming to faith in Christ the evening he spoke. Some years later, we were involved in preparing a Zulu edition of Ultimate Questions and having it distributed in Southern Africa.

But back to some details about John Blanchard: South Africa became one of his favorite ministry countries. People there loved his clear gospel presentation, and so it was that he came to make many repeat visits there, speaking to large crowds at key locations in cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

In 1999, Sue and I relocated to the UK, and I served Evangelical Press (now EP Books) for a while as international sales manager. That connected us more closely, a link that did not weaken in subsequent work and projects I undertook in literature, both in the UK and the USA. It was a special delight to work with John in promoting his major work, Does God Believe in Atheists?, a labor of love that has helped persuade many of the folly and impossibility of consistent atheism. I sometimes would joke with him about his PCA program. PCA is what John referred to as his Popular Christian Apologetics; I rephrased it to Program to Combat Atheism!

“As much as I can, as well as I can, for as long as I can”

John cannot sit still! I met with him about a year ago when he was visiting South Carolina, and we enjoyed a morning of happy fellowship in the country some way away from Greenville. “Well, I’ll be preaching tomorrow in town, and then the next day in Savannah, and after that I am flying to Arkansas and…” (he rattled off several places where he was scheduled to be speaking). Well does he describe himself and his ministry in these terms: “As much as I can, as well as I can, for as long as I can!”

JohnAndPamBlanchardVignetteOrigins and Ministry

John’s life story is engagingly and fascinatingly told in a DVD and a biographical travel guide. Born in Guernsey before World War 2, he was evacuated before the German occupation of his island, and resided for much of the war in Scotland. Later converted, he found himself part of a team of itinerant evangelists in the UK, and with an expanding ministry.

Joyce, the wife of his youth, died in February 2010, but I was delighted to learn that God has brought another special woman into his life, so now he and Pam together serve the Lord! You can connect with John and read his updates by visiting his site here, and also subscribe to his regularly ministry updates, Newsline.

Do You Use Literature?

When I think of John, I cannot but think of him as a speaker and writer. Books and booklets are a must when it comes to establishing others in the truth. I cannot recommend his books too highly! In one of my web initiatives, I am endeavoring to make all of his titles available, and, with the kind assistance of EP Books and their distributors, these are available at generously discounted prices. To find out more, visit here or click or tap on the image of John’s books near the head of this page!

 

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