The story of OM begins with an elderly American lady, who for 15 long years prayed faithfully for the students in her town, asking God to save them and send them out on mission. One day, she posted a John’s Gospel to teenager George Verwer, and three years later, at the age of 16, George became a Christian in Madison Square Garden, New York. He returned to his school in northern New Jersey and within a year about 200 of his classmates had found a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ.
In 1957, George and two friends went to Mexico with 15,000 Gospels of John in Spanish. Their prayers to see a Christian bookshop established, radio broadcasts on the air and a full-time Mexican worker in place, were all quickly answered. In the early sixties, George moved to Spain where the vision for an international ministry in training and evangelism was born. Very soon a work was established in Europe, the Middle East and Southern Asia, with a strong emphasis on local leadership and collaboration with other missions and local churches. Today 3,200 people from 113 nations are serving with Operation Mobilisation to bring a message of hope to the peoples of the world. We have one thing in common – we love Jesus and we want others to have the opportunity to hear about Him.
Glancing back over the years:
1957 – Dale Rhoton, Walter Borchard and George Verwer leave for Mexico with 15,000 Gospels of John in Spanish.
1960 – The first mission team arrives in Spain, where, at that time, authorities were hostile to open-air evangelism.
Summer 1961 – This is the year when Operation Mobilisation is born, with a vision to distribute gospel tracts in major cities around Europe by mobilizing young people. After a conference in Madrid in the autumn, the three teams begin recruiting and preparing. This includes a team led by Tom Mainard (USA) for French-speaking Europe.
Summer 1962 – The first “Operation Mobilisation” takes place with 300 young people distributing about 25 million tracts in various cities in Europe, including major ones in France. Preparation for the summer conferences are held in Chatou, where the European Bible Institute first was located.
Summer 1963 – “Operation Mobilisation” is ten times larger in 1963. Hundreds of young people attend three training conferences at the European Bible Institute. In three months 2000 OMers from 30 different countries distribute thousands of tracts as well as Scriptures and books in 80,000 towns and villages in France, Belgium, Austria, Italy and Spain. Around 5,000 people respond to these tracts, but not without some opposition…in Brittany team members are stoned by passers-by.
1964 – Birth of ministry in India. Today there are many indigenous workers in what has become a partner ministry of OM.
1967/68 – In France, the first official year team is formed under the leadership of Mike Evans in collaboration with Alain Choiquier to aid a church-plant at Paris-Nation. A university team begins a work that subsequently leads to the creation of several Christian Unions in the Paris region.
1970 – OM purchases the vessel “Umanak”, and renames it “Logos”. More than 8 million tracts are distributed thanks to the ships ministry.
1970/71 – Short-term campaigns in France – the goal is to give literature to every household in towns with fewer than 52,000 inhabitants. 800 people come to help accomplish the vision and in the end 30 teams work over the 3 summer months. In total 8,000,000 tracts are distributed. More than half of France is visited in 1970, and the southern half in 1971.
1972 – In France, three regions are targeted for the further expansion of year teams: Brittany, Valley of the Rhone, and the Paris region.
1975-76 – The summer campaign “One Way” first takes place in the north of France, then the south. Every town with more than 50,000 inhabitants is given a large team and local churches are encouraged to join forces. Tens of thousands of copies of the booklet “One Way” (and millions of tracts) are placed into French hands.
1976 – In Paris a printing company is established under the name “Edition Farel”. The firm later becomes independent in 1988.
1978 – OM acquires a second ship, Doulos, which begins its minisry along the Latin American coastline.
1981-86 – Campaign “Hope for the 80s” – a fifth of France is covered every summer with church teams in towns and several distribution teams in unreached villages under the ethos “at least something for everyone”. “Hope” culminates in 1986 with the visit of Billy Graham to a large stadium in Paris.
1988, 4 January: the ship Logos runs aground in the Beagle canal, South America. Miraculously, no one is hurt. Two years later, she is replaced by Logos II.
1989-1994 – France – large urban teams under the “Love Europe” summer campaigns work with local churches in Lyon, Marseille, Grenoble, Laval, Paris, Dijon, Brest, Nantes, Le Mans, Angers…
1990 – The barriers fall in Eastern Europe, allowing missions to flourish in these ex-communist countries.
1991 – “Operation Desert Springs” and “Operation Mercy” were OM’s response to the Gulf war. In association with Jordanian Christians, we supplied food, clothes and Bibles to those affected by the war.
1997 – Launching of our Global Action, 1-2 year programme, the objective being to send out 2,000 new missionaries by 2001. OM France bids farewell to Fontenay-sous-bois and moves its headquarters to Pontault-Combault, east of Paris. A focus on the Loire Valley region is set in motion, with a goal to assisting church-planting initiatives in this region.
2001 – Objective met! More than 3,000 missionaries are sent out under the ‘Global Action’ programme! OM International relaunches short-term campaigns under the title of “Global Challenge”. OM France targets three basic ministries: TeenStreet – discipleship training among teenagers, Global Challenge – short-term campaigns worldwide, Loire Valley project – Global Action teams who help with church-planting.
2004 – Launching of “Young-hope.net”, an umbrella ministry for the multifarious youth activities within OM.
2005 – OM becomes increasingly involved in “holistic ministry” through humanitarian assistance (medical aid, irrigation projects, micro-enterprise, AIDS education programmes, etc.).
2007 – OM celebrated 50 years of work and also appointed its first Asian International Director, Lawrence Tong.
2010 – OM has over 5,500 personnel working in over 110 countries sent from more than 95 nations.Since 1981 around 7300 young people have participated in Easter and summer campaigns with OM France.
2013 - OM appoints first Asian International Director, Lawrence Tong
2016 – We adopted our current version mission statement: “We want to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached”.
2017 - OM celebrates 60 years!
2020 - OM celebrates 50 years of Ships Ministry
OM now has 5,000+ workers, representing more than 100 nationalities, serving in the OM family of ministries, bringing God’s unchanging truth to literally millions every year.
Today: OM believes no single organization can accomplish the mission alone. But unified behind a single vision, each believer doing their part and seeking God’s guidance, we are convinced the trajectory of the unreached can be transformed and the Great Commission fulfilled in this generation.