Thursday, August 10, 2006

George Verwer

On my "book tag" list, I listed The Revolution of Love by George Verwer, as "one book that changed my life." Actually, I could have listed various of George’s books, including Hunger for Reality and No Turning Back. It was actually George, through his famous book recommendations, that inspired in me a love and thirst for Christian literature in the first place. But probably even more life-changing than his books and the books he has recommended has been the personal time I have been able to spend with George Verwer.

The now retired founder and ex-director of Operation Mobilization (OM), and currently self-described "World Missions Advocate," George Verwer has been one of my main mentors and influencers in my Christian life. I hope to dedicate a whole other post to my life-changing experiences on three OM summer campaigns and two years on board OM’s mission ship, the M.V. Doulos. But this post I want to dedicate to a man, who in 1955, as a 16-year-old New Jersey teenager, surrendered his life to Christ at a meeting in which Billy Graham was preaching in Madison Square Garden, and has gone on to influence thousands and thousands of young people around the world for the cause of world missions.

In the summer of 1980, I had the privilege of serving as George’s interim "go-fer" or errand boy, and got to know him close up. George is a man who makes no pretense. You will rarely see him with a coat and tie. He most often wears his warm-up jacket with the imprinted map of the world. His messages are full of humor, frequently last more than an hour, and more times than not defy homiletical analysis. Yet he speaks with a candor and conviction matched by very few. He speaks openly of his struggles with sexual temptation. He shares straight from his heart about his personal battles with extremism, and lack of patience. At the same time, he is a man whose lifestyle of simplicity and radical commitment to the fulfillment of the Great Commission are an open book for all to see.

George Verwer is a man who is a friend of true Christians of all stripes and colors. He is at home in meetings of all sorts of denominations, organizations and ethnic groups. It is probably more through George than anyone else that I gained an appreciation and love for the greater Body of Christ around the world. In the times I was privileged to hear him in my younger days, he would humorously refer at times to the narrow-mindedness of the "Big B Baptists," as well as the doctrinal latitude of the "evan-jellyfish." But then, he would turn around and, in totally sincere self-deprecation, say that Operation Mobilization was a "b-grade mission."

I still remember the mornings in the summer of 1980 I would knock on George’s door in Southwest London to go jogging with him, and how as we jogged, he would picture the route in his mind as the globe of the world, and we would stop and pray for different areas of the world, current events, and assorted ministries, all along the itinerary.

George Verwer also amazes me in his commitment and ability to stay in touch personally with hundreds of people with whom he has had contact down through the years and around the world. Though it has been 20 years since I have been part of Operation Mobilization or directly connected with his ministry, I never know when I am going to get a phone call from George, or a book in the mail, or a personal note encouraging me in the ministry.

I strongly recommend you to "surf" through the following links, and to glean for yourself whatever you can from this living legend of world missions and example of authentic Christianity, George Verwer.

To get you started and "whet your appetite" I will leave you with the following quote from "The Revolution of Love"…


There are thousands, even millions, of people who claim to be ‘orthodox Christians’ because they cling to a set of beliefs in accordance with the Bible. They are aware that they do not practice much humility, but they do not think that makes them any less orthodox. They are aware that they do not really love other Christians (especially those who are different from them), but that does not cause them to think their teaching is not biblical.

They may admit that they know nothing of serving others and considering others better than themselves, and yet they consider themselves Bible-believing, orthodox Christians.

They could not be more wrong! This is not Christianity but a travesty of Christianity—thinking we can be orthodox without having humility, thinking we can call ourselves Bible-believing Christians though our lives do not show love or the other fruits of the Spirit. In fact, I believe that this is the greatest error that has ever hit the church of Jesus Christ!

George Verwer, World Missions Advocate

George Verwer's Blog

George Verwer's biographical sketch

On-line messages from George Verwer

I especially recommend Being Big-Hearted, a message given a few years back to a group of Christian workers in South Asia. Although the sound quality is not the best, and he does not get into the heart of the message (which is essentially the same as the 2nd chapter of "The Revolution of Love") until after the first 25 minutes of introduction, the listen is well worth it.

4 comments:

brookshanes said...

Great post, David.

I'm linking you on the front page of George's site... what years were you George's "go-fer?"

Thanks for supporting George all these years and with this great post...

Brooks

Paul Burleson said...

David,

You have been prayed for much this week. Just a word that might encourage. You're a blessing to many.

Paul

GuyMuse said...

Great Verwer quote, it indeed whetted my appetite for more as I look forward to checking out the links you offer.

The Doulos--wasn't that the ship that sunk several years back? Were you on it during that time?

While personally not familiar with Verwer, one of my own heroes of the faith is Elisabeth Elliot, who used to be a missionary here in Ecuador. Through the years her life and writings have greatly influenced me.

Thanks for the good post.

David Rogers said...

Brooks,

Thanks for the link. I was George's interim "go-fer" only during the summer of 1980.

Paul,

Thanks so much for your prayers. You are a great encouragement.

Guy,

It was not the Doulos, but rather the OM sister ship, Logos, that sank on Jan. 6, 1988. I was on the Doulos from 1984-86.

I have been impacted by the ministry of Elisabeth Elliot (as well as the story of Jim Elliot, and his companions) also. I have had the privilege of meeting her and hearing her speak on several occasions.