April 7, 2021 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Renowned contemporary Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth joined Liberty University’s Convocation Wednesday morning at the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall, where they shared stories about their family, parenting, and the impact that adoption can have on children and families around the world.
Chapman began his decorated music career in the 1980s and has since been recognized as the most awarded artist in the history of Christian music. He has recorded more than 25 albums and 49 No. 1 hits, receiving 59 Dove Awards and five Grammy Awards.
As a couple, the Chapmans founded Show Hope, a charity designed to care for orphans by engaging the Church and reducing barriers to adoption. The Chapmans have adopted three children.
In a discussion with Liberty Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser, the Chapmans relayed their story of how they met in college, got married, and became parents.
“I think the thing for me as far as parenting goes is to keep showing up,” Mary Beth Chapman said.
In humility, the couple said that although they feel they have not done everything well in parenting, they continue to give their best effort to help and serve their children.
“We were pretty young and clueless and have stayed pretty clueless throughout the years, but we have been fiercely committed to let our kids know that we are broken and we need God and we need His grace and we need their forgiveness and we need each other’s forgiveness,” Steven Curtis Chapman said.
He went on to remind listeners of the power found in a parent living transparently and admitting to their child when they fall short. This helped the Chapmans’ children to live honestly before their parents.
“I learned not to let anything surprise me. … I think one of the little nuggets where we kind of did it right was just the look on our face whenever ‘whatever it was’ came home,” Mary Beth Chapman said. They wanted them to know that their parents would always be there to listen.
This style of parenting also led them to being receptive to their daughter Emily’s revelation that the family needed to adopt, after a short-term trip to Haiti. But Mary Beth was at home with three children at the time while her husband was on the road touring, so he said it was difficult for them to imagine having more children. But over time, the Lord stirred in Mary Beth Chapman’s life to take a leap of faith and embark upon the journey of adoption.
“One of the things that I learned about God on our adoption journey was that God is wild and God is winsome,” Steven Curtis Chapman said.
The Chapmans adopted Shaohannah, a little girl from China, in 2000 but knew in their hearts that their journey was not yet over.
“I recognized my own spiritual journey and my own (spiritual) adoptedness,” Mary Beth Chapman said. “Standing in the hallway receiving (Shaohannah) was more than standing in the hallway receiving our daughter; it was me realizing that that was my experience (as a child of God).”
The Chapmans returned home knowing they had the platform to spark a change in China. In 2009, that change came to fruition through the creation of Show Hope, which has now helped around 7,000 families through awarding adoption grants in many countries. Through the ministry, Maria’s Big House of Hope in China was built. The House serves as a medical center for orphans with special needs. The Chapmans’ daughter, Emily, now runs the organization.
The organization also provides families with information and access to training for what the adoption journey entails.
“It’s not over once you bring a child home, but there are ongoing needs there — pre- and post-support,” Mary Beth Chapman said.
The Chapmans adopted three daughters (Shaohannah, Stevey, and Maria) from China and were afforded the painful privilege of proclaiming the faithfulness of Christ in a time of trial when Maria passed away in an accident in 2008.
“For me it came down to, can God be trusted in everything,” Mary Beth Chapman said. “We know the answer is ‘Yes.’ But when something happens that is so catastrophic that you lose a child and another child is involved, that question becomes maddening.”
The couple said that their trust in the truth of the Gospel carried them gently to the realization that because of the future that awaited their family in Heaven, they would unite with their daughter Maria again someday.
Following the morning’s discussion, Steven Curtis played his songs “His Eyes” and “My Redeemer is Faithful and True,” as well as the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”