George Verwer’s Legacy Challenges Us to Live on Mission - Radical

George Verwer’s Legacy Challenges Us to Live on Mission

When he was a teenager, Moisés Castillo boarded a ship in Panama, but this wasn’t some cruise ship sailing to a tropical vacation. It was an Operation Mobilization ship filled with followers of Christ on fire to share the gospel. He felt welcomed by the friendly crew members from all over the world who helped him pick out Christian books and talked about global missions.

Flash forward a few years, Moisés boarded Logos Hope in West Africa, but this time he was serving as one of the crew members. He learned that he is just one of many parts for a greater whole as he shared his faith and saw God at work throughout the world. And this all happened because of George Verwer, a man who submitted his life to Jesus in order for communities to learn about the gospel and radically change due to the hope we have in Christ. On April 14, Verwer passed away, but he has left us with a legacy challenging us to live on mission.

A Life on Mission

As Verwer would ask, “Are you ready to go?”

He didn’t see why we shouldn’t just sell what we have and go overseas to passionately share the gospel instead of making excuses. When he was 16 years old, Verwer went to the Word of Life’s 15th anniversary rally in Madison Square Garden where Billy Graham spoke. Graham’s words convicted Verwer, leading him to accept Christ and transforming the course of his life forever. As a high school student, several students accepted Christ because of Verwer’s zeal for the gospel.

Why we shouldn’t just sell what we have and go overseas to passionately share the gospel instead of making excuses?

While he was a college student at Maryville College, later transferring to Moody Bible Institute, Verwer sold some of his possessions to roadtrip to Mexico with a couple of friends during the summer. They took 20,000 Spanish tracts and 10,000 gospel booklets and told others about the name of Christ. This ignited a fire in Verwer as he became further convicted to spread the gospel with those who had never heard the good news.

A few years later, Verwer married his wife, Dana, and they decided to prioritize obeying the Great Commission. From selling wedding gifts so they could serve in Mexico City to him getting arrested while smuggling Bibles into Communist-controlled countries, this couple were zealous for their role in world mission from the beginning of their marriage.

Multiplying Disciples

Motivated to see other young people live on mission, Verwer founded Operation Mobilization (OM), which works to establish communities of Jesus followers among the least reached. With thousands of workers today in over 140 countries, millions of people have heard the gospel because of OM. From distributing Christian literature to unreached countries like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan to showing Christ’s love through humanitarian relief, Verwer’s passion for obeying the Great Commission has multiplied exponentially.

One of the lives he influenced is Anderson Vieria’s, who boarded Logos Hope from Brazil. He intended to go for 48 days, but stayed for two years and eight months. Not only did he yield fruit by sharing the gospel with those who visited the ship, but he also discipled others on board. One of the crew members grew up in a Christian family, but realized she was not truly a follower of Christ until she experienced what true Christianity really looks like while on the ship. While she was talking with Anderson, she accepted Jesus as her savior.

Verwer once said, “Literal adherence to the principles laid down by Jesus Christ would, without a doubt, result in worldwide revolution. A revolution motivated by love; a revolution executed by love; and a revolution culminating in love.”

Literal adherence to the principles laid down by Jesus Christ would, without a doubt, result in worldwide revolution.

By leading OM, speaking at thousands of international gatherings about global missions, writing resources, and making disciples, Verwer helped fuel this revolution to one day see every tongue from every nation confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9–11).

“George changed the face of missions in his generation. When the mission agencies of the late fifties were looking for highly trained individuals with seminary degrees who would commit to going for a lifetime, George invited young people who simply loved Jesus to come for a summer. This was new. This was different. Thousands came,” CEO of OM USA Andrew Scott said. “Many stayed and served a lifetime in OM, many others served in other organizations, and still others in the marketplace. George’s willingness to take risks and follow his convictions changed the lives of millions.”

A Legacy

At the age of 84, Verwer met his heavenly father on April 14, 2023. When his family announced the completion of his journey, they shared 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brothers be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Verwer’s life serves as an example of what a life dedicated to serving Christ with all your might looks like — a life brimming with an incomparable joy and purpose. He understood the gravity of the gift of salvation we have because of Christ’s work on the cross. Verwer knew this gift is too important, too life-changing to be kept to himself, but all people from all nations need to hear the hope found in only Christ. His legacy will continue to impact people globally as other believers see how Jesus can use even the lowest and weakest to tell others about his redeeming name.

Selah Vetter

Selah Vetter is a Content Writer at Radical. She is a graduate of Samford University where she studied Journalism and Spanish. She is a member of Redeemer Community Church.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TOWARDS REACHING THE UNREACHED.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs are receiving the least support. You can help change that!