Wither Thy Goest

by Roy Hendrix

This short insight concerns an incident that occurred during WWII - one that includes a good application of scripture.

It involves a man named Harry Hopkins, FDR’s number one advisor during most of WWII. Hopkins actually lived in the White House during most of the war – FDR wanted him nearby. Hopkins was also a very sickly person, having suffered from stomach cancer and problems of his body’s inability to absorb minerals or anything during digestion. He was in and out of the Mayo Clinic during these years of living in the White House.

FDR made frequent use of special envoys to gather information. One of these was Hopkins in the early days of 1941 – on a mission to London to gauge the situation, to see if England could really stand up to Hitler and warrant our giving aide to them. Churchill and staff did all they could to impress Hopkins because they were in dire need of aide, especially material like US surplus air planes.

So, Hopkins spent a couple of months in London, while the Brits were being bombed just about every night by the Nazis, and hit it off very well with Churchill. Hopkins became convinced that England needed and deserved our aide, as much and as soon as possible. Near the end of the visit, there was a meeting attended by the Brits (including King George VI) and, of course, Churchill. The Brits were dying to know what Hopkins would report back to FDR, whether they would in fact get US aide.

At that meeting Hopkins gave one of the few speeches of his mission. He was prevailed upon by the Brits to say a few words. An exhausted Hopkins struggled to his feet and said, “Mr. Chairman, I am not making speeches over here. I am just reporting what I see to my president. But now that I am on my feet perhaps I might say in the language of the Old Book” – and here he paused, and looked straight down the table at Churchill – “Whither thou goest, I will go and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” And then he lowered his voice and said “Even unto the end.” Hopkins sat in silence. Churchill was in tears. Another person at the meeting said, “Even to us the words seemed like a rope thrown to a drowning man.”

Hopkins never reported this incident and I believe it first appeared in one of Churchill’s memoirs. The most recent book where I read about it was, “A Rendezvous with Destiny” by Michael Fullilove.

Just like Ruth stood by Naomi and the US stood by Great Britain, we need to stand by God and our church, humbly and willingly, not expecting any earthly rewards.