One finds instructive conversion stories throughout the Narratives of George Müller. As I come across them I will be adding them to this page. The first section tells about an unconverted husband who beat his wife and her meekly accepting the persecution. In sharing this story I am not in any way suggesting that a Christian wife should accept such horrible behavior, but it is instructive on how God worked in one situation.—Dan
As I know it to be a fact, that many children of God are greatly tried by having unconverted relatives, I relate here, for the encouragement of believers who are thus exercised, two precious facts, the truth of which I know, and by which the Lord manifested His power in converting, two of the most unlikely individuals, so far as natural appearance is concerned.
Between forty and fifty years ago it pleased the Lord to convert the wife of a farmer at Ashburton in Devonshire, whose husband in consequence became her bitter opposer. This opposition was greatly increased when he had reason to believe that she was going to be baptized.
The wife, however, thought that, on account of his great enmity, she would choose a time for being baptized when he was from home. A time was therefore chosen when he was to be absent at a fair in Exeter. The farmer went to the fair; but having learned on Thursday that his wife was to be baptized at eleven o’clock the next morning, in haste to return he rose early on Friday morning, to put a stop to the proceeding. After he had rode several miles, he said to himself, "No, I will not go; let her do what she pleases, I will not care about her at all :" and he therefore rode back again towards Exeter. But after awhile he altered his mind again and said to himself, "Nay, I will go, she shall not have her way;" and he rode again towards Ashburton. He pursued his way, and then changed his mind a third time, and turned towards Exeter; but not long after this, a fourth time be had different thoughts, and determined to ride home. Now, however, he remembered, that, on account of his having thus gone backwards and forwards, and that for several miles, he had wasted so much time, that he could not possibly be at Ashburton by eleven o’clock, a distance of more than twenty miles from Exeter. Enraged by this thought, he dismounted from his horse on Haldon Common, between Exeter and Teignmouth, cut a large stick out of the hedge and determined to beat his wife with that stick, as long as a part of it remained.
At last he reached his home, late in the afternoon, and found his wife had been baptized. In a great rage he now began to beat her, and continued to do so, till the stick in his hand was actually broken to pieces. Having thus most cruelly treated her, her body being full of bruises, he ordered her to bed. She meekly began to undress herself, and intended to go to bed, without saying a word. But when he saw her about to go, he said, "You shall not sleep in my bed any more. Go to the children’s bed." She obeyed. When now on the point of lying down on the children’s bed, he ran into the kitchen, fetched a piece of wood, threw her down on the bed, and was about to begin again to beat her, when suddenly he let the piece of wood fall, and went away without saying a word. The poor suffering wife saw no more of him that evening or night.
On the next morning, Saturday, before she had risen, her husband left the house, and was absent all day till the evening. In the evening the wife gave him to understand when retiring for the night, that, according to his wish, she was again going to sleep in the children’s bed, when he meekly said to her, "Will you not sleep in your own bed ?" She thought he meant to mock her, and would beat her again, if she did go into her own bed. As, however, he continued in a meek and kind way to desire her to lie down in her usual bed, she did so. All night he lay groaning by her side, turning about in the bed, but having no sleep. In the morning he rose early. After awhile he came to her and said, "My dear, it is time to get up: if you will get up and make the breakfast, I will go with you to the meeting." Still the wife thought, he only meant to mock her, and that perhaps he would beat her again, when she was on the point of going to the meeting. Nevertheless she rose, prepared the breakfast, and at last, as he continued meek and kind as before, she made herself ready to go to the meeting. How great was the astonishment and surprise of the people in the small town, where the thing had become known almost to every one, when arm in arm he walked with his wife to the meeting and entered it himself, which he had never done before!
After the meeting was over, he related before all persons present, what had passed in his mind between Exeter and Ashburton, how he had most cruelly beaten his wife, how he had ordered her to go to the children’s bed, how he had run into the kitchen to fetch a piece of wood to beat his wife a second time, how he had thrown her on the bed for that purpose, and how he had already lifted up his hand with the piece of wood in it, when there was like an audible voice saying to him: "Why persecutest thou me!" The piece of wood had then fallen out of his hand, and he had felt instantly that he was persecuting the Lord Jesus. From that moment his soul had become most distressed. He had been sleepless and miserable during the night from Friday to Saturday. On Saturday morning he had left the house early in the greatest agonies of soul, and had been roving about in the fields and neighbouring villages all the day. He had come home, and spent another sleepless night. And then passed what has been related.
From this time this persecutor became a disciple of the Lord Jesus. He found peace through the blood of the Lord Jesus, by faith in His name, and walked about thirty years in peace and love with his wife, and adorned the gospel of the grace of God.
His wife outlived him. The husband died more than thirteen years ago. The aged sister told all the particulars of the case to a brother in the Lord, out of whose mouth I heard them; and I have related them faithfully to the best of my knowledge.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not shortened in our days! In a moment He may turn the heart of the greatest persecutor. Think on Paul, think on Manasseh!
The other case of a remarkable conversion, which I am about to relate for the encouragement of the believing reader, occurred in my native country, the kingdom of Prussia, about the year 1820. I relate it as circumstantially as it was brought before me by a brother in the Lord.
"He now sought in every way to treat the young student in the most kind and affectionate way, and as much as possible to serve him, and to show him the power of the Gospel in his own life, without arguing with him, yea without speaking to him directly about his soul."
Baron von K. had been for many years a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Even about the commencement of this century, when there was almost universal darkness or even open infidelity spread over the whole continent of Europe, he knew the Lord Jesus; and when about the year 1806, there was the greatest distress in Silesia among many thousands of weavers, this blessed man of God took the following gracious step for his Lord and Master. As the weavers had no employment, the whole Continent almost being in an unsettled state on account of Napoleon’s career, it seemed to him the will of the Lord, that he should use his very considerable property to furnish these poor weavers with work, in order to save them from the greatest state of destitution, though in doing this there was not only no prospect of gain, but the certain prospect of immense loss. He therefore found employment for about six thousand weavers. But he was not content with this. Whilst be gave the bread which perishes, he also sought to minister to the souls of these weavers. To that end he sought to set believers as overseers over this immense weaving concern, and not only saw to it that the weavers were instructed in spiritual things, but he himself also set the truth before them. Thus it went on for a good while, till at last, on account of the loss of the chief part of his property, he was obliged to think about giving it up. But by this time this precious act of mercy had so commended itself to the government, that it was taken up by them, and carried on till the times altered. Baron von K. was, however, appointed director of the whole concern as long as it existed.
This dear man of God was not content with this. He travelled through many countries to visit the prisons, for the sake of improving the temporal and spiritual condition of the prisoners, and among all the other things which he sought to do for the Lord, was this also in particular: He assisted poor students whilst at the University of Berlin, (especially those who studied theology, as it is called,) in order to get access to them, and to win them for the Lord.
One day a most talented young man, whose father lived at Breslau, where there is likewise a university, heard of the aged baron’s kindness to students, and he therefore wrote to him, requesting him to assist him, as his own father could not well afford to support him any longer, having other children to provide for. A short time afterwards young T. received a most kind reply from the baron, inviting him to come to Berlin; but, before this letter arrived, the young student had heard that Baron von K. was a pietist or mystic (as true believers are contemptuously called in Germany;) and as young T. was of a highly philosophical turn of mind, reasoning about every thing, questioning the truth of revelation, yea questioning most sceptically the existence of God, he much disliked the prospect of going to the old baron. Still, he thought he could but try, and if he did not like it, he was not bound to remain in connexion with him.
He arrived in Berlin on a day when there was a great review of the troops; and being full of this he began to speak about it to the steward of the baron. The steward, however, being a believer, turned the conversation, before the young student was aware of it, to spiritual things; and yet he could not say that it had been forced. He began another subject, and a third, but still it always came presently again to spiritual things.
At last the baron came, who received young T. in the most affectionate and familiar manner, as if he had been his equal, and as if young T. bestowed a favour on him, rather than that be was favoured by the baron. The baron offered him a room in his own house, and a place at his own table, while he should be studying in Berlin, which young T. accepted. He now sought in every way to treat the young student in the most kind and affectionate way, and as much as possible to serve him, and to show him the power of the Gospel in his own life, without arguing with him, yea without speaking to him directly about his soul. For, discovering in young T. a most reasoning and skeptical mind, he avoided in every possible way getting into any argument with him, while the young student again and again said to himself: "I wish I could get into an argument with this old fool, I would show him his folly." But the baron avoided it. When the young student used to come home in the evening, and the baron heard him come, he would himself go to meet him on entering the house, would light his candle, would assist and serve him in any way he could, even to the fetching the bootjack for him, and helping him to take off his boots. Thus this lowly aged disciple went on for some time, whilst the young student still sought an opportunity for arguing with him, but wondered nevertheless how the baron could thus serve him.
One evening, on the return of young T. to the baron’s house, when the baron was making himself his servant as usual, he could refrain himself no longer, but burst out thus: "Baron, how can you do all this! You see I do not care about you, and how are you able to continue to be so kind to me, and thus to serve me!" The baron replied: "My dear young friend, I have learned it from the Lord Jesus. I wish you would read through the Gospel of John. Good night." The student now for the first time in his life sat down and read the word of God in a disposition of mind to be willing to learn, whilst up to that time he had never read the Holy Scriptures but with the view of wishing to find out arguments against them. It pleased God to bless him. From that time he became himself a follower of the Lord Jesus, and has been so ever since.—George Müller, Narratives, Vol. 2
I have seen, whilst here, a young woman, the daughter of a brother and sister who were in communion with us, but who have both fallen asleep. While her father was living she hated the truth, but still she came to Bethesda Chapel. One day, whilst there, she was made to feel the power of the truth: and, since the death of her parents, the Lord has granted an answer to their many prayers on her behalf; for she is now standing on the Lord’s side. Let believing parents continue in prayer for their children, and let them also continue affectionately and at suitable times to bring the truth before them, and to bring them to the preaching of the Word: and in due season it will be manifested that their labours were not in vain.