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George Ferdinand Müller
Born 27 September 1805(1805-09-27)
Kroppenstaedt (now Kroppenstedt), Prussia
Died 10 March 1898 (aged 92)
Bristol, England
Nationality Prussian
Education Cathedral Classical School, Halberstadt
Occupation Evangelist and missionary, Director of Orphan Houses
Spouse(s) Mary Groves (7 Oct 1830 - 6 Feb 1870), Susannah Grace Sanger (30 Nov 1871 - 13 Jan 1894)
Children Lydia (17 Sep 32 - 10 Jan 90); Elijah (19 Mar 1834 - 26 Jun 1835)
Parents Johann Friedrich Müller (Oct 1768 - 20 March 1840), Sophie Eleonore Müller (nee Hasse) (1772 - 16 Han 1820)
Website
www.mullers.org

George Müller (German - born as : Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller) (September 27, 1805 – March 10, 1898), a Christian evangelist and Director of orphanages in Bristol, England, cared for 9,720 orphans in his life[1]. He was well-known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life.

Contents

Youth

Müller was born in Kroppenstaedt (now Kroppenstedt), a village near Halberstadt in the Kingdom of Prussia. His early life was not marked by righteousness—on the contrary, he was a thief, a liar and a gambler. While his mother was dying, he, at 14 years of age, was playing cards with friends and drinking.

Müller's father hoped to provide him with a religious education that would allow him to take a lucrative position as a clergyman in the state church. He studied divinity in the University of Halle, and there met a fellow student (Beta) who invited him to a Christian prayer meeting. There he was welcomed, and he began regularly reading the Bible and discussing Christianity with the others who attended the meetings. After seeing a man praying to God on his knees, he was convinced of his need for salvation. As soon as he got home he went to his bed and knelt and prayed. He asked God to help him in his life and to bless him wherever he went and to forgive him of his sins. He immediately stopped drinking, stealing and lying, and began hoping to become a missionary. He began preaching regularly in nearby churches and continued meeting with the other churches.

Early work

In 1828, Müller offered to work with Jews in England through the London Society for promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, but upon arriving in 1829, he fell ill, and did not think that he would survive. He was sent to Teignmouth to recuperate and, whilst there, met Henry Craik, who became his life-long friend. When he recovered, however, he dedicated himself to doing the will of God. He soon left the London Society, convinced that God would provide for his needs as he did Christian work. Craik invited him to become a minister with him in Teignmouth and he became the pastor of Ebenezer Chapel in Devon and soon after, married Mary Groves, the sister of Anthony Norris Groves. During his time as the pastor of the church, he refused a regular salary, believing that the practice could lead to church members giving out of duty, not desire. He also eliminated the renting of church pews, arguing that it gave unfair prestige to the rich.

Müller moved to Bristol in 1832 to begin working at Bethesda chapel. Along with Henry Craik, he continued preaching there until his death, even while devoted to his other ministries. In 1834, he founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, with the goal of aiding Christian schools and missionaries, and distributing the Bible. Not receiving government support and only accepting unsolicited gifts, this organisation received and disbursed £1.5 million - around £300 million in today's terms - ($2,718,844 USD) by the time of Müller's death, primarily using the money for supporting the orphanages and distributing about 64,000 Bibles, 85,000 Testaments, and 29,000,000 other religious texts. The money was also used to support other "faith missionaries" around the world, such as Hudson Taylor. The work continues to this day.

Orphanages

Orphanages at Ashley Down
Dining hall at Ashley Down

The work of Müller and his wife with orphans began in 1836 with the preparation of their own home at 6 Wilson Street, Bristol for the accommodation of thirty girls. Soon after, three more houses in Wilson Street were furnished, growing the total of children cared for to 130. In 1845, as growth continued, Müller decided that a separate building designed to house 300 children was necessary, and in 1849, at Ashley Down, Bristol, that home opened. The architect commissioned to draw up the plans asked if he might do so gratuitiously. By 1870, more than 2,000 children were being accommodated in five homes.

Through all this, Müller never made requests for financial support, nor did he go into debt, even though the five homes cost over £100,000 to build. Many times, he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children, further strengthening his faith in God. For example, on one well-documented occasion, they gave thanks for breakfast when all the children were sitting at the table, even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone.

Although he never asked any person (other than God) for anything, Müller asked those who did support his work to give a name and address in order that a receipt might be given. The receipts were printed with a request that the receipt be kept until the next annual report was issued, in order that the donor might confirm the amount reported with the amount given. Every single gift was recorded, whether a single farthing, £3,000 or an old teaspoon. Accounting records were scrupulously kept and made available for scrutiny.

Every morning after breakfast there was a time of Bible reading and prayer, and every child was given a Bible upon leaving the orphanage, together with a tin trunk containing two changes of clothing. The children were dressed well and educated - Müller even employed a schools inspector to maintain high standards. In fact, many claimed that nearby factories and mines were unable to obtain enough workers because of his efforts in securing apprenticeships, professional training, and domestic service positions for the children old enough to leave the orphanage.

In 1871 an article in The Times stated that since 1836, 23,000 children had been educated in the schools and very many thousands had been educated in other schools at the expense of the orphanage. The article also states that since its origin, 64,000 Bibles, 85,000 Testaments and 29,000,000 religious books had been issued and distributed. Other expenses included the support of 150 missionaries.[2]

Evangelism

George Müller

In 1875, at the age of 70 and after the death of his first wife in 1870 and his marriage to Susannah Grace Sanger in 1871, Müller began a 17 year period of missionary travel. In that time, he preached in the United States, India, Australia, Japan, China, and nearly forty other countries. He travelled over 200,000 miles, an incredible achievement for pre-aviation times. His language abilities allowed him to preach in English, French, and German, and his sermons were translated into over a dozen other languages. In 1892, he returned to England, where he died on March 10, 1898 in New Orphan House No 3.

Müller prayed about everything and expected each prayer to be answered.

Once, whilst crossing the Atlantic, his ship ran into thick fog. He explained to the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by the following afternoon, but the captain said that he was slowing the ship down for safety and Müller's appointment would have to be missed. Müller asked to use the chartroom to pray for the lifting of the fog. The captain followed him down, claiming it would be a waste of time. After Müller prayed, the captain started to pray, but Müller stopped him; partly because of the captain's unbelief, but mainly because he believed the prayer had already been answered. When the two men went back to the bridge, they found the fog had lifted. The captain became a Christian shortly afterwards.

Müller's faith in God strengthened day by day and he spent hours in daily prayer and Bible reading.

Theology

George Müller's tombstone

The theology that guided George Müller's work is not widely known, but was shaped by an experience in his mid twenties when he "came to prize the Bible alone as [his] standard of judgement".

He records in his autobiography that "It was at this time that God began to show me that his word alone is our standard of judgment in spiritual things; that it can be explained only by the Holy Spirit; and that in our day, as well as in former times, he is the teacher of his people. The office of the Holy Spirit I had not experimentally understood before that time. Indeed, of the office of each of the blessed persons, in what is commonly called the Trinity, I had no experimental apprehension. I had not before seen from the Scriptures that the Father chose us before the foundation of the world; that in him that wonderful plan of our redemption originated, and that he also appointed all the means by which it was to be brought about. Further, that the Son, to save us, had fulfilled the law, to satisfy its demands, and with it also the holiness of God; that he had borne the punishment due to our sins, and had thus satisfied the justice of God. And, further, that the Holy Spirit alone can teach us about our state by nature, show us the need of a Saviour, enable us to believe in Christ, explain to us the Scriptures, help us in preaching, etc. It was my beginning to understand this latter point in particular which had a great effect on me; for the Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience, by laying aside commentaries, and almost every other book, and simply reading the word of God and studying it. The result of this was, that the first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was, that I received real strength for my soul in doing so. I now began to try by the test of the Scriptures the things which I had learned and seen, and found that only those principles which stood the test were really of value." [3]

Müller also wrote of how he came to believe in the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace while staying in Teignmouth, Devon in 1829. [4]

George Müller was a founding member of the Brethren movement. However John Nelson Darby insisted on a division with Müller and his brethren. The more exclusive side of the brethren movement became known as the Exclusive Brethren and was led by Darby. The other side of the movement became known as the Open Brethren and it was led by men like Müller .[5] Though the pre-tribulational rapture doctrine gained momentum as a result of the literature of the Brethren movement, Müller's church was wary of such teachings[citation needed]. George Müller held to a Post Tribulation Rapture doctrine along with others such as Benjamin Wills Newton and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles [6] and said that "scripture declares plainly that the Lord Jesus will not come until the Apostasy shall have taken place, and the man of sin shall have been revealed..."[7]

The George Müller Charitable Trust

After his life, his work was continued by The George Müller Foundation, which was renamed The George Müller Charitable Trust on 1 March 2009. The Trust maintains the key principle of seeking money through prayer alone - it actively shuns fund-raising activities. The charity works together with local churches in the Bristol area to enable them to reach out and care for their communities, especially children, young people and families with physical, emotional, social or spiritual needs; it also provides residential care for the old and encourages giving to support mission, social care, relief and development work across the world.

A small museum is maintained by the Trust at its headquarters in Cotham Park, Bristol to which free admission may be granted between 10.00 and 16.00 Monday to Friday by prior appointment.

Records of all children who passed through the orphanage are held and may be inspected by relatives for a modest fee.

Video

  • Robber Of The Cruel Streets - The Prayerful Life of George Müller, (2006), Christian Television Association (of the UK)
  • Gideon: Tuba Warrior (A Veggietales video with a segment about Müller)
  • Obstacle to Comfort (1997) available only on VHS

See also

  • The Open Brethren
  • Arthur Tappan Pierson, Muller's biographer and friend
  • George Muller by James J Ellis, published by Pickering & Inglis in their Memoirs of Mighty Men Series - out of print now and scarce, but sometimes available from specialist booksellers.
  • "Müller, George." Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Timothy Larsen, editor. Downers-Grove, Illinois: Intevarsity Press, 2003.
  • "Müller, George." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
  • Pierson, A. T. George Müller of Bristol. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2000.

References

  • Müller, George. Autobiography of George Müller. ISBN 0964755203. 

Notes

  1. ^ Pierson, Arthur (1899). George Müller of Bristol. London: James Nisbet & Co., Limited., Page 301.
  2. ^ The Times, Monday, December 11th, 1871
  3. ^ A Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealings with George Müller, by George Müller
  4. ^ A Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealings with George Müller, by George Müller - Part 1
  5. ^ Plymouth Brethren
  6. ^ Partial rapture, by Watchman Nee
  7. ^ Mrs. Mueller's Missionary Tours and Labours, p. 148

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GEORGE MULLER (1805-1898), English preacher and philanthropist, was born near Halberstadt, Germany, on the 27th of September 1805, the son of an exciseman. He subsequently became a naturalized British subject. Educated in Germany, he resolved in 1826 to devote himself to missionary work, and in 1828 went to London to prepare for an appointment offered him by the Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews. In 1830 however he gave up the idea of missionary work, and became minister of a small congregation at Teignmouth, Devonshire. He contended that the temporal as well as the spiritual needs of life could be supplied by prayer, and on this principle abolished pew rents and refused to take a fixed salary. After two years at Teignmouth, Muller removed to Bristol, where he spent the rest of his life. He devoted himself particularly to the care of orphan children. He began by taking a few under his charge, but. in course of time their number increased to 2000, settled in five large houses erected for the purpose at Ashley Down, near Bristol. The money required for the carrying on of this work was voluntarily contributed, mainly as a result of the wide circulation of Mailer's narrative The Lord's Dealings with George Muller. When he was over seventy he started on a preaching mission, which lasted nearly seventeen years and included Europe, America, India, Australia and China. He died at Bristol on the 10th of March 1898.

See A. T. Pierson, George Muller of Bristol (1899).


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