Tuesday, December 18, 2007
George Müller (September 27, 1805 – March 10, 1898), a Christian evangelist and coordinator of orphanages in Bristol, England, cared for over 100,000 orphans in his life. He was well-known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life.
In 1828, Müller offered to work with Jews in England through the London Missionary Society, but upon arriving in 1829, he fell ill, and did not think that he would survive. When he recovered, however, he dedicated himself to doing the will of God. He soon left the London Missionary Society, convinced that God would provide for his needs as he did Christian work. He became the pastor of Ebenezer Chapel in Devon and soon after, married Mary Groves, the sister of Anthony Norris Groves. During his time as the pastor of the church, he refused a regular salary, believing that the practice 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.
Müller moved to Bristol in 1832 to begin working at Bethesda chapel. Along with Henry Craik, he continued preaching there until his death, even while devoted to his other ministries. In 1834, he founded the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, with the goal of aiding Christian schools and missionaries, and distributing the Bible. Not receiving government support and only accepting unsolicited gifts, this organization received and disbursed £1.5 million ($2,718,844 USD) by the time of Müller's death, primarily using the money for supporting the orphanages and distributing nearly two million Bibles and religious texts. The money was also used to support other "faith missionaries" around the world, such as Hudson Taylor.
The work of Müller and his wife with orphans begin in 1836 with the preparation of their own home in Bristol for the accommodation of thirty girls. Soon after, three more houses were furnished, growing the total of children cared for to 130. In 1845, as growth continued, Müller decided that a separate building designed to house 300 children was necessary, and in 1849, at Ashley Down, Bristol, that home opened. By 1870, more than 2,000 children were being accommodated in five homes.
Through all this, Müller never made requests for financial support, nor did he go into debt, even though the five homes cost over £100,000 to build. Many times, he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children, further strengthening his faith in God. Every morning after breakfast there was a time of Bible reading and prayer, and every child was given a Bible upon leaving the orphanage. The children were dressed well and educated - Müller even employed a school inspector to maintain high standards. In fact, many claimed that nearby factories and mines were unable to obtain enough workers because of his efforts in securing apprenticeships, professional training, and domestic service positions for the children old enough to leave the orphanage.
The theology that guided George Müller's work is not widely known, but was shaped by an experience in his mid twenties when he "came to prize the Bible alone as [his] standard of judgement". He records in his autobiography how he came to examine the doctrines of election, particular redemption and final perservering grace and how, having been previously opposed to these doctrines, he came with "great astonishment" to find that the Bible was to "speak decidedly" for them.
The Open Brethren
Arthur Tappan Pierson, Muller's biographer and friend
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