Caring for Orphans–The Autobiography of George Müller
(Book Review #2–Nonfiction)
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans… and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27 NIV).
As a mother of three adopted children and an advocate for life in its many forms, though particularly for human life–born and unborn–I truly appreciate the testimony of the late George Müller.
In his own words–
“The longer I go on in this service, the greater the trials of one kind or another become. But at the same time, I grow happier in my service [in caring for orphans] and more assured that I am employed as the Lord would have me to be. How then could I be tired of carrying on the work of God? God has proved many times that He is faithful to His Word: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33 KJV). The great business which the disciple of the Lord Jesus has to be concerned about is to seek the kingdom of God” (The Autobiography of George Müller, p. 187).
In his lifetime (1805-1898), Müller cared for more than 10,o00 orphans, all the while relying on no one but his all-sufficient, always present Father. He didn’t hold fundraisers nor ask for donations. George Müller simply sought the will of God, then prayed to Him accordingly, believing that He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
His story is just that… His! I know many wonderful people who seek financial stability from others for their missionary work. Likewise, I know of many tremendous, life-changing organizations that exist and continue in their efforts because of financial support. As long as each is working within the confines of God’s revealed will, there is nothing wrong with this, as God uses the generosity of many to influence and undergird both the work of individuals and organizations and thus fulfill His plans in this broken world.
This, however, wasn’t the manner in which George Müller operated his life or his ministry. Not because he was too proud to ask. Not because he never experienced great need. Not because he wasn’t ever tempted to try and gain what appeared necessary through his own strength due to what would seem to many as insufficiency.
Simply put–it was just not how the Lord directed Müller to live his life. Instead, this missionary was called to a life of extreme faith, which kept him always on his knees.
There are countless stories documenting Müller’s poverty when it came to caring for orphans. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food. Other times there wasn’t enough money to pay employees. One time, a boiler was broken in one of the orphan houses. It was winter, and the cold winds and freezing temperatures had settled on Bristol, England. This caring, compassionate father-figure prayed in earnest–seeking the Lord, calling upon Him to provide. Müller wrote–
“The condition of the boiler could not be known without taking down the brickwork surrounding it. What then was to be done? For the children, especially the younger infants, I was deeply concerned that they would suffer for lack of warmth… At last, I decided to open the brick chamber and see the extent of the damage. The day was set when the workers were to come… The heat, of course, had to be shut off while the repairs were going on… [Then] a bleak north wind set in, bringing the first really cold weather of winter. The repairs could not be put off, so I asked the Lord for two things–that He would change the north wind into a south wind, and that He would give to the workmen a desire to work…” (pp. 221-222).
And guess what! The north wind suddenly changed to a south wind and remained that way for the duration of the repairs. And the workers? They willingly volunteered to work through the night in order to fix the problem. In less than thirty hours, the boiler was fixed, the brickwork was repaired, and a fire was once again lit. As Müller testifies–
“All the time, the south wind blew so mildly that there was not the least need for any heat” (pg. 123).
This is one specific example of God’s answer to George Müller’s earnest, childlike prayers, but there are many others. Sometimes anonymous donors would leave envelopes of money, at just the right time, in the exact amount needed to meet the specific shortage at the orphanage. Though he never asked for donations, Müller experienced time and time again, over the course of his many years of service, God’s hand of provision miraculously and at the perfect time to meet the need. As his faith increased, so did his faithfulness to prayer, and as his prayers increased, so grew his faith–a beautiful cycle that, according to Müller, is achievable to all who place their trust in the Lord.
As the wise writer wrote–
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NIV).
But how? some might ask.
George Müller offered these steps concerning living a life of faith and trust in God rather than looking to others to meet one’s needs:
- One must not merely say that he trusts in God, but must really do so. “God will take us at our word. If we do trust in Him, we must be satisfied to stand with Him alone.”
- One must be content, whether she is rich or poor. “He [or she] must be willing to leave this world without any possessions.”
- One must be willing to take the money in God’s way, not only in large amounts. “Many times, I have had a single shilling given me. To have refused such tokens of Christian love would have been ungracious.”
- He or she must be willing to live as the Lord’s good and faithful steward. “If anyone does not give out of the blessings which the Lord gives to him [or her], then the Lord, who influences the hearts of His children to give, would soon cause those channels to be dried up.”
(These steps and quotes are found on pp. 220.)
Though once a liar and a thief–the worst of sinners, he would say of himself–George Müller, known as the loving father of orphans, remains an inspiration, and his work endures in the George Müller Foundations. There are three charities that continue to this day to operate under this foundation–The Müller Homes for Children, The Müller Homes for the Elderly, and The Scriptural Knowledge Institution.
(For more information regarding George Müller and his ongoing work, click his name.)
Have you ever faced a need that God met in a miraculous manner? Please share. It will serve as an encouragement!
Dear Jesus, help us grow in prayer and in faith–in faith and in prayer. Amen.