George Whitefield, a member of the Holy Club (see previous post), became the most famous preacher in the American colonies and was largely responsible for the First Great Awakening. Benjamin Franklin wrote a remarkable account in his autobiography about Rev. Whitefield almost irresistable ability to RAISE MONEY FOR AT RISK KIDS.
A brief exert from Franklin’s autobiography on Whitefield’s appeal to raise financial support for orphanages in Georgia:
I did not disapprove of the design, but, as Georgia was then destitute of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send them from Philadelphia at a great expense, I thought it would have been better to have built the house here, and brought the children to it. This I advis’d; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected my counsel, and I therefore REFUS’D TO CONTRIBUTE.
I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I SILENTLY RESOLVED HE SHOULD GET NOTHING FROM ME, I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold.
As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to GIVE THE COPPERS. Another stroke of his oratory made me asham’d of that, and determin’d me to GIVE THE SILVER; and he finish’d so admirably, that I EMPTY’D MY POCKETS wholly into the collector’s dish, GOLD AND ALL.
At this sermon there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, had, by precaution, emptied his pockets before he came from home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong desire to give, and apply’d to a neighbour, who stood near him, to borrow some money for the purpose. The application was unfortunately [made] to perhaps the only man in the company who had the firmness not to be affected by the preacher. His answer was, “At any other time, Friend Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely; but not now, for thee seems to be out of thy right senses.”
One of those orphanage was the Bethesdia Home for Boys established in Savannah, GA. With the exception of a few lapses due to fire and wars, Bethesida has continued on from its founding by Whitefield in 1740 to this day. More than 10,000 boys have been served by Bethesda in its 265 years.
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