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Led to Leave Fame for Something Greater

Lead Me

In 1996, sixteen-year-old Matt and a fellow student at Toledo Christian School, Chris Rohman, were invited to play guitar with the TCS Chapel Band. They practiced on weekends at Chris’ house, where his mom kept them amply supplied with Twinkies and Cheez Whiz. Soon their bass-playing buddy, Matt Kollar, and a drummer named Mark Graalman, joined the pair.

None of the lead singers they auditioned worked out, which led to Chris asking, “Matt, you can sort of sing – right?”  “I guess,” Matt shrugged. “I’ll at least give it a try.” They called their fledgling band Sanctus Real, which means holy, a hymn of praise and authentic. 

Finding success as a new band took years of performing at kids rallies, bowling alleys, pizza parties, bar mitzvahs – any gig they could get. As the years passed and gigs got bigger, the guys traversed the country all crammed together in a van, including Matt’s new bride, Sarah. Needless to say, that wasn’t the ideal living situation for a pair of newlyweds, and they had their share of conflict. While the Hammitts usually kept their cool on the road, they unleashed their pent-up frustration toward one another at home.

In the midst of it all, they were soon expecting a baby, whom they named Emmy. Later came her sister, Claire. Matt loved his growing family dearly, but their financial needs drove him to work all the harder -- which meant more time away from home.  In 2010, child number three, Bowen, arrived with a serious heart condition. The emotional toll of his many needs, as well as the financial pressure of his astronomical medical bills took a heavy toll on the Hammitts’ already-strained marriage.

That same year, the band released the song that would become one of their most popular: Lead Me. The song revealed the internal struggle Matt felt whenever he was gone from home. He sang it night after night, each time feeling convicted by its message to lead his family well. How could he do that and be gone as many as 250 days a year touring? How could he support his family if he didn’t tour? The pressure felt oppressive. Then came Baby Lewis; unplanned, but no less loved.  

Something had to give, and in December, 2016, Matt made the painful and scary decision to leave the band, and his sole source of income, to devote himself to his family.  

Every Couple Has It

Conflict, that is. Matt and Sarah are refreshingly transparent about their many marriage and family struggles, especially when Matt was on the road with the band. Now a speaker for FamilyLife, as well as other ministries, Matt candidly explains the tension he felt between providing for his family the only way he knew how, and being there for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As he and Sarah navigated his career, and Bowen’s constant needs, they learned a lot about conflict resolution and what it takes to make a marriage work. He still recalls the words Sarah spoke to him during a podcast they did after much healing had taken place in their marriage: “I really like you. And I want to spend time with you. I want to do life together.”

“There was so much healing in those few simple words,” Matt says. “Our marriage was far from perfect. A lot of things didn’t turn out the way we hoped or planned…. but it was our story, and we hadn’t finished writing it yet.”

Today, Matt delights to encourage other couples with his story of how God led him to put his own marriage and family first, trusting Him to provide in ways he hadn’t expected.     

Bowen's Heart

Matt and Sarah were told before their son’s birth that he had HLHS, Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means that the left side of his heart was severely underdeveloped and and unable to pump blood, leaving the right side to do all the work. One doctor presented abortions as the only good, selfless option. The Hammitts wouldn’t hear of it, believing that every life is a gift from God.

They chose the name Bowen, meaning “small, victorious one” to encourage themselves and their dear boy. They’ve found that life with a chronically ill child has been anything but easy, but it’s been meaningful in countless ways. 

Matt says that Bowen has taught him selflessness in his marriage and parenthood. In fact, they have produced a movie about their son’s life called, “Bowen’s Heart” to encourage other families with chronically ill children. 
     

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Matt Hammitt
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