47 Dove Awards, four Grammys, an American Music Award
and 41 No. 1 radio hits, you might think Steven Curtis
Chapman has done it all. But God is making all things
new for Chapman and his wife of 20 years, Mary Beth.
At press time, the Chapmans were headed to China to
bring home their third adopted daughter in five years.
Baby Maria joins Emily (18), Caleb (14), Will Franklin
(13), Shaohannah (5) and Stevey Joy (2) to make the
Chapmans a family of eight.
is preparing for the September release of All
Things New, his 14th album, and the All Things
New tour starting in October. The project follows
All About Love, a collection of love songs
dedicated to Mary Beth. Chapman spoke recently with
Assistant Editor Ashli O’Connell about the greatest
loves of his life — his growing family, his
career as a Christian musician, and the God who makes
all things new.
What does All Things New mean to you?
This is a new season in our lives. Our oldest daughter,
Emily, is leaving the nest for college and starting
a new life, and we’ve begun a new chapter with
three adopted daughters. The excitement of that combined
with what God has been teaching me about renewal began
to stir my soul. I recently lost my voice for about
three months and this was the first regular project
for me since God gave me my voice back. I want to
encourage people that no matter what you’re
going through right now, God is making all things
new for you.
All About Love paints a beautiful picture
of your relationship with Mary Beth. It seems like
you have the ideal Christian marriage. Was there ever
a crisis point?
Absolutely. We had a fire that destroyed our apartment
when Emily was about 5 weeks old. We had her very
early in our marriage. I was 22 and Mary Beth was
21. The fire rocked us big time. We were so young.
We were new parents and we didn’t even understand
how to love each other. With the fire, all our glaring
differences came screaming to the surface.
a devastating time for us. But, even then, we decided
we were going to cling to each other even though we
didn’t understand each other. We intentionally
ran to each other instead of to our parents. A few
years later we were shaken when my parents divorced.
What impact did that have on your marriage?
It devastated me and, in some ways, even my faith.
They seemed to have it together and we were convinced
that if we just followed their example, we would be
great. I really had to wrestle with that. The song
“I Will Be Here” came from that time.
It was steely determination to say, “Tomorrow
morning even if we don’t feel anything for each
other, I am going to be here. Till death separates
us, we are going to be together.”
point we got some counseling. We were radically different
people. We were very young. We were both control freaks.
It was a really hard time. There were issues that
both of us brought into the marriage that started
to come out. All of that was part of the process for
us and continues to be. I could go through every album,
every tour, because there is a point when literally
hell sounds the trumpet and Satan releases his demons
to come and attack the Chapman family. We pray and
we get a lot of others praying, and we seek God and
we seek counsel and by the grace of God we’ve
journeyed through many crisis times. God has been
faithful. We’ve found that in our weakness,
His strength is perfect.
As a family of eight with all the work you do on the
road, how do you and Mary Beth maintain a sense of
I’m very blessed. My wife is an incredible woman.
She’s determined to keep us connected. And I’m
determined and passionate about that as well. I think
the great danger about what I do is that I can get
so consumed that the family begins to suffer. Mary
Beth is good about saying, “Hey, the family
is starting to get the leftovers.” She’s
very supportive about my career, but she’ll
be the squeaky wheel if I start to get too caught
up in it.
What are the keys to keeping a Christian family together?
The Christian family is in a war. No question about
it. While it’s true that the family that prays
together stays together, that has a lot of implications.
It’s not enough to just pray; you must respond
when God’s answer to your prayer is that you
need to take time with your family and invest yourself
in things that don’t always come easily to you.
not fighting this war alone, but we’ve got to
be willing to show up for the battle. You’re
not the enemy and your spouse is not the enemy, but
there is an enemy who is very real.
and I have survived by staying accountable to each
other and to godly friends and by being super-painfully
honest. I think that’s the reason my love album
is full of songs that say, “God, I’m a
clueless man. I don’t know how to love a woman
well.” But that is my greatest ministry. It’s
more important than being a good Christian artist,
being a good communicator, being a good songwriter,
being a good musician. I want to be a lover of my
wife, a lover of my family, most of all a lover of
God. I’m honest enough to say I don’t
always know how to do that very well. If we really
did have the perfect marriage that my songs might
sometimes falsely imply, I wouldn’t need Jesus.
I’m just a desperate man.
Tell me about your journey to adopt three little girls.
It began when Emily started praying for a little sister.
We had good friends who had adopted, and we believed
we are all called according to James 1 to care for
orphans and widows. We just thought our job was to
support those who are called to the front lines, but
Emily felt otherwise. She began to pray and even write
letters to us and leave them on our pillows at night.
She felt God was telling her this was what we were
supposed to do. And she was right.
terrified of the idea of going back to the world of
cribs, highchairs and car seats. We had everybody
in school and we were through that stage of life.
With all the struggles in our marriage and with what
I do, it just felt like having another baby would
be the straw to break the camel’s back. But
it proved to be one of the greatest healing instruments
in our marriage and in our home.
Why did you choose China?
Several people explained to us the great need in China
— there are 15 to 17 million orphans there —
and asked us to consider China. Eventually we felt
that God was saying, “You have a daughter and
she’s in China. You need to go get her.”
We thought we had one daughter in China — but
we found out we had not one, but three, daughters
Tell me about the foundation, Shaohannah’s Hope,
that you started in honor of your oldest adopted daughter.
The miracle of adoption is something we’ve come
to see is absolutely at the center of God’s
heart. It is one of the greatest invitations God has
ever given us to know His heart because He is an adoptive
Father. It’s one of the ways He defines himself
in Psalms — as a Father to the fatherless. It’s
become our passion.
started the foundation we hoped to engage the church
and reduce the financial burden for Christian families
that wanted to adopt. So we give grants at an average
of $4,000 to families that qualify. We’ve helped
about 120 families to date and we have another 1,000
waiting in line. I’m completely blown away by
what God has done.
can learn more about Shaohannah’s Hope at www.ShaohannahsHope.org.
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