The story is told that George Washington Carver had a sincere desire to help southern farmers rebound from the ravages of the Civil War and years of the soil being depleted by the planting of cotton. He couldn't get away from the idea that the answer could be found in peanuts and sweet potatoes. Being a godly man, he prayed that God would reveal to him the secrets of the universe. He told his friends that God replied, "Little man, you're too small to grasp the secrets of the universe. But I will show you the secret of the peanut."
His research at the Tuskegee Institute resulted in the creation of more than 300 products from peanuts -- products like cooking oil, paint and, yes, peanut butter. In addition, he created more than 100 products from sweet potatoes.
According to Richard Pilant, who was instrumental in establishing Carver's birthplace as a U.S. national monument, Carver began each day with an earnest prayer that God would reveal to him the secrets of the flowers, plants, soil and weeds so that he might help “put more food in the bellies of the hungry, more clothing on the backs of the naked, and better shelter over the heads of the homeless.”
Near the end of his life, Henry Ford said of him, “Professor Carver has taken Thomas Edison’s place as the world’s greatest living scientist.” Senator Champ Clark of Carver’s native Missouri called him “one of the foremost scientists of all the world for all time.” After his death in 1943, Congress passed and President Roosevelt signed legislation making his birthplace a national monument, which was a distinction only granted to Washington and Lincoln prior to that time.
In a time when heroes are in short supply, Franklin Springs Family Media has produced a timely film about an influential and enigmatic African-American leader. While U.S. historians often limit their focus to his scientific genius, George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Way mines deeper into the spiritual core of Carver, chronicling the inspiring story of a faith tested and refined by hardship and the harsh realities of being born into slavery and growing up in the reconstruction era.
“Carver's greatest overlooked contribution in my opinion was his love and appreciation for creation and creativity. He was a true scientist who was more than a lab coat and a microscope,” said Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr., the well-known author, conference speaker and preaching pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Baucham lends his voice as narrator in this powerful tribute to the whole of Carver’s life.
An Uncommon Way is co-produced and directed by Christian film mainstay Ken Carpenter (Dove Award winner in 2007 and 2008 for Best Long-form Videos for Mark Schultz and Amy Grant). “We’re always on the lookout for stories that cast a strong vision of faith in action. I had heard only half of Carver’s story in school; we wanted this film to provide a more complete picture of this extraordinary life,” said Carpenter.
“This was a man of many gifts and passions who lived a full, rewarding life and invested that life by mentoring and discipling others,” added Baucham.
Carpenter’s cinematic documentary style provides an engaging film featuring footage from Carver’s boyhood home in Missouri, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and other story segments from Nashville to Los Angeles, as well as interviews with a surviving former student and noted historians, including John Perry, Peter Buchard, Paxton Williamson and Dr. George Grant. The film was scored by renowned Nashville composer/arranger Tom Howard.
An Uncommon Way celebrates the character qualities that made Carver a unique part of American history. “Textbooks tend to concentrate primarily on the outward achievements of George Washington Carver, his inventions and vision for sustainable agriculture, but this was just a small part of the man—more the outward fruit of something far greater within!” says Grant in the film.
Carver was heralded nationally as a scientific genius whose discoveries had tremendous impact in advancing sustainable agriculture. A man of devout faith, he spoke continually of “loving the beauty of the earth and God’s handiwork in all things.”
“The film reminds us how a man can overcome incredible obstacles to achieve great things. And it also paints an interesting picture of how an astute man of science can also be completely captured by the majesty of God’s creation,” said Carpenter. Dr. Baucham added “We are in the midst of an all-out assault on religion in the world today. There is a belief among the general public that religious people have no place in science. Some even believe that one cannot be a true scientist and a true Christian. Carver's life shows us another way.”
Carver’s commitment as a mentor to his students was unwavering. He wrote “Oh, how I want them to get the fullest measure of happiness and success out of life. I want them to see the Great Creator in the smallest and apparently the most insignificant things about them. How I long for each one to walk and talk with the Great Creator through the things He has created.”
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View a 2-minute film clip featuring narrator, Dr. Voddie Baucham
Watch the trailer of George Washington Carver’s: An Uncommon Way
Related stories from CBN.com: George Washington Carver: Master Inventor, Artist
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A conversation with Dr. Voddie Baucham
Q. Why is the film release of George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Way timely? Who should see this film and why?
A. The release of this film is timely in a number of ways. The most obvious, and perhaps least significant issue is that of Black History Month. While it is important to remember Black History, George Washington Carver’s life transcends ethnicity. A second, and more important issue raised by this film is the proper place of faith in the scientific realm. We are in the midst of an all-out assault on religion in the world today. There is a belief among the general public that religious people have no place in science. Some even believe that one cannot be a true scientist and a true Christian. Carver’s life shows us another way.
Q. Why was it important to lend your voice to George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Way?
A. I want people to see this film for myriad reasons. I want to see films that do a good job of presenting history. I want to see films that do a good job of presenting some of the heroes of the past who happened to be black. I want to see films that attack issues like prejudice and racism with truth rather than platitudes. And I want to see films that portray Christianity in a positive light without being heavy handed or hokey. And if my contribution helps motivate people to see the film, it’s more than worth it.
Q. What elements of George Washington Carver’s story do you most strongly identify with as an African American and as a Christian?
A. I want people to see that blacks are not and were not helpless. I want them to see that the answer to the struggles black people have faced has always been found in God; not government. I want them to see that believing and reading the Bible is not a hindrance to true science, but a help. I also want them to see a time when black leaders were measured by their stature rather than their speeches.
Q. After completing this film project, what would you say is Carver’s greatest contribution that few people realize?
A. Carver’s greatest overlooked contribution in my opinion was his love and appreciation for creation and creativity. This was a true scientist who was more than a lab coat and a microscope. This was a man of many gifts and passions who lived a full and rewarding life and invested that life by mentoring and discipling others.
Order your copy of George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Way
Learn more about the film and Franklin Springs Family Media by visiting the official website at: http://www.franklinsprings.com.