The Man Who Rescued 10,000 Orphans and Built 117 Schools

Posted by Staff | January 5, 2012  |  No Comment

George Müller (German – born as : Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller) (27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898), a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well-known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans.


Nineteenth Century rendering of the orphan house at Ashly Down.

The work of Müller and his wife with orphans began in 1836 with the preparation of their own home at 6 Wilson Street, Bristol for the accommodation of thirty girls. Soon after, three more houses in Wilson Street were furnished, growing the total of children cared for to 130. In 1845, as growth continued, Müller decided that a separate building designed to house 300 children was necessary, and in 1849, at Ashley Down, Bristol, that home opened. The architect commissioned to draw up the plans asked if he might do so gratuitously.[16] By 26 May 1870, 1,722 children were being accommodated in five homes, although there was room for 2,050 (No 1 House – 300, No 2 House – 400, Nos 3, 4 and 5 – 450 each). By the following year, there were 280 orphans in No 1 House, 356 in No 2, 450 in Nos 3 and 4, and 309 in No 5 House.

Through all this, Müller never made requests for financial support, nor did he go into debt, even though the five homes cost over £100,000 to build. Many times, he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children, further strengthening his faith in God. For example, on one well-documented occasion, they gave thanks for breakfast when all the children were sitting at the table, even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone, and the milkman gave them plenty of fresh milk because his cart broke down in front of the orphanage.


While boys would be placed in apprenticeships at age 14, the young ladies would remain until 17. They received training to be Nurses, Teachers and Domestic Servants.

Although he never asked any person (only God) for anything, Müller asked those who did support his work to give a name and address in order that a receipt might be given. The receipts were printed with a request that the receipt be kept until the next annual report was issued, in order that the donor might confirm the amount reported with the amount given. The wording in the image reads: “Owing to the great increase of my work, I have found it necessary to authorize two of my assistants (Mr. Lawford and Mr. Wright) to sign receipts for donations, if needful, in my stead.-Donors are requested, kindly to keep the receipts and to compare them with the “Supplement” to the Report, which records every donation received, so that they may be satisfied that their donations have been properly applied.-The “Supplement” is sent with the Report to every Donor who furnishes me with his or her name and address.-I would earnestly request all Donors (even those who feel it right to give anonymously) to put it in my power to acknowledge their donations at the time they come to hand; and should any Donor, after having done this, not receive a printed receipt within a week, they would much oblige me by giving me information at once. This interval must, of course, be extended in the case of Donors who send from places out of the United Kingdom. George Müller”. Every single gift was recorded, whether a single farthing, £3,000 or an old teaspoon. Accounting records were scrupulously kept and made available for scrutiny.

Every morning after breakfast there was a time of Bible reading and prayer, and every child was given a Bible upon leaving the orphanage, together with a tin trunk containing two changes of clothing. The children were dressed well and educated – Müller even employed a schools inspector to maintain high standards. In fact, many claimed that nearby factories and mines were unable to obtain enough workers because of his efforts in securing apprenticeships, professional training, and domestic service positions for the children old enough to leave the orphanage.


Children at Ashly Down received education and training for future employment. the day started at 6am for the orphans, normal for working-class children of Victorian times

 A Life of Prayer

Müller prayed about everything and expected each prayer to be answered. One example was when one of the orphan house’s boiler stopped working; Müller needed to have it fixed. Now this was a problem, because the boiler was bricked up and the weather was worsening with each day. So he prayed for two things; firstly that the workers he had hired would have a mind to work throughout the night, and secondly that the weather would let up. On the Tuesday before the work was due to commence, a bitter north wind still blew but in the morning, before the workmen arrived, a southerly wind began to blow and it was so mild that no fires were needed to heat the buildings. That evening, the foreman of the contracted company attended the site to see how he might speed things along, and instructed the men to report back first thing in the morning to make an early resumption of work. The team leader stated that they would prefer to work through the night. The job was done in 30 hours.

The 'little ones" at Ashly Down.

In 1862, it was discovered that one of the drains was blocked. Being some 11 feet underground, workmen were unable to find the blockage despite several attempts. Müller prayed about the situation and the workman at once found the site of the problem.

Strong gales in Bristol on Saturday 14 January 1865 caused considerable damage in the area and over twenty holes were opened in the roofs. Around 20 windows were also broken and two frames damaged by falling slates. The glazier and slater normally employed had already committed their staff to other work so nothing could be done until the Monday. Had the winds continued, with heavy rain, the damage to the orphanage would have been much greater. After much prayer, the wind stopped in the afternoon and no rain fell until Wednesday, by which time most of the damage had been repaired.

Once, whilst crossing the Atlantic on the SS Sardinian in August 1877, his ship ran into thick fog. He explained to the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by the following afternoon, but Captain Joseph E Dutton (later known as “Holy Joe”) said that he was slowing the ship down for safety and Müller’s appointment would have to be missed. Müller asked to use the chartroom to pray for the lifting of the fog. The captain followed him down, claiming it would be a waste of time. After Müller prayed, the captain started to pray, but Müller stopped him; partly because of the captain’s unbelief, but mainly because he believed the prayer had already been answered. When the two men went back to the bridge, they found the fog had lifted. The captain became a Christian shortly afterwards.

Müller’s faith in God strengthened day by day and he spent hours in daily prayer and Bible reading.- indeed, it was his practice, in later years, to read through the entire Bible four times a year.

The orphan house at Ashly Down today. It featured high ceilings and three hundred large windows donated by a window maker. By Victorian standards it was a very cheerful environment.

Conversion of George Muller: The Orphans’ Friend
compiled by Hy. PickeringGeorge Muller, founder of the Orphan Homes, Bristol, [England], wherein 16,000 orphans have been received, who received £1,500,000 in answer to prayer and faith alone, was a Prussian by birth. When a student at the University of Halle, he was careless and unconcerned about spiritual matters. Although he was studying with the object of becoming a clergyman of the Established Church, he knew nothing whatever of the saving power of the Gospel. His conversion came about as follows: Through attending meetings in a private house in Halle, conducted by a devoted Christian, he became deeply interested and impressed with what he saw and heard. The simple believers that he came in contact with at these services had something which he did not possess. He longed for rest and peace to his troubled spirit, but was ignorant how it was to be obtained. He knew of no one who professed to be saved through faith in Christ’s Blood. Things must have been at a low ebb spiritually. “I had no Bible and had not read it for years,” he said: “I went to church but seldom; but from custom took the Lord’s Supper twice a year. I had never heard the Gospel preached up to the beginning of November, 1825” — the month of his conversion. “I had never met with a person who told me that he meant by the help of God to live according to the Scriptures. In short, I had not the least idea that there were any persons really different from myself except in degree.”

Mr. Muller returned to the house several times, and not long afterwards saw that Christ by His sacrificial death on Calvary had borne sin’s penalty, and died that he might be eternally saved. Through believing on the Lord Jesus he became a new creature. The Word of God became His joy and delight, old companions were given up, and although ridiculed and laughed at by his fellow-students, he boldly witnessed for Christ.

George Muller established 5 large Orphan Homes on Ashley Downs, Bristol; circulated millions of Scriptures and books, visited many countries, and entered into rest in 1896, in his 93rd year, leaving £160 in his will.

 Note from Thad Wilkinson: From the earliest days of my walk with God I found the faithfulness and sacrifice of Geoge Muller to be deeply impactful. His desire to rescue abandoned and orphaned children for Christ’s sake and his amazing approach to fund raising guide me still.

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