What Would You Do?

Have you ever wondered what you would do if your Bible and hymnal were ever taken away by circumstances beyond your control? I have. One such example is the American POW experience in North Vietnam. I read a memoir by a naval aviator who was shot down and held captive for seven years by the North Vietnamese military.

Naval Aviator Howard Rutledge

Howard Rutledge and his fellow prisoners underwent the most horrendous treatment by their captors. The endless torture and maltreatment were terrible and it is a wonder that any of these men survived. One of the things that he recalled was the way the prisoners communicated by tapping out coded messages to each other.

They had no Bible, but they “collected” verses by passing them around in code. The verses were all from scriptures that had been memorized. They assembled quite a collection from their various memories. I know many verses, but like the naval aviators in captivity, I know them from the Authorized King James Version. My generation memorized many verses from the KJV, however, I’m not sure about the following generation.

There are multiple outstanding English translations of the Bible available today. They are very readable and easy to understand. I can appreciate modern efforts to make God’s Word available to everyone. There is, however, a downside to having multiple translations in use. There is no common translation for memorization.

It has been said that if the entire Bible was lost, there would be enough Gospel in John 3:16 to save the world. Agreed. What about the hymnal? During the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, Martin Luther had to write new hymns to reflect the Age of Grace. Hymns have always been a part of worship, including the Book of Psalms. Like John 3:16, what hymn is the one that covers all the basic tenets of the Gospel and can lead the world to the Kingdom of God? We all probably have one in our minds now.

Anna B. Warner

In the 19th Century there were two sisters who authored novels with a Christian theme. One of the sisters would write a hymn and place it in the novel as part of the story. This young woman lived in upstate New York and taught Bible Study classes to young people. She lived on an island in the Hudson River and would travel by boat to complete her teaching duties. One of the places where she taught was the United States Military Academy at West Point. The boys in her classes enjoyed her style and approach. She tended to not over think or over complicate things. The cadets really liked that part since their other studies were very challenging. As the years progressed, she became an integral part of the West Point family.

Finally, she “would go the way of the whole earth” as Joshua called the end of our mortal lives on this planet. Her beloved students and former students were shaken by the loss. The only appropriate place for her to rest was with her “family” at the West Point Military Cemetery. She was given a full funeral with all military honors. Her grave is located on the campus in the cemetery for people to pay their respects. 

Grave of Anna Warner at West Point

While there, you may also visit the graves of American heroes dating back to the Revolutionary War. West Point is where General Washington put a chain across the river to stop the Royal Navy. President Eisenhower and Astronaut Ed White are buried there with other notable Americans. 

To visit the Bible teacher, author, and song writer, you will need to go to the grave of Anna Warner. The hymn that I had in my mind that was written by Miss Warner is detailed below:

Jesus Loves Me by Anna B. Warner (1860)

Jesus loves me! This I know,

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to Him belong;

They are weak, but He is strong.


Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me! 

The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! This I know,

As He loved so long ago.

Taking children on His knee, 

Saying, “Let them come to Me.”

Jesus loves me still today.

Walking with me on my way,

Wanting as a friend to give

Light and love to all who live.

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 behind me all the way;

Thou hast bled and died for me,

I will henceforth live for Thee. 

Gospel of John Chapter 3, Verse 16 (King James Version, 1611)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish; but have everlasting life.”

Further Reading:“In the Presence of Mine Enemies” by Howard & Phyllis Rutledge, 1973.

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