American Minute with Bill Federer
George Whitefield had attended Oxford with John and Charles Wesley,who began the Methodist revival movement within the Anglican Church.
In 1733, when he finally understood and believed the Gospel, George Whitefield exclaimed:
“Joy-joy unspeakable-joy that’s full of, big with glory!”
Beginning in 1740, George Whitefield preached seven times in America.
He spread the Great Awakening Revival, which helped unite the Colonies prior to the Revolutionary War.
Whitefield’s preaching stirred crowds with enthusiasm, which was criticized by the formal, established churches of the day.
When they closed their doors to him, Whitefield began preaching out-of-doors.
Crowds grew so large that no church could have held the number of people, sometimes being as large as 25,000.
Ben Franklin wrote in his Autobiography that George Whitefield’s voice could be heard over 500 feet away:
“He preached one evening from the top of the Court-house steps … Streets were filled with his hearers …
I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be heard by retiring backwards down the street … and found his voice distinct till I came near Front-street.”
Ben Franklin continued his description of evangelist George Whitefield:
“Multitudes of all denominations attended his sermons …
It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants.
From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”
Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards, wrote to her brother in New Haven concerning the effects George Whitefield’s ministry:
“It is wonderful to see what a spell he casts over an audience by proclaiming the simplest truths of the Bible …
Our mechanics shut up their shops, and the day laborers throw down their tools to go and hear him preach, and few return unaffected.”
Ben Franklin helped finance the building of an auditorium in Philadelphia for George Whitefield to preach in, which was latter donated as the first building of the University of Pennsylvania.
A bronze statue of George Whitefield is located on the University’s campus, in the Dormitory Quadrangle.
The Great Awakening Revival resulted in the founding of many universities, such as Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Rutgers and Columbia.
Franklin printed Whitefield’s journal and sermons.
Being Postmaster in Philadelphia, Franklin helped spread Whitefield’s sermons through colonial America.
In one sermon, George Whitefield proclaimed:
“Never rest until you can say, ‘the Lord our righteousness.’ Who knows but the Lord may have mercy, nay, abundantly pardon you?
Beg of God to give you faith; and if the Lord give you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his all …
None, none can tell, but those happy souls who have experienced it with what demonstration of the Spirit this conviction comes …”
Whitefield continued:
“Oh, how amiable, as well as all sufficient, does the blessed Jesus now appear! With what new eyes does the soul now see the Lord its righteousness! Brethren, it is unutterable …
Those who live godly in Christ, may not so much be said to live, as Christ to live in them … They are led by the Spirit as a child is led by the hand of its father …
They hear, know, and obey his voice … Being born again in God they habitually live to, and daily walk with God.”
George Whitefield’s influence was so profound, that when there was a threatened war with Spain and France, Ben Franklin drafted and printed a General Fast for Pennsylvania, December 12, 1747:
“As the calamities of a bloody War, in which our Nation is now engaged, seem every Year more nearly to approach us …
there is just reason to fear that unless we humble ourselves before the Lord & amend our Ways, we may be chastised with yet heavier Judgments.
We have, therefore, thought fit … to appoint … the seventh Day of January next, to be observed throughout this Province as a Day of Fasting & Prayer, exhorting all … to join with one accord in the most humble & fervent Supplications;
That Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the Rage of War among the Nations & put a stop to the effusion of Christian Blood.”
In 1752, George Whitefield wrote to Benjamin Franklin, who had invented the lightning rod:
“My Dear Doctor … I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world.”
In 1764, George Whitefield received a letter from Benjamin Franklin, in which Franklin ended with the salutation:
“Your frequently repeated Wishes and Prayers for my Eternal as well as temporal Happiness are very obliging. I can only thank you for them, and offer you mine in return.”
In 1769, George Whitefield wrote Benjamin Franklin on the night before his last trip to America.
In this last surviving letter, Whitefieldshares his desire that both he and Franklinwould:
“… be in that happy number of those who is the midst of the tremendous final blaze shall cry Amen.”
Franklin wrote to George Whitefield:
“I sometimes wish you and I were jointly employed by the Crown to settle a colony on the Ohio … a strong body of religious and industrious people! …
Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, show them a better sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian traders?”
George Whitefield died SEPTEMBER 30, 1770.
As he was dying, he declared:
“How willing I would ever live to preach Christ! But I die to be with Him!”
Whitefield left his orphanage in Georgia to Selina Shirley, the Countess of Huntingdon, who had financially helped both Whitefield and John Wesley in the spread of Methodism.
She financed the construction of 64 chapelsin Wales and England, supported missions in Sierra Leone, Africa, and was the first female principal of Trefeca College in Wales, which educated Methodist ministers.
The Countess of Huntingdon was patron of the famous black female poet, Phillis Wheatley, who corresponded with John Newton, author of the song Amazing Grace, and with General George Washington, who was so impressed he met with her at his headquarters in Cambridge.
George Whitefield was one of the first ministers to publicly preach the Gospel to slaves. Though advocating for improved treatment of slaves, he sadly did not seek to end the institution.
Phillis Wheatley wrote in her poem, “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield,” (1770):
HAIL, happy saint, on thine immortal throne,
Possest of glory, life, and bliss unknown;
We hear no more the music of thy tongue,
Thy wonted auditories cease to throng.
Thy sermons in unequall’d accents flow’d,
And ev’ry bosom with devotion glow’d;
Thou didst in strains of eloquence refin’d
Inflame the heart, and captivate the mind.
Unhappy we the setting sun deplore,
So glorious once, but ah! it shines no more.
Behold the prophet in his tow’ring flight!
He leaves the earth for heav’n’s unmeasur’d height,
And worlds unknown receive him from our sight.
There Whitefield wings with rapid course his way,
And sails to Zion through vast seas of day.
Thy pray’rs, great saint, and thine incessant cries
Have pierc’d the bosom of thy native skies.
Thou moon hast seen, and all the stars of light,
How he has wrestled with his God by night.
He pray’d that grace in ev’ry heart might dwell,
He long’d to see America excel;
He charg’d its youth that ev’ry grace divine
Should with full lustre in their conduct shine;
That Saviour, which his soul did first receive,
The greatest gift that ev’n a God can give,
He freely offer’d to the num’rous throng,
That on his lips with list’ning pleasure hung.
“Take him, ye wretched, for your only good,
Take him ye starving sinners, for your food;
Ye thirsty, come to this life-giving stream,
Ye preachers, take him for your joyful theme;
Take him my dear Americans, he said,
Be your complaints on his kind bosom laid:
Take him, ye Africans, he longs for you,
“Impartial Saviour is his title due:
Wash’d in the fountain of redeeming blood,
You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God.”
Great Countess, we Americans revere
Thy name, and mingle in thy grief sincere;
New England deeply feels, the Orphansmourn,
Their more than father will no more return.
But, though arrested by the hand of death,
Whitefield no more exerts his lab’ring breath,
Yet let us view him in th’ eternal skies,
Let ev’ry heart to this bright vision rise;
While the tomb safe retains its sacred trust,
Till life divine re-animates his dust.
In one of his sermons, George Whitefielddeclared:
“Would you have peace with God?
Away, then, to God through Jesus Christ, who has purchased peace; the Lord Jesus has shed his heart’s blood for this.
He died for this; he rose again for this; he ascended into the highest heaven, and is now interceding at the right hand of God.”
Haystack Prayer Meeting & World Missionary Movement, Adoniram & Ann Judson to Burma
Inspired by Great Awakening preachers like George Whitefield, a Yale student named David Brainerd became a missionary to American Indians.
He wrote in his diary:
“I could have no freedom in the thought of any other circumstances or business in life:
All my desire was the conversion of the heathen, and all my hope was in God: God does not suffer me to please or comfort myself with hopes of seeing friends, returning to my dear acquaintance, and enjoying worldly comforts.”
David Brainerd died of tuberculosis at the age of 29 in 1747.
Though only converting a small number, his life story was written down and published in 1749 by Jonathan Edwards, the future President of Princeton, titled “An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd.”
It was read by millions and inspired many to become missionaries, including William Carey.
When Carey heard reports of Captain Cook discovering the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, Carey decided to dedicate his life to world missions, traveling from England to India in 1793.
Carey wrote:
“Expect great things from God, Attempt great things for God.”
William Carey’s life inspired many others.
In the early 1800s, a Second Great Awakening Revival swept America.
In 1806, five Williams College students met by the Hoosic River in Massachusetts near a grove of trees to discuss how to reach the world with the Gospel.
Suddenly a thunderstorm poured down torrential rain and the students hid next to a haystack till it passed.
While there, they prayed and committed themselves to world missions.
The book Williamstown and Williams College by Arthur Latham Perry (1904) recorded:
“The brevity of the shower, the strangeness of the place of refuge, and the peculiarity of their topic of prayer and conference all took hold of their imaginations and their memories.”
The Haystack Prayer Meeting led to the founding of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which in the next 50 years sent out 1,250 missionaries to India, China, Hawaii, southeast Asian countries.
In 150 years, it sent out 5,000 to mission fields around the world.
Missionaries established schools, hospitals and translated the Bible into indigenous languages, even creating written languages.
The first missionary sent out by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was Adoniram Judson, born in Massachusetts, August 9, 1788.
At age 16, Judson began attending a college founded in 1764 by Baptist ministers, the College of Rhode Island & Providence Plantations (Brown University).
While there, he became friends with a skeptic and deist student named Jacob Eames.
Eames was a fan of the godless French philosophies which emerged after the French Revolution and swept America’s college campuses, capturing the naive minds of impressionable students.
Eames convinced Judson to abandon his parent’s Christian faith and become a skeptic.
In 1804, after graduating valedictorian of his class at age 19, Judson opened a small school and wrote grammar and math textbooks.
While traveling to New York City in 1808, Judson stayed at a little inn.
He was annoyed and not able to get any sleep because the groans of a dying man in a neighboring room kept him awake all night.
Nevertheless, Judson ignored the cries, as his heart had become hardened by his skeptical college friend, Jacob Eames.
The next morning, when checking out, Judson inquired of the innkeeper who the man was who had died in the night.
He was petrified when he heard it was none other than Jacob Eames, his college friend.
This rude awakening led Adoniram Judson to reaffirm his Christian faith.
He would go on to become one of America’s first foreign missionaries and the first significant missionary to Burma – modern day Myanmar.
Adoniram Judson fell in love with Ann Hasseltine, also known as Nancy.
Adoniram wrote to Ann’s father:
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world;
whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life;
whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? …”
He continued:
“Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God?
Can you consent to all this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
At age 23, Adoniram, and his wife Ann, age 22, sailed from New England on FEBRUARY 19, 1812, for Calcutta, India.
Another missionary who sailed with the Judsons was Luther Rice.
In India, they all met English Baptist missionary William Carey.
The Judsons and Luther Rice switched from Congregationalist to Baptist, which jeopardized their financial support.
They were forced to leave India by the British East India Company, as it wanted favorable trade relations with the local authorities, who were non-Christian. If the Company was perceived as supporting missionaries, it could diminish their profits.
The Judsons sailed for Rangoon, Burma, and Luther Rise returned to America.
Rice dedicated himself to raise money for missions, which led to the establishment of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Rice helped start numerous Baptist seminaries and universities, including The George Washington University in Washington, DC, in 1821, where the main administration building is named Luther Rice Hall.
Brown University awarded him an honorary doctorate.
In Burma, Adoniram and Ann Judson translated Bible Scriptures, preached in Burmese, and started schools.
When war broke out between the British and Burma, Burmese officers burst into the Judson’s home.
They threw Adoniram on the ground in front of his pregnant wife and tied him up with torture thongs.
Accusing him of being a spy for the British, they dragged him away and threw him into the infamous Ava death prison.
After 12 months, Judson was marched with other prisoners, ill and barefoot, to a primitive village near Mandalay.
All but one of the other prisoners died.
While Adoniram was in prison, his wife Ann was alone as the only western woman in the entire country.
She lived in a tiny shack outside the gate and brought him meager food, as the prison did not feed him.
Ann continually lobbied the authorities for his release.
After 20 months of brutal treatment, being in irons and even suspended by his mangled feet, Adoniram was finally released.
The British then pressed him into serving as an interpreter between the British and Burmese, where he gained respect from both sides.
Adoniram Judson compiled an English-Burmese Dictionary and translated the Bible.
Then, in 1826, Adoniram Judson’s wife, Ann, died.
Adoniram sank into severe depression.
Later, he was joined by missionaries George Boardman and his wife, Sarah.
It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts.
One of the first Christian converts was from the Karen people, a man named Ko Tha Byu.
He had been a murderer with a diabolical temper. After being captured, he was sold into slavery. Adoniram Judson and George Boardman began witnessing to him, teaching him to read and write.
Ko Tha Byu converted to Christianity and was baptized on May 16, 1828. For the rest of his life he was a tireless evangelist to the Karen people.
The Karen people had been a hunted minority scattered in the jungles.
Astonishingly, their ancient Karen people beliefs were that there was an all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth who made a man, then took one of the man’s ribs and formed a woman.
The Karen people believed that as a result of temptation by a devil, the man and woman fell, but there was a promise that someday a messiah would come to their rescue.
The Karen people lived in expectation of a prophecy that white foreigners would bring them a sacred white parchment roll instructing them on the way to heaven.
Ko Tha Byu was put into the ministry by Adoniram Judson.
With Ko Tha Byn’s help, from 1828-1840, membership in the Karen Baptist Church grew to 1,270.
Ko Tha Byu served as the first native Burmese pastor, refounding the church at Rangoon.
A mission worker described him: “Ko Tha Byu was an ignorant (uneducated) man; yet he did more good than all of us, for God was with him.”
Adoniram Judson died in April 12, 1850.
His life’s work resulted in Burma having 100 churches, 123 ministers and over 8,000 baptized Christians.
The leader of the Myanmar Evangelical Fellowship stated in 1993:
“Today, there are 6 million Christians in Myanmar, and every one of us trace our spiritual heritage to one man – the Reverend Adoniram Judson.”
Each July, Baptist churches in Myanmar celebrate “Judson Day.”
In the United States, no less than 36 Baptist churches are named after Adoniram Judson, as well as Judson University in Illinois and the town of Judsonia, Arkansas.
His wife, Ann Judson, is the namesake of Judson College in Alabama, as well as a dormitory at Maranatha Baptist University.
At Brown University there is a house named after Adoniram Judson, owned by Christian Union.
During World War II, a U.S. Liberty Ship was stationed in the Philippines named the SS Adoniram Judson.
Surviving 56 air raid attacks day and night for six days, the ship’s captain said “It was miraculous that the bombs did not hit the ship.”
Expressing his conviction, Adoniram Judson wrote:
“How do Christians discharge this trust committed to them?
They let three fourths of the world sleep the sleep of death, ignorant of the simple truth that a Savior died for them.”
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