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George Muller: From Thief to Father of Orphans

One of the most prolific pray-ers of the nineteenth century was a preacher named George Müller. While many of us have heard about God’s unusual ways of providing for the orphans under Muller’s care, what we know less is his colorful past and complete 180-degree transformation.

Müller described his young years as quite the opposite of his later ones. He said he was a thief, a liar and a gambler. By the age of ten, George had stolen government money from his tax-collector father. While his mother lay dying in George’s fourteenth year of age, he was with friends, gaily playing cards and drinking.

This Prussian-born man with a colorful past, however, changed directions abruptly after attending a prayer meeting with a friend. He was moved by the sight of a man on his knees, praying to the God of heaven.

George’s father had sent him to seminary to prepare for the ministry—not for devout reasons, but because ministers in the state church collected lucrative salaries in those days. While there young George was moved after attending the prayer meeting mentioned above. He began studying the Bible and joining in discussions about Christianity. And the sight of a man praying on his knees moved the young student so much that he went to his room, knelt by his bed and asked God to forgive his sins and bless him wherever he went.

George Müller couldn’t have imagined the huge sums of money God would bring in subsequent years, in answer to that prayer.

The rest is history, as we say. Müller became burdened with the plight of orphans. He and his wife started taking girls into their home—30 in the beginning, until neighbors complained about the noise. That began the necessity of building orphanages. Many more followed the first, until historians estimate Muller provided for over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime—all by simple faith in the ability of the God of heaven to bring in the necessary funds. He never told a person about his financial needs.

One of the most often-repeated stories is about the time the children in George’s orphanage sat down to eat breakfast—but there was no food in the building. George insisted on praying and thanking God for food anyway. There was a knock on the door. A milk cart broke down in front of the orphanage, and the milkman offered the milk on his wagon to the happy children. Another knock on the door came from a baker. He said he couldn’t sleep the night before, so he got up and baked a lot of bread to give to the orphanage.

George Müller died at the age of 92, having taken no salary. He refused to tell anyone when he needed funds to operate the many institutions under his care. Utter trust in the God of heaven became his guide—and he never was disappointed.

A group of over 1500 children, taken about 1905 for Muller's autobiographical book.


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