English evangelist and philanthropist
A servant of God
has but one Master.
It ill becomes the servant to seek to be rich, and great, and honoured in that
world where his Lord was poor, and mean, and despised.
At last I saw Christ as my Saviour.
I believed in Him and gave myself to Him. The burden rolled from off me, and a
great love for Christ filled my soul. That was more than fifty years ago.
I loved Jesus Christ then, but I loved Him more the year after, and more the
year after that, and more every year since.
George Mueller has proved to the world the
truth of Philippians 4:19 and he will always be remembered as the man who got
things from God. His testimony is an inspiration to Christians everywhere. Three
weeks after his marriage, he and his wife decided to depend on God alone to
supply their needs--never again to approach people about them. Now he felt led
to relinquish his small salary as a preacher completely. Wishing that all
support be spontaneous, he put a box in the chapel for his needs; determining
never to run into debt, and to get his needs supplied only by requests to God
Himself. This was October, 1830. When he died, in March 1898, 68 years later, he
had obtained from God more than any one else who ever lived - seven and a half
Mueller was the son of Herr and Frau
Mueller. His father was a Prussian tax-collector. The family moved to
Heimershleben, four miles away, in 1810. Soon two other sons were born.
Strangely gullible, the father would entrust his small sons with considerable
amounts of cash to teach them to acquire the habit of possessing money without
spending it. This back-fired, for George, in particular, devised numerous
methods of using the money for himself without being detected. Before he was ten
years old, he repeatedly stole from the government funds in his father's
Herr Mueller wanted his son to be a
clergyman and make a good living, in order to be able to support him when he
became old. Schooling was obtained for George at Cathedral Classical School at
Halberstadt, with very little supervision given him from about age ten to 16.
His mother died when he was 14. George was playing cards, not even aware of her
illness that night. He spent the next day at a tavern with some friends.
Lutheran church confirmation classes
started at this time, and it was a custom for candidates on the eve of
confirmation to make a formal confession of their sins to the clergyman in the
vestry. Mueller used the opportunity to cheat clergyman of 11/12ths of the fee
his father had given him for the cleric. Confirmed the Sunday after Easter,
1820, he was now a religious lost person. When George was 15, his father was
transferred to Schoenebeck, Prussia. The son was left at home to supervise some
repairs and to study for the ministry. George was up to his old tricks. He
collected money which the villagers owed his father for taxes, then took a trip
which he later called "...days of sin." He would stay in expensive
hotels, sneaking out after a week without paying a bill. However, after a couple
weeks of this, he was caught and put in jail for 24 days. The elder Mueller
bailed his son out, and soon George entered school at Nordhausen, Prussia, where
he stayed for two and one-half years. He studied from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. The
teacher said he had great promise, but drinking and debauchery continued to
cancel these acclaims. This time (1820-1825) was also spent in contriving to
provide himself with money for his bad habits.
In 1825, when 19 years old, he left school
and entered Halle University as a student of Divinity. The University had 1,260
students, including some 900 divinity students preparing themselves for the
Lutheran Church ministries. Here he decided he must reform if a parish was to
ever choose him as pastor. He renewed an acquaintance in a tavern with a fellow
student named Beta, who was a backslidden Christian. They were former
school-fellows. In August, 1825, Mueller, Beta, and two other students, pawned
some of their belongings to get enough money for a few days of travel.
Switzerland was decided upon, and George forged the necessary letters from their
parents with which to get passports. Mueller, like Judas, decided to carry the
purse. His friends unwittingly paid part of his expenses as a result and 43 idle
days of travel followed.
Back at the University, Beta was stricken
with remorse and made full confession to his father. Beta began to attend a
Saturday night Christian meeting in a home. Mueller, hearing about this, became
sincerely interested, and pressed his friend into taking him to the meeting.
Beta did, reluctantly, not believing George would like it--reading the Bible,
praying, singing hymns, and listening to a sermon. As he sat in the Wagner
residence, George saw something he had never seen before - people on their knees
praying. He felt awkward for being there and even apologized for his presence.
The host pleasantly invited him to come as often as he pleased. As he walked
home, he declared, "All we have seen on our journey to Switzerland, and all
our former pleasures, are as nothing in comparison with this evening!" That
Saturday night in mid-November, 1825, turned him around as Christ became his
Savior. At age 20 the unstable pagan found the power to overcome his moral
weaknesses and a new life began.
In January, 1826, as he began reading
missionary literature, he felt inclined in this direction more and more. He
wrote his father and brother to this end. However, the reply from father was a
furious objection to these plans. As a result, George decided he would have to
support himself at the University, rather than take funds from his father. Back
at Halle he obtained a well-paying job of teaching German to American college
professors and translating lectures for them. He preached his first sermon on
August 27, 1826, at a village six miles from Halle. During this time he lived
for two months in the Orphan House built by August Hermann Francke, Professor of
Divinity at Halle. Here the seed of an idea was sown that was to come to
fruition later in Bristol. In 1828, he completed his University courses.
Mueller now had a desire to become a
missionary to the Jews, so he applied to a society in London which majored in
this work, which led to an invitation to come for a six-month probationary
period in London. He left home on February 10, 1829 and arrived in London on
March 19. His English became fluent, although he never lost his German accent.
The regulations and routine at seminary tempted him to give up his ideas. His
study of Hebrew was unremitting, and soon resulted in delicate health. Advised
by doctors and friends, he went to the country for a change of air and schedule
which was to change his life as well. He traveled to Teignmouth in Devonshire
and became acquainted with Henry Craik, who would become his loyal associate in
the ensuing years. Here he attended the reopening of a small meeting-house
called Bethesda Chapel, where he was touched deeply by one of the speakers. By
the time he returned to London, he was a different man, having learned the value
of meditation upon the Scriptures, beginning in August, 1829.
Now he began to gather some of his
fellow-students from 6 to 8 a.m. each morning for prayer and Bible reading.
Evenings he would pray with anyone he could find, often until after mid-night.
During these days he felt he did not want to be limited to ministry amongst the
Jews alone, so he resigned from the London Society. Back in the Devonshire area
he began to preach in chapels in Exmouth, Teignmouth and Shaldon. He was then
called upon to pastor at the Ebenezer Chapel in Teignmouth, a congregation of 18
people where he began in 1830. During this year he became convinced of the
necessity of believer's baptism, and was rebaptized. In January of 1830 he
undertook a monthly preaching engagement just outside Exeter, lodging there with
a Mrs. Hake, an invalid. Mary Groves, age 29, was keeping house for her.
Mueller, with a mature outlook on life, was greatly attracted to Mary, though he
was only 24 years of age. On October 7, 1830 they were joined in marriage at St.
David's Church in Exeter.
Three weeks after their marriage, they
decided to depend upon God alone to provide their needs as already indicated.
They carried it to the extent that they would not give definite answers to
inquiries as to whether or not they were in need of money at any particular
moment. At the time of need, there would always seem to be funds available from
some source, both in regards to their private income, and to the funds for his
vast projects soon to be discussed. No matter how pressing was the need, George
simply renewed his prayers, and either money or food always came in time to save
the situation. On February 19, 1832, he records an instance of healing by faith.
Suffering from a gastric ulcer, he believed God could heal him and four days
later he was as well as ever. In the spring of 1832, he felt he must leave
Teignmouth. Craik, his friend, had gone on to Bristol for a visit, and Mueller
felt led to go there also. On April 22, he preached his first sermon in Bristol.
A friend offered to rent Bethesda Chapel there for a year if the two men would
stay and develop a work. Agreeing not to be bound by any stipulation, Craik and
Mueller accepted the call. On May 25, 1832, the Muellers settled permanently in
Bristol which became his home until he died. A long association with the chapel
on Great George Street also began. In July of that year, Bristol was visited
with a plague of cholera which took many lives, but none of those among whom he
and Craik ministered. On September 17, 1832, his first child, Lydia, was born.
It was on February 25, 1834, that George
Mueller founded a new Missionary Institution which he called "The
Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad." It had four
1. To assist Sunday Schools, Day Schools
and Adult Schools, and where possible to start new ones.
2. To sell Bibles and Testaments to the poor at low prices, and if necessary, to
give them free of cost.
3. To aid missionary effort. (This was to provide financial aid to freelance
4. To circulate tracts in English and in various foreign languages.
The Orphan House became a fifth objective,
and the most well known enterprise, yet it is right to point out that Mueller
was greatly used in developing the other objectives as well.
On March 19, 1834, a son, Elijah, was born
but he died the next year, June 25, 1835, from pneumonia, leaving the Muellers
with only one child--Lydia. The summer of 1835 found Mueller himself in very
poor health, slowing down his pace and giving him time to write "The
Narrative of the Lord's Dealing with George Mueller."
For some time he had been thinking about
starting an orphanage in Bristol. On December 9, 1835 he presented his burden at
a public meeting. No collection was taken, but someone handed him ten shillings
and a Christian woman offered herself for the work. After five days of prayer
$300 came in and it seemed they might now have enough money to rent a house,
equip and furnish it. The other request was for Christian people to work with
the children. His basic aim was to have a work - something to point to as visible
proof that God hears and answers prayer. His heart went out to the many ragged
children running wild in the streets, but that was a secondary reason for
starting the orphanage.
He rented Number 6 Wilson Street, where he
himself had been living, and on April 11, 1836, the doors of the orphanage
opened with 26 children. These were girls between seven and twelve years old.
The second House was opened on November
28, 1836, to care for children from babyhood to seven years of age. In
September, 1837, a third house was opened for boys over seven years of age.
Illness plagued Mueller from time to time,
and in late 1837 he was very weak. This time his head provided the discomfort.
He went to Germany in the spring of 1838 as well as in February, 1840, when he
saw his father for a last time. Presumably he still had not accepted Christ as
George noted, "How it would have cheered the separation on both sides were
my dear father a believer." He died shortly thereafter. The years 1828 to
1843 were surely years of trials for Craik and Mueller as they prayed in
everything. All were properly clad and everyone sat down to regular meals in the
Houses. Mueller never incurred a debt, and God supernaturally provided for
everyone. A well known story indicates the kind of life that was lived:
One morning the plates and cups and
bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money
to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when
Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in time for school."
Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art
going to give us to eat." There was a knock on the door. The baker stood
there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I
felt you didn't have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you
some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought
it." Mueller thanked the man. No sooner had this transpired when there
was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk
cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to
give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and
repair it. No wonder, years later, when Mueller was to travel the world as an
evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from
By March, 1843, he felt the need for a
second home for girls. On July, 1844, the fourth house on Wilson Street was
opened--the total of his homeless waifs now being 130. A letter received on
October 30, 1845, changed his entire ministry... he was now age 40. Basically, it
was a letter from a local resident complaining that the noise of the children
was a nuisance. They were vastly over-crowded and there was not enough space for
land cultivation, washing clothes, etc. He gave the letter much thought, listing
the pros and cons. If he were to leave, he would have to build a structure to
hold at least 300 orphans at a cost of $60,000. On his 36th day of prayer over
the dilemma, the first $6,000 came in for a building program. By June, 1848, he
received all of the $60,000 which he needed. He had begun to build the previous
year on July 5, 1847, at a placed called Ashley Downs as the bulk of the money
had been sent in. Building Number 1 was opened in June, 1849, and housed 300
children with staff sufficient to teach and care for them. It was a seven-acre
site and finally cost about $90,000 as legal expenses, furnishings, and land
purchase brought the price up higher than anticipated. The old houses on Wilson
Street emptied and everyone was now under one roof.
Mueller was becoming a well known
Christian leader. He answered some 3,000 letters a year without a secretary.
Besides his orphanages, the four other objectives of his Scriptural Knowledge
Institution claimed his attention and he continued his pastoral work at Bethesda
In 1850, he felt the need for a second
orphanage. Donations began to come in miraculously again and finally, on
November 12, 1857, a second building housing 400 children at a cost of $126,000
was built. Number 3 opened on March 12, 1862, housing 450 children, and costing
over $138,000. It was housed on 11 1/2 acres. Number 4 was opened November 5,
1868, and Number 5 on January 6, 1870. These last two cost over $300,000 and
housed 450 each.
From 1848 to 1874, money came in to
improve and expand the work which went from 130 orphans to 2,050 during this
time and up to 13 acres. Mueller describes these days, writing in 1874:
But God, our infinite rich Treasurer,
remains with us. It is this which gives me peace. Moreover if it pleases Him,
with a work requiring about $264,000 a year...would I gladly pass through all
these trials of faith with regard to means, if He only might be glorified, and
His Church and the world benefited...I have placed myself in the position of
having no means at all left; and 2,100 persons, not only daily at the table,
but with everything else to be provided for, and all the funds gone; 189
missionaries to be assisted, and nothing whatever left; about one hundred
schools with 9,000 scholars in them, to be entirely supported, and no means
for them in hand; about four million tracts and tens of thousands of copies of
the Holy Scriptures yearly now to be sent out, and all the money expended...I
commit the whole work to Him, and He will provide me with what I need, in
future also, though I know not whence the means are to come.
His own personal income varied around
$12,000 a year, of which he kept for himself $1,800 giving the rest away.
His fellow worker, Henry Craik, died on
January 22, 1866, followed by the death of his wife on February 6, 1870. She was
72 and had suffered from rheumatic fever. James Wright married Mueller's
daughter, Lydia in 1871 and also replaced Craik as his associate. Mueller
himself remarried on November 30, 1871, to a Susannah Grace Sangar, whom he had
known for 25 years as a consistent Christian. He was 66 and she in her late
forties, a perfect companion for him in his ministries still ahead.
Mueller decided to fulfill the many
requests for his appearance around the world. Turning the work over to Wright,
from 1875 to 1892, Mueller made 16 preaching trips to various sectors of the
world. For the sake of historians and others interested in statistical data,
they were as follows:
March 26 - July 6, 1875 England (Brighton,
London, Sunderland, Newcastle). Preached 70 times, such places as Spurgeon's
Metropolitan Tabernacle, etc.
August 14, 1875 - July 5, 1876 England,
Scotland and Ireland. His five week stay in Liverpool had Sunday Crowds of
August 16, 1876 - June 25, 1877
Switzerland, Germany and Holland. Preached 302 times in 68 places in three
August 18, 1877 - July 8, 1878 Canada and
the United States. Preached 299 times, conference with President Rutherford
September 5, 1878 - July 18, 1879
Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy. Fellowship with Spurgeon in France, saw
schools he supported in Spain.
August 27, 1879 - June 17, 1880 United
States and Canada. Spoke again 299 times - in 42 places.
September 15, 1880 - May 31, 1881 Canada
and the United States. Accepted many invitations he had to turn down the
August 23, 1881 - May 30, 1882 Egypt,
Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Turkey, Greece. Many physical difficulties were
encountered, traveling was primitive.
August 8, 1882 - June 1, 1883 Germany,
Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Russia, Poland. Suppressed in Russia, could only
preach to 20 at one time.
September 26, 1883 - June 5, 1884 India.
78 years old, preached 206 times and traveled 21,000 miles.
August 18 - October 2, 1884 England and
South Wales. Tour cut short because of illness of Mrs. Mueller.
May 16 - July 1, 1885 England Tour cut
short because of illness of George Mueller.
September 1 - Oct. 3, 1885 England and
Scotland, Primary ministry was in Liverpool, England, and Dundee, Scotland.
November 4, 1885 - June 13, 1887
Australia, China, Japan, Straits of Malacca. Ages 81 to 83 - traveled 37,280
miles around the world.
August 10, 1887 - March 11, 1890
Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Ceylon, India. Intense heat of Calcutta almost
killed him. Telegram that daughter Lydia had died January 10, 1890 in Bristol
cut short the tour.
August 8, 1890 - May, 1892 Germany,
Switzerland, Austria, Italy. At 86 preaching to large crowds.
George and his wife traveled 200,000 miles
in 17 years of world-wide evangelism efforts, in 42 countries, preaching to 3
It was on January 13, 1894 that his second
wife passed away after 23 years of marriage. He was now 89 years old, and was
living out his days in Orphan House #3. He preached his last sermon on Isaiah's
Vision, March 6, 1898 at Alma Road Chapel in Clifton. On March 10, 1898 the maid
went to his room, and found him dead on the floor by the side of his bed. The
funeral in Bristol on March 14th has never been surpassed there as tens of
thousands lined the streets. The grief of the orphans was evident. He was buried
by the side of his two wives.
Mueller was non-sectarian in his general
outlook, and was one of the founders of the Brethren movement. His influence
touched the lives of thousands - perhaps most notable, that of
J. Hudson Taylor.
His most moving reunion with an orphan was on October 19, 1878 when a 71 year
old widow met him...she had been his first orphan over 57 years previously.
10,023 other orphans were to follow her there and have Daddy Mueller rear them.
Mueller read the Bible through over 200 times, half of these times on his knees.
He said he knew of some 50,000 specific answers to prayer...requests to God
Over 3,000 of his orphans were won to
Christ through his ministry by the Holy Spirit.
Faith Hall of Fame