- Bible School
- Serving & Support
Ravencrest Chalet is a Bible School and Retreat Center in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Northern Colorado. We are a member of Torchbearers International, a ministry of twenty-six centers around the world committed to sharing the Life of Christ.
Ravencrest exists to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people according to the Holy Bible; to lead them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; to promote the Christian faith by means of evangelism, service and fellowship among the body of believers; to encourage mission-oriented living and strive to increase the Kingdom of God throughout the world.
Ravencrest Chalet was built in 1963 as a fine replica of an old chalet located in Switzerland. After functioning as a home for ten years, Ravencrest was purchased by four businessmen and turned into a Bed and Breakfast Inn, popular for it’s “elegant European comfort and charm. The four businessmen had a vision for Ravencrest beyond just that of a Bed and Breakfast. In hope that the Chalet be used for God’s glory, one of the owners contacted Major Ian Thomas, who visited the Chalet in October of 1973. It was apparent to all involved that the Lord had something remarkable in store for Ravencrest Chalet. This was confirmed when early in 1974 the beautiful buildings and grounds were purchased and turned into a Bible School and Retreat Center.
In years following the initial purchase, Ravencrest has been a home to hundreds of Bible School students, a place of rest to numerous retreat guests, and an opportunity for growth to countless campers. Above all, Ravencrest Chalet has been a vessel to display the glorious Life of Christ Jesus our Lord!
The "Inn with an Old World Charm" became the "Center with God's Purpose."
Arising from Major W. Ian Thomas' worldwide ministry, there came into being a Young Peoples Christian Conference Center and Bible School at Capernwray Hall, Carnforth, in the northwest of England.
Beyond the British Isles, there are now Retreat Centers and Bible Schools in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Canada, the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Japan, Greece, Costa Rica and additional headquarters established in the Sudan, Micronesia, Malaysia, South Africa and the Philippines.
The ministry of the Major took him to most countries of Europe, throughout the Continents of North America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Continent of Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia and Japan.
The Message of Major Thomas and that of the whole of the Torchbearers Ministry is the risen and indwelling Lord Jesus, the only hope of glory.
The Major was every inch a soldier. With his infantry battalion he served in the British Expeditionary Forces in Belgium at the outset of World War II and took part in the evacuation at Dunkirk. Often in combat, in France, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere during the long war, he found the Lord Jesus to be his complete sufficiency. The Major was likewise a soldier of in Christ, faithful to the Captain of our salvation. He found life an adventure with God.
Reared in a "respectable" middle-class English home, he was taken to church and taught its precepts. He learned little or nothing of the Bible, however, either at home or in the church attended by the family. At the age of twelve he was invited to a Bible study group of the Crusaders' Union by a lad of thirteen who, during that year, received Christ as his Savior. The Bible began to be meaningful to young Ian, and the following summer, still twelve years old, he was converted to Christ at a Crusaders' Union camp. That decision was made when he was alone simply by praying earnestly, "Lord Jesus, please be my Savior"! At the age of fifteen, he felt convinced that he should devote all of his life to the service of the Lord Jesus. He told God that he would become a missionary. He began to preach out in the open air at Hampstead Heath at that early age. He was also actively engaged in Sunday School work as well as in the Crusaders' Bible class. Life became a round of ceaseless activity.
Speaking of his youthful decision to become a missionary, he said: "I began to consider the best area in which I could become a missionary and the best means I could employ to be most effective--perfectly sincere and genuine questions." The first missionary influence upon young Ian's life came through a doctor serving in Nigeria in the Housa Band. "First impressions are often the strongest," related Major Thomas, and so it became his ambition one day to go an join the Housa Band in Nigeria, West Africa. He thought the best thing for him to do was to become a doctor.
At the university Ian became a leader in the Inter-Varsity Fellowship group. If ever there was any evangelistic activity going on, this youthful zealot was "buzzing around the place, every holiday, every spare moment"! He started a slum club down in the East End of London "out of a sheer desire to win souls, to go out and get them. I was a windmill of activity until, at the age of nineteen, every moment of my day was packed tight with doing things. Thus by the age of nineteen, I had been reduced to a state of complete exhaustion spiritually, until I felt that there was no point going on."
"Then, one night in November, that year, just at midnight, I got down on my knees before God, and I just wept in sheer despair. I said, 'Oh, God, I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ. I am perfectly convinced that I am converted. With all my heart I have wanted to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure.' That night things happened. I can honestly say that I had never once heard from the lips of men the message that came to me then but God, that night simply focused upon me the Bible message of Christ Who Is Our Life. The Lord seemed to make plain to me that night, through my tears of bitterness: 'You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.'" That night, all in the space of an hour, Ian Thomas discovered the secret of the adventurous life. He said: "I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years!"
When he was not traveling, Major Thomas was based in Estes Park Colorado, where his wife, Joan Thomas, and his eldest son, Chris Thomas, live along with Chris' family. All Major Thomas' sons are spread throughout the world and are active in the Torchbearer Ministry. Chris is the Director of Torchbearers International. Mark, is the Regional Director of all the Torchbearer operations in Europe, based at Capernwray Hall, the Torchbearer Bible School near the town of Carnforth, England.
Peter is based at Monavale Homestead, the Torchbearer Bible School and Conference Center near Cambridge, New Zealand, in addition to being the Regional Director of all Torchbearer operations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Major Thomas' youngest son, Andy, is actively involved in the ministry of Torchbearers but in a different way; he is a craftsman. He has been known to say, "My brothers preach, I work"! His participation in the ministry has been of great value as he leads in the construction of nearly all the new building projects.
Major W. Ian Thomas, died in August 2007, surrounded by family and firm in the knowledge that he who began a good work, would complete it.
Apply today to attend a First year or Second year Bible School program at Ravencrest Chalet, find out how to apply.
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If you haven’t got a year to spare at Ravencrest, try attending one our retreats. There’s something for everyone, young and young at heart!