World Changer Wednesday: George Muller (1805-1898)

God’s Faithfulness on Display

george-muller

Drawn by Andy Gutierrez

I am always amazed at the type of people God uses to accomplish His will. He uses people you would not always choose. If you were picking people for a team to be used by God, George Muller would probably be the last one picked, yet God, who is sovereign, makes beautiful things out of the mud and knew that Muller would be the man that God would use to save upwards of 10,000 children abandoned in England.

George Muller was born in Prussia, modern-day Germany, in 1805. He was a student of divinity. Though he knew about God, he did not know the things of God. He may have known somewhat of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, but the gospel did not permeate his heart. He knew nothing of the ‪saving grace of God.

It would seem that Muller was on a cycle of sin. There are many moments in his life that God was trying to get his attention. He spent two long periods of his life sick as a young man. He had the conviction of the Holy Spirit yet instead of running to Jesus to find peace from his guilt and shame, he would try by self-reform—yet he would eventually go back to his old ways. It was not until a friend (that he lived a life of debauchery with) invited him to a Christian’s house to have a Bible study. It was at this house that God grabbed George’s heart.

He would recount that his teen and young adult years were filled with stealing, lying, and drunkenness. He would steal from his father and from his father’s clients. It was so bad that even while at school he made a story up that he was the victim of theft to make it look like all the money he spent was stolen. He forced the locks open on his suitcase to make it seem like they were broken into. The first 20 years of his life are marked by deceiving many people and being thrown into jail as a teenager. His sin life was so bad that while at the age of 14, though his mother was on her death bed, Muller was out getting drunk.

God, who is full of mercy and grace, was getting hold of this young man. George would recall as he attended a Bible study by the invitation of one of his friends he would get into trouble with, “At the close we sang another hymn, and then the master of the house prayed. While he prayed, my feeling was something like this: I could not pray as well, though I am much more learned than this illiterate man. The whole made a deep impression on me. I was happy; though if I had been asked why I was happy, I could not have explained it…For I have not the least doubt that on the evening he began a work of grace in me, though I obtained joy without any deep sorrow of heart, and with scarcely any knowledge. That evening was a turning point in my life.”[1]

That night He found true joy. He who pursued drinking, partying, and money—yet to no avail—finally found what he was looking for. True joy can only be found in in Jesus Christ, knowing that your sins are forgiven because of Him. Truly George was a new creation.

He would spend time going to church several times a week and realized the depth and greatness of the Word of God. It is interesting that though he was a divinity student, he rarely read the Bible. Now with new eyes, God’s Word was alive (Hebrews 4:12). He answered the call to be a missionary in Bristol and taught God’s Word faithfully.

He was married to Mary Groves in October of 1830. Both he and his wife knew that God was their provider and they sold most of their belongings. They lived on just the basics and trusted God for His provision. He declined to receive a salary as a pastor, as he wanted to be dependent on God for all his provisions. Though moments were tough, they were able to see God’s provision every step of the way. Matthew 6:19–34 was their text to show God has their provider. George Muller took thorough notes of all they received as he believed he was held accountable for everything by God.

Through God’s leading the desire was to teach the poor of Bristol and they opened up a school which was called the Scriptural Knowledge Institution to educate many children and adults of the area. Through this course George Muller saw the great need for the many orphans to receive care and love. By faith he opened an orphanage by trusting in God’s provision every step of the way.

He loved God’s Word: 

George Muller valued the Word of God and it transformed his thinking as a man, pastor, and leader. He would say, “He who would keep up intimate converse with the Lord must habitually find in the Scriptures the highway of such companionship. God’s aristocracy, his nobility, the princes of his realm, are not the wise, mighty, and high-born of earth, but often the poor, the weak, despised of men who abide in his presence and devoutly commune with him through his inspired word.”[2]

He would spend hours each morning before the Lord with the Bible open as he delighted and meditated on it (Psalm 1:2).

Towards the later end of his life the Lord would take him over 2,000 miles, 42 countries, and he would preach the gospel to nearly 3 million people.

He was a man of prayer:

George Muller is probably known more for his acts of faith through prayer by any other means. In his autobiography, he recorded over 50,000 instances that could be traced to distinct answers to definitive prayers.

His life shows us that God cares not only for the big needs but also our small needs. As He is mindful of the sparrow, how much more of us (Matthew 6:26–27).

The first three years when George Muller resolved to never ask for anything accounts to these:

“By the end of December 1833 over three years had passed since Muller’s decision never to ask anybody for anything he needed, but to rely on God alone. The first year he had received over 150 pounds, the second nearly 200 pounds, and the third year 267 pounds and 15 shillings.”[3]

There is one well-known account of one of these many instances where God provided to meet the needs:

“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.”

Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.”[4]

There is a great lesson on prayer by reading the life of George Muller. He has said, “God is often moved to delay that we may be led to pray, and even the answers to prayer are deferred that the natural and carnal spiritual may be kept in check and self-will may bow before the will of God.”[5]

Another instance of God’s provision came with tragedy. George and Mary gave birth to a stillborn baby and Mary remained sick for several days after. But as they didn’t have funds to help with medical needs, God showed his faithfulness by providing for them every step of the way for Mary to receive care. This is one of the first instances where they saw God faithfully provide when they made the decision to not ask for provisions from anyone.

He was a man of faith:

What goes with prayer is faith and Muller acted out of faith through prayer. He was able to ask God big requests because of faith and he said,

“As faith was exercised it was energized, so that it became as easy and natural to ask confidently for a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand pounds, as once it had been for a pound or a penny. After confidence in God had been strengthened through discipline, and God had proven faithful, it required no more venture to cast himself on God for provision for two thousand children and an annual outlay of at least twenty-five thousand pounds for them than in the earlier periods of the work to look for him to care for twenty homeless orphans at a cost of 250 pounds a year. Only by using faith are we kept from practically losing it, and, on the contrary, to use faith is to lose the unbelief that hinders God’s mighty acts.”[6]

Reading about the life of George Muller makes me want to go back in time, to see firsthand the great works of the Lord in his life. George Muller is a world changer because he was an unlikely vessel in the hands of the sovereign King. He was used by God to establish 117 schools for the poor where basic education and Bible study was given. He was able to establish several orphanages where over 10,000 children were cared for over sixty years. He stands as a pillar in what it means to live by faith, though it may seem extreme for some. He is an example of what it means to be a steward of all that one has been given by God. He valued the Word of God and knew the Holy Spirit directs God’s Word on the heart. There is much one can learn from his life.

Suggested Reading:

  • George Muller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer
  • George Muller of Bristol by Arhur T. Pierson
  • The Autobiography of George Muller by George Muller

 

[1] Pierson, Arthur T. George Muller of Bristol. Pg. 16

[2] Pierson, Arthur T. George Muller of Bristol. Pg. 41

[3] Steer, Roger. George Muller: Delight in God. Pg. 49

[4] http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/church-history-for-kids/george-mueller-orphanages-built-by-prayer-11634869.html

[5] Pierson, Arthur T. George Muller of Bristol. Pg. 32.

[6] Ibid, Pg. 78.

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