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Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman

By J.L. Bibb

 

From the time he was a young boy, Steven Curtis Chapman knew what he wanted to do.

"I discovered early on that when I took my guitar to school, I had an instant platform to perform,” Chapman says. “My friends would listen, and sometimes my teachers would postpone tests in order to let me play in front of the class. And I realized something. I realized that people listen at a different level when music is a part of the message.”

For Chapman, the message he is destined to tell started during those teen years.

“I was 15 or 16 years old, and I wrote a song called, ‘Well Done,’ based on the story in the Scriptures about the master leaving talents to his servants,” Chapman recalls. “When the master comes back, he asks, ‘What did you do with the talents that I entrusted you?’ The ones who increased their talents were told, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ And I remember thinking that I wanted God to say that to me.

“As time went on, I have had opportunities to write, record and perform songs in many places and for many people, but that idea has always been the heartbeat for me – not just music for music’s sake but as a means to an end to convey a message. I’ve always had this understanding that our gifts are a means to a greater end. How can I use those to accomplish His purpose? Using Scripture as my guide, my mindset is that I am here to be a servant. To serve the community and to serve the world of orphans – that has always for me been the reason that I have this talent.”

And talent, he has. In fact, Chapman’s talents are proven, industry-wide. He’s been a professional Christian music artist for more than 20 years, has won five Grammy© Awards, earned 44 number one radio hits and received Songwriter of the Year recognition nine times. Along the way, Chapman has traveled across the globe, performing in China, South Africa, Zimbabwae, Uganda, South Korea and the Philippines.

Instilling hope, opening doors

Though he performs almost everywhere he goes, Chapman’s travels have focused on more than music and entertainment.

My wife, Mary Beth and I have six children: Emily, Caleb, Will Franklin, Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy and Maria Sue,” Chapman says. “The three youngest are our adopted daughters from China. We believe that adoption is a clear a picture on earth of what God has done for us, as clear as it gets.”

But what started with one adoption lead the Chapmans down a road they’d have never predicted.

“We made our first trip to China in 2000 and came home with our daughter, Shohannah Hope, but our hearts grew several sizes as we walked through adoption agencies there,” Chapman recalls. “We hadn’t even gotten to our car at the Nashville airport when we ran into three or four families who had come to tell us that they were so encouraged by our actions but that adoption was too expensive for them. My wife was so moved by the overall experience that she wanted to write a check for those families then and there. And that is really what birthed Shaohannah’s Hope, our foundation aimed at helping families adopt.”

In 2001, the Chapman family founded Shaohannah’s Hope, a domestic and international adoption foundation that aims to educate and fund families in the adoption process (www.shaohannahshope.org). Since its inception the foundation has helped hundreds of families and children by granting around $3,000 to each whose application is approved. Chapman says the foundation receives more than 150 applications a month, and it awards 30-40 of those with grants.

In 2004-05, Chapman launched an “All Things New” tour aimed at generating more awareness and funding for the foundation. The 72-city tour reached sell-out crowds and more than 350,000 fans, while raising more than $2 million for Shaohannah’s Hope.

Since their first trip to China, the Chapmans have been back 11 times, visiting various orphanages, playing music for locals and meeting with government representatives. In 2005, the Chapmans presented a $10,000 check to Chinese officials of the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs.  And they have added other countries to their touring list, as well.

“We’ve visited orphanages in Singapore and the Philippines and ended up in Korea,” Chapman says. “I would also do concerts in those places to share the music and message. We’ve been to Uganda and spent time with kids and the displaced citizens of that nation. While there, we met a woman named Lois, who has been taking care of several AIDS orphans, about 35 kids, and has plans to build an orphanage. Lord willing, we’ll continue to visit places like that, throughout the world, and help them establish their services.”

Living in the moment

After performing and touring for two decades, it might seem like a good time to settle down and enjoy a quite life in Williamson County. But Chapman says that’s not the point. In fact, he is getting ready to release his 16th album, This Moment.

“It’s been three years since my last album, All Things New, but it’s still been a whirlwind for me and my family,” Chapman says. “And even though we’ve been doing this for a while, I still really feel like there is so much inside of me that I want to share and communicate. I don’t feel like I’m done by any means.

“If God continues to give me these gifts and inspiration and songs, then I want to continue to tell the stories, sing and create art. Now that I’ve got this passion for orphans around the world, I’m as compelled as I ever been. This album is as important for me to make – it’s about me being faithful with the gifts God has given me.”

Chapman says his latest musical efforts are aimed at addressing insecurity, surrender and general brokenness.

“This is the 20th year since my first album came out, and there is a lot of looking over my shoulder, looking back and going, ‘Man, look what’s happened.’” Chapman says. “And you’ve got our industry, with the Internet and the business aspect – there is plenty to be confused and concerned about. But I’ve realized a lot of the message God has been saying to me personally, as a dad, husband, friend, brother and human being, is that He holds the future in his hands.

“You can’t do anything about the past – we all have been given this moment. And it’s like God is saying, ‘I am revealing myself to you in every moment, the good ones and the bad ones. There is something that I’m saying, if you’ll stop, listen and be still.’ This is a huge message for me at this point in my life.”

The album features ballads like “Cinderella,” which highlights a father dancing with his daughter from childhood into adulthood. “One Heartbeat” encourages mothers of the importance of their daily efforts with their children. “You Are Being Loved” is an intentionally present-tense, melody-rich stadium rocker.

For Chapman, this moment in his life may be challenging, but it is a deep, meaningful time.

“If I had to sum up what life has been like, I would say, ‘Amazed.’ I stand pretty stunned and amazed,” Chapman says. “My desire in life is to know God and make Him known. And I am thankful for the opportunities to do that.”

Read more articles like this at www.southernexposuremagazine.com.

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