Verwer, George (2000).
Out of the Comfort Zone: Grace! Vision! Action!
India: O M Books. 148 pp.

The subject that keeps burning in the heart of George Verwer is World Missions. He is the founder and International Coordinator of Operation Mobilization, a ministry which focuses on evangelism, discipleship and church planting. With a record of more than four decades of active involvement, he has much wisdom to impart about "being" and "doing" missions across cultures. The book is not presented in a formal writing style but the informality gives the target audience a sense of being participants in a meeting with the author, listening and digesting his thought-provoking presentation.
      In the presentation, he invites Christian leaders, missionaries, ex-OMers, missions interns and missions supporters to examine and ponder on a number of "controversies in the arena of world missions" (p.91) which left unattended, may affect the accomplishment of "God's great kingdom-building programme" across the world (p.13). One programme that warrants attention is the new millennium goal of the "AD 2000 and Beyond" movement to send out 200,000 new missionaries!
    The opening chapter is a serious and honest calling for a grace-awakened approach to missions. He is perturbed by the disagreement among churches and between churches and para-church leaders on certain doctrines and practices of missions. Issues of interpreting "spiritual gifts," defining "apostles," tentmakers versus full-time professional missionaries are among the differences but his wish is that, "Christians would take a harder line on issues such as the Ten Commandments, the doctrine of salvation by grace alone and the need to respond to the Great Commission. . . . Where co-operation is not possible . . . we should have the grace to disagree lovingly and then get on with our work" p.25).

    Details of the issues of contention are spelt out in chapters 3 to 7. In each discussion, he states his  observation, conclusion and provides solutions from the perspective of his personal experience but consul the Scripture for affirmation. For example, the controversy of urging churches in Western countries not to send their missionaries but to fund indigenous workers because it is more cost effective. Citing from his experience working in the First and Third World countries, he firmly believes the need for missionaries from Western countries is still valid to respond to the challenge of Acts 1:8 (pp. 92,108). In the shoes of missionaries needing financial support, he questions the definition of "living by faith" and "faith mission." To him, the former is a "kind of shorthand to describe workers who are not paid a salary . . . but who rely on God to provide," and the latter basically means, "raising your own support." His plea is for churches and individuals to give willingly in obedience to I Corinthians 9:7-14. He also suggests ways missionaries can be proactive in raising funds without filling guilty, "I you are in God's work. . . . you do not have to feel guilty if people make sacrifices for you to get this pay" but his advice, "You do not need to be obsessed about having a simple lifestyle" (p. 112) may invite some criticism.
    The author's insights into the nuts and bolts of world missions have provided an agenda for churches and mission agencies to formulate and implement their missions policy. Missions Committee needing pointers on what should be included in the missions education programme may find the book useful. But, to heed the author's call to accomplish the Great Commission with the "highest standard of professionalism" (p.148) may require the church to seriously consider the use of social science research methods to understand and improve the missions programme in the church, for examples, mission trips, the welfare of the missionaries sent out by the church and other related concerns
    The church represents God's people who are called out of the world by His Grace to serve and glorify Him. In his book, George Verwer is calling God's people to Act upon the Grace by coming "out of the comfort zone" to accomplish His Vision for World Missions.                     

(Review by Dr. Ng Peh Cheng)

Chapel speaker for this week (20 Mar) will be Dr Oh Boon Leong, Assistant Pastor from Mount Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church. Dr Oh is also our guest lecturer for a forthcoming course on Galatians in Semester 2, 2002.

Last week, Dr John Lim began with an opening word from Psalm 145 and the rest of the chapel was a sharing by the students as we sang their favourite songs and each explained why the song was meaningful to him/her. We enjoyed a change when we allowed the message of the songs we sang to minister to our hearts.

  1. Public Lecture by Rev Dr Tan Siang Yang. Rev Dr Tan will be speaking on "Faith In Action - If you want to walk on water, you must get out of the boat!". The public lecture will be held on 25 Mar, Monday, from 8pm to 9.30pm at the Sanctuary of Bethesda Katong Church, 17 Pennefather Rd. BGST Library and Office will be closed at 5pm on 25 Mar to prepare for the public lecture.

  2. Last Call for Registration. Some of the courses for your prayerful consideration include:

  • Qualitative Research and the Christian Ministry (Dr Ng Peh Cheng & Dr Chen Ai Yen, commencing 21 Mar, 7-10pm)
  • Christian Comes To Asia (Dr Bobby Sng, commencing 22 Mar, 7.30-9.30pm)
  • Communication Skills for Speakers and Church Leaders (Rev Ng Seng Chuan, commencing 3 Apr, 7.30-9.30pm)
  • Religions of Asia (TENT module, Dr Violet James, commencing 7 May, 7.30-9.30pm)
  • Asian Religions, Part I (Dr Violet James, commencing 7 May, 7.30-9.30pm)
  1. Annual General Meeting. This will be held on 23 March, 2002, Saturday at Rm 302 from 5pm to 7pm. Do pray that we will be able to meet the quorum and the Lord will grant the leadership and members wisdom in any decision to be made.
  2. Anthony Tay will be away for 1 month with effect from 22 Mar 02 for a mission trip to Indonesia. Do pray for him for journey mercy and good health.

Climb 'Til YOur Dream Comes True
Often your tasks will be many,Often your tasks will be many,
And more than you think you can do ...
Often the road will be rugged
And the hills insurmountable, too ...
But always remember, the hills ahead
Are never as steep as they seem,
And with Faith in your heart start upward
And climb 'til you reach your dream,
For nothing in life that is worthy
Is ever too hard to achieve
If you have the courage to try it
And you have the Faith to believe ...
For Faith is a force that is greater
Than knowledge or power or skill
And many defeats turn to triumph
If you trust in God's wisdom and will ...
For Faith is a mover of mountains,
There's nothing that God cannot do,
So start out today with Faith in your heart
And "Climb 'Til Your Dream Comes True!"

Helen Steiner Rice

Wishing you God's blessings on your Birthday!

Miss Lim Siew Choo 18/03
Rev David Wong 18/03

Ms Lena Leong Yean Yee 19/03
Mr Ong Chai Lin 19/03
Ms Chio Yee Ming 20/03
Mr Edmund Koh Lik Hng 20/03
Mr Patrick Chan Kheng Ping 21/03
Dr Lee Soo Ann 21/03
Mr Daniel Wen 23/03

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This page is updated on 20 Mar 2002.
    Mar 2002