Missouri author captures depth of Carver’s faith
March 7, 2006
George Washington Carver: His Life & Faith in His Own Words is a short book of biography and quotes from this great Christian man. The book is compiled and written by St. Louis author William Federer. This is a labor of love for Federer who remembers as a child receiving a book about Carver that inspired him to emulate the character traits of the former slave.
Did you know Missouri can count George Washington Carver as one of our own? After the death of his parents, George was raised by Mr. and Mrs. Moses Carver, residents of Diamond Grove, Mo. He attended school in Neosho, as well as a business college in Kansas City.
Carver’s story is inspirational because of the incredible obstacles he had to overcome, and because of his deep faith in Jesus Christ. He was born into slavery, experienced the loss of most of his family, felt the sting of poverty, and encountered door-closing racism. However, before his life was over, Carver was an internationally known chemist who advised presidents and Congress, and was offered jobs by prominent men like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. His great mission in life was to help bring education and moral uplift to those less fortunate.
Carver is best known for discovering hundreds of uses for the peanut, which in turn gave the post-Civil War South a soil-replenishing crop that could be turned into a viable economic future. His horticultural discoveries took place at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, led by Booker T. Washington. He would teach his students in the classroom, but also journey out to the poor farmers, instructing them on how to take care of the soil.
The particular focus of Federer’s book is the spiritual life of Carver. By reading the private letters Carver sent to his friends, we are able to discover the spiritual depth and passion of the man. In 1921, Carver addressed the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee regarding the endless uses of the peanut. At the end of his address, the chairman asked:
“Dr. Carver how did you learn all of these things?”
Carver answered, “From an old book.”
“What book?” asked the chairman.
Carver replied, “The Bible.”
The chairman inquired, “Does the Bible tell about peanuts?”
“No, sir” Dr. Carver replied, “But it tells me about the God who made the peanut. I asked Him to show me what to do with the peanut, and He did.”
Such anecdotes reveal two of the character traits of Carver. First, he had a deep respect for God and His Word. Second, he believed that hard work and personal industry was often the divine means by which God brought blessing to His people.
Carver’s faith was rooted in Christ. He wrote to a friend saying, “Oh how I wish the people would awake up from their lethargy and come out soul and body for Christ.” Speaking of his students, Carver said, ‘I want them to find Jesus, and make Him a daily and hourly part of themselves.” When asked about the secret of his success in life, he responded by saying, “It is simple. It is found in the Bible, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.’”
George Washington Carver was truly a great Christian and American citizen. This book by William Federer makes an excellent companion piece to some of the longer biographies of Carver. Put it in the hands of young men and women and you will be giving them an opportunity to find inspiration from the life of a man committed to God. (Scott Lamb is pastor, Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To interact with others about this review and to read reviews of many other books, go to www.wisdomofthepages.com)