“YES! And it happened to me,” says George Verwer, founder one of the world’s largest mission organizations.
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
CHICAGO, IL (ANS – May 24, 2016) — If anyone can create the term messiology, it’s George Verwer, an amazing man, now in his mid-seventies, who has been my friend for almost half a century.
I first met George nearly 50 years ago when he came to speak at my father’s little church – The Sparkbrook Mission – in Birmingham, England, and delivered a powerful challenge for each of to be involved in evangelism.
My Dad, the Rev. Alfred Wooding, was completely taken with this powerful young American preacher who has recently begun Operation Mobilization, and was already sending Gospel teams around the world, and that was most unusual for my father.
Since that Sunday morning, we’ve remained firm friends ever since, and not longer after this preaching engagement, two members of the mission, John Miles and Peter Conlan, joined OM and began serving the Lord through this extraordinary ministry.
It was in 1975 that I, again, met up with George Verwer, this time in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, where he was speaking at a Bible study. I had just flown into Dhaka after interviewing Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and that afternoon had interviewed Mansur Ali, the then Prime Minister of the country, who shockingly, shortly afterwards, was assassinated along with his family by a group of military officers.
I sat at the back, when suddenly he noticed me and shouted out, “Dan Wooding,” and everyone turned around and I went purple with embarrassment, and then he continued with his study.
After I moved to Southern California in 1982 (with Norma and our two sons), Andrew and Peter), George and I would regularly meet up, usually at the Movieguide® awards gala in Hollywood. George is a huge fan of faith and family films.
He had quite a wicked sense of humor and, on one occasion, George called me on his cell phone and said, “Dan, I’m walking down Hollywood Boulevard and I can’t see your star anywhere. What happened?”
Later, I took Norma with me to see him in his hotel room before the Movieguide® gala began and he was wearing his trademark globe jacket. I tried to explain to that this was a “penguin suit affair” and he might like to “change into a tuxedo,” if he had one. He obviously didn’t and a little later I saw him, resplendent in his globe jacket, chatting in the lobby with Mickey Rooney.
The following year, George was back and actually wearing a tuxedo, and he spent much of his time on the red carpet, bringing over some of his favorite movie people for me to interviews, especially Ken Wales, who had just produced “Amazing Grace,” the film about John Newton, which he was raving about.
Born in New Jersey, George Verwer now lives in London, and has spent nearly 60 years leading gospel movements around the globe, and has been a witness to more than a few failures – including his own – and can still say, “I believe history will show that God was doing way more in the midst of our messes than we realized at the time.” For those of you who know George, you can hear him say this as you read it.
In his latest book, “Mess-i-ology,” (Moody Publishers) George reflects on his life and ministry to remind us that God works in mysterious ways. Over the course of his years in ministry, he states, “In churches, organizations, and ministry outlets I have often observed messes of all sorts. Sometimes obvious sin is involved and other times it can be silly stuff. I have said, and feel it strongly, that no matter how filled we are with the Holy Spirit, we are still human. Our humanness has its beautiful side and its messy side.”
Randy Alcorn, founder, Eternal Perspective Ministries, says of the book, “God calls His people to high standards and honors their obedience, yet in His sovereignty can accomplish things despite their failures. By focusing on God’s greatness despite human failure, ‘Mess-i-ology’ delivers an important message.”
And this important message can be found in “Mess-i-ology”, but Verwer cautions us not to become critical. Instead he urges us toward love, patience, affection, grace…and to trust God always, even in failure.
About George Verwer:
He is the founder and former International Director of Operation Mobilization (OM), which is a ministry of evangelism, discipleship training and church planting. He led Operation Mobilization for over 40 years before stepping down in August 2003. George has a burning concern for vital, propagating and revolutionary Christianity in his own life and in those he meets.
After trusting Christ at a meeting where Billy Graham spoke in Madison Square Garden, New York, George had a growing conviction to share the Word of God on foreign soil. He began with the distribution of Gospels of John in Mexico in 1957.
Today OM reaches across the world through the ministry of their ship Logos Hope and over 6,100 people working in over 110 nations to make Christ known in the lives of all they meet. George served as International Director of OM and helped raise up dedicated leadership to pursue this task across the world, freeing him to travel and speak, helping many find their role in extending the Kingdom of God. George and his wife are now involved in Special Projects Ministries (still part of OM) full-time. They have three adult children; five grandchildren and make their home in England.
Writer Justin Taylor once wrote, “To say that George Verwer Jr. (b. 1938) has a larger-than-life personality is probably an understatement.” I couldn’t agree more.
To schedule media with George Verwer, please contact Janis Backing at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do interview him, be prepared, as you will find him just that – larger-than-life – but for Christ, the love of his life.
Photo captions: 1) George Verwer all at sea onboard the Logos Hope. 2) Book cover. 3) This caricature of George Verwer was made by Graham Donald Kennedy. 4) The young Verwer in New Jersey. 5) Dan Wooding interviewing George Verwer at the at a Movieguide® Gala in Hollywood. (Photo: Norma Wooding).
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books. He has one radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California. Before moving to the US, Dan was a senior reporter with two of the UK’s largest circulation newspapers and also an interviewer for BBC Radio One in London.
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