George Whitefield was an English, Anglican cleric and pioneer of Methodism and, what we know today as, evangelicalism. Short, portly, and cross-eyed he became the most famous clergyman of the 18th century, and sparked the American revival known as the First Great Awakening. I was reminded of his legacy last week while ministering in Washington, D. C. and visiting the Museum of the Bible. Whitefield felt called of God to sail to America and traveled the colonies on horseback, calling America to repentance. In seven fruitful years of ministry he preached more than 18,000 sermons to 10 million people, mostly standing in the open air.
Benjamin Franklin, who befriend Whitefield, once estimated an audience of 30,000 people, standing outdoors, smitten with a sense of sin and repentance. In the Museum, I saw a replica of the folding pulpit platform that he’d stand on to be heard above the crowd. Without the benefit of a microphone he could be heard 500 feet away, imploring sinners to turn from their wickedness. But not all received him well. A woman assaulted him with a pistol. Dead cats were thrown at him. A man nearly killed him with a brass-headed cane. One listener climbed a tree to urinate on Whitefield.
Worse yet, other clergymen almost unanimously rejected him, mainly because he railed against their hypocrisy and anaemia. Colonial pastors forbade him to speak in their churches. Critics called him a “sorcerer” and a “self-seeking creature” and condemned him for believing in “instant conversions.” Ten pamphlets were printed condemning him. A prominent newspaper called him “blasphemous.” The printer in England who had first printed his book, eventually called him “a devil, the beast, the Antichrist.” He responded that his enemies where like “Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Bible.”
Whitefield was my kind of guy. I believe that if the churches of his time had not silenced the ministry of deliverance, he would have been out in those open fields casting out demons. I don’t have his folding pulpit, but I do have YouTube, and the internet allows me, like Whitefield, to stand above the masses and cry out with the message of freedom from sin and Satan. The students of our International School of Exorcism are part of his legacy. Together let us demonstrate the courage of Whitefield’s legacy, shouting to all within earshot, that Jesus saves and sets the captives free!
An encouraging word: BE TRUE TO YOUR WORD
Scripture tells us that God blesses a man who speaks the truth and honors his word, even when it is hard to do so (Psalm 15:4 “keeps his oath even when it hurts” NIV). We’ve all been disappointed by Christians who promised things and didn’t come through or said one thing and did another. We have high expectations of our brethren in Christ, and rightfully so. We expect them to be different from the “world” and so does God. Think of what you’ve said to your fellow Believers and make sure that you’ve followed through. It’s a great way to keep friends and a certain way to keep God’s favor.