George Muller—was a great man of prayer. He operated an orphanage in the 1800s that was supplied solely by the provisions of God in answer to prayer. There was no solicitation, no advertising, no sharing of needs, no begging or pleading. There was quiet prayer and waiting. He wrote about his purpose in operating the orphanage’s funding in this atypical manner:
“The chief end being that the church of Christ at large might be benefited by seeing manifestly the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in the hour of need, in answer to prayer. Our desire, therefore, is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the LORD graciously would be pleased to support us in the trial, that we may not dishonor Him by distrust. This way of living brings the LORD remarkably near. He is, as it were, morning by morning inspecting our stores, that accordingly He may send help.” (See footnote for quote source.)
Mr. Muller’s trust in God for provisions was the primary avenue through which God demonstrated, for over 50 years, an eagerness to answer believing prayer. The testimony which resulted from Muller’s answered prayers was considered by Muller to be perhaps of greater importance than his ministry to the orphans. Since we first read his story in 1989, Donna and I have been “nudged” to follow his example.
Thus, grand as our Appalachian church planting dreams may have been, they rested on taller shoulders. We felt God wished to work through us to deliver as a fresh testimony that He still hears and answers prayer.
Serving as a living testimony to God’s readiness to hear prayer was our chief objective in coming to Appalachia. We moved toward that position only partially until in 1999 when we came under His wing fully at the advice of our four friends.
The journey ahead would be filled with tests and delights. At times we would be distraught and despair, yet at others we were delighted and astonished. Though it was not (and sometimes still is not) always easy, we managed to stay on the roller coaster. Only in recent years do we get a little giddy at the approach of a "drop-off". PROVISIONS is a telling of the ups-n-downs of that story.
Taking our example from Muller, Donna and I determined never to solicit assistance, or inform others of our needs. Our needs were kept secret; known only to God in the closet of prayer. This awareness of the purposeful secrecy of the needs of our family and ministry made way for the exceptional testimonies of God’s resulting answers.
PROVISIONS however, is not to become a model or recipe for others. It is not to be taken as normative practice for all Christians. In no way am I (or would Muller) suggest that others of you do as we have done. God provides for His people through wages for work, through fund raising efforts, through sharing etc. These are in no way inferior or ‘less spiritual’ than what PROVISIONS records. We believe God’s working in our life and ministry has been unique simply because He desires a unique testimony. Though unique, PROVISIONS is only one demonstration of God’s readiness to hear and respond to prayer.
If there is a clear message; a clear model; an example to take; or a teaching from PROVISIONS for all Christians it is this: “Pray. God IS listening.”
PROVISIONS opens the door to the living room of our private ups and downs, our personal humanity. Such vulnerability is needed so that the workings of God may shine brightly against our doubts and personal weaknesses. It demonstrates how God moves the tender hearts of His people--apart from well planned ad-campaigns, religious telemarketing, televangelist pleading, or even the casual mention of needs or “opportunities”. While it certainly shows that we should be praying, it also reminds us that we need to be listening. We are all His instruments: sometimes recipients, and sometimes channels of provision.
What we detail in these entries is far, far, far from being a fund-raising method. Our story is an illustration of how faithful God is to hear our prayers, and how He nudges us to action. The focus is God’s faithfulness and activity in our midst today.
PROVISIONS exposes my family and I to both the accolades of those who see and believe as well as to the criticisms of those who doubt. Neither are accurate critiques. Again, the only proper response to the material is a focus upon and adoration of Jehovah Jireh.
Here, let me pause and take a deep breath as I release this material into your hands. These records have been held, until now, in private chambers. Yet, I am thrilled to share with you the things-- great and small, public and obscure-- which God has done. The entries I’ve selected are mostly about daily provisions, but also about personal and family issues and, near the end, about souls. It was necessary to offer entries describing our
Here, in December of 1995, the story opens with us driving a Ryder truck into the small Appalachian community of Jellico, Tennessee where unemployment is high, friends are few, the future is uncertain, but God has called.
 George Muller: All Things are Possible by A.T. Pierson; published by Ambassador