WHEN MR. MULLER died his work was not at an end, but slowly with the passing years the shadow of his life lengthened. The setting sun struck his spiritual stature and cast the broad outlines of his noble existence upon the coming decades. Today, Mr. Muller, though dead, still lives through the monumental work he left behind.
That question, What of the future? held no terrors for Mr. Muller’s successors so long as they remained true to the foundation principles. James Wright declared in his funeral oration, It is going on! And today, these many years since its founder’s death, it still triumphs through faith. God buried His workers, several of them since that time, but His work carries on.
“I am no prophet,” Mr. Wright said in that funeral oration, “but when I remember the prayers which my beloved mother-in-law and father-in-law offered for years for the future of this work...that He in His way would raise up some help or helpers to share the responsibility of the work, and when I remember that that has been the theme of our united supplications, I cannot believe that the blessed God, Who has so illustrated His faithfulness in this work for sixty-four years, is going to leave those prayers unanswered.
“But, as I say, what He does will be worthy of Himself. I would only ask the prayers of all believers on behalf of the little group of workers up at the Orphan Houses...for prayer is the appointed means to get the blessing.”
God did raise up that first worker in the form of Mr. Wright, who entered upon the responsibilities with no fear of the future. For two or more years before Mr. Muller’s death there was a great trial of faith. Some of those months were seasons of dire need. It is recorded that on two mornings the mailman did not bring a single donation...the only experience of its kind in fifty years. Nine days before Mr. Muller’s home-going the flood gates of blessings were opened and a sum of £1,427 was received. “How gracious,” Mr. Wright said, “it was of the Lord to order that these hundreds of petitions should be answered nine days before his home-call.”
While Mr. Muller’s death brought no financial legacy, it did leave a more valuable gift in the form of unanswered prayers, which petitions were soon to be heartily answered by the Lord. For within the next few months thousands of pounds came in as donations, which Mr. Wright felt his deceased father-in-law had prayed in before his death.
Mr. Wright was burdened about a fellow workman, with whom he could share the responsibilities of the Houses, so he gave himself to much prayer. God seemed to indicate that George Frederick Bergin, with whom he had been intimately acquainted for twenty-five years should take this position.
When he presented the matter to Mr. Bergin, he found that this person was on his way to offer his services in such a capacity. The Spirit had put it on his heart that here was to be his sphere of labor.
In 1899 a letter came from a total stranger who wanted to know how the finances of the Institution stood, but Mr. Wright answered that it was against the principles of the work to divulge the financial status to any one. These matters were in the hands of God. By return mail a check for $5,250 arrived from the same person.
The year after Mr. Muller’s death the total income was £29,670, and the following year it mounted to £43,985, showing thus that the blessings of God were still upon the work and those who bore its burdens. During the years from 1900-1904 there was always a substantial balance on hand for the work, and at one time this balance ran to more than $57,000.
On January 29, 1905, after a long illness, Mr. Wright died in his seventy-ninth year and was buried near the spot where his father-in-law rested. During his life it was often supposed that he had a private source of income, so great were his gifts. But Mr. Bergin found the secret of his liberality.
“On examining his cash books,” Mr. Bergin wrote, “I discovered it was his regular habit to lay aside, of every gift he received...not a tenth, not a fifth, not a quarter, but a half. This large proportion did not satisfy him, for I found that out of what I may call his own half, he gave liberally, in addition to giving all the Lord’s portion.”
His total estate, counting personal effects and cash, amounted to $230. And his doctrine, “Owe no man anything,” was fulfilled, for all he owed were his doctor, the undertaker and the lawyer’s fee for proving his will.
Thus seven years after Mr. Muller’s death the active control of the Orphan Houses along with all the other labors of the Institution fell upon the shoulders of one who had not been connected with its founder. The public often wondered how the work would progress, and whether or not God would abundantly supply the needs as he had done heretofore.
It required $3,500 a week to operate the home alone, and during those first weeks often only half that amount came in, but when the 1905 books were balanced, they showed a surplus of $175, with a total income of £25,980.
Mr. Bergin knew but one way to proceed and that was the Muller-way of clinging to the Lord. “Put yourself if you can...in our position — over 1,900 orphan children to feed, clothe, and educate...and see how truly we had to look to, yea, cling to, our God, as the ivy clings to the oak tree, and is by it supported in the storm.”
Many were the miraculous answers to his prayers, as they had been to the prayers of the founder. On September 27, 1905, the Centenary of Mr. Muller’s birth was celebrated, and Mr. Bergin asked the Lord to supply 2,000 bananas for the children’s cakes. He sent to town to find out the price, and while the messenger was gone 4,000 bananas arrived. “So through God’s bounty, our children had two bananas each on the 27th, whereas I had only thought of one each — ‘exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think!’ ”
At the beginning of 1907 Mr. Bergin and his son, a physician, were riding in a Bristol street car when they saw a request for $12,500 for local medical charity. “I pointed it out to my son remarking that this was about what we needed and that the Lord could give us that sum without any public appeal.”
So in private and public prayer they asked God to send in these funds, and “It is worthy to note that during the fortnight ending yesterday (9th), while these appeals were facing us, He gave us £2,570 7s. 5 1/2d.” (or $350 more than they had asked for).
Large balances were at hand at the close of 1908 and 1909. The first year this balance was practically $24,000 and the second year it was $13,580. Since the institution was founded in 1834, until May, 1910, £1,820,675 were contributed for the various objects which Mr. Muller wrote into the first statement of the purpose of the work. In the twelve years since Mr. Muller’s death £363,522 came in as donations.
Some said that when George Muller passed to his heavenly reward the work would dwindle and finally die. But as long as faith remains the work will continue. Shortly again God was to bury a worker, but faith and the work were to carry on, proving as Mr. Muller often affirmed that the living God is living still.
Mr. Frederick Bergin had two sons, both of them doctors. His older son, Dr. G. F. Bergin, was associated with his father for several years, and in 1910 he passed to his reward. The blow was heavy to the father, so on June 1, 1910 he sent to London for his second son, Dr. William M. Bergin, to assist him.
This proved to be a happy partnership, which lasted, however only two years. For in 1912 the elder Bergin died, and left the work to his son. “The blow that fell upon the Institution on October 8, 1912,” writes Dr. Bergin, “was the heaviest it had ever sustained. When Mr. Muller was called Home, Mr. Wright had been his helper for over thirty-eight years. When Mr. Wright passed away to be with the Lord, Mr. Bergin had been seven years his colleague. But when my beloved father fell asleep, I had only been two years and four months assisting him...And I saw that if it should please God still to continue the work, it would evidently be a greater proof than ever that ‘God is still the living God, and today, as thousands of years ago, he answers the prayers of His believing children.’”
Dr. Bergin had assumed the active leadership only a few months when he took seriously ill, and felt that it would please the Lord to select someone to assist him in carrying the burdens of the Home. He sought God’s guidance in the matter, and the decision came that God’s choice was Alfred E. Green, a missionary for twenty years in the Straits Settlements, who then was waiting upon the Lord for guidance to return to his former labors.
When Dr. Bergin presented the thought to Mr. Green, he asked for time in which to seek the mind of the Spirit. Duly he came to the decision that this was to be God’s work henceforth for him. The association proved to be a happy one, for many years, until Dr. Bergin’s death on March 31, 1930. It was greatly crowned with God’s benedictions, for through those years every need was supplied.
“As ever, our appeals are made to God alone,” writes Mr. Green. “Very grave have been the circumstances of this country and of the world during these past years; but the resources of God are boundless, and he had maintained these Homes to witness...to his power and his willingness to answer believing prayer in every time of need.”
During the first World War when everything seemed darkest, God always arrived in time with a bounteous supply of the needs. While the banks closed, God sent in sufficient funds to purchase what might be necessary to feed the children.
On August 14, 1914, this entry is found in the Report: “These are the things which faced us this morning on one side, and on the other was our responsibility in caring for the 1,677 children today in these Homes, with also the 200 workers employed...But seeing that for three days (when the banks were closed) we shall not be able to draw any money from the bank, how shall we do? This is soon answered by the Lord, for one of the first letters to be opened contained a £100 Bank of England note, with the simple wording, ‘£100 for the Orphanage, from Bath.’...Altogether today we have nearly fifty gifts...and the total amounted to £172 13s. 7d. So indeed we thanked God and took courage.”
In the Report for 1916-15 Dr. Bergin made this statement, “So graciously has the Lord supplied our needs during the year that we conclude it with a balance of £12,016 7s. 6 1/2d.” During the year following the Lord graciously supplied all current needs so that this surplus was not touched, and Dr. Bergin states, “It seems to us as if He has been saying, ‘You see, my children, that though I did leave you a large balance, it was just as easy for Me to continue to supply all your needs as to allow you to draw upon your balance.’”
In January, 1917, it became necessary for the Home to buy their annual supply of oatmeal, which amounted to ten tons. They discovered the price was four times the pre-war price, and there was little money on hand for this purchase. After praying about the matter Dr. Bergin and Mr. Green decided it was God’s will for them to contract for the oatmeal.
“Almost the first letter opened at Ashley Down,” states Mr. Green, in recalling the incident, “contained a banker’s draft for £156 from Australia...Thus the Lord confirmed our faith by showing His ability to send us help in this time of need from the other end of the world.”
These wonderful provisions continued from God’s hand and even in the smallest details the Home was not overlooked however dark the conditions might have been. Once the government commandeered a $1,750 consignment of oatmeal from America, just at the time when the Home greatly needed the supply. The group of workers went to their knees in prayer, and soon God answered by the ringing of the telephone and a word from a government agent saying that shortly another supply would arrive, which they were to receive free of charge.
When the Armistice was signed, Dr. Bergin records that during those stressful years of war God did not suffer them to want. They finished the war years with a surplus of more than $17,500 in their treasury. “Well may we rejoice to ‘talk of all his wondrous works,’ and show how practical a thing it is to trust in the ‘Living God,’ ” says Dr. Bergin.
On March 18, 1922, God sent the largest single gift ever to be received in the long history of the work in the form of a donation from the United States of $45,000. A simple statement accompanied the money, saying, “Please accept this slight token in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yours by grace only.”
On the 29th of the same month another check for $6,135.67 arrived. About this Dr. Bergin writes, “Surely we are proving that our God is able to open the windows of heaven for us.” During the four days of April 24-27, God sent in a total of more than $50,000, or £12,296.
The happy relation of Mr. Green and Dr. Bergin was broken by the doctor’s death on March 31, 1930. His last days had been times of severe suffering, but through the pain his faith triumphed. In this distressful time Mr. Green selected his brother-in-law, Thomas Tilsley, to be his colleague in carrying on the work.
The latest Report of the Institution was issued in 1939, giving the income for the year 1938-39. This showed a total income for the Orphanage fund of £34,322 8s. 9d. There was also a balance on hand of £7 124s. 9 1/2d. Thus God, the Living God, has been able to supply all the needs of the Home. The Report concludes:
“Without anyone having been personally applied to by us for a donation, £2,369,747 12s. 8 3/4d. has been received for the Orphans, as a result of prayer to God, since the commencement of the work, which sum includes the amount received for the Building Fund for the five Houses. Besides this, articles of clothing, furniture, etc., and of food have been given in great variety for the use of the Orphans.”
To this must be added another £507,499 which has been donated for other phases of the work. From the sale of Bibles came £35,341, and of tracts and books an additional £68,963, and by payment of children in the day schools the sum of £25,377. For the free distribution of the Autobiography of Mr. Muller there has been received £539 7s.
“Thus it will be seen that up to the present time the Report continues, “the Living God has sent in answer to prayer £3,007,469 12s. 3d.”
The present director of the Houses, Mr. Alfred Green, comments on this figure, “Think quietly over that large figure. And consider whether Mr. Muller has not been fully justified in his setting out, in a path of utter dependence upon God alone, to give a visible proof that God would show Himself to be still the Living God.”
Humanly speaking it is utterly impossible to think of this amount of money being received without asking anyone for a contribution. The total money thus received during 105 years since Mr. Muller founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution is the staggering sum of $15,037,348.
Looking into the future Mr. Green and Mr. Tilsley asked the Lord to raise up another assistant to help in carrying the heavy load of the Institution and the Lord made clear his choice in the person of John McCready. A lengthy career in banking combined with the necessary spiritual qualifications of a love for the Bible as well as sincere faith mark him as God’s man for this hour of stress.
The selection of workers to carry on the Institution is most important, for as one falls by the wayside a younger one must assume the responsibility for the Houses and other objects of the Institution. Since the chain of prayer must remain unbroken, it would be a calamity to appoint one not evidently called of God and set apart for the work of being a successor to Mr. Muller, the man of trust.
These war days, once again upon England, will prove hard for the Orphanage. But the living God is living still as He was during the fateful period of 1914-18, at which time each Report showed God had not only sent the necessary funds for the work, but had also provided a yearly surplus.
The shadow of Mr. Muller lengthens into the future. The work he founded continues to carry Gospel truth to the ends of the earth. Though present with the Lord his influence increases with the passing days. This man of trust stands as an example of what God will do with one who is fully consecrated to Him.
Taken from "George Muller - The Man of Faith" by Basil Miller