Son of slaves became man of science, man of God

Published 2:32 am Saturday, February 23, 2019

George was born about 1864, the son of a slave named Mary.  He never knew his father, who died in a farming accident before George’s birth.  Soon after he was born, George and his mother were kidnapped by southerners from the Missouri farm where they lived.

The weak, frail infant suffering from whooping cough was returned to his owners, but his mother was never found.  The childless couple that owned his mother raised George and his brother as if they were their own.  His brother later died of smallpox.       

George’s faith was an important part of his life.  He accepted Christ at age 10 and years later described what happened, “God just came into my heart one afternoon while I was alone in the loft of our barn.  That was my simple conversion and I have tried to keep the faith.”

As a child, his love and curiosity of nature was evident by his long walks in the woods.  He once wrote, “When just a mere tot, my very soul thirsted for an education.  I literally lived in the woods.  I wanted to know every strange stone, flower, insect, bird and beast.”

He went to college to study art, but transferred to another college to study agriculture.  In a letter written from college, he said, “I realize that God has a great work for me to do.”

After earning his master’s degree, the scientist moved to Alabama and joined the faculty of Tuskegee Institute.  In 1907, he organized a Bible study class on campus that he taught until his death in 1943.

He became an influential man in American history because of his agricultural experiments.  He advised southern farmers to rotate crops and suggested an alternative crop to cotton.  In speeches and interviews, he almost always referred to the Bible and divine guidance.

While praying, he asked God, “Mr. Creator, why did You make the peanut?”  With God’s help, he discovered 300 marketable products made from the peanut including mayonnaise, cheese, flour, and soap.  From the sweet potato, he discovered 150 different uses like vinegar, starch, and molasses.

“Nature in its varied forms are the little windows through which God permits me to commune with Him, and to see much of His glory, majesty and power by simply lifting the curtain and looking in,” he once said.

George Washington Carver’s life could be described in the words of the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Carver depended on divine guidance for his scientific accomplishments.  He once said that the secret of true happiness is “the joy of coming into the closest relationship with the Maker and Preserver of all things.”  He also believed “We get closer to God as we get more intimately and understandingly acquainted with the things He has created.”

Many years ago, a minister was heard to say, “The world has yet to see what God will do with the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.”  Carver likely came close to giving us a glimpse of all that God will do!

Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at