New York, India and the South Pacific
Growing up, I was often referred to as “and this is their daughter!” or “it’s so good to finally meet the granddaughter.” More recently I’ve been addressed as “oh, so you’re Cameron’s sister.” While I’m proud of my family, I occasionally get left feeling like I’m living in someone else’s shadow.
Let’s rewind 200 years to Constitution Island, New York where sisters Susan and Ann Warner lived. Though both were co-Bible study leaders and spiritual authors, Susan’s writing eventually grew more popular, with a few of her books becoming best sellers.
To complete a story, she asked her sister to compose a poem to include in the storyline, specifically one that would soothe a dying child. Two years later the words were put to music, arranged by a Dr. Bradbury.
The simple poem grew in popularity and soon enough, the military cadets were singing it on duty. In the late 1800s, Amy Carmichael, a soon-to-be English missionary, heard the melody and instantly decided she wanted to commit her life to serve Jesus. In the early 1900s, she was brought on health leave from a different mission post to India, where she devoted the rest of her life to rescuing temple girls from sexual assignments and lives of darkness.
In 1943, an American patrol torpedo (PT) was silently making its way through South Pacific waters when it was t-boned by a Japanese destroyer, injuring or killing the majority of men on board. Lieutenant Jack Kennedy led the survivors away from the wreckage and over the next few days, sustained the remaining crew on Nauru Island.
He then sent a message through the natives to a friend shortly after, a rescue PT came to deliver the men from their humid prison. The injured and exhausted soldiers sat on the PT and began to sing. Surprising the American soldiers, the natives, who had been taught by Adventist missionaries, joined in singing the familiar tune: “Jesus loves me, this I know ...”
This song started out with humble Ann, diligently writing and living for Christ, not herself. She penned a sweet little poem that became one of the most well known children’s hymns of multiple generations. Don’t let anyone tell you that the small things aren’t important because if you’re doing them for God, the impact is infinite.
If you want to check out the story about JKF during WWII it’s called “Survival” by John Hersey
Kasondra Reel is a senior studying nursing.