Excerpt from

"Share again your reason for wanting to start an orphan house here in Bristol," Henry requested.

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The Amazing Story of George Muller part 2

A Character story about obedience.

"So what do you think of the idea?" George Muller asked his good friend Henry Craik one day in 1835.

"Share again your reason for wanting to start an orphan house here in Bristol," Henry requested.

"As I said, it is NOT primarily to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the destitute waifs. Though this is a great need, it is secondary. The main purpose is to show to others that God is alive, a "Father of the fatherless," as the Psalmist said, and He is as able to answer prayer today as ever before. So, of course, there will be no debt, no borrowing. If I can provide food, shelter, and education for a few orphans solely through prayer alone, then other Christians will know that God can answer their prayers also. God will be glorified."

"Your motive is right," Henry said with a smile, "and God seems to be leading this way. I can only encourage you to step out by faith. Our God is certainly big enough to provide all that such a work would need."

"Then I will plan a public meeting to announce my intention. Thank you, my friend."

Three days later, December 2, 1835, George read in Psalm 81:10, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." He felt the boldness to pray for £1000 (about $5000) for the work. (This amount was given in less than 2 years.) In the next two weeks 8 people had volunteered to work in the orphanage and many gifts were given: dishes, silverware, beds, sheets, cloth for clothing, food, and money. Thus, a date was set for the registration of the orphans.

However, that day passed and not a single orphan was registered for the new home. George spent the evening searching his own heart, wondering what had gone wrong. Then he realized the problem. "So far as I remember, I brought even the most minute circumstances concerning the Orphan House before the Lord." But he had forgotten to pray for orphans! He thought they would come automatically. He confessed this to the Lord and the very next day got the first application. On April 21st, 1936 the home opened with 17 girls, ages 7 to 14. Can you imagine having 17 extra people to feed and clothe every day? But George kept his purpose before him. He would not ask anyone but God for money. He would not even tell anyone how much (or how little) money he had. God alone would have to provide for them.

It quickly became evident that younger girls and boys needed a home also. On November 28th, an infant home was opened and by the next May the two homes were filled to capacity with 66 children! And, as if this were not enough, the Lord led him to open a third house in October, this one for older boys. By the end of 1837 George Muller had 81 children in the three orphan houses and 9 workers to take care of them. He wrote, "Ninety, therefore, daily sit down to table. Lord, look on the necessities of thy servant!" What needs do you think 81 orphans would have? Besides food, clothes, bed, and house, Mr. Muller also provided schooling for them. Also, many of the parents had died of sickness, and the orphans were weak in body and needed medical care. Yet each day, God provided whatever was needed for their care.

But many times the needs were not supplied until the last minute. Through many weeks in 1838 the money came in a few pennies at a time. How easy it would have been to tell some rich friend of the need. But George told only the workers so that they could pray with him. With Mr. Muller they gave what they could, prayed, and waited on God. If you were Mr. Muller, do you think you would worry that the money would sometimes not come in?

On September 18, 1838 something happened that changed George Muller's life. They had spent every cent they had on food. They had been praying but nothing was given toward this need. If nothing came in that day, they would have to start selling their possessions to get money for food. Just then came a knock at the door.

"How good to meet you, Mr. Muller," the lady began. "I have a parcel from my daughter here. I ask your forgiveness. I have been living next to the boy's home for several days and have forgotten to bring it to you." In the package was found enough money for their needs. George was so encouraged, he later wrote, "That the money had been so near the Orphan Houses for several days without being given is a plain proof that it was from the beginning in the heart of God to help us; but, because he delights in the prayers of his children, and to strengthen our faith, he had allowed us to pray so long." George never worried about the provisions for the children again, though they were this low many times over the next years.

Of this day George Muller said years later, "There was a day when I died, utterly died: died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will- died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends - and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." This is what made George Muller a great man.

In 1845 Mr. Muller received a letter from a neighbor. It said, "The children make a great deal of noise in our neighborhood. Would you kindly consider moving your homes." Instead of being angry about this, George began to pray that God would provide a building of their own. Without mentioning this to anyone, God began to provide extra money for this project

One day George set out to talk with the owner of a piece of land at Ashley Down there in Bristol, England. He returned shortly.

"Did you see the man about the land?" Mary asked her husband.

"No, I missed him at home, and at his work. I feel the Lord wants me to wait until tomorrow to try again." That night the owner could not sleep. He determined that, if Mr. Muller asked about the land, he would give it to him for a greatly reduced price! Then an architect offered to draw plans for the building free! Finally, after two years of planning, construction of a new large building began, a building that would be home to 300 orphans! This was finished in 1850 but the need for further expansion was evident. George wrote in 1853 that they had 313 orphans and 480 on the waiting list!

George immediately began to pray for the funds to build a second orphan house. During the next few years, he built two buildings housing a total of 950 children and these were opened in 1857 and 1862. On the 30th birthday of the orphan work, 1150 children found their home at Ashley Down.

But George Muller was responsible for more than just the children. He also sent thousands of dollars to missionaries, paid for the printing of Bibles, New Testaments and tracts, and provided schooling for hundreds of children and adults who could not afford the private schools of the day.

What was it like to live in one of these homes? If you came to Ashley Down on Thursday afternoon at 2pm, you could have an hour and a half tour of Orphan House number 3. You would probably notice that the building was large but not fancy; no money was wasted on luxury. Though this was a girls' house, you would see boys here and there in the yard, dressed alike in navy jackets and corduroy pants. They each had three such outfits and a closet to keep them. The girls had a long cloak in green and blue plaid for cold weather, a lighter dress for warm weather. Every girl had 5 dresses. At school the children were taught the Bible of course, but also reading, writing, arithmetic, dictation, grammar, geography, English, world history, composition, singing, and needlework. Needlework for the girls meant making and mending their own clothes; for the boys it meant learning to knit and darn their own socks. The boys also made their own beds, cleaned their shoes, scrubbed their rooms, ran errands, and dug, planted, and weeded the gardens. The girls also helped with the cooking, dishes, and laundry. In looking back on her days at Ashley Down, one lady wrote, "How happy we were in our own little world, brought up in such a holy atmosphere." Another wrote, "No place ever seemed so dear."

Of course, not all of the children felt that way. One boy's behaviour was so bad for so long that, as a last resort, he was brought before Mr. Muller for dismissal. The old man laid his hand on the boy's head and began to pray for him. To show his rebellion the boy looked straight at Mr. Muller but was shocked to see tears running down his cheeks. The boy turned to the Lord right then and his life was changed.

In part 3 of this story, we will learn of some of the amazing answers to prayer Mr. Muller experienced in providing for all these children.

© 1997 James W. Swanson