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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Hear me carefully - John Blanchard - A Biography

Marlene Williams

EP Books

I have heard John Blanchard speak on several occasions and I have been an avid reader of his books for a number of years. It is always nice to be able to read a biography of someone whose books and work is familiar to you. This biography is written by Marlene Williams who has proof read his books for a number of years and she is the wife of Howard Williams who drives him around his various speaking engagements. I bought this particular copy at a book stall in a Liverpool Church at a meeting in which John Blanchard was due to speak and was sold it by the author. The only other biography that I know of John Blanchard is in the Day One Series of pocket guides (see the earlier review of J C Ryle in the same series).

John William Blanchard was born on the Channel Island of Guernsey on 10th July 1932. At the age of 5, his mother died and at the age of 8 he was evacuated because of the threat posed by the German forces. His evacuation home was in Islay, Scotland (over 500 miles from home) where he was placed with a couple who had few parenting skills and no children of their own. He spent a lot of the time barefoot – which would be quite a hardship in the North of Scotland, and he was not allowed in the house until dusk. In 1945, he returned home to find that his father had remarried. His new mother was a churchgoer and she took him along to the local evangelical Church of England. In his mid teens he began working for the civil service and also became a Sunday School Teacher at the same time he got involved in various activities including, boxing, snooker, gambling, drinking and smoking. In his own words he was a ‘full blown’ hypocrite and his Christianity was a performance and not an experience.

In 1954 three things happened that would help to change his life, the minister at the Church of England changed and the new man often pressed the need to trust in Christ, he met Joyce Mckane at work and she encouraged him to go to evangelistic services and he went to hear the evangelist Paul Cantelon speak. At the end of a service by Cantelon in October 1954, John Blanchard became a Christian. By 1957, he had married Joyce. After becoming a lay reader in the Church of England he helped to found the Guernsey branch of the National Young Life campaign. From this involvement with the NYLC he became a full time evangelist with them for the South West of England. In 1965, he moved to become an evangelist with the MWE (Movement for Worldwide Evangelism).

The book then spans his life of usefulness to Christ’s cause and the width of his writings. It shows the sacrifices that he and his family have made at different times and it is packed with a wealth of anecdotes and stories. Some of the anecdotes I have seen him use in his different books and others I have heard him say when he has preached. The last chapter is entitled ‘Lifting the Saviour high’ and I believe that this is what his ministry has done and has been the source of its usefulness. I would strongly recommend this book as being suitable for all readers.