A four-year-old boy from Tyler, Texas is an Internet sensation after his video recitation of the alphabet using Bible verses went viral. Here’s the full story as recounted by his father, Taylor Hemness (@taylorhemness) :
Last spring, our youth minister at Glenwood Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas, challenged families to learn a Bible verse for every letter of the alphabet. At the time, Tanner was 3-and-a-half, so I started to tune out.
But the minister encouraged parents of young children to try it too, because “we’d be amazed by what they’re able to retain.”
I thought it was worth a try, but honestly didn’t believe that he’d be able to do it. That thought was only strengthened when I saw the list of verses the church provided to us. “Jesus wept” isn’t on the list! I wasn’t even sure they were all from the same translation.
So, that Monday, we wrote the first verse on a chalkboard in our kitchen, and started practicing with him. I’d run through it every day, and by Thursday, he had it.
The following Monday, we did it again with “B,” but we also still made him recite A. So, by week five, he was doing A, B, C, D, and E every day. There were a few verses that took two weeks, thanks to difficulty, or things like family travel. Altogether, it took about six months.
He’s wearing a tuxedo in the video because we were at a wedding. He was a ring bearer in a co-worker’s wedding, he was all dressed up, and he’d just learned “Z” the week prior. We had a few minutes, and a quiet room, so I took the opportunity to film him, which I’d always planned to do when he was done.
I posted the video, and immediately, it got lots of response. But friends were telling me they were trying to send it to friends, but those friends couldn’t see it because my account was private. I’m a local TV anchor here in Tyler, so I’m pretty private with my family. But, I decided to go ahead and make that post public.
One week later, it had 3 million views on my personal FB page. I was shocked.
I gave it to my station to share on their page, and as of today, between those two pages, it’s been seen more than 30 million times.
When the Steve Harvey show producers reached out back in October, I never thought it’d become what it has become. My wife and I couldn’t be prouder of our little fella.
As you might imagine, some of the comments from people (which have poured in from around the world) have been less than positive. “Brainwashing” gets thrown around a lot. But in my original post, I said that my prayer is to be the kind of Dad who helps him learn what those verses mean. I understand right now, many of these words don’t resonate with him the way they would with an adult. But I have faith that God will turn them into much more, and his mother and I pray that we can help that along.
Here’s the List of ABC Bible Verses Tanner Used
Each Bible reference is linked to its location on Bible Gateway and displayed in 5 versions in parallel:
- New International Version (NIV)
- English Standard Version (ESV)
- New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)
- International Children’s Bible (ICB) and
- New Century Version (NCV).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find. Matthew 7:7
Be kind one to another. Ephesians 4:32
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you. Psalm 55:22
…Do not be anxious about anything…. Philippians 4:6
Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…. Ephesians 2:8
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
He alone is my rock and my salvation. Psalm 62:2
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us. Psalm 100:3
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…. Mark 12:30
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. Psalm 62:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you. Psalm 63:1
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his Holy name. Psalm 103:1
A Quiet spirit….is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne. Revelation 7:10
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
…Under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield…. Psalm 91:4
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. John 6:47
…We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
…May I never boast, eXcept in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6:14
You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14
Zion hears and rejoices. Psalm 97:8
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