George Muller of Bristol

 Chapter 30 

George Müller of Bristol

Before my days as a Jesus freak, a fellow student at Golden Gate Seminary gave me a book by Arthur Tappan Pierson about George Müller, the German Christian who began an orphanage in Bristol, England. 

What impressed me about the life of Müller was how God met his financial needs. Müller wanted God alone to be thanked and praised for this, so he would not let others know of the content of his prayers or otherwise broadcast the often dire circumstances the orphanage faced. His prayer requests would be specific about the amount needed and when it was needed. The prayers were answered just as specifically. The answers to prayer were a continued source of strength and encouragement for him and a clear and unequivocal statement about the God who answers prayer. 

After I left the seminary and began my work in the City, I also had to leave my job as a shoe salesman at J.C. Penney, and the money I received each month as part of the G.I. Bill came to an end. I had no income, no savings, no credit card, and a family of four. Müller came to mind, and I began copying his approach. 

My experience mirrored Müller’s. I told no one, not even my parents, of what I was facing, but I instead simply asked God to meet the needs. He did, and right on time. I know it sounds incredible, and I would not be upset if someone doubted the truth of it all.

1 Somewhere in my archives I have prayer lists I kept at the time which give credence to how our needs were met. Though it may seem contrary to the objective, Müller also eventually had to describe what happened. 

So I prayed, and praying has never been a strong suit of mine. I am a reluctant prayer, but in this period I set aside time, usually in the morning, for what I called “devotions.” I adopted the Billy Graham practice of reading two chapters in the Old Testament, three Psalms, and at least two chapters in the New Testament. In the back of my Bible I had a prayer list divided into columns, with the date on the left, the request in the middle, and the answer with date on the right. I could then track what was going on. 

I continued the practice when the Christian houses started. Today we read in the newspapers about a “fiscal cliff,” and I faced many of them, one right after the other, yet we never one time fell over the cliff. I thought it might be nice if God would simply lay on us a large lump of cash, but it never happened. For most of that time, actually all the way to 1980, I had no checking or savings account. I lived month to month, and even today it is not much different. 

A Shift in Procedure 

I hope this does not sound pretentious or otherwise haughty, but about 1969 I started being noticed by the media, and invitations began to arrive. So I began to travel about the country, sometimes alone with my guitar, other times with Joyful Noise, flying here and there like a celebrity of sorts. What I did on these travels was collect names and addresses of people I met along the way who seemed interested in the work in California. My recollection is that in 1970 I began to send out a monthly newsletter to people I thought might be interested in following what was going on with me and might even contribute some money. 

We did have a non-profit corporation, Christian House Ministries. Chuck Kopp, an attorney whose wife Nancy was involved in our work, did the paper work. So I was able to send out tax deductable receipts. With over two hundred on the mailing list, we were able to get a bulk mailing permit. I had a big, old Royal typewriter, and eventually a mimeograph machine, and the letter went out, and money started coming in. By 1972, the average income from the letter was $800 a month. Bobbie was working at Marin General Hospital, and though it was still month-by-month, we were doing fine. It was about this time that I ceased doing the Müller imitation, but I missed it. My thinking was that the newsletter was God’s way of meeting our needs, and it also meant I was developing an account of my years as a Jesus freak by way of the monthly newsletters. 

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