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How His Son's Brush with Death Taught Sanctus Real's Matt Hammitt a Message for All Fathers: 'Get off the Bench'


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On September 9, 2010, Matt Hammitt's son Bowen was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition that leaves the heart severely underdeveloped. More than 30% of children born with the problem do not make it to their fifth birthday.  

Hammitt felt helpless.  

"All we could do was wait and pray and try to find our hope in the Lord," Hammitt told CBN News.

Five days after his birth, Bowen underwent open-heart surgery.

"That night of his first surgery actually he had some complications to the point where he coded and they called us and told us that his heart stopped beating," Hammitt explained. "I had spent so many months just hoping and believing as a father and giving everything that I had just to like praying for that miracle and that breakthrough, that honestly just really jarred me to get that call in the middle of the night."

The medical crisis came at the height of Hammitt's career as a member of the Christian rock band Sanctus Real.  He questioned why God allowed this to happen to his family, especially at a time when he was seeing so much success with his music.

"At the very time that Sanctus Real was reaching the peak of our career with the song 'Lead Me' on the radio - it was our biggest song we ever had," said Hammitt. "It was kind of my moment to really process those questions as a father and figure out how as a dad I could fight for my son."

Miraculously Bowen survived the surgery.  

Today at 11 years old, and three open-heart surgeries later, Bowen is inspiring the lives of many through his own music

Hammitt is grateful for his son's recovery and now serves as an ambassador with the pro-life group, "Save the Storks," which offers hope and empowerment to those facing unplanned pregnancies. 

"I think of all the women or young men who sit across from a doctor who says the best choice for you is to relinquish your fatherhood or relinquish your motherhood and move on with your life, but that's not empowerment," Hammitt commented. "Empowerment is saying, 'You can choose this life that God has given you. You can be a mother and you can be the father that God has called you to be.'" 

Meanwhile, in 2016, Sanctus Real's hit song "Lead Me" about a man needing to spend more time with his family, led Hammitt to actually leave the group. It was a decision he said made him a better husband and father.

"I could see all my good intentions as a father, and I could see that there's so many things I wanted to do as a dad," he said. "And I think that's been the biggest growth in me is learning that it's great to have good intentions, but they're worthless until they become actions."

It is the message he now shares with other fathers. 

"Celebrate who you're called and designed to be as a father, and get off the bench and really get into the game. It's the greatest job that we'll ever get to do in our lives next to following Christ and loving the woman that he's put in our lives," said Hammitt.

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About The Author

Charlene Aaron

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter, backup news anchor, and co-host of The Prayerlink on the CBN News Channel. She covers various social issues, such as abortion, gender identity, race relations, and more. Before joining CBN News in 2003, she was a personal letter writer for Dr. Pat Robertson. Charlene attended Old Dominion University and Elizabeth City State University. She is an ordained minister and pastor’s wife. She lives in Smithfield, VA, with her husband.