How He Loves: The Story Behind the Song

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We adore the song ‘How He Loves’ by John Mark McMillan.

Sarah led us in worship as we sang it last Sunday night and shared in an incredibly poignant moment as the Father’s love was once again made real for many of us. And it wasn’t just last Sunday, How He Loves is such an incredibly powerful, expressive song that so many people in our Lab community have shared how God has worked powerfully in them as they’ve been singing it.

Because of this, we thought it’d be great to share some of the story behind the song being written, in case you hadn’t heard it before. Not surprisingly, this powerful song has a really powerful story behind it.

The Story

From Wikipedia:

McMillan wrote How He Loves following the death of his best friend, Stephen Coffey. Coffey was a youth minister for MorningStar Ministries. On November 1, 2002, during a church prayer meeting, Coffey prayed out loud “I’d give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation.” That very night, he was in a multi-car accident and died of serious injuries.

Meanwhile, McMillan was recording in a studio in Jacksonville, FL when he received a call that two of his friends had been critically injured in a car accident. Later that evening, he received another call from his father who informed McMillan that Coffey had died. The next day, McMillan wrote How He Loves as a tribute to Coffey and out of a need “to have some sort of conversation with God” where he could speak to his frustrations and emotions over his best friend’s death.

According to McMillan, the love that he’s singing about in How He Loves is not a pretty, “Hollywood hot-pink” love. It is a kind of love that is willing to love even when things are difficult and messy. He says:

“This song isn’t a celebration of weakness and anger. It’s a celebration of a God who would want to hang with us through those things, who would want to be a part of our lives through those things, and, despite who we are, He would want to be a part of us, our community, and our family.”

There have been loads of different versions of ‘How He Loves’ by many different artists. Two of our favourites are the original studio version on John Mark McMillan’s album, The Medicine, and Kim Walker’s live version on the Jesus Culture album, We Cry Out.

About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.
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