George, Eliza (Davis)
Eliza George was an African American missionary to Liberia and founder of the Elizabeth Native Interior Mission. She grew up in Texas and studied at Central Texas College, where she became involved in the Student Volunteer Movement and made plans to serve in Africa. Her plans were nearly thwarted when she learned from Texas Baptist leaders that they had no intention of sending a black woman to Africa. They told her that if she wanted to reach black people with the gospel, she could do so at home. She refused to give up, and in 1914, supported by the National Baptist Convention, arrived in Liberia to begin her ministry, which continued for more than a half century. She served as an evangelist, church planter, and founder of the Bible Industrial Academy. Despite her success, however, she faced problems with financial support. In 1919, when a British businessman proposed marriage, she refused at first, but then accepted, having concluded that his promised support was the only means by which she could remain in Africa. Although they worked together for 20 years, the marriage was filled with conflict. After her husband died in 1939, she was forced to become independent and rely on small contributions given through Eliza Davis George Clubs. By the 1960s the Eliza George Baptist Association had 27 churches. George remained active in the ministry until she reached her 90s, when the work was taken over by Liberians. She retired in Austin, Texas.
Ruth A. Tucker
Lorry Lutz, Born to Lose, Bound to Win: The Amazing Journey of Mother Eliza George (1980); Ruth A. Tucker, Guardians of the Great Commission: The Story of Women in Modern Missions (1988).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.