Operation Mobilisation Founder Dies
George Verwer, July 3, 1938 – April 14, 2023
George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilisation (OM), has died aged eighty-four.
Born in New Jersey in 1938, George came to Christ as a teenager after he received a copy of the Gospel of John from a lady named Dorothea Clapp. She had prayed for George and other students from his school for eighteen years, that they would become passionate Jesus-followers and take His message to the ends of the earth.
He founded OM in 1957, after he and two friends sold some of their possessions to travel to Mexico, with tens of thousands of tracts and Spanish-language editions of the Gospel of John. This trip inspired him to share God’s word with those who had never heard it. Verwer combined the call for total and radical commitment to Christ with the idea of a short-term mission.
In Summer 1962 OM’s first short-term mission teams moved into Europe, coming from the UK, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the USA and elsewhere. In October 1970 the ship MV Logos was purchased. OM’s ships ministry expanded with addition, over time, of the MV Doulos, MV Logos II and MV Logos Hope. The last of these is the only ship still in service.
OM became one of the largest mission organisations of the twentieth century, sending out thousands every year on short- and long-term trips. Currently, OM has 3,300 adult workers from 134 countries working in 147 countries.
Matthew Skirton, the CEO of Operation Mobilisation UK, said, “George was God’s servant. A man of prayer, with an incredible memory, staying connected with thousands and always demonstrating compassion, forgiveness and generosity – especially for those who had messed up or fallen from grace. He was incredibly big hearted and generous; he leaves behind an extraordinary legacy within OM but also in the hundreds of organisations that have been formed or are led by former OMers. He was a leader who pioneered and formed a large, influential mission organisation yet his heart was never primarily for OM’s mission but rather for God’s mission – God’s kingdom.”
Lindsay Brown, who led the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students for 40 years, remembered him as an outstanding missionary leader: “In terms of the sheer range of activities and the agencies and leaders it has spawned, I think OM is unparalleled,” he said. “And I think George is the pre-eminent North American missionary statesman of the last 60 years. He has had a remarkable ministry.”
George Verwer is survived by his wife, Drena, along with their three children.