The founder of Bethesda Orphanage, George Whitefield was himself impoverished as a child, having lost his father at the age of two. In an incredible feat, Whitefield graduated Oxford University, where he met two men who would significantly influence him in later life: John and Charles Wesley.
Unlike many of his brethren in the Church of England, Whitefield established himself with a nearly evangelical quality in his sermons. John Wesley, who tried to work with Creek Indians, and Charles, who was Oglethorpe's first secretary, urged him to come to Georgia, where his unique style, they felt, would be attractive to Georgians on the frontier of America. Not only was Whitefield well received by Georgians, he was well received by every city he visited, drawing crowds greater than 10,000 on more than one occasion.
Whitefield did lay the first brick for the foundation of Bethesda, near Savannah, on this trip, and it was his vision (and the money he raised) that created the home, but it was James Habersham who tended to the day-to-day business of Bethesda. Whitefield returned to England to continue his preaching, occasionally returning to the colonies.