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Müller Asked His Friends Should He Open An Orphanage

George Müller demonstrated faith with his orphanages and in much else.

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? 

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 in Bristol, England, 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. Often provision came through odd 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


CHI has told the George Müller story in videos and in Christian History magazine. Watch Robber of the Cruel Streets

(Robber of the Cruel Streets: The Prayerful Life of George Muller can also be streamed at RedeemTV)

or the Torchlighter animation, The George Müller Story

(The Torchlighters: George Müller Story can also be streamed at RedeemTV)

and read Christian History #128 - Living on a Prayer, George Müller, the Brethren, and Faith Missions

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