Operation Mobilisation founder George Verwer delivered an inspirational talk to 150 men at a pre-sunrise breakfast aboard the Logos Hope in Cape Town on Wednesday in what was the ship crew’s second unique experience of men turning out in number for Jesus early in the morning.
During the ship’s recent stay in Port Elizabeth ship staff were “blown away” when 200 enthusiastic men arrived for a 6am Friday morning breakfast, reports Lance Walton, a member of the Karoo Mighty Men Conference committee who was at the event.
Commenting on the Cape Town breakfast, Randy Grebe, Director Partner Ministries, MV Logos Hope said: “This morning on-board the Logos Hope we were inundated in the early morning before the sun arose to nearly 150 energetic and excited men for our Men’s Breakfast gathering.
“For us it is rare not only to see men up this early for a meeting but also so many.“
The room was abuzz with conversation but it really took off once guest speaker, George Verwer took the stage. One could hardly hear a pin drop at times as the men from Rotop (Round table of prayer) sat in awe of this man’s nearly 60 year journey with the Lord and world missions and at other times could not hear themselves from the laughter at his witty comments and stories.
The sacrifice of getting up early to beat the traffic, was well worth it. Many were still running on “high octane” of pure joy and delight long after the meeting, feeling blessed to have been in the presence of one of God’s “giants” .
The value of a fervent prayer
The men were reminded that the “workers are few.”
“It was through one of those ‘workers’ – a woman who prayed for me to be saved and more, to become a missionary too,” Verwer said. He relayed the story of how it came about. It was a businessman who hired a bus to take him and many others to a Billy Graham crusade. There he heard the gospel and he knew he needed to surrender his life.
In 1955, in New York, he responded to the claims of Christ, at the age of 16. Within a year, about 200 of his classmates became Christians. He had a growing conviction to evangelise on foreign soil. He started with the distribution of the Gospel of John in Mexico with two friends in 1957.
He mentioned that he gave up his studies at university to change his tack — he went and studied at Moody’s Bible Institute instead.
“They are a fine institution which has sent out many missionaries. The goal of OM is the same,” he said.
His father got saved at one of his early crusades. He has fond memories of bringing him to Cape Town, when he was 80. It was at the time the Doulos had a “heart transplant” – an electrical overhaul.
Radical discipleship produces good leadership
Verwer is a passionate advocate of radical discipleship as the only legitimate option for people who believe in Jesus. He boldly declared: “About 200 000 have served on the ships and 120 000 are involved in leadership positions around the world today.”
Verwer, as the founder of OM, led the work for over 40 years. He stepped out of international leadership 15 years ago. He is still a part of OM, the leader of Special Projects Ministry. He travels around the world taking meetings challenging people for missions and encouraging people to keep on keeping on in their walk with the Lord.
The vulnerability of George sharing of his weaknesses and temptations, is amazing. He revealed how he was caught up in pornography and loved kissing girls. He could not resist kissing them, often leading them to Christ and then kissing them straight afterwards. He knew he had to resist pornography, God have him grace, as he went ‘cold turkey.’
“When I met my wife to be, it was love at first ‘fright!’” I said to her, “Probably nothing is going to happened between us, because I am going to be a missionary, you may get eaten by a cannibal.” “I could not frighten her off.” George married Drena some 56 years ago. They have three children, Ben, Daniel and Christa, and 5 grandchildren, and he is a great grandfather too. He turns 77 on Sunday.
He reminded us of Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added to you. If you do that, God will honour his word. He lifted up a big inflated globe saying, ‘You will have a bigger vision after today for the world’.”
The need for the ship ministry
It was while he was in India that he received the goal of wanting to reach people of other faiths. It was then that he needed a ship to reach them for the Lord. It took three years to ensure the vision was caught by all, before it happened. God provided the funding.
And so the global ministry began. For instance, in Algeria many are being saved, it is a favourite OM destination. God has graciously supplied the funding for the four ships to travel the globe and reach countless people with the gospel.
He loves the sayings of AW Tozer, one in particular: “Everything is an emergency area until put right by the saving grace of God.”
Verwer spoke of the great years in the history of the church and missions. He has been in about 100 nations in these 60 years and therefore has lots to share. His latest book, Mystery, mercy and missiology – How to finish the race well, he gave as a gift to all who attended.
In addition, there were tables of books, CD’s and DVD’s that George encouraged the audience to grab a few copies as gifts from him and the ship. One marvelled at his generosity. He is an avid reader and encouraged all to become keen readers too.
He graciously acknowledged South Africa’s contribution to the mission field, as well as their financial support. (We are blessed to have both Seelan Govender as the Director of the Logos Hope ship and Peter Nicoll, the CEO of the ship ministry both flying the SA flag”).
In closing, he said: “Don’t focus on the problem, deal with the problem by all means, but spend time with Jesus.”
A verse that has helped him greatly is 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.