It’s a chance to meet “World Missions Adventurer” – George Verwer
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – May 24, 2017) – Operation Mobilisation (OM), one of the world’s largest mission’s organizations, is to hold a special 60th anniversary thanksgiving event in London on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
OM’s colourful Founder, George Verwer, and OM UK Director, Matthew Skirton, have issued an invitation to “all present and former OMers, as well as supporters”, for “a time of fellowship and thanksgiving to celebrate OM’s 60 years of ministry.”
The gathering will be held at 39 Honor Oak Road, Forest Hill, London, SE 23 3SH, and will begin with an afternoon celebration starting at 3:15 PM, followed by a light buffet, and then an evening celebration starting at 5:00 PM. “You are welcome to join us for some or all of the day,” said the two leaders.
London-based, but American-born, George Verwer, who despite being 78, is as busy as ever, explained how the idea for the UK event came about.
“Back in February in Bangkok, Thailand, over 400 OM leaders gathered from around the world for their annual conference under the leadership of Mr. Lawrence Tong and his team,” Verwer told ANS.
“One of the nights was the 60th anniversary of the celebration of the movement that started in the summer of 1957, when three of us students from Maryville College, Tennessee, went to Mexico to learn and give out Gospel literature. It was a special night and now similar celebrations are taking place all over the world.
“Joseph D’souza just spoke at one in Switzerland, and here in the UK, we will have a major celebration in Forest Hill, London, where we expect over 200 to come together on the afternoon and evening of June 10th. One of the highlights will be a message from our new UK Director, Matthew Skirton. Everyone will also receive free books, CDs and DVDs.”
Verwer went on to say, “Much of the celebration has been going on by way of OM web sites. This weekend is Ireland and later there will be one Birmingham and the North of Ireland later in the year.
“We, above all else, are giving thanks to God for thousands of answers to prayer and especially that about 200,000 have served with OM since the three of us went to Mexico in 1957.”
George stated, “I feel that the real birthday of OM was more after I was arrested by the KGB in the summer of 1961 in the then Soviet Union. After they escorted us to the Austrian border, Roger Malstead and I went for a day of prayer in the mountains and God gave me that name Operation Mobilisation and the vision to see thousands of Europeans mobilised and trained and then be sent into Missions.
“I move from Spain to the UK and that when everything really took off especially in the British universities. By the next summer, 200 joined to try to give the gospel to 25 million, and the next summer was to be a follow up and 2,000 became involved. It’s never stop growing and going globally ever since with one of the highlights being the launching of a Christian ship ministry in 1970.”
He concluded: “We are especially giving thanks to the tens of thousands of prayer partners and supporters and local churches who have stood with us from the very beginning.”
If you would like to attend the June 10th event, please send an e-mail to Kara Beadle at Kara.Beadle@om.org.
Through his travels over the years, George says he has encountered many struggles in the church: pride, laziness, prejudice, autocratic pastors, the misuse of mission funds, wrong theology. George has a personal proverb: “Where two or three of the Lord’s people are gathered together, sooner or later there’s a mess.”
So he’s written Messiology (Moody Publishers), a book describing the mystery of God’s patient and merciful work in the midst of messy situations and churches, bringing about His plan and purposes. George shares insights for applying a grace-awakened attitude in the church. He also has a new film called George for Real. To get a copy of this inspriing documentary, which follows George around the world, in the UK, go to http://www.cwr.org.uk/store/p-1931-george-for-real-dvd.aspx#.Vplz74-cFjo, and in the US, https://www.visionvideo.com/dvd/501662D/george-for-real.
A personal note: I first met George Verwer some 50 years ago when he came to speak at The Sparkbrook Mission, a little church run by my father, in Birmingham, England, and he gave a powerful message about becoming involved in world missions, something close to the heart of my parents — the Rev. Alfred Wooding, and my mother, Anne, who were pioneer missionaries to Nigeria. One of the men in the church was so taken by what George had to say, he went up to him at the end, warmly shook his hand, and said, “Young man, if you continue to preach like that, you’ll go a long way,” which, of course, he has! One of the young people in The Sparkbrook Mission at that time was Peter Conlan, who has been working closely with George ever since that time. Another regular at the church, and a leader of our outreach team, The Messengers, John Miles, joined OM and went to India with one of the earliest teams.
Back in 1975, I had flown to India to interview Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and then arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to interview the Prime Minister, Muhammad Mansur Al. Following that, I had discovered that George was speaking at a local Bible study, and so I slipped into the room, and sat at the back. Suddenly George spotted me, and shouted, “Dan Wooding! What are you doing here?” Before I could answer, he continued with his study, but we chatted for a while afterwards. Rather tragically, Muhammad Mansur Ali, and his family, were assassinated some three weeks later, so I won’t forget that time in both Calcutta and Bangladesh.
The Hollywood Connection
After Norma and I moved to the United States in 1982, we would regularly meet-up with George at the Movieguide® Awards Gala in Hollywood, as George loved movies. He also loved to play jokes on me and, on one occasion, he called me and said, “Dan, I’m walking down Hollywood Blvd., and I can’t see your name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What happened?” That was typical George!
That evening, Norma and I arrived early at the hotel where George was staying and so we went to his room, and found him wearing his signature world jacket. I explained to him that the gala was meant to be “penguin suit event,” and added that I hoped he would change into a tuxedo. He made no promises and, a little later, I found him in the lobby of the hotel chatting with Mickey Rooney and wearing of course, you guessed it, his world jacket. Still, after he had finished with Rooney, I managed to record an interview with the former child star, who couldn’t stop smiling. It appeared to me that he was doing his best to recover from his chat with George.
Our friendship continues to this day, and he regularly e-mails me from all kinds of places around the world, with a word of encouragement.
So, if you anywhere near London on June 10th, my advice is to make your booking for the anniversary event, and prepare to meet up with a man unlike any other you will ever find in world missions.
To find out more about George, just go to his website at http://www.georgeverwer.com/
Photo captions: 1) In June 1957, George (left) and classmates Dale Rhoton and Walter Borchard drove from Chicago to Mexico City in a beat-up 1949 Dodge truck filled with Spanish gospels and tracts. 2) A wonderful caricature of George Verwer made by Graham Donald Kennedy. 3) Dan Wooding interviewing George Verwer, who is wearing his famous jacket. 4) OM’s Logos Hope in port. 5) George Verwer with his wife, Drena. 6) Dan Wooding interviewing a smiling Mickey Rooney after George had spoken with him.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-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 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Besides running the ASSIST News Service, Dan has written some 45 books and hosts a weekly radio show and two TV programs in Southern California.
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