June 23, 2008

Learning at the Feet of Müller

George MullerI wish I could say that my faith in Christ always remains strong. But in the ups and downs of becoming a missionary, as I seek to raise awareness and support for our East African ministry, my trust in the Lord’s care and provision wavers. Thankfully, God has given me a good church and faithful friends to encourage me and to spur me on. One personal friend and fellow church member recently sensed my downcast spirit and suggested that I read a biography on George Müller. Since I’d often heard about Müller but never actually read anything about him, I promised my friend that I’d check it out.

I’m glad that I did! By the following Lord’s Day, I had already finished reading the book. For those of you who don’t know about George Müller, he was a 19th-century British evangelist and pastor who also oversaw a growing number of orphanages. Throughout his life and ministry, all of his accomplishments were realized without his once ever directly asking for financial help. He determined to depend on Christ completely to meet his needs, relying almost exclusively on prayer. What was the result? God provided everything Müller required. Through decades of difficult ministry, He took care of Müller.

If you’d like to know more about this great man of God, I recommend that you get a copy of the biography George Müller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer. You can also listen to John Piper’s message “George Mueller’s Strategy for Showing God.” In any case, I want to quickly list some ways that learning more about Müller’s life has made an impact on me:
  • God uses men of very different backgrounds and beliefs to accomplish His work. In reading about Müller, it didn’t take long for me to start seeing places where I disagreed with him theologically. I had to stop reading and ask myself: Should I nitpick over every little area where I find some fault with this brother in Christ, or can I allow myself to admire his faith and trust in God? We may have our differences, but I came away from my study in awe of this hero of the faith. Müller reminded me of the importance of humility and our need to work with believers of different denominations and theological persuasions in order to further the kingdom of Christ.

  • I must truly trust in Christ—first and foremost—to provide for the Africa Center for Apologetics Research. While I may not believe that Müller’s approach to obtaining support is the only biblical method (e.g., Romans 15:20–24, Philippians 4:10–20), there’s no doubt that he was trusting the Lord to meet his needs. As I let others know of our ministry and invite them to become partners in what we’re doing, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of depending on myself and my efforts to raise our support. True, I may need to actively tell others about our East African ministry, but only God’s blessings will enable us to move forward. Müller challenges me to never forget Who is the Generous Provider—Jesus Christ.

  • I need to spend more time in prayer. Obviously, this point is related to the last, but it’s still key. What I spend my time doing demonstrates where my heart truly lies. If I’m not regularly on my knees in prayer, then my focus isn’t where it should be. One thing becomes clear about Müller—he was a man of prayer. Since I’m dependent on God in my missionary task, should I be any less devoted to prayer? Of course not. Müller is a great example: A man who not only believed in the sovereignty of God but lived his life in light of God’s purpose.
Müller both challenges me and encourages me. I’m challenged by his steadfast devotion to and reliance upon Christ. I’m also encouraged to see God’s faithfulness and love displayed through the ministry of a submissive servant. By God’s grace, I pray that Christ will use me for the glory of His gospel and the advancement of His kingdom.