When Jimmy Carter was a boy, he listened to his parents talk about local politics and watched them live out their Baptist faith in the community. From the fields of his family farm to traveling the world negotiating peace talks, God guided every step of Jimmy’s journey. His unwavering devotion to peace and faith helped him navigate the political waters of the governorship and presidency. Discover the extraordinary life of this world-famous humanitarian and follow in the footsteps of this incredible man of God.
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Gift of Peace: The Jimmy Carter StoryZonderKidz Biography
By Elizabeth Raum
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2011 Elizabeth Raum
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHelping Out
In 1976, Jimmy Carter ran for president of the United States, and America went nuts—peanuts, that is. Few people outside of the South recognized his name. Who was Jimmy Carter? He needed a way to introduce himself to the voters, and peanuts paved the way. Jimmy ran his family's peanut business. He grew up on a farm and sold bagfuls on the streets of Georgia as a child. Jimmy chose a big smiling peanut as his campaign logo. He and his family gave away buttons and bags of roasted nuts that read, "Jimmy Carter For President." Men wore gold peanut pins and women wore peanut necklaces. Jimmy flew from state to state in an airplane called Peanut One, and his supporters called themselves the Peanut Brigade. It was nutty.
Of course, there was much more to Jimmy Carter than farming. He fought for civil rights, served in the navy, and had been elected Georgia's governor. He was a husband, a dad, and an active member of his church. It was Jimmy Carter's honesty and willingness to help others that convinced voters to elect him president of the United States.
Today, thirty years after leaving the White House, he continues to work hard and help others throughout the nation and around the world.
"First useful act"
Jimmy Carter learned to help others at a young age from the influence of his parents. His mother, Lillian Gordy Carter, studied nursing at the Wise Hospital in Plains, Georgia. That's where she met Jimmy's dad, James Earl Carter Sr., a local businessman. Jimmy's parents, who everyone called Miss Lillian and Mr. Earl, provided him and his sisters with a safe and loving home, first in Plains, a town of about six hundred people, and then in the smaller community of Archery, Georgia.
On the day that Jimmy's dad, Mr. Earl, took Jimmy, Gloria, and Miss Lillian to see their new home in Archery, he forgot the key. It was two and a half miles back to Plains, so Mr. Earl tried to pry open a window. It was stuck, and he could only open it a crack. The narrow opening was far too small for a big man like Mr. Earl, so he slid Jimmy inside. Jimmy ran to the front door and unlocked it. Jimmy later called it his "first useful act." Nothing pleased Jimmy more than being helpful.
At home in Archery
The Carters's house in Archery was square and painted white. Cars passing by the highway kicked up so much dust that the house took on the brownish-red color of the dirt. The house had no running water or bathrooms inside. Jimmy drew water from the well in the yard and hauled it to the house for cooking, laundry, and washing up. Extra buckets of water were stored on the back porch. The family used a "two-holer," an outhouse (or privy) with two holes for toilets. The larger one was for adults, and a smaller one was reserved for children—it kept them from falling in! The Carters took recycling seriously long before everyone understood its importance. Instead of toilet paper, they used old newspapers or pages torn from a Sears Roebuck catalog.
Although Jimmy's home wasn't big and fancy, his family was better off than many others. During the 1930s, when Jimmy was a boy, the Great Depression left many people jobless, homeless, and hungry. Farms failed, factories closed, and people lost their homes to the bank. Children as young as six or seven went to work, trying to earn a few pennies for food.
The Carter house sat beside a main highway. Often, single men traveled past on their way west looking for jobs. Occasionally, entire families took to the roads seeking a better life. Homeless travelers like these were called tramps. Many stopped at the Carter home hoping to find work or something to eat. If Jimmy's mother, Miss Lillian, was home, she never turned anyone away. She always gave them some food to help them on their way.
One day Miss Lillian was talking to a neighbor. "I'm thankful that they never come in my yard," the neighbor said.
The next time a tramp knocked on Miss Lillian's door, she asked why he stopped at her house and not others.
"The post on your mailbox is marked to say that you don't turn people away or mistreat us," he said. He explained that tramps used a set of rough symbols to help them find people who would help them out.
Jimmy and his sisters checked the mailbox. They discovered a series of nearly invisible scratches on the post. When Jimmy turned to his mother, she told him not to change those marks. He learned from his mother's example that it's important to help others, even those you don't know and may never see again.
As he grew older, Jimmy put these lessons to work. No matter where he was or what office he held, Jimmy Carter never forgot the importance of helping others.
Excerpted from Gift of Peace: The Jimmy Carter Story by Elizabeth Raum Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Raum . Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 Helping Out 7
2 Jimmy's Early Life 13
3 Black and White Worlds 20
4 Growing Up 28
5 War and Peace 34
6 Return to Plains 42
7 Losing an Election and Finding Faith 51
8 Governor Carter 58
9 Aiming High 65
10 Walking Humbly 71
11 Doing Justice 77
12 Taking Care of God's World 83
13 Keeping the Peace 89
14 Endings 95
15 Going Home 101
16 The Gift of Peace 107
What Can You Do? 117
To Learn More 123
Major Sources 125