Heart surgery

Matt Hammitt shares the journey of his son’s third heart surgery in a film

Bowen's heart
Sarah and Bowen Hammitt pictured in 2019 |

Award-winning Christian singer Matt Hammitt, formerly of the band Sanctus Real, has released a new film that gives viewers insight into his son’s chronic illness and its impact on their family, emotionally and spiritually.

The feature documentary “Bowen’s Heart” follows the life of Hammitt’s son, Bowen, through his third open-heart surgery. Produced by Rhyme & Reason Films, “Bowen’s Heart” offers a glimpse into the pain the family endured as they placed their trust in God to see it through.

Since Bowen was born, the Hammitts have claimed their son was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart was underdeveloped. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,025 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart defects each year. Studies show that infants diagnosed with Bowen’s disease often die within the first two weeks of life.

“I love when the Bible says ‘We overcome by the power of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb.’ It is the work of Christ…that overcomes adversity or darkness in our lives. But also, there is power in our words and testimony, and in saying what God has done that is undeniable. We so hopefully by sharing this testimony, it continues to reach people,” Hammitt said in an interview with The Christian Post.

Matt Hammitt
Matt, Sarah and Bowen Hammitt seen on “Good Morning America”, September 9, 2020. |

Bowen, now 12, continues to defy the odds and is an active kid who enjoys swimming and rock climbing. He also follows in his father’s footsteps and enjoys singing and writing songs.

Hammitt and his wife, Sarah, hope their story will encourage other parents who are also going through medical difficulties in their families. Among the worries the Hammitts experienced was the fear that their son could suffer a heart attack or stroke at any time, which was depicted in the film.

“One of the things I mentioned in the movie, which I think is really important, is that it’s easy to say God is good when things are going the way we planned. what happens when things don’t go the way we planned?” asked Hammitt.

“Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we prayed, and when we experience that pain of not getting the miracle that we hoped for or prayed for, and work through what that feeling of pain does to the Inside of us when we give it up for Christ, however difficult it may be, it produces in us character and perseverance that produces hope in us.

He continued, “But that pain serves as a contrast in our lives that when we get the miracle, we become so thankful for what God has done. We have a deeper sense of gratitude for those blessings.”

Other families who have gone through Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome have been an encouragement to the Hammitt family. And they made a point of being grateful and not taking their time with Bowen for granted.

“There have been times when you’re kind of in survival mode. You try to enjoy those moments, but whatever fear you have or uncertainty, it can rob you of being in the moment” , Hammitt said of the constant state he and his wife find themselves in. “There’s actually a song I wrote for Bowen called ‘All of Me,’ which I put out around the time he was born. The first line is, ‘Afraid to love something that could break / Could I move on if it was ripped off? “

Before Bowen was born, Hammitt said he felt God speaking to him, revealing that he built a wall between him and his son because he didn’t want to accept, embrace or fully love Bowen with all his heart out of fear. The father didn’t want his heart to be broken either.

“I remember feeling that [God] said to me, ‘Is this how I loved you, when my heart was broken? Did I build a wall between us, did I hold back my love? No, God gave everything for us! He tore down the walls and gave his own son, he sacrificed himself to be close to us even though his heart would also be broken.

“It is only by the grace of God that we can continue to say yes in these difficult times,” Hammitt added.

“Bowen’s Heart” provides real insight into the Hammitt family’s struggle to come to terms with the hardships that plagued their family, marriage, and other children leading up to Bowen’s third surgery.

“These vulnerable moments are what connect us to people,” Hammitt told CP. “It’s not the facade. It’s not the Instagram highlight reel. It’s the real thing that forges connections between us and God and us and others. So that vulnerability is powerful so we wanted to make sure to protect that vulnerability and make sure it was present in the film.

Bowen has followed in his father’s footsteps and now writes his own music. Before his third surgery, the young boy asked his father if he could release an album, which is documented in the film. Bowen’s music is now available for streaming.

For many years Hammitt was the frontman of Christain Sanctus Real but in 2015 he decided to take a step back and be more present with his family.

“When I wrote the song, ‘Lead Me’, I wrote it from my own personal story of me wanting to be a more present husband and father. The irony of the song is that after the writing from a very vulnerable and heartfelt place in my own life… It was the success of the song I wrote about being a more present husband and father that took me even further away from the house,” Hammitt revealed.

He noted that it really put him in a position to practice what he preached despite singing in stadium-filled arenas.

“It really convinced me, as I sang, that I wasn’t living what my hopes and intentions were and my calling was and in that [I] I knew very clearly in my heart and in my mind that it was time for me, as I say, to sing it less and live it more,” he explained. “So that was really the reason I left the band was just to have more leeway in my life and space and time to be home, and have a community not just with my family, but in our church and having that support that we really needed and that sanity that we really needed, as a family to live together.

“It has been a blessing every step of the way, as difficult as it was to make this decision. There were many fears when I walked away, but God stood faithful to support us for so many ways and giving us great opportunities to serve on new platforms with new people and new ministries, and to speak into people’s lives through this message now from Lead Me.

Hammitt has really grown his platform now on family and marriage ministry. A lot of what he does now he does with his family and it has had a huge impact on people.

The musician said he believed God allowed Bowen’s heart condition to finally “bring glory” to God.

“There is a mystery around why God allows certain things, or why he allows suffering in the world,” Hammitt commented. “I used to struggle so hard with these questions, I still do, but probably one of the most beautiful things that has happened in my heart is embracing the mystery and letting it go. let it be a mystery to me why God would operate in a certain way.

He advised others, “When you consider the fact that God can use evil and suffering in the world, to ultimately bring forth the gifts of his glory and reveal his ultimate plan, these are such profound things to ponder. In the end, I like that saying, ‘We roll the dice, but He determines how they land.’ It’s not our job to always understand, but it’s our job to be able to say, “You are God, I am not, and I trust you.”

Hammitt said he now tries to live in the space of not understanding but trusting God anyway.

Bowen is now much better than before.

“The good news is that after that third surgery he had, when he was eight years old, which is depicted in the film, he’s really blossomed, and with every checkup we’ve had, the doctors feel really good where he is, for his condition,” Hammitt testified.

The loving father said Bowen’s condition is something they will have to navigate and continue to pray as a family for the rest of his life.

The film can be viewed at BowensHeart.com

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Contact her at: [email protected] She is also the author of the book, What’s happening to me? How to defeat your invisible enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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