Dr Benjamin S. Carson (63) had a childhood dream of becoming a physician, however, growing up poor in the 1950s in Detroit, with low self esteem and in a single parent household, the odds were certainly not in his favour. But Ben’s mother, having only completed grade three herself, challenged her two children to strive for success by focusing on education.
She encouraged her boys to reach beyond their meagre circumstances through reading and building their knowledge of the world. As he began to appreciate reading, Ben’s grades improved dramatically and he started to develop what would become a life-long appreciation for learning. Life wasn’t smooth sailing though - Carson relates in his memoir, that in his youth he had a violent temper. Once, at age 14 he nearly stabbed a friend during a fight...
A changed man
”The knife blade struck the young man’s belt buckle with such force it broke and of course, he fled in terror. But I was even more terrified because it dawned upon me that at that moment I was trying to kill somebody over nothing.
I fell on my knees in the bathroom and started praying. I just said, ‘Lord, there’s got to be something better, I can’t control this.’ And there was a Bible, and I picked the Bible up and it just opened to the book of Proverbs, and I started reading and there were all these verses about anger and what happens to angry people. And I stayed in there for hours reading and contemplating and praying, and I came to an understanding during that time, that to react, to lash out, was not really a sign of strength.
It was a sign of weakness. When I came out of the bathroom after three hours, I was a different person, and I never had a problem with my temper since then.”
A career of service to others
Ben excelled in high school and upon completion, went on to attend college at Yale University where he met Candy, the young lady who would become his wife. After graduation, Ben would work as an X-ray technician, a bank teller, a school bus driver, a supervisor for highway cleanup crews, and a crane operator in a steel factory, before being accepted into the Michigan Medical School.
A world renown doctor
Ben and Candy were married, and after graduating medical school, Ben moved his family to Baltimore where he performed his residency training at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University Medical Centre. In 2013 Carson retired, and today he is emeritus professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and paediatrics at Johns Hopkins.
Some of Dr Carson’s career highlights include the first and only successful separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa, and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin.
“Even when I don’t operate, I pray because I feel that God is the ultimate source of all wisdom,” said Carson, “quite frankly, as a neurosurgeon, there’s a lot of emphasis on technical ability, but I believe that that’s something that can be taught, but wisdom comes from God and I think that it’s something that you have to seek.”
A sincere Christian
A committed and outspoken follower of Christ, Carson has served as an Adventist local elder and Sabbath school teacher. But he attends other churches. “I spend just as much time in non-Seventh-day Adventist churches because I’m not convinced that the denomination is the most important thing,” he told RNS in 1999. “I think it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.”
An influential leader
In 2001, Dr. Carson was named by CNN and TIME Magazine as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 “Living Legends.” In 2008, Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House.
Later that year he was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honour in America. Dr Carson has also been recognised by Harvard’s Centre for Public Leadership as one of America’s Best Leaders, and in 2009, the award-winning movie “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr, premiered on TV.
Carson Scholars Fund is arguably his most widely impactful accomplishment to date. Founded by Ben and his wife in 1994, the fund addresses the education crisis in the United States. When Ben and his wife, Candy, read a research study about the state of education in America, they were alarmed by the findings. The study showed that the nation’s students ranked #21 out of 22 countries; next to the bottom of the list in science and maths. Furthermore, the Carsons observed that many school display cases were filled with large trophies paying tribute to their sports teams’ achievements, while academic honour students only received a pin or certificate.
The Carson’s felt compelled to take action. They believed that if children could be taught early to excel in school, they would stay motivated and have a higher chance of educational success later in life. The Carson Scholars Fund was built on these principles, and it rewards young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.
A gifted speaker
After delivering a widely publicised speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, Carson gained international acclaim for his forthright views. He became a popular conservative figure for his critiques on social and political issues. (His speech which chastened President Obama - who was sitting in the room - was controversial, yet hailed by many as a brave and necessary move).
A prospective president
In August 2014, at a meeting attended by a group of his closest friends and advisers at his home, Dr Carson announced his intention to form a political action committee as a means to “...further engage with the American people in the democratic process of supporting the best and the brightest candidates for political office in the upcoming midterms.”
This year Carson entered the US 2016 election race, hopeful that he will make a dent against the (liberal) Democrat’s campaign. His success in this endeavour remains to be seen, but for now we pray for him to continue to stand for Biblical values and his Christian faith. We pray that he will hear from God and walk in the path set before him with courage, conviction and compassion.
In the wake of Obama’s irresponsible leadership, his far-reaching flawed foreign policy and his hyper-liberal agendas, America stands desperate for new leadership. Perhaps Ben Carson is the Daniel for that nation...
The US Elections: Why Care?
It’s been said that when America sneezes, the whole world catches flu. The decisions made by their Administration have monumental consequences both domestically and abroad. We need to pray fervently for Obama as he serves his final term in Office. As Ben Carson succinctly said: “Many well-meaning Americans have bought into the PC speech code, thinking that by being extra careful not to offend anyone we will achieve unity. What they fail to realise is that this is a false unity that prevents us from talking about important issues and is a Far Left strategy to paralyse us while they change our nation...We can help our nation quite a bit if we refrain from getting into our respective corners and throwing hand grenades at each other, and instead try to understand the other’s viewpoint, reject the stifling of political correctness, and engage in intelligent civil discussion.”
By Jackie Georgiou