Dear CCW family,
George Muller and I are old friends. My first serious look into his life came from a book from my father’s library which I read in College, Pierson’s George Muller of Bristol. I can distinctly remember where I sat and how I felt while reading those chapters. I thought, “I would like to live a life like this.”
Since those days, I’ve had many encounters with the kind old Muller. His life and words have guided me over and over again as one who understood Scripture well and in a very practical way. It’s not been unusual for me to take a dose of Muller every day in some periods of my life. My friendship with Muller has led me to share what I’ve learned about his 50,000 recorded answers to prayer with many people over the years. I’ve had the privilege of lecturing on Muller in the Bristol Orphanages which he founded, and writing an introduction to the reprint of an autobiographical collection called The Life of Trust. We’ve even published a little-known biography of Muller ourselves, written by his wife, and a small booklet of his views on money.
As you know, George Muller lived throughout most of the 19th century (1805-1898). He fed, clothed, and housed 10,024 orphans in his lifetime, all without appealing to any humans for help. And the orphanage is just one of several effective ministries he began.
He looked solely to the Lord for what he needed. God moved people’s hearts to contribute to the work without him ever giving a direct appeal. He even labored to avoid all subtle appeals. He genuinely wanted God to be honored through the life of trust.
The above idea was powerful to me when I first read it. For years I thought about ways I might apply it. When we began CCW in 1986, we modeled the ministry after this faith approach. Over these 34 years, God has supplied all we have needed in answer to prayer without ever asking anyone but God. He has brought us several millions of dollars of help as it was needed in order for the team to do all that we believed God wanted us to do. Though we don’t think every ministry has to follow our method, it has been an amazing journey of faith for us.
As I mentioned, Muller was a very practical man. Here is an illustration of that. In the following few lines, he explains how he arrived at finding God’s will for his life. This practice shows up over and over in his journals. I hope you find it helpful.
From George Muller’s Narratives
- I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever that may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
- Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
- I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
- Next, I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
- I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.
- Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge; and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving the most important issues, I have found this method always effective.
Trusting the Lord Ahead
These “unraveling days” we’re all experiencing do not perturb God at all, and so, with his guidance CCW can continue to minister in a number of ways. We are doing that. We’ve been able to do some traveling for ministry, even though most previously scheduled meetings were postponed during COVID. When at home, a lot of writing is going on, plus work with pastors and leaders online on a regular basis. Evangelism continues in various forms and there is more time to pray and grow spiritually. None of this is negative. Thanks for praying for us as we seek to use our time to honor him.
Our book, Going Under, Discussions on Baptism is almost ready to be published in Swedish. We’re excited about that. We need to finish a re-do on Led By the Spirit to get it in the pipeline. Steve and I are both working on exegetical books for our Bristol Series. I’m currently writing a series of five articles on “The Lord’s Supper is a Meal,” which may open up wonderful new experiences of true fellowship in churches who are willing to explore what the New Testament says.
These are good days! Thanks for your interest.
Jim and Pam Elliff (with Steve Burchett and Kole Farney)