Although his faith was often deeply challenged, George Müller and his dedicated wife and staff, proved God’s faithfulness to provide adequate food, clothing and housing for the 130 orphans in their care. Now they faced the challenge to trust Him for even greater things.
From the time the first house was opened in 1835 until 1845 the orphanages operated in rented homes on Wilson Street. Then in 1845 one of the residents of Wilson Street kindly mentioned to Mr. Müller that some of the neighbors were inconvenienced by having this great number of children on their street. Mr. Müller made this a matter of prayer, and he carefully drew up the reasons why the orphanages should remain there and why they should relocate. A strong consideration was the "golden rule" – "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matt. 7:12). Mr. Müller knew that he himself would find it difficult to live near so many children because of the noise during play time. The neighbors were also affected at times by drainage problems which developed because of the many living in the orphan homes.
Further points in favor of moving were that there was inadequate space for playing. There was no ground where the boys could learn a little about gardening. There was not now adequate space for doing all the laundry, and it would be good if the girls had opportunity to learn about a laundry. Also, when there was sickness there was no spare room for an infirmary. And there was a waiting list of orphans who wanted to come but could not because of inadequate space.
A Leap of Faith
All things considered, Mr. Müller came to the conclusion that he should build. He felt that the Lord wanted to further prove Himself sufficient for providing such additional sums of money as this would require. He felt he should build for 300 orphans – over twice as many as the 130 for which he now provided.
Mr. Müller and his wife began to agree each morning in prayer for funds for the property and the building – which he believed would require about 10,000 pounds. For 35 days they prayed but not one pound was given for the building. He felt impressed to ask the Lord for both faith and patience for the project of building the orphanage.
On the 36th day a gift of 1000 pounds came to him for the building. A Christian architect offered his services to make the plan and superintend the building with no charge attached for his services. Mr. Müller felt his part was not to advertise his need and seek funds – but to wait upon the Lord in faith and patience that the Lord might provide. He wanted God to do it Himself using His humble servant as the means.
After praying about three months, Mr. Müller began looking for property. Some he found suitable but too expensive. Then he heard of property at Ashley Down and it seemed what he needed. He went to see the owner but missed him both at home and at the office. He left a message about his mission but felt it was the Lord’s intervention that he had not been able to see him that day. When he saw the owner the next morning, he learned that the owner, after receiving the message, had been awake two hours that night thinking about selling the land for the orphanage, and he determined he would sell it at 120 pounds an acre rather than at the price of 200 pounds per acre as he had been asking.
At the same time Mr. Müller was waiting upon the Lord for funds to build the new orphanage, he was able by the Lord’s provision to continue support of four day schools with 278 children enrolled; a Sunday school; and an adult school. Bibles, Testaments and tracts were procured and circulated and over 595 pounds was given for foreign and home missions. The orphans were being cared for at the same time. Some of the orphan children were being saved and added to the church, and adults as well were being added. A great joy to Mr. and Mrs. Müller at this time was that their young daughter received Jesus Christ as her Savior. For this they had been praying for eighteen months.
It was great joy to him that God entrusted him with increasing funds for home and foreign missionaries. He felt led to help those who had no regular salary. He found that time and again his financial help came to the missionaries at a time of their great need, often when they had no money at all. Some whom he helped had one time been men of wealth who had given all to follow Christ or had everything taken from them for Christ’s sake. Mr. Müller also labored for these brethren in prayer. He did not doubt but that the faith of these choice servants of God had been strengthened as they had seen God supply for them in their time of extremity. This led him to ask God for more and more funds with which to help them. Mr. Müller was careful to use the funds that came designated for the missionaries for that express purpose, regardless of how low he was on funds for the other phases of the ministry.
Once he wrote, when going to the Lord for urgent needs of the orphans when the coffers were empty, "How blessed to have the living God to go to! It is particularly precious to know Him in these days of widespread distress! Potatoes are too dear [expensive] for food for the orphans at this time. The rice which we have substituted instead of them, is twice as dear as usual; the oatmeal more than twice as dear, and the bread one-half dearer than usual.
"But the riches of God are as great as ever. He knows that our expenses are great. He knows that a little will not do in these days when provisions are so dear, as there are about one hundred and fifty persons to be provided for, including teachers and apprentices. My soul is at peace…."
Of this time of high prices he wrote: "It is the very time for faith to work, when sight ceases. The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith. As long as there remain certain natural prospects, faith does not get on even as easily as when all natural prospects fail.
"It is true that during the time of the dearth our expenses were considerably greater than usual; it is also true that many persons who otherwise might have given, were unable to do so or had their surplus directed into other channels…the gold and silver are the Lord’s. To Him we made our prayer. In Him we put our trust. And He did not forsake us. For we went as easily through that winter as through any winter since the work has been in existence. Nor could it be otherwise, for God had at this very time an especial opportunity of showing the blessedness of trusting in Him.
"Seek, dear reader, more and more to put your trust in Him for everything, and you will, even concerning this life, find it most precious so to do."
(To be continued)