George Verwer: Prolife Hero
I have the greatest appreciation for George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization (OM) and an advocate for worldwide missions. We have long supported George and OM in funding special missions projects all over the world, and providing books to sell and give away on their ships.
Some years ago George contacted me, saying God had laid on his heart the plight of unborn children. I was grateful to hear this, but wasn’t sure whether this vision would last given the fact that many people, Christians included, object to hearing about it. Well, George is a man who listens to God rather than voices that don’t tolerate speakers who address abortion. He has given away thousands of copies of my book, Why Pro-Life?, in English and spearheaded its translations into other languages all over the world. EPM has donated to Operation Mobilization over 89,000 copies of the book.
Last year George wrote to his supporters, “My heart breaks for the unborn... I have in my hands just in from India samples of Why Pro-Life? in 4 more major Indian languages...huge quantities have gone out on the ship as 100,000 visitors came to the ship In Cochin in a couple weeks.”
I’m grateful for George’s partnership in sharing the truth about the unborn worldwide, and also for his example in serving Christ wholeheartedly. (A fun fact about his worldwide travels: OM reports that this year United Airlines awarded him for flying a million miles.)
George was recently presented with the “pro-life hero” award by SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) in London. I love what John Smeaton, director of SPUC, wrote, especially because it exemplifies that concern for the unborn is not some isolated issue, but is intertwined with helping all needy people groups:
George continues to travel around the world preaching about Christ and about seven people lying at the side of the road which include: children at risk, abused women, the extreme poor, the HIV/Aids patient, people with impure water, the unborn, and the environment.
Here’s what George said about the unborn in his recent article about “the people lying on the side of the road”:
Some estimates put the number of children who have been aborted at 500 million. The numbers are staggering, and in many ways I would rather ignore them. But I know that I cannot. I confess, when my close friend Dr. Francis Schaeffer decided to put so much effort into the pro-life movement towards the end of his life, I thought he had gone a little extreme. I no longer feel this way, and repent of my own inaction. In some countries there are more abortions than births, and the laws in some nations allow abortion until the day before birth. How can this be?
With so much abortion taking place, let us not consider it a lost cause and give up. No, many battles have been won, and every battle is a victory; every saved life a real person. I believe that there are thousands alive today who otherwise would not have been without pro-life action. Are not these saved lives worth the effort? Yes, they are!
So let us be people of vision, action and especially grace—grace for the mothers, for those in the pro-choice camp, and for fellow Christians who disagree. Recommended reading: Why Pro Life? by Randy Alcorn.
This isn’t about my book, though I’m delighted George circulates it. Rather, this is an example of a man whose life is focused on one central kingdom cause—world missions—but who has been touched by God to now frequently speak in defense of unborn children. In the context of missions, the unborn are seldom spoken of, and prolife efforts are sometimes considered a distraction from the main thing. (See an article I wrote whether prolife issues are a distraction from the Great Commission, or part of it.)
I know George well, and he has become unpopular in some circles for including the unborn on his otherwise fully acceptable list of people in need. And to speak about the unborn at missions conferences? It's utterly unheard of. (I believe missions should be spoken of at more prolife conferences too.) But George, arguably the greatest missions proponent on the planet, who has spoken at hundreds of missions conferences all over the world, sees no dichotomy between them. All those in need are worth our attention. Not only the unborn, but not excluding the unborn either.
I join my friend George Verwer in appealing to people to, on the one hand, not consider unborn children the only just cause, but to INCLUDE the unborn on that short list of critical "love your neighbor" issues crying out for our attention. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Let’s make room in our hearts for both already-born people and pre-born people. God is their Creator, and He calls upon us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).