With hard headlines around us, I thought it an appropriate time to be reminded of the great faith of George Müller—who served an even greater God. The faith of this man certainly encourages me to rest fully on the Lord in tough times. I hope his story will inspire you, too!
George Müller: Great Faith in a Great God
You won’t find George Müller (MEW ler) in most encyclopedias. He wasn’t one of those guys who “made history.” However, by his strong faith in Christ, George Müller influenced hundreds of thousands. In the 1830s, he improved the harsh living conditions of orphans in England, whom by faith he loved and housed and fed. The miracle of his story is that George Müller never asked anyone to give money to his ministry, but he prayed for the funds he needed—and watched God faithfully provide. Müller would say it was his duty, and his honor, to live by such faith and demonstrate God’s gracious ability to answer prayer.
George Müller was born the son of a tax collector in the kingdom of Prussia. By his own admission, George was a thieving child who stole money from his father, as well as from his friends. As a teenager, he fell into drunkenness, gambling, immorality, and lying. George’s deviance caught up with him eventually, and for a time he was put in jail.
Life would change for George, however, when at age 20 he met a group of praying Christians who invited him to join a Bible study. With singing and fellowship, George had never been around people of such faith. Their radiant lives blew him away. George was quickly brought to his knees, praying to know the Christ that he saw in those believers. In a short time, George was filled with the desire to be a full-time missionary. With an unusual interest in the Hebrew language, he believed the Lord was leading him to become a minister to Jews in mainland Europe. As a missionary candidate, he was required to move to London, England, for six months for an in-depth study of Hebrew.
But something happened in London that George did not expect. As he stood on the streets passing out Christian tracts to Jews, he noticed the non-Jews who passed him by, burdened with everyday struggles in their busy lives. In compassion, it made George wonder why he was training to specifically reach the Jews in Europe when there were lost souls all around him. George felt the Lord impressing him to stay right there in England and preach. On New Year’s Day in 1830, he resigned from Hebrew school as a missionary candidate. Though he had no job and very little money, he felt free—free to trust God for whatever ministry might come his way.
Within a few months, George Müller was called to be the pastor of a small church in Devon, England. Within a few more months, he met and married Mary Groves. Though a devoted Christian woman, Mary had no idea of the unusual life she was about to enter as the bride of George Müller! You see, one of George Müller’s convictions, early on, was that he could fully trust God to provide for his needs. If you remember, when he was young, he struggled a great deal with gambling and stealing. In coming to Christ, it meant everything to him to put his faith in Christ for provision, rather than on a roll of the dice or a monetary scam.
The idea of trusting God consumed George Müller so much that he and his wife decided not to draw a salary from the small church that supported him. He asked instead that church members drop money in a box as they felt led. There were times when George and his wife had not a dime for a loaf of bread, but they would inevitably find their needs met, as someone would send money or provision as God laid it on the hearts of others. This couldn’t have been an easy way to live, but for George Müller, it was a joyful way to live. He delighted in seeing the Lord show up at just the right time.
He wrote in his autobiography:
God blessed us abundantly as He taught us to trust in Him alone. When we were
down to our last few shillings, we told Him about our needs and depended on Him
to provide. He never failed us.
In 1832, George Müller and his wife felt called to lead a small congregation in the port city of Bristol, England. As far as “nice places to live,” Bristol didn’t rank very high. It was a dirty village with high crime and desperate poverty. To George, it was the perfect mission field, ripe for harvest. But with its poor sanitation and crowded living quarters, it was also ripe for the spread of disease. A cholera epidemic soon broke out after the Müllers made it their home. Mary Müller was in constant fear of losing her husband, who was always holding hands to pray with someone infected with cholera. But the Lord sustained his faithful servant and though George had bouts of illness, he never got cholera, and he lived to see the epidemic pass.
In Part 2 of this story we will learn about George Müller’s impact on the orphans and more about his great faith in a great God.