Born in 1714, George Whitefield was brought up in Gloucester (Bell Tavern). His father was the proprietor of this tavern which happened to be Whitefield’s childhood home. He became a tavern keeper serving drinks at his father’s inn when he was 12 years old after dropping out of a grammar school.
George later joined Pembroke College, Oxford, and graduated as a servitor. It was at Oxford that Whitefield met the Wesleys (John and Charles) from whom he learned of the Methodist mission. His religious journey started in his 21st year and was ordained at Gloucester Cathedral at 22. In the same year, he graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts from Oxford.
George Whitefield is among the most famous names in the history books. But, did you know that he became a very popular figure in America at only 25 years old? Read on to find out more about his little-known facts.
Whitefield: Amazing Facts about The most Famous English Evangelist
1. Whitefield Became the First American Celebrity
One exciting fact you might not know about Evangelist Whitefield is that he was America’s first celebrity. If this question was posed to someone, chances are, the answers will revolve around musicians, politicians, or actors and actresses. George Whitefield became a renowned America during that time because of his religious work.
It is reported that more than 80% of the American colonists were well-aware of him. An interesting fact about George Whitefield is that they had heard of his preaching at least once. At the time, it was quite an honour to be recognized by many Americans. His name would be mentioned in the same breathe with royalty.
2. He Broke His Health in His Search for God
Before he converted to Christianism, Whitefield worked very hard to find God. He became a true believer and started fasting in his repentance. He fasted to a point where his health started deteriorating, and his doctor admitted him for seven weeks. This is one thing that is not always spoken about, but it impacted Whitefield’s life.
3. He was Famous at Only 25 Years Old
How many people have become famous at a young age? When we speak about Whitefield’s fame, some may think that he became a celebrity at around 35 or 40 years. However, he started his religious journey at 21 years, and four years late, his name had become popular among many Americans.
At 25 years of age, he had already gained a lot of followers, an interesting George Whitefield fact. Many people followed him wherever he went to preach the word of God. Perhaps this is what gave him the motivation to keep going regardless of the opposition he faced.
4. He had a Huge Impact in the Great Awakening
If you love history, especially American history, you must have heard of the Great Awakening. It was a period between the 1730s and 1740s when Christian revivals took place. This movement had a permanent impact on Protestantism and has since remained a significant part of history among the British colonies.
George Whitefield was already a great preacher at the time and was quite influential. As such, it makes sense to believe that he played an essential role in this Evangelical Revival. The most effective campaign was the 1739-40 tour that he did at only 25 years old. He drew a crowd of 23,000 people in Boston Common during his farewell sermon. There was no larger crowd that had ever gathered in America before this event.
5. He was the First to Spread the Good News to the Slaves
The prime of Whitefield’s career was during slavery. During this time, it was rare to find a white person speaking freely with the slaves, let alone preach to them. However, Whitefield broke this “rule” by preaching the word of God to them. He visited America about seven times as he continued his mission.
6. He had a Beautiful Voice
One fact about George Whitefield that is not widely known is that he had a beautiful voice that attracted crowds. Coupled up with his compulsive personality, he could easily hold an audience with a lot of conviction.
Perhaps this is the reason why he gained fame within a short period. It all started in Bristol, London, and Bath, where the ordinary people were impacted by his preaching. Some attended the events to admire his eloquence.
7. Harvard’s Professors denounced him
He usually preached at New Haven College and Harvard. His work was loved by many in these schools and Harvard went a step further to appreciate his services. They wrote a report suggesting that Whitefield has spearheaded the changes within the College and that most students were “full of God.” However, these praises did not last long enough as the leading professors of Harvard later denounced him in a pamphlet they wrote.
8. He was Once Stoned to Near-Death
Although he was preaching the good news, not everyone was impressed by his work. Some people were against him to a point where they wanted to kill him and his followers. In fact, he faced brutal mobs regularly, but their actions did not faze him.
During some of the events, the followers would be maimed while women are stripped naked. These were some of the warning signs that were accompanied by three letters containing death threats. One day, during his usual services, he was attacked by these mobs and was stoned until he was nearly dead.
9. Four Ministers Refused to Preside over His Wedding
As the history books suggest, George Whitefield met a woman and decided to marry her within a week, an interesting fact about George Whitefield. This is quite uncommon given the fact that one needs to know their partner and understand them before deciding to be with them for the rest of their lives. As such, four ministers declined Whitefield’s request to marry him to his beloved bride.
10. He Formed the First Methodist Society
John Wesley founded the Methodist movement in the 18th-century as a way of reforming the Church of England. However, the first-ever Methodist society was formed by George Whitefield. Most of the techniques and methods employed in this society were Whitefield’s ideas.
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