In the year referenced by Müller in his biography, 1926, a missionary to the Jewish people in Poland told Müller he was too ill to continue his work, and his own passion to share the good news with the Jewish Poles was fanned into flames. Müller had studied Hebrew previously, but now found a delight in picking it up again.
By March 1828, Müller left Germany, not to travel to Poland, but to take up an opportunity for Jewish mission, arranged through an acquaintance, a probationary post with the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews.
This is when revelatory and revolutionary changes began in Müller’s personal understanding of our Lord and the practice of Christian ministry. He set about, under instruction from the missionary society, studying fervently once again, in preparation for Jewish mission.
But he found the long hours indoors were affecting his health and so he got into the heart of the Jewish community in London. He was struck for the first time by the disparity between the book work of mission, and the lived experience. With his characteristic enthusiasm, Müller sought support from the society to a more experienced missionary to support and guide him, to get out into the Jewish community at once.
Once he became unwell, Müller went to Teignmouth in Devon for the fresh air and a period of recuperation. There he met a minister living entirely by faith, which afforded him great freedom in service and mission, as a disciple of Jesus. He was led by the Holy Spirit in ministry, as opposed to being informed by the source of financial support and obligation.
Müller went back to London with a profound revelation about grace, that it impacts not only our understanding of ministry but of our salvation, how it occurs through divine providence involved in every circumstance on our path to receiving faith, and continues to the end our earthly lives.
Müller began to feel convicted by how his reliance upon the Society’s financial support was dictating his ministry. Of course, there was great wisdom in the missionary society’s approach to training missionaries but the urgency and conviction Müller felt were also valid!
This radical and difficult season in London for a few short months, is what gave Müller the deep conviction and liberty to become a lifelong preacher of the Word, and to live a life of faith and compassion in Bristol for the rest of his life. This boldness in leaving the comfort of his life in Germany, enabled him to then leave behind religion, and manmade structures of reference, to trust that our heavenly Father already knows our needs and has set us free to serve in mission and ministry.
Müller’s passion and obedience to witness to God’s chosen people showed him God’s providence in leading him to meet Henry Craik and bold ministers in Devon. These brethren would influence his ministry for the rest of his life. These encounters and experiences as an early missionary, also allowed him to be liberated from anything which opposed grace in his heart and mind. What an incredible blessing for one who sought to bless Israel. As God said to the father of the Jewish people, Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12)!