George Mueller inspired the missionary faith of Hudson Taylor. No small kudos there. A study of the George Mueller story provides inspirational insight into the glorious work of the Holy Spirit.
Biblical Studies Ministries International published this comment: “God used George Mueller wonderfully in an abundance of ministries. Simultaneously he pastored a church of 1,200 members; operated Sunday schools that taught and evangelized thousands of children; housed, fed clothed, taught and evangelized 2,050 orphans annually for decades; supported 187 missionaries; organized the Scriptural Knowledge Institute that distributed vast quantities of Bibles, Scripture portions, and tracts.
“Relying solely upon God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and prayer he supported all of these works. At the age of seventy he began a series of missionary speaking tours that took him to Europe, Asia, North American, and Australia.
“Mr. Mueller was an educated man able to preach in English, German and French without the need of an interpreter. He also was well versed in both Greek and Hebrew. Thousands attended the meetings at which he spoke. In addition, he received hundreds of invitations that he was unable to accept.
“Mr. Mueller never accepted a salary for any of these ministries. Neither did he tell anyone of his personal need nor any of the ministries needs. He told only God and God honored and anointed him mightily.” (www.bsmi.org/mueller.htm)
It goes without saying George Mueller will hear those coveted words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ But things were different in his youth.
The Character Stories website published a series on Mueller. The author James W. Swanson uncovered very intimate details. The child Mueller stole money from his father and hid the evidence in his shoe while denying the obvious. Even on the day of his confirmation young George short-changed the minister. “Here is the money Father gave me to give to you,” he said. But most of the money was in his pocket, wrote Swanson. (Find the intimate details at http://www.characterstories.net/index.php/chapter/the-amazing-story-of-george-muller-part-1/)
In his own words Mueller later confessed. “Thus it continued until I was fourteen years old, when my mother was suddenly removed. The night she was dying, I, not knowing of her illness, was playing cards until two in the morning, and on the next day, being the Lord’s day, I went with some of my companions in sin to a tavern, and then, being filled with strong beer, we went about the streets half intoxicated.”
“I grew worse and worse,” says he. “Three or four days before I was confirmed (and thus admitted to partake of the Lord’s supper), I was guilty of gross immorality; and the very day before my confirmation, when I was in the vestry with the clergyman to confess my sins (according to the usual practice), after a formal manner, I defrauded him; for I handed over to him only a twelfth part of the fee which my father had given me for him.” (from www.georgemueller.blogspot.com).
The same George Mueller blogspot reported: “He robbed his father of certain rents which his father had entrusted him to collect, falsifying the accounts of what he had received and pocketing the balance.
“His money was spent on sinful pleasures, and once he was reduced to such poverty that, in order to satisfy his hunger, he stole a piece of coarse bread, the allowance of a soldier who was quartered in the house where he was.
“In 1821 he set off on an excursion to Magdeburg, where he spent six days in “much sin.” He then went to Brunswick, and put up at an expensive hotel until his money was exhausted. He then put up at a fine hotel in a neighboring village, intending to defraud the hotel-keeper.
“But his best clothes were taken in lieu of what he owed. He then walked six miles to another inn, where he was arrested for trying to defraud the landlord. He was imprisoned for this crime when sixteen years of age.”
Mueller admitted he succeeded academically at the University of Halle without any real relationship with God. He studied and trained simply because a position pastoring a church was ‘a good job.’
But life changed for Mueller and for thousands of others when he attended a Christian meeting held in Switzerland.
He wrote about the events of that night saying, ‘That evening was the turning point of my life.”
He was a German, a Prussian, born in Kroppenstaedt, September 27, 1805. He lived through most of the nineteenth century and died March 10, 1898 aged 92.
Biographers note he worked for D. L. Moody, preached for Charles Spurgeon and inspired Hudson Taylor.
When he began pastoring it was the church custom for parishioners to rent pews annually and those funds paid the clergy. Mueller felt such a system robbed the poor of participation. He changed the system and instead placed offering facilities at the rear of the church so that all might participate freely. The income increased and Mueller was blessed.
In 1834, when he was just 28, Mueller launched The Scripture Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad. He was disillusioned by the worldly strategies embraced bo other Christian missions. He saw them going into debt and borrowing, activities he regarded negatively.
He developed five branches on his new agency. 1. Schools for children and adults to teach Bible knowledge. 2. Bible distribution, 3.Missionary support, 4. Tract and book distribution, 5. ‘to board, clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death’.
God blessed his faith. During his life the orphan houses cared for 10,024 children. It is said ‘fifty years after Mr Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.”
A report by the Institute summed up this way: “In the course of his life Müller received from the pious and charitable no less than 1,500,000l.; he educated and sent out into the world no fewer than 123,000 pupils; he circulated 275,000 bibles in different languages, with nearly as many smaller portions of Scripture; and he aided missions to the extent of 255,000l. He supported 189 missionaries, and he employed 112 assistants. The record of his life seems to associate itself more closely with primitive and puritan periods of history than with modern times.”
Another source reported: “He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times. And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He traveled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day, and addressing some three million people. He preached nine times here in Minneapolis in 1880 (nine years after the founding of Bethlehem Baptist Church).
“From the end of his travels in 1892 (when he was 87) until his death in March of 1898 he preached in his church and worked for the Scripture Knowledge Institute.
“At age 92, not long before he died, he wrote, “I have been able, every day and all the day to work, and that with ease, as seventy years since.”
“He led a prayer meeting at his church on the evening of Wednesday, March 9, 1898. The next day a cup of tea was taken to him at seven in the morning but no answer came to the knock on the door. He was found dead on the floor beside his bed.”
“The funeral was held the following Monday in Bristol, where he had served for sixty-six years. “Tens of thousands of people reverently stood along the route of the simple procession; men left their workshops and offices, women left their elegant homes or humble kitchens, all seeking to pay a last token of respect.”A thousand children gathered for a service at the Orphan House No. 3. They had now “for a second time lost a ‘father’.”
Mueller was adamant God would supply his needs and anoint the ministry. During the last 68 years of his life, he never asked anyone directly for money and yet he never took a salary. He trusted the Lord would prompt the hearts of brothers and sisters to send him what was needed.
He often emphasized that the orphans were never hungry and neither was he.
He was married twice and buried both women. He was married for 34 years to his first wife Mary and preached her funeral service aged 64. His second wife Susannah died and Mueller preached her funeral when he was 90.
A full account of events leading to the death of Mary is available. It details the depth of his love for her. His notes say, ‘the last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also.
“I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.”
The writer observed, ‘There you see the innermost being of George Mueller and the key to his life. The word of God, revealing his sin, revealing his Savior, revealing God’s sovereignty, revealing God’s goodness, revealing God’s promise, awakening his faith, satisfying his soul. “I was satisfied with God.”
I read a brief article which described George Mueller as the Prodigal Son. They also described him as an inspiration using these words:
“The most significant aspect of George Mueller’s 93 years on earth was his absolute obedience to the will of God. It is this example which inspired and continues to inspire men to know and exercise that faith which God requires of us all.
“The fact that the Spirit of God transformed a rebellious, sinful and self-determined young man to become such a man of God must surely give rise to hope for each one of us.
‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord’.
George Mueller trusted and his trust was never in vain.”