Sunday, November 8, 2009

What Keeps George Going

After listening to George Verwer, I have often asked “What keeps George going?” Listening to George preaching with so much gusto and fire led me to ask this question. Despite fifty-odd years serving the Lord in mission posts all over the planet, George continues to serve with the same fervour he had at the very beginning of his ministry. Enthusiasm still gripped his voice and the spark still gleamed in his eyes as he spoke about missions and the winning of souls for God’s Kingdom. Most people would be jaded or lukewarm after doing the same things for many years, but not George. Perhaps then, we should also reflect on the qualities that kept George going on in ministry and see how his example may serve to inspire us so that we do not flag in ministry.

Obedience. In his first message George said, “I need to be reminded that what I am doing is commanded by God. I want to make sure I am in a God thing”. I believe George, while planning God’s work, was always willing to defer his plans to God’s Will. After all, if God had a part for George in his perfect plan for all creation, then surely George cannot go wrong in submitting his plans to God. That is the attitude we should have when we make plans. The starting point for all our planning must be God’s sovereignty. Making plans without submitting them for his review, correction and approval is an act of arrogance on our part. While we may still achieve our objectives, yet we may still miss out on some blessings that God already had in store for us.

Authenticity. In another posting, I touched on George’s ‘tell it like it is’ manner. George expressed this manner even when talking about himself. He shared with us about his own ‘grace awakening.’ For years, he had been too blunt to the point of being insensitive. He shared about misjudging people by thinking they were lazy or did not have a vision when actually they were struggling with inferiority or baggage from overbearing families, etc. Finally God had to break him on this and helped him to learn about grace by reading more and learning from other Christians. I was really encouraged by George’s authenticity, his willingness to put aside masks and fronts so as not to appear vulnerable. We too should pray for the grace to be authentic Christians. We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the real truth about ourselves. Let us not lie ourselves about any issues because doing so will only hinder our development. Let us pray for courage and grace to truthfully assess ourselves and grow as a person.

Enthusiasm in learning. Somehow it seems George never stopped learning. In all his messages, he always referred to good books he had read as well as those he was still reading. However, to George, his reading habits were not merely an exercise of knowledge acquisition. Someone once said the Dead Sea was so named because water flowed in but nothing flowed out. With George, I guess whatever flowed into him, flowed back out to bless the lives of other people. Perhaps, that is why he was always reading. To George, there was always something that he could learn that would be useful in ministering to other people. Perhaps, that is also the reason why he continually recommended books to his listeners; books he felt would give them ‘value-added’ spiritual lives.

There are other qualities that those of you who have heard him may have noticed as well. It would be impossible to list all of them here but I hope these will be sufficient to inspire us to aspire to the life of obedience and servanthood exemplified by George. As one Missions Conference chairman described him, George remained a faithful steward, a fiery spokesman, a fervent servant. In closing, I would like to echo what George himself said, “At the end of the day I believe all of us want to please God - in our lives, in what we do, the way we use our time, the way we spend our money.” George exemplified this ethos in his life by depending on the Holy Spirit whom he called the Chief Executive Officer of all missionary work.

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