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George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilisation, died

The missionary promoted the OM floating bookshop Logos that travels the world spreading the gospel. He passed away at the age of 84.

FUENTES OM AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus LONDON 18 DE ABRIL DE 2023 15:01 h
George Verwer, with his characteristic jacket and world globe. / [link]OM[/link]

George Verwer, renowned missionary, evangelist, author and lecturer, founder of Operation Mobilisation (OM), passed away on Friday 14 April.

His family said he passed away “peacefully at home, surrounded by his family”.

“Beloved husband of Drena and father of Ben, Daniel and Christa has completed his journey today”, they said on his personal website, also sharing 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the labour of the Lord, knowing that your labour in the Lord is not in vain”.

OM set up a website in memory of Verwer. “We give thanks for his radical life devoted to sharing God's love worldwide”, points out the organisation he founded and saw grow into a movement that has spread around the world carrying the message of the gospel.


Mission in Mexico

Verwer was born in New Jersey, USA, in 1938. When he was 14 years old, a woman named Dorothea Clapp gave him a copy of the Gospel of John. She prayed for 18 years that the students at George's school would become passionate followers of Jesus and take His message all around the world.

Three years later, George went to a Billy Graham conference in New York City, where his whole life was changed as he made a personal commitment to Christ.

Jesus' commission to make disciples inspired George to share his faith with his fellow students. Within a year, he saw how two hundred decided to follow Christ.

At the University of Tennessee, George felt a great burden for those who did not have access to the Bible so that in 1957, he and two friends sold some of their possessions to pay for a road trip to Mexico; taking 20,000 Spanish tracts and 10,000 copies of the Gospel.

That trip led to many more and rekindled the flame of George's willingness to share the Word of God with those who had never known it.


Total dedication

During his time at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, George paved the way for world mission, motivating others in prayer nights and planning more literature distribution trips. It was there where he met Drena Knecht, who would become his wife.

[photo_footer]  George and Drena./ OM [/photo_footer] 

In 1960, George and Drena got married. Their service to the Lord was a priority for them and they sold some of their wedding gifts to fund a six-month campaign in Mexico City before moving to Spain, where they established what would become OM's work.

When he was in Europe, George smuggled bibles into Communist-controlled countries, but he was arrested and deported and took some time to reflect on the future.

He was praying on a tree in Vienna one day and saw a group of young people boarding a bus. In that moment, he thought of the name Operation Mobilisation, with the idea of mobilising ‘busloads’ of young people on mission.


OM: reaching millions of people

Led by Verwer and fuelled by the passion of believers worldwide to reach those who had never heard the gospel, OM grew in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, first, throughout Europe and the Middle East, then with volunteers sailing the ocean in ships.

The first of five ships, Logos, was launched in 1971 and, over 49 million people have since then visited the bookstores on board, with more than 70 million pieces of Scripture distributed during port calls in 151 countries.

[photo_footer]  Verwer on the first Logos ship, in 1971./ OM [/photo_footer] 

After a time living as missionaries in India, George and Drena, along with their three children, moved to London; where he continued to stress the importance of radical discipleship and ministry sustainability within OM.


Lasting impact

Verwer was the head of OM until 2003, and then focused on special projects, as well as on travelling and speaking on global mission in thousands of meetings around the world.

“His authentic lifestyle and zeal for spreading the gospel has motivated countless individuals and churches to more intentional mission involvement”, says the OM website.

He always wore his world map jacket and carried his inflatable earth globe, praying for the nations and current issues, encouraging others and keeping in touch with thousands of friends and fellow ministers through letters, emails and phone calls.

He wrote several books, including Revolution of Love, Don't Turn Back, Out of the Comfort Zone, and Global Passion.





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