George Verwer, evangelist and founder of OM International, dies at age 84

George Verwer | Operation Mobilisation

George Verwer, an author and evangelist who founded the group OM International and was known for his focus on global missions, has died at the age of 84. 

OM International announced Verwer’s death on Facebook Saturday, explaining that their founder had died on April 14, and asked for prayers for his family.  

“Through our tears, we give thanks for all George has meant to us and take comfort that he is with Jesus, whom he loved and served faithfully,” stated OM International.

“From the early days of leading college mission trips to Mexico, to dreaming of a ship to spread the Good News along the world’s coasts; through his passion for books, real relationships and holistic care for the least reached, George challenged and inspired those he met to share God’s love; truly practising what he preached with his own radical life.”

Archbishop Joseph D’Souza of the Anglican Good Shepherd Church of India gave his condolences in a piece published by The Christian Post on Saturday.

“George also always paid attention to where the winds of the spirit were blowing, and as a maturing church emerged in the Global South, he put his efforts into helping the church become sustainable,” wrote D’Souza.

“George was one of the first white missions leaders to fully empower nationals to lead the efforts he initiated in the majority world. George was not only incapable of racism but he never treated anyone less than him.”

D’Souza went on to state that Verwer’s mission work in India “was more extensive than all the rest of OM’s considerable work in the rest of the world combined.”

“From the very beginning, George’s spirit-led gut instincts led him to construct the Indian work in a different way than what was done in the West,” D’Souza added.

“From the very inception, the leadership was handed over to the Indians, and from the beginning, he gave complete freedom to develop the strategies and missiology at the local level.”

A native of New Jersey, Verwer was born in 1938 and became a born-again Christian in his teenage years after attending a rally led by the Rev. Billy Graham in New York City.

Verwer began to focus on international evangelism in 1957 while in college, according to OM International’s official biography, traveling that year to Mexico to hand out 20,000 Spanish-language Christian tracts, as well as 10,000 Gospel booklets.

In 1960, Verwer married Drena Knecht, who he had met while enrolled at Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Illinois, with the couple eventually having three children.

While living in Europe, Verwer founded Operation Mobilisation, which later became OM International, which he would lead until 2003, when he stepped down to focus on other projects.

“Under George’s exuberant leadership and fuelled by the passion of believers from many nations to reach those who had never heard the Good News, OM expanded in the '60s, '70s and '80s,” noted OM International’s official biography.

“His authentic lifestyle and zeal for the spread of the Gospel has motivated countless individuals and churches into more intentional mission involvement.”

Verwer also authored multiple books, including Confessions of a Toxic Perfectionist, Messiology, Out of the Comfort Zone and Revolution of Love.

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