Operation World is the most important missions book available today. It is an absolutely indispensible part of any missionary’s library.
Yet when Patrick Johnstone first approached a major Christian publisher, his manuscript was rejected as “unmarketable!”
Now, mission leaders from around the world are united in affirming Operation World as the most important, useful and influential missionary book available. Millions of copies have been printed of the 7 editions of Operation Worldand they have been translated into 15 different languages. Multiple editions have been published in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean. At this time translation work is also underway in Arabic.
The very first missionary prayer guide to the world was written by William Carey in 1792: An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. This was the first global survey ever printed and the inspiration for the present phenomenon of Operation World.
In 1900 Dr. Andrew Murray in South Africa wrote The Key to the Missionary Problem and challenged the Church to hold weeks of prayer for world missions.
In 1943 Hans von Staden was called of God to launch the Dorothea Mission to minister in the urban slums of Southern Africa. His passion for evangelism and strong emphasis on prayer, faith and a vision for world evangelisation inspired Patrick Johnstone when he joined the work in 1962.
Weeks of Prayer
In 1964 Patrick Johnstone compiled a 40 page booklet covering 30 countries with basic information and items for prayer for use in their weeks of prayer. This booklet was entitled Operation World.
In 1974 the first comprehensive missionary survey of every nation was published by the Dorothea Mission. The book was written over a period of 4 years while Patrick was an itinerant evangelist in Rhodesia. Using cardboard boxes in the back of his van as filing cabinets and using any moment between outreaches and travel to correspond with missionaries worldwide was a challenge. Not only was Rhodesia geographically isolated but under relentless terrorist attack. Many countries would not accept post from, or to, Rhodesia and much of his correspondence had to be carried out through third parties.
This 1974 first edition of Operation World was printed on a Heidelberg press in Pretoria with the lead letters being moulded on site and fitted page by page into printing trays. The first print run was 3,000 copies. Only once the print job was completed was Patrick Johnstone informed that none of these books could be legally sold as printing union members had not been used for the job! A copy was mailed to George Verwer of Operation Mobilisation and he encouraged a new edition which was completed in 1978 and published by Send the Light (now Biblica). George Verwer has ever remained Operation World’s greatest supporter and promoter.
WEC and OM
In 1979 Patrick Johnstone was released by Dorothea Mission to become International Director for Research at Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade (WEC) based in England. The third edition was published by STL in 1980. The fourth edition in 1986. The fifth edition, by OM Publishing, in 1993. The sixth edition in 2001 and now this seventh edition published by Biblica in 2010.
Leading Evangelical mission leaders, scholars, writers, pastors and lay people all over the world rely on Operation World, refer to it and quote from it regularly. It is loaded with clear, concise, accurate information and insights on peoples, languages, religions, denominations, spiritual trends and prayer needs – for every country in the world, from the largest to the smallest. When you hear a country mentioned in the news, or in conversation, and want to know more about it, and what God is doing there, Operation World is invaluable. Not only does OW offer the 1,000 page handbook, but a CD Rom edition and enhanced e-book in professional DVD Rom format and an Operation World prayer map.
I was introduced to praying through Operation World by Francis Grim when I joined Hospital Christian Fellowship in their Days of Prayer. It was while praying through the 1978 edition of Operation World at allnight prayer meetings in the Army that the Lord guided me into my first cross border mission work to Mozambique. When I read that Mozambique was the least evangelised country in the Southern hemisphere and that there was less than one Bible for every thousand people in this longsuffering, war torn, Marxist state, the Lord galvanised me into launching Frontline Fellowship into Mozambique.
For Prayer and Action
During those early missions to Mozambique I began corresponding with Patrick Johnstone and was delighted to be able to report to him that the “unreached people group” of the Lomwe now had 650 Baptist churches amongst them! This was just the first of many answers to prayer and items for praise which could be worked into future editions of this indispensible missions manual and handbook. For more information on Operation World, and its invaluable resources, visit www.operationworld.info
Dr. Peter Hammond
In South Africa Operation World books, CDs and DVDs will be available through Christian Liberty Books
P.O. Box 74
Cape Town South Africa