Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Have you ever thought of doing something that seemed impossible, not to make yourself look like anything special, but to bring God glory? This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Wednesday, September 21st.

Imagine that you’re responsible for feeding and clothing two children and week-to-week you just don’t know where the money’s going to come from. Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t have to imagine that. It is my life.” Now suppose that you’re not responsible for just two kids. Imagine that you’re taking care of thousands, and there’s no obvious source of income except God Himself.

Today, we’ll hear about a man who did have faith to care for 10,000 orphans in his lifetime. Nancy, you started to tell us the story yesterday.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That’ s right, Leslie. This month we’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of a great man of God named George Mueller. Yesterday, we saw that as a young man George Mueller was overwhelmed by the fact that God would show him grace.

He so wanted to live a life that demonstrated faith in God, so he and his wife lived without a salary from the church where he was a pastor. He determined never to tell anyone but God about his needs. It seems like that kind of a life would be a challenge for any couple. But what’s even more amazing is that they continued that same approach when they started building orphanages.

It was 1834. George Mueller was 28 years-old. He was a German-born pastor who had come to Bristol, England. Jim Elliff sets the scene.

Jim Elliff: If you can imagine the days of Dickens’ Oliver Twist, you get a little picture of what the English world was like at that time. It was during the Industrial Revolution. Many children either worked, or their parents worked just nonstop. There was much disease and sometimes a plague or some kind of disease would come through and wipe out numbers of people. There’d be lots of orphans all around.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Here’s John Piper.

John Piper: When he started in 1834, there were accommodations in all of Britain for 3,600 orphans. There were twice that many children under eight in prison in 1834 in England.

Jim Elliff: It wasn’t long that God put on his heart a verse of Scripture out of Psalm 81 and it’s verse ten. And it said this: “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (KJV). God used this verse and this concept to lead George Mueller to believe God, to trust God for the money to actually take these orphans in and be able to supply them with everything they would need for life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Even as he made plans to care for orphans, George Mueller continued to keep God’s glory as his number one priority.

“The first and primary object of the work was and still is that God might be magnified.”

John Piper: Now, I think the biggest surprise I got in reading the life of Mueller is how pervasive was his insistence that he was not doing orphan work mainly for orphans.

“The chief reasons for establishing an orphan house are: One, that God would be glorified should He be pleased to furnish me with the means—it is being seen that it is not in vain to trust Him and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened; number two, the spiritual welfare of the fatherless and motherless children; number three, the temporal welfare.”

John Piper: Now make no mistake, those three—the strengthening of the faith of the church of Jesus Christ by watching my life and how I care for the orphans, the spiritual welfare of the orphans, the temporal welfare of the orphans—those three in that order was his life, not the other way around. This is really a deep sense of calling on George Mueller. It was absolutely his passion.

The first and primary object of the work was and still is that God might be magnified by the fact that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need only by prayer and faith without anyone being asked by me. Whereby it may be seen that God is faithful.”

John Piper: “He was deeply grieved,” quote, “that so many believers were harassed and distressed in mind and brought guilt on their consciences on account of not trusting the Lord.”

Jim Elliff: He wanted to be a living illustration that God was everything He said He was. I find that to be the most important aspect of George Mueller’s life and the thing that we need to carry away with us more than anything else about this great man of God.

John Piper: He chose the orphans decisively, crucially to display the trustworthiness of God in answering prayer. Let’s read it.

“It seemed to me best to be done by the establishing of an orphan house.”

“It needed to be something which could be seen even by the natural eye. If I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith obtained without asking any individual the means for establishing and carrying on an orphan house, there would be something which with the Lord’s blessing might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God.”

John Piper: In 1834 he founded the Scripture Knowledge Institute for Home and Abroad. It had five ministries which sprung out from his church. His five ministries besides the church were: schools for children and adults; two, Bible distribution; three, missionary support (He was a great supporter of Hudson Taylor); four, tract and book distribution; and the most famous one, number five, in his words, “to board and clothe and Scripturally educate destitute children who have lost both parents by death.” That’s a pretty narrow definition of orphan, and that was his working definition. He wouldn’t even admit children born out of wedlock.

Jim Elliff: George Mueller began in his work with the orphans on Wilson Street. He actually got a row house which was about three stories high or so—perhaps a basement or a cellar and just sort of double windows all the way up. He got this place as a place to begin his work with the orphans. He advertised that he would receive orphans. He prayed everything in, everything that was needed, all the utensils, the linens, the workers who would help and so forth. Everything came in. It was a beautiful experience. Everything was ready. He’d announced the day he was going to receive children, and on that day nobody came.

I can just picture him sitting there all day long wondering after all this build-up why nobody showed up. When he walked home he was very disturbed. He thought about it carefully and with great concern on his way home. He was reminded of Philippians 4:4-7 where it says don’t worry about anything. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (verse 6, New American Standard).

And he thought to himself, “You know I prayed for the utensils; I prayed for the linens; I prayed for the chairs; I prayed for the beds; I prayed for the workers. But the one thing I forgot to pray for was God bringing children here.” Now this was really serious to him. He went home. He spent two or three hours on his face before God just confessing his sin and asking God to bring the children.

The next day the first little girl was brought, and then before long there were thirty-something. They had more requests. He got a second row house, which I believe was number one Wilson Street. Then he got a third one, number three Wilson Street. And then he actually got a fourth one. Well, by this time children are everywhere.

John Piper: He built over the years five large orphan houses, very large. Altogether they would hold over 2,000 children.

Jim Elliff: These were all built just by looking to God in order to house these orphans and care for them there. He loved them; he was loved by the kids.

John Piper: Over his lifetime he cared for 10,024 orphans. By the time he was done with his life of ministering to orphans, by virtue of the inspiration he became to other people for ministry, there were at least 100,000 orphans being cared for in homes in England when he died as opposed to 3,600 when he began.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: George Mueller’s goal of bringing God glory was realized in his lifetime, and his story continues to inspire generations of believers to trust God. It should inspire you and me. You might not be called to care for 10,000 orphans, but you can bring God glory by trusting him just as George Mueller did.

Maybe your way of demonstrating God’s power is by taking care of your own children. Maybe it’s staying faithful in a tough marriage. Maybe it’s through some type of ministry in your church. Would you trust God to do great things in whatever place He’s put you, and would you seek to glorify Him through your life?

I’ve been so encouraged to trust God more by reading and rereading the story of George Mueller, and I think you will be, too. There are several good biographies of his life available. This week we’re recommending two in particular. One is by Roger Steer. It’s a classic called, George Mueller: Delighted in God.

Then we’re also offering a shorter book. This is a book your older children could read on their own or that you might want to read to your entire family. I really encourage people to read biographies of heroes of the faith. These two books are a great way to start for you and for your family. They’ll strengthen your faith and that of your children and inspire you to ask God for great things.

Leslie Basham: You can get a copy of George Mueller’s biographies by visiting our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Nancy, today we heard about George Mueller’s passion for God’s glory. I can’t help but think about his wife. She had to have the same kind of passion supporting her husband as they cared for orphans together while pastoring a church.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You’re right, Leslie. Mary Mueller really is an unsung hero in this story. Your pastor’s wife is probably an unsung hero, too. October marks Pastor Appreciation Month. We’re going to do some special things on Revive Our Hearts to thank pastors over the coming weeks. But it’s not too early for you to start planning how you can honor your pastor’s wife.

We’ve put together a special gift packet that you can give your pastor’s wife to say, “Thank you. I’m so grateful for the way you serve the Lord and this church.”

Leslie Basham: It includes a signed copy of your book, Surrender, and a lot of other fun things. We even make it easy for you by including a gift bag and card. You can get more information by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy, listening to the story of George Mueller will make every listener ask, “Should we give up our salary and live like he did?”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, one thing we know is that we’re all called to live by faith, but that may look different for different people. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow as we continue to examine the life of George Mueller. Please be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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