“I began to read the [Bible] upon my knees; laying aside all other books, and praying over…every line and word.” These are the words of George Whitefield, one of the most famous men in America in the mid-1700s. He wrote, “I got more true knowledge from reading the book of God, in one month, than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men.”
Born in Gloucester, England, Whitefield did not come from privilege. He had to work his way through Oxford. There he met Charles and John Wesley, who would go on to found the Methodist movement. Inspired by his own spiritual rebirth, Whitefield became a minister. The Wesleys invited Whitefield to preach in the colony of Georgia. He visited the American Colonies seven times, preaching up and down the east coast, drawing enormous crowds and fanning the flames of the Great Awakening.
He had a flare for the dramatic; his voice was said to be like a trumpet blast. It’s estimated that 20,000 people heard him speak at one gathering on the Boston Common—and this was just one of the over 18,000 sermons he delivered. Whitefield brought the Bible stories to life in such spellbinding fashion that his listeners shrieked, sobbed, and even fainted.
Whitefield preached to as many as ten million people over his lifetime, spreading the words of the Bible far and wide.