True story: World War I
World War One broke out in August 1914 and the German army’s advance across France was so rapid many British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines. Some of these soldiers banded together and attempted to fight their way through to the receding British line. Others tried to make their way to neutral Belgium. A Private Cruikshank broke into an abandoned house, dressed himself in women’s clothing, and thus disguised attempted to walk to the British lines. Others just plain hid wherever they thought they could avoid detection.
A Private Fowler hid out in the woods around the French village of Bertry. At night Fowler would dig vegetables from the farm fields for food and then hide out during the day. Fowler was finally discovered by a young French woodcutter who snuck him into the village to the home of his mother-in-law, a brave and resourceful woman by the name of Madame Belmont-Gobert.
I am giving you the short version of a long and eventful story so let me get to the heart of the tale. To hide Private Fowler from the occupying German army Madame Belmont-Gobert stowed him in an old wardrobe that had been converted to a kitchen cupboard. When the German army billeted troops in Madame Belmont-Gobert’s house, undaunted she cut a hole in the wardrobe to pass food in to Fowler during the day. At one point Fowler and another British soldier hiding in the village made plans to escape to Belgium but the other soldier was discovered by the Germans and summarily executed.
Here is the kicker: Fearing for his life Private Fowler hid in that old converted wardrobe for FOUR YEARS and only came out when the British army had made it’s way back to that part of France. FOUR YEARS!! That blows my mind. Four years.
True story: Today
Traumatized and abused earlier in life, many of the men and women who come to us for help have been hiding their hearts from the world for much more than four years. Fear does that to people. Fear drives people to incredible measures of self-protection that are often hard for the rest of us to understand. It matters not whether the trauma was experienced as an adult in a world war or as a child in a family war, the end result is often the same: wounded hearts hidden away under layer upon layer of scar tissue.
This is why we work so hard at Shepherd’s House Ministries to create and maintain a safe and nurturing environment. For many folks who’ve experienced significant trauma, the only way they’ll ever open up their hearts is if they experientially know they are safe. Only when they know they are accepted and are loved unconditionally do they dare to even consider showing their hearts to another.
Hidden hearts don’t get healed. But there is very real hope: Love. Love is our only hope for bringing broken and hurting hearts out into the embrace of real life. Thank you again for partnering with us as we strive to be a home of healing for the homeless and hurting of this world.
By Cash Lowe
Organizational Chaplain, Shepherd’s House Ministries