For many George Muller needs no introduction for he is so well known as the man of God who raised up Orphanages purely by faith in the Divine provision. But few may know of his early and latter days. George was born in Prussia (now Germany) into a Lutheran family. His father was a lover of the things of this world. As George grew he loved to play cards, read novels, go to the theatre and get drunk. He was a liar and a thief, filled with pride and jealousy. While his mother was on her deathbed, he ran the streets in a drunken state. When he entered a relationship with a Catholic girl he went from bad to worse. Soon he was thrown into prison. After 25 days his father paid his debts and he was released. For a short time he applied himself to study surrounded by 300 books, rising at daily and working till . He attended HalleUniversity where he received qualification to enter the ministry, but was still dead in his sins and dead to God.
One Saturday evening in November 1825 a fellow student and fellow sinner took him to a small prayer meeting. There he saw and was deeply impressed by something he had never seen or heard before, a man kneeling at his chair in fervent prayer. Later that evening he also knelt in prayer at his bedside and arose, a new man. After that he gave up drink, separated from his old friends and burnt the manuscript of an immoral book which he had translated from French in order to make money. He now gave himself to the reading of God’s Word, the Bible. He started a habit of early rising which he maintained for the rest of his life and of reading the Bible prayerfully upon his knees. He read it through at least four times each year.
He read in magazines of the early missionary endeavours and this birthed within him an interest and burden for foreign missions. In 1827 he unsuccessfully offered himself as a missionary for Bucharest. Next a door opened for him with the London Jew’s Society and he was accepted. In March 1829 he moved to London for 6 months training. He studied Hebrew and various books for 12 hours a day but only kept spiritually alive by falling frequently on his knees in prayer.
Suddenly he was struck with illness and thought he was near death; this worked in him a full surrender of his heart to the will of God inspired in part by A.N. Groves’ booklet Christian Devotedness which he read during this time. After this experience great joy filled him in reading the scriptures and in the place of prayer. Also at this time the Lord revealed to his heart the truth of His personal glorious return as opposed to the dominant post-millennialism of the day. He was advised to retire to Devonshire for recuperation and did so in December 1929. While staying and fellowshipping with friends he heard of A.N. Groves giving up a £1500 a year income as a dentist in order to go to the mission field, trusting God alone. This deeply affected him.
He now realised that to follow what he read in the Bible and his own conscience he must be led by the Spirit of God in ministry. The London Jew’s Society of course could not conform to this pattern so released him from his commitments. He remained in Devonshire preaching where he was asked to pastor a small church of 18 believers in Teignmouth. While there he also travelled ministering in many other places. In 1830 after being challenged by some ladies concerning believer’s baptism he gave himself to study this and soon recognized his need to be baptised in water and did so immediately. His eyes were opened to the truth of the Lord’s Table and of the need of the Holy Spirit working through each member of the body when they gathered. He refused a regular wage and placed a box at the back of the church for free-will offerings. In the same year in October he married Miss Mary who was Groves’ sister and eight years George’s senior. He was set on a course for life.The written scripture was his only rule of faith, the Holy Spirit his teacher, and the prayer of faith his only recourse.
When his good friend Henry Craik received a call to pastor the Gideon Chapel in Bristol he sent for his friend Muller to assist him. And so Muller left the 51 members behind and set out anew. The Bethesda Chapel was also hired and the men got to work. Soon a terrible outbreak of cholera hit the city of Bristol. Death surrounded them daily but only one member of the assembly died. That first year about 100 new believers were added to these works. Over the years it increased until there were gatherings of several hundred led by a strong Eldership. In 1834 they began the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad in order to raise funds to help school children, circulate the Bible and help missionaries on foreign fields.
In April 1836 the Mullers opened their home with 26 orphans. By the following year they had 81 orphans in three houses aided by eight staff. In 1849 they moved into the newly built home in the Ashley Down area of Bristol with 300 children. By 1870 they had five homes for 2,000 children. By the end of his days over 10,000 orphans had passed through the homes.
He was not confined to Bristol. In 1843 he had visited Prussia for six months where he taught a group of believers how to wait upon the Spirit of God for guidance in meetings. To be led in what they sang, in spontaneous prayer and in the ministry of God’s Word. Several other assemblies were planted from this one but it was in 1875 that he really started his international travels. The next 17 years he travelled constantly and often journeys would last as long as one or two years. In all he ministered in 42 countries to masses of God’s people. It was in 1898 that he died joyful and peacefully at the age of 92 years old. All of this labour was in order to prove to the church that God still hears and answers prayer.
by Keith Malcomson.
Edited from "Pentecostal Pioneers Remembered" by Keith Malcomson. Copyright 2008 by Keith Malcomson. No part of this article may be reproduced without the permission of the author.
“Pentecostal Pioneers Remembered”
by Keith Malcomson.
Here is a story long untold and mostly forgotten, of faith, power and glory.
This book commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Pentecostal Movement in Great Britain & Ireland, 1907-2007. Herein is the story of the Men, the Movement, the Message and the Miracles that became known as the Pentecostal Movement. These testimonies are timeless, powerful and stirring but sadly most of these pioneers have long disappeared from the sight and remembrance of the church. This is a very simple attempt to stir up the mind of the church to remember these men and women who so impacted families, cities and nations by a life of consecrated prayer, crowned and sealed with Holy Ghost power. Amongst them you will find pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles. Although all these pioneers were born in Britain & Ireland yet their ministries deeply affected the world. Their influence and power was amazingly greater than their birth, upbringing, number, education or financial resources. These testimonies will deeply inspire another generation to go and do likewise.
"I take great pleasure in writing the foreword for this book written by Keith Malcomson...I believe the reading of this book...of how God used these men to recover the spiritual in their day will greatly encourage us, especially the preacher, to believe God to do it again." B.H. Clendennen