Breakthrough was started in 1980 by well known Christian author Catherine Marshall and her husband, Leonard LeSourd.

Catherine was married to United States Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall when his sudden death in 1949 from a heart attack propelled her into a writing career. Her best selling book titled A Man Called Peter was made into the top grossing motion picture of the year in 1952. Many subsequent books were also best sellers, including Christy, which later became the popular television series by the same name.

Catherine and Leonard (who was editor of Guidepost magazine) met and married ten years after Peter Marshall's death. Through Catherine's biographical books, Meeting God at Every Turn, and Beyond Ourselves, many thousands of readers from around the world wrote her telling of their own struggles or seeking a way to minister to the needs of others.

Catherine's prayer for God's solution was answered as God began to reveal to her a ministry that would do just that - bring together individual needs and those willing to pray for them.