George Müller and Charles Dickens: A Tale of Great Love
One of my very favorite writers is Charles Dickens (left). One of the people I most esteem is George Müller. Almost everyone knows who Charles Dickens was. George Müller, on the other hand, is less well known.
George Müller (the man of prayer) offered a Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them within Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, which he founded in 1836. Of course, Charles Dickens was one of the most acclaimed writers of all time and specifically brought to light the plight of orphans. Surprisingly, George Mueller and Charles Dickens knew each other personally. As a matter-of-fact, they met at least once and were contemporaries in England during the 1800's. Additionally, they both had a great passion for helping poor orphans, which each executed with zeal. Charles Dickens and George Mueller Knew Each Other.
Charles Dickens (February 7, 1812–June 9, 1870) and George Müller (September 27, 1805–March 10, 1898) accomplished their goals in very different ways. Charles Dickens spent the better part of his life penning some of the world's classic novels, developing memorable characters, and placing them in life changing plots that highlighted the hapless children, drawing attention to their plights. George Mueller founded orphanages, which ultimately housed and trained thousands of neglected boys and girls.
George Müller was born in Kroppenstaedt (now Kroppenstedt), a village near Halberstadt in the Kingdom of Prussia. In his early life he was a dishonest rabble-rouser; a thief, a liar, and a cheat. From the time he was ten years old, he was stealing money from his father. As time passed, he also stole from his friends. He finally was arrested and locked up with other thieves and even with murderers. Miraculously, avoiding further trouble, he attended the University of Halle where he met a friend who invited him to a Bible study. During prayer with his friend named Beta, Müller's heart was touched, and it was the start of a new and meaningful life for him.
About the same time, George Müller was praying to begin his first orphanage, Dickens was planning and writing ‘The Pickwick Papers.' Dickens rocketed to fame with the 1836 serial publication of 'The Pickwick Papers,' and within a few short years had become an international literary celebrity. He is best known for his celebrated characters, (of which Scrooge, Tom Thumb, Oliver Twist, Pip and David Copperfield, are but a few.) He possessed a keen perception and understood the dynamic inter-workings of people and society. He expresses life in his novels with humor, satire, and irony. His plots are engaging even to this day.In 1835 there were only a dozen orphan homes in all of England and Wales, but they charged fees to care for the children. Poor children who became orphans had to move in with relatives or were sent to work in the workhouses. Müller began to pray about starting an orphan house. Money began to come in, even though he didn't solicit money from people. His vision was an orphan home for children. Those having lost both parents. None would be turned away due to poverty or race. The children would be educated and trained for a trade.
How Did The Two Meet?
So we come to the ideal, the way in which these two men dealt with a similar plight. We would not presuppose any judgment in this regard. Nor should we. Some have suggested varied ideas concerning Charles Dickens’s faith. Again, that is between him and God. I’d simply like to point out some observations I have made regarding both men’s writing. In most of Charles Dickens’s books, the main character usually delivered from great oppression and evil men is delivered by way of the goodness of another human being. A humanitarian. Charles Dickens encouraged the better nature of mankind toward one another, especially the poor. For the most part, he kept his religious views to himself. (Charles Dickens did, however, write a book for his children, which he didn’t want published entitled: The Life of Our Lord. For whatever reason, very few of his characters ever look to God for assistance. They rely on the goodness (or badness) of the human soul. One of my favorite Dickens' characters is from David Copperfield: Betsy Trotter. The aunt starts out in the story as a biting, overbearing and insolent woman; later, she is transformed into one of the kindest and most perceptive and insightful of all people. Charles Dickens faced the perils of his time as a true "humanitarian" many times giving to groups and charities which helped the needy. He knew how to convey the depth of human motivation.
Charles Dickens heard a rumor that the children in Müller's care were starving, so he went to Ashely Down to see for himself. He was so impressed with the good care that the children were receiving that he wrote articles for his very popular weekly newspaper column entitled: ‘Household Words.' On November 7, 1857, he posted a very encouraging article entitled: BROTHER MULLER AND HIS ORPHAN-WORK. (We include it here for your enjoyment). It must have been a great help to George Müller, in that Charles Dickens by this time was well read and very popular. Of further insight, George Müller refused to ever ask anyone for money for his orphanages. His means were to be met, from the very beginning, in a unique way: If God wanted this work done, God would supply all their need. Like Charles Dickens, English writer and social critic, as generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and the creator of some of the world's most memorable fictional characters, so, George Müller was noted and regarded as a man of great faith and prayer.
Life of Our Lord
George Müeller, in addition to caring for over 10,000 orphans, also paid for the printing of Bibles and tracts as well as the Christian education of thousands of children. His organizations gave away more than 250,000 Bibles. He paid tuition for hundreds of children to go to school. During his lifetime he raised the equivalent of $7,000,000 which he gave away, and when he died, he had only a little money left. He never really needed it. As far as George Müller was concerned: Every good thing came from God. Müller prayed about everything and expected every prayer to be answered.
With Affectionate Regards,