George Whitefield: Evangelist for God
In the study of evangelism, there can be no greater blessing than to study the lives of those who have been used of God in the area of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. George Whitefield is definitely one of those mighty blessed of God individuals who dedicated their lives to itinerant evangelism. His childhood was normal, his youth somewhat dangerous. He lived on the edge of God’s calling on his life inching closer to the purpose of God in his life. He swaggered back and forth through his teen years until he found a book that completely revolutionized his life. He found assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ. He automatically felt an urge to let others know the great truth of eternal life. This set the course for the rest of his life.
His Childhood and Younger Youth
He was born in Gloucester on December 16, 1714 at the Bell Inn to Thomas and Elizabeth Whitefield. He was the seventh and last child since his father died two years after his birth. He had a very normal childhood. In his diary he mentions that he was in the habit of using filthy talk, lying, swearing and course jesting. He would skip church on Sunday and would act irreverently in God’s house when he did go. He loved to go to plays and to all kinds of entertainment of the day. He even tells of taking part in plays at school for which he would stay away from school for days at a time preparing for his part. He regretted the times he had to put on girl’s clothes in some of the plays. He tells how he would steal money from his mother’s pocket while she was asleep and spend it on himself. He mentions that if God had not kept him from doing so many other things, he would have been lost forever. Yet in his early life he had stirrings in his heart that he should act differently. When teased, He would run to his room and pray over a Psalm. He had fun imitating a clergyman and by saying prayers and did other things practiced by preachers. When he did steal, they were books concerning personal devotion. He was also a very good student at public speaking since he had a very good memory and gift of elocution. He looked back and pondered how base it was to be involved in so many things that were against the gospel of Christ. Before he was fifteen, he convinced his mother that he would drop out of school and prepare for a trade since there was no way his mother could afford to send him to college. So for about a year and a half he helped out around the lodge and did housework. His brother had been trained to run the business, so he when got married, the Inn was handed over to him. George continued to help out, but when he could not get along with his sister-in-law, he moved with his brother in Bristol. Things did not work out and shortly he was back with his mother. Another of his early memories was preparing sermons, one of which he dedicated to his elder brother. He would read his Bible at night and sometimes he examined his inner self to a point that he could not look at himself in the mirror. After returning from Bristol his life went down a spiral. He reverted to his old self with his old schoolmates. His would place emphasis on body appearance but not to his soul. Evil communications and practices got the best of his good childhood training and he became active in secret sin; sins that were to bother his conscience the rest of his life. Through all his misfortunes and worldly conduct, God was still working in his heart. He mentioned once to his sister that God had something he should do. He had not been able to get an apprenticeship, so he thought God must have something for him. Around that time a young man came by the neighborhood to pay his mother a visit. He shared how he was able to go to college and pay his expenses doing a servitor’s job. His mother at once asked George if he would do the same. His answer was, ‘with all my heart.’ He had to go back to school...