Posted on : Monday June 1, 2009

Gayla ParkerBy Gayla Parker, WMU Executive Director/WMU,SBC Missions Innovator Specialist Missionary for Missions Education/Customization

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Those words were written by Anna B. Warner in her book, Say and Seal. Not many today are aware of this book, but it was a best seller. “Jesus Loves Me” is written as a poem in the book being read by Mr. Linden, one of the characters, to Johnny Fax, a dying child, as a means of bringing comfort to the child.

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.

Jesus loves me! Loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree.
(This verse is found in the original text of the book Say and Seal)

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Warner’s father was a successful lawyer who lost everything in the great depression. The family had to leave the city and moved into a home they owned near West Point Academy. Anna and her sister, Susan, began writing for the income it provided. Along with her writing, she also taught Bible studies at the Academy for the cadets. Her books, her poems, her classes and her hymns were all an extension of her love, life and legacy. Her influence at the academy was so great that she is the only citizen that is buried in the West Point Cemetery.

Ms. Warner’s story is a tragedy that God turned into a victory. It was the financial crisis of the day that brought her to the place where writing and teaching became a necessity. If writing had not become necessary, the words we have all sung and loved so much may never have been penned.

All throughout scripture, there are examples of God taking tragedies and turning them into victories.

Today, He is still at work in tragic situations. May 2, 2009, Annie Brown went to heaven to meet the Jesus that she loved so much. Annie lived a very short life. She had just turned six when she went to meet Jesus. But that very short life had a very large impact on the lives of doctors, nurses and hospital staff who met her. Annie’s favorite song was “Jesus Loves Me.” She sang it every morning to the nurses and doctors who were treating her brain tumor.

In the midst of shots and treatments, Annie would say to the staff, “It’s okay that it hurts. I love you.” When she talked about her illness, she was not concerned about life or death because for her either way Jesus had won the battle. Jesus might choose to heal her, but if not she would be in heaven making him beaded necklaces and telling him, “I love you, Jesus.”

On May 7, almost 400 people gathered in Harrington, Del., to celebrate Annie’s short life. Her physician’s assistant said this about her, “Annie fought a brave fight and showed lots of courage in her battle with cancer. But that will not be her legacy. Her legacy will be the unconditional love she gave us (the hospital staff) everyday. Annie’s voice saying, ‘I Love You!’ will long be in our hearts. Annie, we will pass it forward.”

Her service ended with the congregation singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Who could have imagined that what was written as a poem in a book to comfort a dying child would be the testimony of a child with a brain tumor? “Jesus loves me this I know;” words of comfort for us to claim and for us to share. Pass it forward.