Hero’s Tale – George Washington Carver

photo by Jazmin Quaynor

You know the hero’s tale. An unlikely and ill-prepared young person is caught up in a wider story, rising out of devastating difficulties only to change history. Do you know anyone like that? One of my heroes is George Washington Carver.

George was born an African Slave as the Civil War ended. His father died in a tragic accident when he was still an infant. He was kidnapped, and a serious case of whooping-cough permanently affected him physically. To make matters worse, his mother and sisters died. However, he and his brother were raised by a German immigrant couple. George worked very hard to put himself through college at Iowa State. Soon people across the country heard about his research in Agriculture.

Booker T. Washington invited George to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where he put together their Agricultural Studies Department. He did practical research to help farmers. He taught them crop rotation, fertilization, erosion prevention, and soil depletion due to years of repeated cotton growth.

Carver’s work helped revolutionize the South’s economy by discovering and popularizing uses for the peanut, and dozens of other crops.

Carver was a spiritual man. Devastating loss, which might have caused him to become bitter and angry, did not stop him from seeking ways to make the world a better place, especially for former slaves in the South. He writes:

What makes a hero? It’s their spirit. Heroes stand apart from the majority because they really believe. Here’s another revealing look at the spirit of George Washington Carver. He wrote this encouragement to his friend James Hardwick:

“I am praying that God will come in and rid you entirely of self so you can go out after souls right, or rather have souls seek the Christ in you. This is my prayer for you always.”

The Bible is filled with hero stories. The stories in the Bible are great reading. But more important, reading those stories can actually change your spirit too. It can send you on a hero’s mission.

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” – Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia

 (Many thanks to Bill Federer for much of his research for this post.)