Opinion

Parson to Person: A simple man who shared his life and his learning

I have always enjoyed biographies. Stories of other people enrich our lives.

Last fall, two different sources recommended Eric Metaxas’ collections of short biographies, so I have been reading them. Here, in quiz form, are a few details from one life.

How many clues do you need to identify the person?

1. He is a male.

2. He was born during the American Civil War.

3. He died during World War II.

4. At his birth in the Ozarks, he was sickly, stolen by bushwhackers and barely survived. (Ok, that is four clues).

5. At the age of 10, God came into his heart in the loft of a barn when he first prayed.

6. As a Christmas gift, Mariah Watkins gave him a Bible which he used his entire life.

7. From a young age he showed an uncanny ability to observe plants, teach himself and care for plants such that he was dubbed the “plant doctor.”

8. Of interest to Iowans, he studied at Simpson College in Indianola, and Iowa Agricultural College at Ames. He won awards in Cedar Rapids for his paintings.

9. Booker T. Washington hired him to head up the new agricultural department at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute where he taught and researched for 47 years. At Washington’s death in 1917, this humble scholar took Washington’s name as his middle name.

10. His foster parents were Moses and Susan Carver.

So you can probably deduce by now, that we are thinking of George Washington Carver. Carver revolutionized agriculture, especially in the southern United States with original research, hybridization, crop rotation, and innovative thinking that he attributed to God’s revelation in nature.

Carver regularly gave the credit to God for his learning and inventiveness. But one of his most famous testimonies was before the House Ways and Means Committee in January 1921.

A congressman asked Carver where he learned all this? Carver replied from a book. The congressman wanted to know what book?

“The Bible,” Carver responded.

A favorite quote of Carver’s to his Sunday evening Bible class was, “Nature in its varied forms are like little windows through which God permits me to commune with him, and to see much of his glory, by simply lifting the curtain, and looking in. I love to think of nature as wireless telegraph stations through which God speaks to us every day, every hour, and every moment of our lives.”

If you would like to learn more about the fascinating life of George Washington Carver, you can turn to the book, “Seven More Men” by Eric Metaxas.

Carver is an inspiring example for me, and I hope for you as well. Amid enormous persecution, Carver was patient, inquisitive, creative, and he shared his life and learning with those less fortunate.