Introductory Note:

Do you know the miraculous story of God’s provision to George Müller’s orphanage in Bristol, England in the 19th Century? I knew nothing of it until I saw an imaginative retelling of this beautiful tale of faith and trust through the medium of computer-generated vegetables. (What can I say? I’m a mom.)

What I discovered later was George Müller’s reason for founding and running the orphanage the way he did—that is, through utter dependence on Jesus Christ to provide the daily bread (and daily milk and all other needs) to the children without Müller’s ever asking anyone for anything. When I discovered his explanation (excerpted below), my heart was moved by the rock-solid certainty of this man of God. “Provide a way for God’s power, provision, protection to shine through in a visible, tangible way to folks who need their faith strengthened,” he seems to say, “and look out!”

George Müller writes as a man from whose heart doubt has been removed as a stone from the hoof of a faithful horse, enabling him to carry on in swiftness, strength, and service. He knew how to ask for his daily bread.

Justine Olawsky

It may be well to enter some­what minute­ly upon the rea­sons which led me to estab­lish an orphan house. Through my pas­toral labors, through my cor­re­spon­dence, and through brethren who vis­it­ed Bris­tol, I had con­stant­ly cas­es brought before me, which proved that one of the espe­cial things which the chil­dren of God need­ed in our day, was, to have their faith strength­ened. I might vis­it a broth­er who worked four­teen or even six­teen hours a day at his trade, the nec­es­sary result of which was, that not only his body suf­fered, but his soul was lean, and he had no enjoy­ment in God. I might point out to him that he ought to work less, in order that his bod­i­ly health might not suf­fer, and that he might gath­er strength for his inner man, by read­ing the word of God, by med­i­ta­tion over it, and by prayer. The reply, how­ev­er, I gen­er­al­ly found to be some­thing like this: But if I work less, I do not earn enough for the sup­port of my fam­i­ly. Even now, whilst I work so much, I have scarce­ly enough.” There was no trust in God, no real belief in the truth of that word, Seek ye first the king­dom of God, and his right­eous­ness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” I might reply some­thing like this: My dear broth­er, it is not your work which sup­ports your fam­i­ly, but the Lord; and he who has fed you and your fam­i­ly when you could not work at all, on account of ill­ness, would sure­ly pro­vide for you and yours; if, for the sake of obtain­ing food for your inner man, you were to work only for so many hours a day as would allow you prop­er time for retire­ment. And is it not the case now that you begin the work of the day after hav­ing had only a few hur­ried moments for prayer; and when you leave off your work in the evening, and mean then to read a lit­tle of the word of God, are you not too much worn out in body and mind to enjoy it, and do you not often[113] fall asleep whilst read­ing the Scrip­tures, or whilst on your knees in prayer?” The broth­er would allow it was so; he would allow that my advice was good; but still I read in his coun­te­nance, even if he should not have actu­al­ly said so, How should I get on, if I were to car­ry out your advice?” I longed, there­fore, to have some­thing to point the broth­er to, as a vis­i­ble proof that our God and Father is the same faith­ful God that he ever was, — as will­ing as ever to prove him­self the liv­ing God, in our day as for­mer­ly, to all who put their trust in him.

Again, some­times I found chil­dren of God tried in mind by the prospect of old age, when they might be unable to work any longer, and there­fore were harassed by the fear of hav­ing to go into the poor­house. If in such a case I point­ed out to them how their heav­en­ly Father has always helped those who put their trust in him, they might not say that times have changed; but yet it was evi­dent enough that God was not looked upon by them as the liv­ing God. I longed to set some­thing before the chil­dren of God where­by they might see that he does not for­sake, even in our day, those who rely upon him.

Anoth­er class of per­sons were brethren in busi­ness, who suf­fered in their souls, and brought guilt on their con­sciences, by car­ry­ing on their busi­ness almost in the same way as uncon­vert­ed per­sons do. The com­pe­ti­tion in trade, the bad times, the over-peo­pled coun­try, were giv­en as rea­sons why, if the busi­ness were car­ried on sim­ply accord­ing to the word of God, it could not be expect­ed to do well. Such a broth­er, per­haps, would express the wish that he might be dif­fer­ent­ly sit­u­at­ed, but very rarely did I see that there was a stand made for God, that there was the holy deter­mi­na­tion to trust in the liv­ing God, and to depend on him, in order that a good con­science might be main­tained. To this class, like­wise, I desired to show by a vis­i­ble proof that God is unchange­ably the same.[114]

Then there was anoth­er class of per­sons, indi­vid­u­als who were in pro­fes­sions in which they could not con­tin­ue with a good con­science, or per­sons who were in an unscrip­tur­al posi­tion with ref­er­ence to spir­i­tu­al things; but both class­es feared, on account of the con­se­quences, to give up the pro­fes­sion in which they could not abide with God, or to leave their posi­tion, lest they should be thrown out of employ­ment. My spir­it longed to be instru­men­tal in strength­en­ing their faith, by giv­ing them not only instances from the word of God of his will­ing­ness and abil­i­ty to help all those who rely upon him, but to show them by proofs that he is the same in our day. I well knew that the word of God ought to be enough; but I con­sid­ered that I ought to lend a help­ing hand to my brethren, if by any means, by this vis­i­ble proof to the unchange­able faith­ful­ness of the Lord, I might strength­en their hands in God; for I remem­bered what a great bless­ing my own soul had received through the Lord’s deal­ings with his ser­vant A. H. Franke, who, in depen­dence upon the liv­ing God alone, estab­lished an immense orphan house, which I had seen many times with my own eyes. I there­fore judged myself bound to be the ser­vant of the church of Christ in the par­tic­u­lar point on which I had obtained mer­cy; name­ly, in being able to take God by his word, and to rely upon it.

All these exer­cis­es of my soul, which result­ed from the fact that so many believ­ers with whom I became acquaint­ed were harassed and dis­tressed in mind, or brought guilt on their con­sciences on account of not trust­ing in the Lord, were used by God to awak­en in my heart the desire of set­ting before the church at large, and before the world, a proof that he has not in the least changed; and this seemed to me best done by the estab­lish­ing of an orphan house. It need­ed to be some­thing which could be seen, even by the nat­ur­al eye. Now, if I, a poor man,[115] 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.

This, then, was the pri­ma­ry rea­son for estab­lish­ing the orphan house. I cer­tain­ly did from my heart desire to be used by God to ben­e­fit the bod­ies of poor chil­dren, bereaved of both par­ents, and seek in oth­er respects, with the help of God, to do them good for this life. I also par­tic­u­lar­ly longed to be used by God in get­ting the dear orphans trained up in the fear of God; but still, the first and pri­ma­ry object of the work was, and still is, that God might be mag­ni­fied by the fact that the orphans under my care are pro­vid­ed with all they need, only by prayer and faith, with­out any one being asked by me or my fel­low-labor­ers, where­by it may be seen that God is faith­ful still, and hears prayer still. That I was not mis­tak­en, has been abun­dant­ly proved since Novem­ber, 1835, both by the con­ver­sion of many sin­ners who have read the accounts which have been pub­lished in con­nec­tion with this work, and also by the abun­dance of fruit that has fol­lowed in the hearts of the saints, for which, from my inmost soul, I desire to be grate­ful to God, and the hon­or and glo­ry of which not only is due to him alone, but which I, by his help, am enabled to ascribe to him.

For a whim­si­cal, veg­etable-ori­ent­ed telling of an instance of God’s pro­vi­sion to George Müller’s orphan­age, please click on this video link.


📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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