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Founder of Operation Mobilization Dies

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The man who founded the global Christian mission agency Operation Mobilization has died.

George Verwer passed away peacefully at his home near London, England, on the evening of April 14. He was 84 years old.

Verwer founded Operation Mobilization in the 1960s to bring the word of Christ to new communities around the world. He directed the ministry for 45 years. Under his leadership, OM expanded in the 1960s, 70s and 80s across Europe and into the Middle East, then via volunteers crewing ocean-going ships.

Logos, the first of five vessels, was launched in 1971. Since then, more than 49 million people have visited the onboard book fairs, with more than 70 million religious texts distributed during port calls in 151 countries, the organization said.

Verwer led OM until 2003, then concentrated on special projects, traveling and speaking on global missions around the world, and was “rarely seen without his world map jacket or inflatable globe.”

Verwer was born in New Jersey in 1938 and made a personal commitment to Christ at a Billy Graham rally in New York City in the 1950s. When he was in college in Tennessee, he and two friends sold some of their possessions to fund a road trip to Mexico, taking 20,000 Spanish-language tracts and 10,000 Gospel booklets.

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In 1960, George and his new wife Drena sold some of their wedding gifts to fund a six-month outreach trip to Mexico City before they moved to Spain. While in Europe, George smuggled Bibles into Communist-controlled countries, but after being arrested and deported, decided to form OM after reflecting on how he could better spread God’s word. The name came to his mind when he saw a group of young people boarding a bus.

Verwer was the author of several books, including “Revolution of Love,” “Out of the Comfort Zone,” “Messiology” and “Confessions of a Toxic Perfectionist.”

He is survived by his wife, Drena, three children, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Main photo: George Verwer / Video screenshot via omusa.org

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.