Story of the Washerwoman

Rev. Steve Davis, First Baptist Church, Carrollton, Georgia, recently shared the following story with Homiletics magazine via e-mail.

Osceola McCarty

Osceola McCarty

“Have you heard of a washwoman by the name of Osceola McCarty of Hattiesburg, Mississippi? Here’s an edited version of the Wikipedia entry: She did not look like a saint. She was a washwoman, an old black woman who never married and had dropped out of school in the sixth grade to begin her career of washing clothes. She left school to care for her sick aunt who had moved in with them. For the next 75 years she was a washwoman, starting when the sun came up and stopping when it went down. She would scrub the dark clothes on a washboard and boil the white ones in a big black pot before hanging them on the clothesline in the backyard. When she was 87 years old she gave $150,000 to the University of Southern Missis-sippi for scholarships for underprivileged kids. She saved her money all those years and invested it. She never owned a car. She walked everywhere she went, pushing a shopping cart about one mile to get groceries. She rode with friends to attend her church, the Friendship Baptist Church. She did not subscribe to any newspaper, considering that to be an extravagance. A local bank noticed her substantial sav-ings and began assisting her in estate planning. With dimes to repre-sent 10 percent, she set aside one dime for her church, one dime for each of three relatives, and the rest, six dimes, for Southern Missis-sippi University. In 1996 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Harvard. She died in 1999 of cancer, but her cleaning work, in a real sense, lives on.”

Who judges the significance of a life?  Many folks in our world presume to do so.  But in the end, it is God who judges the significance of a life.  Every once in a while, we get a glimpse at just how sig-nificant an un-noticed life can be.  Osceola McCarty would have been significant whether noticed or not, because her significance rests in God.  And it is God who calls each of us to be significant in our own way.  As our Upward Call worship emphasizes each week, God is calling each of us to our own next step.  And being what God calls us to be is the significance that really matters.

May God bless your next step

Pastor Dan


  1. ms.McCarty was a miracle-worker who gave of her self selflessly
    She is my forever lovin’ Hero straight from the heart Bar-none
    No two ways about it at all…

Switch to mobile version