Screen shot from video: Mars Hill Church's The Rebel's Guide To Joy Series - Charlotte Elliott.

A Children’s Sunday School Story: Charlotte Elliott (She of “The Invalid’s Hymn Book”)

I prepared this lesson for University Bible Church, Los Angeles, CA (Presented on 2015-05-17). This material was Intended for (and was understandable to) children between the age of 6 and 10.

This lesson took 26 minutes, including children’s response (mostly hand-raising, only 2 short questions), and the song in the end.

Image credits are noted in the captions (I did my to the best of trace and credit photographers or artists. Should there be error in the rights of these images, my sincere most apologies, and I welcome your email so I can make corrections).

Teacher’s Preparation:

This lesson plan is also available in MS Word and PDF formats.

  1. Read John 1Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and Ephesians 2.
  2. On the life of Miss Elliot (and Caesar Malan)
    – Video: Mars Hill Church’s The Rebel’s Guide To Joy Series – Charlotte Elliott.
    – Reflections by Al Maxey: “The Invalid Hymnist” (Other internet sources were also used to make this material.)
    – Wikipedia entry on Caesar Malan.
  3. Download companion slideshow
    The text on this page is attached to the “presenter’s note” area for each respective slide.
    – in KeyNote format (with animation)
    – in PowerPoint format (without animation)
  4. Find a musician. Provide Chords Sheet. Music by Brian Eichelberger, arrangement by The Modern Post.
Left Image: Unable to locate the name of the artist. Retrieved from Right Image: Retrieved from Armstrong Browning Library @

Unable to locate artist/photographer names. Left: Retrieved from link. Right: Retrieved from link.

Clapham, London

[Advance slide] Our story begins in a neighbourhood just outside of London. It is called Clapham.

By “Alan McFaden.” Retrieved from Google Map Imagery using the search term “Clapham Commons, London”.,-0.13829,2a,90y,90t/data=!3m5!1e2!3m3!1s34915834!2e1!3e10!4m2!3m1!1s0x4876044d7a79333b:0xacef57c8427c77dd!6m1!1e1

By “Alan McFaden.” Retrieved from Google Map Imagery.

See the trees there? It leads to a park.

If you walk toward that park, turn a corner, [Advance slide] you will arrive at the Holy Trinity Church, Clapham.


By “rhiaphotos.” Retrieved from Google Map Imagery.

I am going to tell you the story of Charlotte Elliott. During Charlotte’s time, that church looks like this: [Advance slide]


Unable to locate artist’s name. Retrieved from link. Book cover of “Clapham; Then and Now


[Advance slide] This is Miss Charlotte Elliott


Image: Unable to locate the name of the artist. Retrieved from link.

Every one called her “Carefree Charlotte.”
– “Carefree” means “free of care.”
– Charlotte was never worried or sad about anything, nothing ever bothered her.

[Advance slide]

Everyone loved Charlotte
– Cheerful and very smart
– Funny (wrote comedy, funny songs)
– Beautiful and had a voice like that of an angel

Do you know someone like that? Happy all the time, and always makes you laugh?

That is what Charlotte was like.


[Advance Slide] When Charlotte was about 30 years old, she got very sick.

[[Raise hands ]] Which one of you have been sick before?

[[Raise hands ]] What kind of sick?
– Headache?
– Stomach upset?
– Everything hurts and you can’t move?
– Very tired and can’t get out of bed?

Have you ever been so sick that
[[Raise hands ]] – makes you want to cry?
[[Raise hands ]] – or really grumpy and want to yell at people?

Sickness Persists

You got better after a little while, right?

[Advance Slide] Everyday for the rest of her life, she was that sick.

You know how you miss seeing your friends when you were sick, because you missed school and church? Charlotte was so sick she never got to go to church.

Can you imagine being so sick every day that you can never go out?
– You never get to see your friends, or go to school, church, birthday parties, anything.
– When everyone goes to Disneyland, you get to stay home and be sick.
– When everyone goes to the zoo or the aquarium, you can’t go because you are too sick.

I want you close your eyes and imagine with me. You are sick and tired, and can’t do anything.
[[If you have more time than 30 minutes, you can make this an exercise and have the children play this out to leave a stronger impression and increase their empathy to Charlotte.]]

  1. You can’t stand. Your legs are so weak, you will fall down if you stand
  2. So you sit down, but you can’t even hold a book or play a game because your arms are so weak. I guess you can play with your fingers.
  3. You can’t eat on your own, someone has to help you.
  4. Someone has to help you go to bed.
  5. You wake up in the middle of the night, because you are so sick you had to throw up.
  6. When you wake up in the morning, you wish you feel better, but you are still sick.
  7. Then you sit up, and play with your fingers and can’t do anything all day.

Wake up, do nothing, go to bed, never go out.
Same thing, over and over again, EVERY DAY?

How long do you think you can do it? For a week? For a month?

Charlotte was sick for 50 years.
For 50 Easters, 50 Christmases, 50 Birthdays, she was sick.

How long have you been alive?
– Who is 10? 9? [[ stop around where their ages adds up to less than 50 ]]
– Charlotte felt like when you were really sick for longer than you and you and you together have been alive.

What would it make you feel?

Two Bitter Years

[Advance Slide] I can tell you how it made Charlotte felt. After 2 years of that…

“Carefree Charlotte” was not so happy or carefree any more.
For two years, she was angry at her family, herself, and most of all, she became mad at God.

  • “If you love me, how can you make me so sick.”
  • “How can you take my happiness away from me?”
Bitterness and Jealousy
  • “Why do I have to stay home and be sick when all my friends can go out?”
Sadness and Doubt
  • “Maybe God doesn’t love me that’s why He doesn’t care that I feel so bad all the time.”
Guilt and Self-Hatred

The most difficult part is that she felt really guilty for being so rude to God and to people around her.

  • “God can’t love me because I have become so mean, so rude, and so useless!”

Is this true, guys? [[Hopefully your children with respond with an emphatic “No!” ]] No, right.

God Can Handle Anything, Even Our Feelings

It is okay to be angry at God, or be very sad, or have questions about Him.
It is not okay to hide from God because we are angry, or not be honest with Him.

God knows everything, He already knows you are angry at him.
He still loves you when you are angry, or sad, or have questions.

It makes Him happy when we are honest with Him with our feelings.
Just talk to Him about it, and talk to someone who loves Jesus.

Now, back to our story.

We will see how God showed Charlotte that He still loves her: He brought a very special friend.

Caesar Malan

[Advance Slide] After 2 years of her illness, a family friend Caesar came to visit her family.
[[I avoided saying his full name in case if the Dog Whisperer pop into the children’s minds…]]

Every one was being very careful with Charlotte, even though she yelled at them when she felt sick. They let her get away with anything, and any mean things she said. They spoiled her.

Not Caesar. Caesar was a pastor who always told the truth without sugar-coating it, even when it gets him in trouble. [[ Teachers: I believe he was just suspended for preaching the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone when he visited Charlotte ]]

So even though every one is babying Charlotte and her pity party, Caesar said to her,

“Stop sitting around feeling bad for yourself and yelling at people who care for you.

“You are wasting the gifts God has given you: even though your body is weak, you still have your clever mind and a beautiful voice.

“You must become a true Christian then God will give you a new heart and His peace.”

Charlotte was SO SO SO MAD‼ She yelled at him and yelled at him and asked him to leave.

[Raise your hands] Have you ever been mad at people who catch you doing bad things, and call you out on it?


Remember how Charlotte thought that God could not love her? God showed even more love to Charlotte: even after she yelled at Caesar. God the Holy Spirit kept making her think about what Caesar said.

Charlotte finally apologised to Caesar.

She asked him,
“What can I do, so that God would love me and give me this peace?
What can I do to make Him forgive me for being so mean and selfish all the time?”

Caesar told her,

“You must come just as you are, a sinner.
You must come to the Lamb of God because Jesus has taken away the sin of the world.”

Caesar was telling her this truth from the Bible:

Charlotte, you got it all wrong.
No one can be too bad for God—because being good isn’t why God loves us.

God doesn’t love people because they are good.
God loves the imperfect and bad people who know that they need Him.

Charlotte, you have to just come to Jesus, NOW, when you are still mean and selfish.
BEFORE you become good.

You can’t clean up yourself, Jesus Cleans you.
No one takes a shower so that they can be clean enough to take another shower!
So you don’t cleanse yourself before Jesus cleanses you.

If you come to Jesus, He will accept and forgive you, and let you take credit for His goodness.
He will give you His love and peace to make you whole again, inside.

AFTER Jesus starts making you whole, and BECAUSE He loves you and believes in you,
THEN you will want to be good in the end, because how much He loves you and believes in you.


[ Advance Slide ] Charlotte became a Christian that night, and she never forgot what Caesar told her.

Her soul woke up from her sadness, and realised, she was NOT useless, even though her body was weak, she can still think and sing.

She was once again, Carefree Charlotte. This time, not because she was healthy, young, clever and beautiful, but because she has the love of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world.

A Good Work Prepared for Charlotte

[ Advance Slide] For the next 50 years, Charlotte never got healthier, but she spend all her life studying the Bible and writing hymns (Jesus songs). She wrote over 150 hymns!

Her most famous hymn, “Just as I am” was used by Dr. Billy Graham every time he tells people about Jesus, and millions of people came to Jesus, the Lamb of God while listening to this song!

[Advance Slide] This is Dr. Graham in 1950 in Boston, telling 50,000 people about Jesus.


Image: Original source unknown. Retrieved from RV Churches 

[Advance Slide] See all these people? They came to a stadium to hear Dr. Billy talk about Jesus. All these people on the grass are the ones who walked down the aisle because they want to accept Jesus to be their Lord and Saviour. Millions of people like these were hearing Miss Charlotte’s song as they walked their first steps as Christians!

Image by Mike Curry Retrieved from

Image by Mike Curry Retrieved from link.

What is “the Lamb of God, Who Took Away the Sins of the World?”

[ Advance Slide ] For students: Read John 1:29b


For teachers: Ephesians 2

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Gospel: Double Imputation.

[[Raise hand]] Who has taken a test before?
You know how when you take a test, if you answer one question wrong you lose points?
Even if you answer everything else right, you can’t get those points back, right?

Jesus said that to be good enough for God, we have to never had done even one wrong thing, ever.
If you do one thing wrong, you have failed, and are not good enough for God.

This test is so very very hard, that no human being can get 100 (99 still fails!).
Since God loves us and WANTS us to pass the test, what can He do?

God the Father sent Jesus to take the test for us.
Jesus came down from heaven, became a man, and took the test of life.
He never made one wrong move in His whole life.

When we come to Jesus, when we believe in Him, Jesus put our names on His perfect test.

Not only that, He took our tests (0-99 points) and put His name on it.
Somebody has to submit the bad test, so Jesus put His name on ours.
Then He took on the consequences of not being good enough. He died on the Cross.

This is what the Bible means by calling Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world.”
When Jesus took your bad test, put His name on the bad one.
Give you His test, and put your name on it.

Jesus rise again on the 3rd day,
Jesus is always good enough for God, because He took the perfect test.
Go to Jesus, and let Him put His name on your test.

Song: Just as I am

If time is short, V1, V2, Chorus, Chorus, V5

We used this version (link to Chords): Music by Brian Eichelberger, arrangement by The Modern Post.

We invited the children to sing along. They enjoyed it (and complained that it was too short :D).

Just as I am: All verses.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

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