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RIP George Verwer – A Missionary Statesman

George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization (OM) and one of the greatest advocates for missions of our day died last month. OM currently has 6,800 people working in 134 countries[1] around the world. Current OM CEO, Andrew Scott, said this about Verwer: George Verwer was quite simp…
By sethbarnes

George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization (OM) and one of the greatest advocates for missions of our day died last month. OM currently has 6,800 people working in 134 countries[1] around the world.

Current OM CEO, Andrew Scott, said this about Verwer:

George Verwer was quite simply the most extraordinary, revolutionary person I’ve ever known. His courage and willingness to push beyond the existing norms changed the face of missions.

As OM grew, George recognized the importance of national leadership. He invited a whole new group into the ‘who’ of mission. The work in India led by nationals became similar in size to the rest of OM, becoming its own movement.

One of the leaders from that time told me: “Many missions’ leaders did not take George or OM seriously because we were a bunch of untrained young people. We didn’t fit their idea of a missionary.” But George pressed on, and thousands more followed.

Courage to take risks

George had an incredible ability to take huge risks. As a 24-year-old, he decided things were moving too slowly. “What if we had a ship?” he said. Since then, OM has had five ships transporting crews of hundreds of Jesus followers worldwide.

Verwer understood that missions is messy and espoused these five principles*.

1. We’ll never fully “get” God.

That God works despite and sometimes through the messes in our lives rests on the mystery and mercy of a great God.

2. God didn’t ask me to sign off on who he uses.

Is it possible that we waste valuable time writing papers, making videos, holding meetings all primarily designed to point out how other people are wrong? All the while many of those “wrong” people and “wrong” methods are tools in the hands of a wise and powerful God, so intent on accomplishing his purposes of gathering people to himself, that he can and does use them! And we don’t see it.

3. Critical people annoy me to no end.

Seems wherever you look, Facebook, online and print publications, public forums, or pulpits and stages, people are constantly being critical. “This ministry isn’t committed to the Bible.” “That church is too extreme.”

No church is perfect. Few supporters respond as quickly as we like. Every agency drops the ball. And all of us fall short of what we might be. Thank God his grace abounds.

4. I should say “I’m sorry” much more often.

Sadly, I sometimes overlook or demean people because I don’t see how they serve my purpose. I’m sorry.

5. Let’s love more, even when it hurts.

May God give us the grace to love people when they fail us. When they impugn our motives. When they relentlessly attack, causing pain to us or worse, to ones we hold dear.

Read Verwer’s free book “Messiology” about these principles here.

*These principles were originally published in Missions Catalyst in 2018; slightly adapted by Shane Bennett.

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