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In the year 1805 was born in Prussia George Mueller, whose orphanages at Ashley Down, Bristol, may be regarded as one of the modern wonders of the world.

His father intended that George should become a minister, but the lad in his early days showed no signs of a desire to set apart his life to good works. He had the misfortune to lose his mother when he was fourteen years old, and though he was confirmed in 1820 no deep impression had been made by God’s grace in his heart.

When he was sixteen he went to Brunswick, and putting up at an hotel lived expensively, and had to part with his best clothes to pay the bill. Later on, for leaving an hotel without paying, he was put in prison, and had to stay there till the money was sent for his release.

He had, indeed, grown so hardened that he could tell lies without blushing. He pretended to lose some money which had been sent to him, and his friends gave him more to replace it. He got into debt, and pawned his clothes in order to procure the means to go to taverns and places of amusement.

But the hand of God was upon him, and he did not do these things without suffering in his mind. About this time too he began to study the Bible earnestly.

At the age of twenty the great change came. He attended a prayer meeting, and there his eyes became opened, and he saw there was no hope for him but in Christ. He read the Bible anew, and from that time commenced leading a new life.

When he was about twenty-four years old Mueller came over to England, and settled at Teignmouth as pastor of a small church. He refused to have any regular salary or to receive pew rents, taking only such offerings as his congregation wished to give him. Sometimes he had no money left at all; at others he had only just enough food for one meal, and knew not where the means were coming from for the next. Yet he trusted entirely in God, and was never left in want.

After this he went to Bristol, and seeing many poor children uncared for laid the matter before God; and, believing it to be His will that he should try to provide some place of rest for these little ones, he took a house large enough to contain thirty girls.

Rather a remarkable thing happened in connection with the opening of the Home. The money had been supplied, and preparations had been made to receive the children, but none sought admission!

Mueller cast about in his mind as to why this should be so, and he discovered that whilst he had asked God for money to open the Home and for helpers, he had forgotten to pray that the children might be sent; and to this he attributed such a strange occurrence.

Still, the omission was soon rectified, and the Home ere long teemed with children.

This was in 1834. From such a small beginning the great Orphan Homes on Ashley Down sprang. Every need connected with the progress of the work was made the subject of prayer by George Mueller and his earnest band of workers.

Again and again he has not known where to turn for the next meal for his orphans; but, as if by a miracle, supplies have been always forthcoming. Though often in great straits Mr. Mueller has never asked for help except of God, and never has that help been denied.

The following extract from his journal will show the trials to which Mr. Mueller has been subjected: “Never were we so reduced in funds as to-day. There was not a single halfpenny in hand between the matrons of the three orphan houses. There was a good dinner, and by managing to help one another by bread, etc., there was a prospect of getting over the day also; but for none of the houses had we the prospect of being able to take in bread. When I left the brethren and sisters at one o’clock after prayer I told them that we must wait for help, and see how the Lord would deliver us this time.” About twenty yards from his home he met a person interested in the Homes who gave him L20. This is but a sample of many occasions upon which, having waited upon God in simple faith, help has arrived at the very hour it has been needed.

Some paragraphs in Mueller’s yearly reports read almost like a fairy story, only they are far more beautiful, being a record of facts. Thus in May, 1892, when the financial year of the institution began, they had in hand for their School, Bible, Missionary and Tract funds only L17 8-1/2 d.

In June of that year a packet was found at Hereford Railway Station containing eleven sovereigns, addressed to Mr. Mueller, with nothing but these words inside, “From a Cheerful Giver, Bristol, for Jesus’ Sake”. In the same month came L100, “from two servants of the Lord Jesus, who, constrained by the love of Christ, seek to lay up treasure in Heaven”.

A Newcastle man wrote that though finances were low he doubled the sum usually sent to the institution, “in faith and also with much joy”. A sick missionary in the wilds of Africa sent L44 17d., being apparently all the money he possessed.

“Again and again,” writes Mr. Mueller, “I have had cheques amounting even to L5000, from individuals whose names I knew not before receiving their donations.”

Other paragraphs in the report read thus: “Received anonymously five large cheeses; received a box of dessert knives and forks, a cruet, a silver soup ladle and a silver cup; from Clifton, twelve tons house coals; from Bedminster, a monster loaf, 200 lbs. in weight, and ten feet long and twenty-one inches broad”.

On 1st August L82 5s. came “from a Christian gentleman in Devon, who for more than forty-five years has from time to time helped us, though I have never seen him”.

“To-day,” writes Mueller on 7th September, “our income altogether was about L300 a plain proof that we do not wait on the Lord in vain; for every donation we receive is a direct answer to prayer, because we never ask a single human being for anything.” On 29th October Mr. Mueller writes: “For several days very little has come in for the support of the various objects of the institution. To-day, again, only about L15 was received by the first four deliveries of letters; at 5:45 I had for the third time that day prayer with my dear wife, entreating God to help us, and a little after 6 p.m. came a cheque for L200 by the fifth delivery, from Edinburgh.”

A gold chain and watch-key, two gold brooches, and a pair of earrings were sent to Mr. Mueller, with the following comment: “My wife and I having, through the exceeding riches of God’s grace, been brought to the Lord Jesus, wish to lay aside the perishing gold of the world for the unsearchable riches of Christ, and send the enclosed for the support of the orphans”.

The above are from a single yearly report that for 1893. Scores of similar donations in money and kind are recounted in the same annual statement. In that year Mr. Mueller was able to speak of his conversion as having taken place nearly sixty-eight years ago. The work has been wonderfully blessed. In the report mentioned Mr. Mueller stated that the total amount he had received by prayer and faith for the various objects of his institutions, since 5th March, 1834, had been L1,309,627; that no fewer than 8727 children had been under his care; and that he had room at his Homes for 2050 orphans.