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Author's inspiration comes from a shared story in Sunday school class

November 12, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • World War II bomber pilot Lt. Les Sellers of Greencastle, Pa.; his wife, Billie Jeanne Sellers; and author Shirley Evans of Hagerstown, celebrate Evans' book "In the Shelter of His Wings  The True Story of a WWII Bomber Pilot Downed in Enemy Territory," Saturday at Bridge of Life church in Hagerstown. The book chronicles Sellers' experiences in light of the presence of God.
By Alicia Notarianni

Les Sellers hid with his buddy, the pilot of a downed aircraft, under a platform covered with manure for two days.

A metal pipe with a wire strung through it ran from the hideout to some bushes. When Sellers, then 25, needed nourishment, he would signal by jiggling the wire and the family assisting him, members of the Dutch Underground, would send him a bottle of milk.

Shirley Evans, 69, of Hagerstown, had known Sellers and his wife for about 25 years. But she'd never known of his travails during World War II until he began sharing a little during a Sunday school class in 2007.

"I didn't know he had been a bomber pilot," Evans said. "That his plane had been hit. That he'd been forced to parachute into enemy territory. That he'd been a POW for 214 days. That he'd been hidden by the Dutch Underground under a pile of manure for two days. I thought, 'How did I miss this?'"

The little he shared became the muse for Evans' book "In the Shelter of His Wings — The True Story of a WWII Bomber Pilot Downed in Enemy Territory." Evans and Sellers discussed and signed the book Saturday morning at Bridge of Life church on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

Evans and her late husband, Thomas, owned three Shepherd's Table Christian Book Stores in the Hagerstown area. She said she always aspired to write, but was "so busy, I hardly had time to read."

When the couple sold the last of the stores in 2004, she began kicking around book ideas, but nothing really struck her. Meanwhile, she studied for her master's degree in theology at Life Christian University until she graduated in 2007. Around then, she heard Sellers' story.

"That day in Sunday school class, I felt God speak to my heart and say, 'That's the book I want you to write,'" Evans said.

But Sellers wasn't so sure. He warily recalled speaking to a class a couple of years after the war.

"I told the students stuff that came back to me, and I didn't sleep at least a week after that," Sellers said. "Some people you know get killed, shot. It's been a long time now, but that stuff is still in my memory."

Ultimately though, Sellers decided that if someone was going to tell his story, he wanted it to be Evans. So the two embarked upon hour after hour of remembrance, Sellers recollecting his adventures and Evans recording, transcribing and sequencing.

The story took on a theme of God's supernatural protection, Evans said. Sellers had no shortage of stories and insights to share.

"When you are hiding in a pigpen, you think about a lot of stuff," he said. "Through life, you will run into some terrible stuff. It doesn't matter how bad it gets, God will get you through if you trust in Him."

TerrieAnn McKoy of Hagerstown attended the event. She said she sat on her screened-in porch reading the book aloud with her children and found it to be "an example of strength and faith for anyone, Christian or not."

"Our children in the U.S. today are so used to our freedom. They don't understand the extent of the sacrifice, of what people have given and given up. This is a reminder of what people even now are still experiencing every day for our freedom," she said.

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