“Long-term relationships — that’s what I think about when I think of George.

Since coming to know the Lord through a Gospel that a praying woman sent him and the preaching of Dr Billy Graham, his one all-consuming passion in life has been to be a channel, whereby people would become long-term friends of Jesus.

He is a risk-taker. He loves to live on the edge.

You might say that his comfort zone is breaking out of his comfort zone.

He only really feels secure when he’s risking it all.”

Dale Rhoton

Co-founder of OM and lifelong friend of George Verwer.

“I got challenged to go to Mexico in 1958. The first question I asked George was, ‘What will it cost me?’ And he said, ‘It’ll cost you your life!’ I didn’t realise when I went on a Christmas campaign that I’d stay over 50 years.”

Richard Griffin

One of OM’s first volunteers.

“We should have thought he was a nutcase, but because of the Holy Spirit, we just knew that this was a man you could follow to the ends of the earth, and had real confidence that he was getting the mind of the Lord.

We just knew we were teamed up with an apostle and we were going to do something significant — even though we didn’t have any good reason to believe that.”

Greg Livingstone

Former OMer, founder of Frontiers.

“God gave me a vision that we would see millions and millions of young people someday — not just YWAM and OM — but many others, going from everywhere to everywhere with the gospel, and that’s starting to happen.

George had his part in leading so many to have this kind of dedication and passion for the lost.

I want to thank God for George, for his life, for OM and all it’s meant.

I thank God that I ever got to meet George, that I ever got to know him, and that I got to see the work of his ministry and his heart, and the people following him, that has touched millions of lives around the world.”

Loren Cunningham

Founder, Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

“He’s had a catalytic impact in stirring up people of the wider world getting a mission vision. So many of the mission movements in the non-Western world have actually got some link with OM.

He was so generous: he never tried to build an empire, but he was very happy for people to move on and start other ministries.

I’ve never known anybody who’s been so assiduous in maintaining links and friendships, with writing and visiting and praying for — what a man of God.”

Patrick Johnstone

Missions Researcher and Author, Operation World.

“George was God’s man for the 20th century; the only person I know of who has changed the course of modern mission. He was a man known for his utter commitment to accountability and living a life of integrity. What a standard he set for us in OM!

George was passionate about Jesus, passionate about God’s Word and passionate about the lost.

When George started to coin the term ‘messiology,’ many people — myself included — were baffled at the invention of the word. As the scope of my leadership experience has widened, I realise more and more the truth and wisdom of what George packed into that one word alone. As usual, George the trailblazer was way ahead of us in his spiritual life, in his thinking, in his vision, and in his interpretation of trends. I have always been inspired by his fine ability to bring human pragmatism and spiritual reality into balance. There will never be another GV.”

Lawrence Tong

International Director, Operation Mobilisation.

“George truly practised what he preached. His authenticity and passion for reaching the lost, but also his humility and transparency when sharing about his struggles, have profoundly impacted me in my life and I know have touched, encouraged and challenged so many others as well.

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 a large, influential mission organisation, yet his heart was never primarily for OM’s mission but rather for God’s mission, God’s kingdom.”

Matthew Skirton

CEO, OM in the UK.

“When I first met George, I thought he was unhinged. It was a wood-panelled room in King’s College, Cambridge. Now, this is a place of scholarship and learning, this is where Nobel prizewinners meet to discuss their ideas, where prime ministers are trained and geniuses nurtured — and George stood up and exuberated all over us. It was absolutely astonishing. It was a weird, intoxicating cocktail of passion and truth, and it changed the lives of dozens and dozens of us. That mixture of grace and weakness and truth and fire really changed us.

The whole course of short-term missions was beginning to be changed in those days. Whereas missions in the past had been, really, open only to a certain kind of person, now the door was blown open for everybody. My parents-in-law; recently converted, with no background in church or college; were welcomed into the movement.

We found ourselves on international teams — this was very, very good for us — made up of people from nations that we had hurt, or invaded, or bombed, or been hurt by — and we were together on those teams. We were given responsibility at the age of 20, 21, 22, that you would never have imagined. It was life-changing, and there are thousands of us who are really, really grateful.”

(the late) Nigel Lee

Former Head of Student Ministries, Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF)

(speaking in 2003).

“A lot of people think he was high-energy, bionic, high-activity, and they didn’t see that underneath was a very strategic, creative brain, who spawned all kinds of mission-related ministry because of his creative thinking. Because he also spoke positively, never negatively about other mission agencies in public, I would say he was a very rare breed and from my perspective, he was the most outstanding North American missionary leader in the world over the last 60 years, without a shadow of a doubt.

People were attracted to this guy because he didn’t take himself too seriously — he recognised his own fragility and weaknesses or fallenness, but that God can work through such a person. I’m sure that’s a major reason why God continued to use him, and that shapes the whole movement as well, because when the leaders acknowledge their weakness and need of repentance, then everybody else recognises the need themselves. That comes right through OM with all the emphasis on humility and brokenness and hunger for reality.”

Lindsay Brown

Former International Director, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES).

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