SAT-7’s Founder Dr Terence Ascott has paid tribute to George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilisation, who passed away last week.
Verwer inspired thousands of Christians to go on overseas missions and supported the development of other ministries – including SAT-7. He died on 14 April, aged 84.
Dr Ascott said, “George Verwer has had a profound impact on many lives, and Operation Mobilisation’s short-term mission opportunities have introduced thousands to overseas service. Many who went out short-term with OM, myself included, ended up staying for what would become their life’s work.
“On a personal level, George was always faithful in staying in touch with and praying for us ex-OMer’s, even after we had moved on to serve with or lead other organisations… and there have been so many wonderful ministries which have grown out of the wider work of OM. SAT-7 is just one.”
Dr Ascott’s book Dare to Believe! recounts his early days with OM, smuggling Christian literature into Eastern Europe and behind the Iron Curtain. He then went to Lebanon to help with a publishing start-up in Beirut before founding Middle East Media, which specialised in the production of Arabic Christian literature, as a separate division of OM.
Paying tribute to Verwer this week, Dr Ascott shared memories of their time together at OM, including a humorous account of how he feared he would kill the missionary leader during morning exercises at an OM conference in the early 1970s. “One morning, my partner for this was George and the main exercise of that day was to carry your partner, piggy-back style across the exercise area,” Dr Ascott recalled. “I must have been twice George’s weight and was terrified it might kill him to have to carry me… but it didn’t!”
Dr Ascott also recalled with fondness Verwer’s remarkable capacity for pastoral care. “George used to walk around conferences with a paper folder under his arm marked ‘SUPER-URGENT’,” he said. “In those early days of OM, he really had so many responsibilities to juggle and yet he was so good at remembering people’s names and always had the time to stop and ask them how they were doing – physically, emotionally and spiritually. What a disciple-maker!”
Verwer wrote the foreword to Dare to Believe!, describing it as an “honour and privilege” to do so. He said, “I remember Terry and Jackie Ascott when they were active in the early days of Operation Mobilisation. Their commitment to taking the gospel into difficult places, despite knowing – and sometimes encountering – the very real risks, is an amazing testament to the kind of people they are. Following their lives and ministry has been a huge encouragement to me and to so many others – especially watching their leadership throughout the amazing birth and growth of SAT-7.”
You can read more about Dare to Believe! here.