Story for the Week

9 December 1835 • George Müller’s Orphanage Meeting

Toward the end of 1835, George Müller wrestled within himself whether or not to open an orphanage based on faith principles. His concern was not whether God would supply the means, but whether his motives were pure. Was he pursuing the idea to gratify himself or to glorify God? 

George Mueller
George Müller

He believed his motive was right, summing it up this way, “If I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an orphan house, there would be something which, with the Lord’s blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted of the reality of the things of God.” Nonetheless, he had friends probe his heart to be sure the thing was of God. 

He set a public meeting for this day, 9 December 1835 at which he presented his idea before his friends in a low key manner. He did not want anyone to feel pressured to support the work through emotional appeal. Deliberately, he did not take up an offering. Nonetheless, someone donated ten shillings and a woman volunteered for the work. These tokens strengthened his conviction that his impulse was from God. 

The following year, Müller opened the first of his orphanages. His principle was to ask no one but God for a penny. He recorded all answers to prayer, which often were truly miraculous. Provision sometimes came through unusual sources (such as an overturned bread cart), from great distances, or from people he had never met. Eventually he cared for over eight thousand orphans and never once did they go without food or clothes. Meals were seldom even delayed. 

Anyone who had known him as a boy might have been amazed. He had lived a wild life in Prussia: lying, cheating, stealing, getting drunk—even going to jail. His conversion came during a prayer meeting when a great happiness spread over him. From the very beginning, he devoted himself to serving the Lord. While in England to work as a missionary among Jews, God directed him to pastor a congregation of Plymouth Brethren, a work he continued even while operating the orphanages. 

At his death in 1898, Müller had not accepted a set salary for sixty-eight years, relying always on God to provide his needs. Not only were his personal needs always met, but also were the needs of the Scripture Knowledge Society he and Henry Craik had founded before opening the orphan work. Müller noted that he lived with one goal in mind: to enjoy God, and that this would give him joy in self-denial.

Dan Graves

References:

  1. “Müller, George.” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, edited by Timothy Larsen. Downers-Grove, Illinois: Intevarsity Press, 2003.
  2. “Müller, George.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
  3. Pierson, Arthur T. George Müller of Bristol. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983.
  4. Piper, John. “George Müller’s Strategy for Showing God.” html://www.desiringGod.org.

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