“Live Christ”

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(other resources below: lyrics, lead sheet, usage info)

The story behind the song:

Copyofnerissa-crop Her name was Nerissa Hackman, but her friends called her “Ner.” She was registered to attend the regional youth retreat in Blackstone, Virginia, that I was to help lead. She died in a car accident exactly one week before the retreat. Her parents received the call shortly after she left for school on Friday, February 6, 2004. Her best friend was driving, and her car hit a patch of ice. There was only one tree on that straight road—and their car hit it. Nerissa and the other student in the back seat both died. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other passenger died later that day. The driver was unharmed. They were all wearing seatbelts.

I learned of her death on Friday, but throughout the weekend, I learned much more about her life. One of the counselors handed me an e-mail he had received from one of Nerissa’s father’s co-workers, Herb, who attended her memorial service. The e-mail began with this statement: “When am I going to stop learning the same stupid lesson? OK, the lesson isn’t stupid, but man, I feel that way right now.” He went on to say that he didn’t know Nerissa’s name before the memorial celebration, yet he was compelled to attend the service. When Herb saw Nerissa’s father, he hugged him. Jeff, her father, said something that would linger in his mind. Nerissa’s church had just finished 40 Days of Purpose, and Ner provided leadership through several videotaped skits that were playing on a monitor. The skits were hilarious, and she was upbeat and funny. There was also a slide show and scrapbooks of her life. They opened a microphone during the service. Teenager after teenager went forward and talked about Ner—the friend, the encourager, the comforter, the clown, the light in a dark place. No fewer than five girls called Ner their best friend. Many said she was the first person to reach out to them when they came to that school, including the driver of the car at the time of the accident. Herb concluded the e-mail by saying: “Then I saw it. I wasn’t there to ‘add’ anything. I was there to learn from a sixteen year-old girl I’d never met. It ain’t about me! How many times do I have to learn that lesson? Why is it so hard? If I could just learn that lesson—live that lesson— everything else would be easy.” That’s what Ner’s father had said to him earlier: “It’s not about me—Herb. It’s about what God is doing out there with those young people. It’s about them.” Herb said, “I get it, now! I hope I get it tomorrow too!”

I was blown away by the e-mail and everything said in it was true. Born in Germany, she was the younger sister to two brothers. She was a best friend to all, and her faith was her rock. Closing the retreat that Sunday morning I knew I had to talk about Ner and our challenge to be inspired by her story. She lived what Jesus taught. She didn’t have to preach it. People followed her example.

After the retreat, I wanted to know more about Nerissa, so I called her mom. She explained that through her death they came to realize how incredible she was and were awestruck at how God worked through her to touch so many lives. Nerissa’s mom said she had cried so many tears that she wanted the memorial service to be a celebration. She invited folks to tell stories about Nerissa to make them laugh. Students came from all walks of life—cheerleaders, athletes, band members. The one thing they had in common was Ner. If someone didn’t feel special, Ner had the gift of making them feel special. If someone didn’t feel loved, she had the gift of making them feel loved. If someone said, “I have only one friend,” Nerissa said, “You’ve got to meet more people.” She knew people and knew their needs. Five hundred people gathered for three hours to remember her—and she is still touching lives.

What a testimony: Share Christ every day, be open, don’t judge, love others as Christ loves. The Hackman family has a plaque in their kitchen that says: “Faith, Family, Friends”—and that’s what has carried them through Ner’s death. I was captured by Ner’s beauty, not only her outward appearance but also the inner beauty of her faith. Ner knew her purpose—to share Christ—and it continues even after her death.
Questions to think about:
• Can you recall someone who died too soon but continues to touch lives?
• Do you have a wide variety of friendships or are your friends similar? Do you make others feel special or accepted?
• How would people describe you: friend, encourager, Christ follower? What do you hope people remember about you?

— Reprinted from the book, “On the Way to Somewhere”

“Live Christ” – Lyrics

Live Christ, Love Christ, Share Christ, Be Christ
All these things do, today All these things along your way

Live Peace, Love Peace, Share Peace, Be Peace
All these things do, today All these things along your way

Live Hope, Love Hope, Share Hope, Be Hope
All these things do, today All these things along your way

Live Love, Love Love, Share Love, Be Love
All these things do, today All these things along your way

Live Christ, Love Christ, Share Christ, Be Christ
All these things do, today All these things along your way
All these things do, today All these things along your way

© 2005 Celia Whitler and Ron Whitler, Dog Not Included (ASCAP)
written by: Celia Whitler on 11/26/2005 

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Permission is granted for local church usage, provided that you meet the following conditions:

  • Email us from the contact link below. Include the usage date and description of usage, the church name, city, state and phone number.
  • Please complete the form for each usage date.
  • You do not need to receive an acknowledgment from us in order to have permission for local church usage.
  • If you complete the form, permission to print the lyrics or musical score (linked below) is only granted for local church bulletin usage.
  • You may project the lyrics on a screen.
  • The full credit line needs to remain intact. It should read, “©2005 Ron and Celia Whitler, Dog Not Included Publishing (ASCAP), http://www.celiamusic.net
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