“I invite you to come, die, and live.”
Those eight words! I’d never heard anything like it.
As a 17-year-old from a village in India, I listened open-mouthed at a mission conference as George Verwer issued that unforgettable challenge to 400 young people like me.
That night, I tossed and turned, agonizing over George’s invitation. I knew the Lord was calling me to go to places where people had never heard the name of Jesus, and the consequences could be persecution, sufferings, even death. These were the places George was always burning with readiness to go to.
On April 14, when George — radical evangelist and founder of Operation Mobilization (OM) — went to be with the Lord Jesus, the mission world lost a giant role model, and I lost my life mentor and one of my closest friends.
My life was fashioned, mentored, by one human being more than any other, George Verwer. I cannot think of anyone in my life journey that lived such an authentic, humble, broken life and showed such passion for the lost. I’ve studied the life of the Apostle Paul, and I watched George live out that same passion and focus. He showed me what it means to be both passionate about Christ and compassionate toward a hurting, lost world. George was among those incredibly rare believers who — like the Apostle Paul — could have said: “Follow my example, as I follow Christ’s.”
So Human, So Real
And follow George I did! In those early years, George would lead our youthful band of missionaries on the streets all day, handing out gospel tracts. At night, he’d lead prayer meetings that sometimes went on until 6 a.m. I’d never even heard of some of the places we were praying for, but George had such a genuine love for every nation. He was so human, so real.
When George came to India, he instilled in us the passion to reach our own people with the gospel at a time when everyone else was sending American and European missionaries. He showed us we could be missionaries. We could take the love of Christ to our people — and beyond.
George knew how to share Christ’s love like no one I’ve ever known. He loved people, and I experienced this personally. During a crisis in my own life, George flew from England to Texas to spend two days with me, praying with me and encouraging me. When others abandoned me, George stayed with me to the end.
And George was never interested in material comforts. He could have run a global empire. He could have lived like a king. Instead, he chose to live in a small house in England and drive a clunky, old car. When I showed up to visit, underdressed for the English weather, he gave me his scarf to keep me warm. That was the type of person George was.
George was among those incredibly rare believers who—like the Apostle Paul—could have said: “Follow my example, as I follow Christ’s.”
Catalyst That Launched A Global Movement
Looking back, George’s invitation to “come, die, and live” was the catalyst that God would use to begin Gospel for Asia, now GFA World, the global mission I started and have been privileged to lead for almost 45 years.
During that sleepless night more than a half-century ago, I responded to George’s challenge: “Lord, I have nothing to offer you,” I prayed, “but if you want me, I give you everything I am.”
The Lord heard my prayer and used this skinny teenager from an unknown village. Over the past four decades, GFA World has trained over 100,000 young people in the knowledge of God, teaching them to serve millions of Asia’s poorest people through Christ’s love in word and deed, and is now expanding into Africa. All this through the incredible life and influence of one man — George Verwer.
George’s life was a real life, a radical life, a life lived for the nations of the world, a life completely given over to the will of Christ.
That’s why when people ask me, “Who’s been the greatest influence on your life?” there’s no hesitation. George Verwer walked a very narrow road. By God’s grace, I will walk that road, too.
And now I think about George in heaven. He is not dead; he is just departed to be with Christ. I can see him now busy talking with the saints like St. Paul and St. Thomas who planted a church in Niranam, India, where I was born. Lord, please help me to run my race and finish as George did, holy unto the faith.
K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan), founder and director of GFA World (Gospel for Asia) and Metropolitan of Believers Eastern Church (BEC), has written more than 250 books, including Revolution in World Missions, an international bestseller with more than 4 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
GFA World (Gospel for Asia) is a leading faith-based global mission agency in Wills Point, Texas, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across the world, especially in Africa and Asia, and sharing the love of God. In a typical year, this includes thousands of community development projects that benefit downtrodden families and their children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and teaching to provide hope and encouragement in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. GFA World has launched programs in Africa, starting with compassion projects in Rwanda. For all the latest news, visit the Press Room at https://gfanews.org/news.
Source: GFA World Digital Media Room, KP Yohannan: George Verwer Invitation to ‘Come, Die, and Live’ Radically Changed My Life