Sunday, June 17, 2012

Remembering George Müller

The Rev. Dr. Rick Lobs
"Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends." -- George Müller 

George Müller (1805-1898) was the gold standard of Christian heroism, and a remarkable man. He established the first orphanage in England. He did that by faith in God and in the Word of God.

He lived a life of such faith in God that he would even sit down for the next meal when there was no food in the house because he knew that God would provide. And God did. Always. The children never went hungry; they always had what was necessary. There were always the right people to look after the orphans. They always had the money to buy the necessary land. There was always enough money to complete the buildings. Müller had faith in God and God honored that faith.

And how did such a kind and wonderful man start in life? Truth to be told he was well known in the community and family as a thief and a liar. He even stole from his family. In his teens immorality and drunkenness marked his life.

At the age of sixteen he was arrested and jailed. His father left him there to teach him a life lesson. Recall that prisons were horrible places at that time. It did not work, George still spent his time living in deceit. But in 1825, three and a half years after he was released from prison, George Müller found himself in a prayer meeting listening to the Bible being taught. A few hours later, when he left the house he was a changed person. Every illicit activity that defined his teen years no longer drew or tempted the twenty year old man!

Müller felt the need to be involved in missionary work. He went to London to train as amissionary to the Jews. But he was ill and went to Devon to recuperate. There he became the pastor of a small church and later married. In 1832 they moved to Bristol, and Müller transformed a local, failing Brethren church into a thriving church. He renounced his regular salary, believing that a fixed salary could lead to church members giving out of duty, not desire. He also eliminated the renting of church pews, arguing that it gave unfair prestige to the rich (based primarily on James 2:1-9).

Pastor Müller was responsible for creating 72 day schools with 7000 students in Bristol as well as in countries overseas. His reputation grew to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life.

However, as Müller worked amongst the poor in Bristol he saw the need to help orphans. The mortality rate amongst children was very high and many men and women were dying of overwork and disease, including alcoholism. As a result many children were left to fend for themselves. If they couldn't find food - they died!

Müller started his work with orphans by buying a house but quickly bought the street. He soon realized that he needed a site on which to build a proper orphanage. The question was how would he pay for such property? Amazingly, he received no government support and he only accepted unsolicited gifts. He literally prayed the money in - day by day. Müller prayed about everything and expected each prayer to be answered. Thus Müller never made requests for financial support, nor did he ever go into debt.

On one well-documented occasion, they gave thanks for breakfast when all the children were sitting at the table, even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone, and the milkman gave them plenty of fresh milk because his cart broke down in front of the orphanage.

Müller died in Bristol at the age of 93. Huge crowds turned out in Bristol for the funeral and churches all over the world held special services to honor this heroic man of God.

After his life, his work was continued by The George Müller Foundation, which was renamed The George Müller Charitable Trust on 1 March 2009. The Trust maintains the key principle of seeking money through prayer alone - it actively shuns fund-raising activities. 

From Ruminations, a weekly journal by Rick Lobs

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