Meet Henry Parsons Crowell, Founder of Quaker Oats and a Generous Christ-Follower

By Randy Alcorn September 11, 2020

Henry Parsons CrowellOne of the things I most look forward to about Heaven is learning the stories of countless faithful brothers and sisters in Christ from all places and times who used their lives to further God’s kingdom. But I love hearing some of them on this side of eternity, such as the story of Henry Parsons Crowell, founder of the Quaker Oats Company, shared in this video from Pastor Tom Joyce with Immanuel Bible Church (in Springfield, Virginia). This faithful and successful man invested his life and wealth in the spread of the gospel and gave away nearly 70% of his income for the more than 40 years that he ran his business:

Susan Crowell(Here’s a short biography of Crowell that gives more details, including how he and his wife Susan shared the gospel with those in their circles, and many corporate giants came to know Christ as a result. As Tom mentioned, Henry went to be with Jesus at the age 82 while riding the commuter train, a Bible in his hand.)

So why did God give business success and wealth to Henry Parsons Crowell? As I share in my book Giving Is the Good Life, it’s for exactly the reason He gave skills in preaching and translation to William Tyndale, George Whitefield, and John Newton—to further the cause of Christ and expand His Kingdom all over the world.

Why has God entrusted you with more money than you need, whether that’s a little more, a lot more, or a whole lot more? I would venture to say it’s for that very same reason. (Doesn’t that excite you?)

If God has wired you to be good at what you do—whether business or art, manufacturing or farming, music or medicine, or anything that allows you to freely help the needy and further the cause of Christ—rejoice! This is a great use of your life.

Leaving your job for “full-time ministry” may not be a step up for the Kingdom of God but a step down. God may have given you the ability, right where you are, to help churches and missionaries reach those God has called them to, as well as the ability to reach others in your own unique sphere of ministry.

So whether you are a grocery clerk, an assembly line worker, a salesperson, a business owner, a flight attendant, a stay-at-home mom, or a professional athlete, or whether you have a primary ministry of prayer or encouraging people, God has given you a unique platform. In all likelihood, no pastor or missionary will reach your neighbors, teachers, coworkers, coaches, or teammates. We each have our own God-given mission fields to serve every day. So use your platform for the glory of God, and then give generously to the causes of evangelism, justice, and mercy that are close to His heart.

God doesn’t just call His people to the far reaches of the Earth for his Kingdom. He also equips many servants to support and supply workers and to meanwhile represent Him in their own territory right where they live and work. Whatever He has called you to do, do it with your whole heart, giving generously out of the overflow He’s entrusted to you.

May each of us live daily in such a way as to look forward to hearing the Lord say to us, when we meet Him face to face, “Well done, you good and faithful servant! . . . You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, GNT).

Giving Is the Good LifeEarlier this year, Randy’s book Giving Is the Good Life was chosen as a finalist in the 2020 Christian Book Award under the Christian Living category! We’re grateful that God is using it to encourage believers to experience the joy-filled, eternity-impacting benefits of generosity.

One reader wrote, “This book is not going to tell you to give away everything you own and forgo all gifts we’ve been offered here on earth. But this book is one that takes an in-depth look at real life examples of the ways in which being God’s delivery people not only allows us to be on the front-lines of answers to prayer in other’s lives, but blesses our socks off in return. It will challenge you to take an honest look at your heart and it will bring the generosity of the Gospel to light in a whole new way.”

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of fifty-some books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries