by: Elaine Tomski
One child. What can one child do? As Emily waved goodbye to the needy children of Haiti, she knew she had to do something. Emily and her mom, Mary Beth, were wrapping up a short-term trip with Compassion International where they’d met lots of children living without a mom or a dad. In 1997 at the age of eleven, this was the first time Emily realized not all families were like hers. Some children were fatherless, some motherless, and some had not even one parent. So, she prayed, “Okay God, what can I do? I’m eleven. I’m a kid.” Having gone to the best source for answers, Emily was prepared to take action.
“After returning home, I was convinced my parents should become missionaries and move to Haiti,” says Emily. “My mom and dad told me that’s probably not going to work.” You see, Emily’s dad was already in ministry. Steven Curtis Chapman was writing Christian songs, recording them in Nashville, Tennessee, and encouraging thousands of people through music as he and his band performed nationwide. Mary Beth was blessed to be fulfilling her dream as a stay-at-home mom to Emily, Caleb, and Will. Her parents were content to be a family of five with an already chock-full life.
Since moving to Haiti was not an option, Emily wondered, “If we can’t go to a community in need, what would it look like to help a child in need?” That’s when she began to think about adoption. Eleven-year-old Emily believed a big God had spoken to her heart, so she began to pray. She prayed and encouraged her mom and dad consistently. “I would say I encouraged them, but my parents say I pestered them.” Emily went so far as to leave notes here and there, listing the logical reasons for adoption and why she believed it was something God had in store for their family. She was persistent. Still, her parents were not convinced.
Emily spoke with her pastor in an attempt to discover why her prayer requests were not being fulfilled. She says, “I’ll never forget. I was reading in John chapter 14, the passage about whatever you ask from God, He will give to you.” The pastor reminded her the passage also indicates, “If it’s the will of God, it will be done.” This changed the focus of young Emily’s prayer. She began asking according to God’s will and for His glory. She asked God to change her parents’ hearts if, in fact, it was His will for the Chapman’s to adopt.
By early 1999, Emily’s parents did have a change of heart and began the adoption process. Emily says, “They proceeded with a bunch of faith and it eventually led us to China. That’s where we adopted Shaoey.” Pronounced show-ee, her full name is Shaohannah Hope, a fitting name for the newest member of the Chapman family. Shao is Chinese for “laughter” and Hannah means “gift of God’s grace.” After returning home from China with their precious 7-month-old in March of 2000, many families who met Shaoey expressed to the Chapman’s their own desire to adopt. The barrier for most of these families was a financial one. Sadly, it’s quite expensive to adopt a child who needs a family so much.
Then it was Mary Beth’s turn. Emily’s mom knew she had to do something for the precious little ones she’d met at the orphanage in China. All those children whose bright eyes had searched hers, silently asking, “Have you come for me?” They needed families, too. The Chapman’s desperately wanted to do something about the millions of children still waiting for loving families. They began stewarding their resources to financially support families with a heart to adopt. They also used the influence God had given Steven on the music stage to raise awareness of the worldwide orphan crisis. Eventually, the Chapman’s founded a 501c3 nonprofit organization appropriately named Show Hope after their adopted daughter. On their website, Mary Beth states, “My husband Steven Curtis Chapman and I founded Show Hope in 2003 because we believe every single child needs to know the love of a family. Our part in that, outside our own adoption journeys, is to help break down barriers between waiting children and loving families.”
Founding Show Hope was not the only exciting Chapman event to take place in 2003. Emily’s original prayer to help one child had doubled as the Chapman’s adopted their second Chinese daughter and named her Stevey Joy. This small, pale, sickly girl was welcomed with love and soon began thriving as the newest treasured member of the Chapman family. Theirs was a non-stop busy household. God was blessing the efforts of Show Hope. Emily was looking forward to her senior year of high school. Life was full and complete for the Chapman’s. They were definitely done enlarging their family through adoption, or so they thought. But God was not done whispering his will into the hearts of Chapmans.
The next time, it was Steven’s turn. He was invited to sing at an outreach event for International Christian Fellowship, where else but in China. While there, he fell in love with a little girl in foster care named Maria. He was unexplainably drawn to her. This beautiful little drooling machine had the tiniest Chinese eyes, making her look fondly mischievous. God also took hold of Mary Beth’s heart as she changed from total resistance to being excited to begin the adoption process once again. This time, Emily was the hesitant one. She would soon be leaving for college and her dad would soon be going on a music tour. She was concerned the burden would be too much for her mom to bear without her help. Still, Emily trusted God more than she trusted her fears. In 2004, God did bring Maria Sue into the Chapman family. One, two, three sweet little girls now had a family and a place to call home. Steven Curtis, Mary Beth, Emily, Caleb, Will, Shaoey, Stevey, and Maria…the Chapman family was finally complete.
Even as the craziness of life unfolded, there was time to love extravagantly and time to answer hundreds of questions. In her book Choosing to See, Mary Beth tells of the morning Maria was considering a song the children had been singing at church. It was a song about a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms, with a big, big table and lots and lots of food. Maria was asking her mom about this wonderful place. She wanted to go to God’s big, big house! “Can I go there?” she asked. Mary Beth was thinking, Oh my goodness! Here she is, four years old, and she’s asking how to get to heaven! Scooping Maria up into her arms, Mary Beth went to Steven and together they shared the gospel with Maria, the best they could, in four-year-old terms. They told her how wonderful it was that she wanted to go live with God forever because he created us to know Him and want to be with Him. They shared how Jesus made it possible for us to go to that place. They talked about sin, the cross, resurrection, and forgiveness. Then Steven asked, “Maria, would you like to talk to God about this?” In her own words, that very day, Maria asked Jesus to come live in her heart and also to take her to God’s big, big house one day. What a precious comfort it would soon give to the Chapman’s, knowing Maria prayed that prayer. God was so generous to show them how Maria embraced His everlasting love. Also on that very day, only God knew Maria would be killed in a tragic accident in just three short months. On May 21, 2008, Maria left her temporary home and moved to God’s big, big house, with lots and lots of rooms, prepared just for her. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3
In China, Maria lived in several temporary homes before finding a lasting home with the Chapmans. Now it’s the Chapman’s who live every day with the realization of a temporary home. For them, with life comes death and then the waiting to see that loved one again. Emily says, “Every day is another day closer to being with Maria.”
Family, friends, and fans of the Chapmans honored Maria’s life with an outpouring of love and support. Donations made in her memory were used to help build Maria’s Big House of Hope. This Care Center in central China provides care for orphaned children with acute medical and special needs. It is the first of several Care Centers in China supported by Show Hope. More than 2,400 waiting children with medical and special needs have received loving care at these Care Centers.
Do you remember 11-year-old Emily who asked God what she could do about fatherless and motherless children? She’s now Emily Chapman Richards, married with three children of her own and serving as the Assistant Executive Director and Vice President of Show Hope. She helps cast the vision for the organization, supports the staff and keeps the organization moving in the direction of their stated mission. They exist to care for orphans by engaging the Church and reducing barriers to adoption. Show Hope works to break down barriers between waiting children and loving families in four ways.
- Adoption Aid
- Care Centers
- Pre + Post Adoption Support
- Student Initiatives
Adoption Aid is the original mission of their founders. Emily says she remembers the conversation around their dinner table; “‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could help 500 families?’ Little did we know God had something bigger in mind.” One of the biggest barriers standing between families and waiting children is the cost of adoption. Show Hope’s Adoption Aid grants help offset these costs. Adoption can cost between $20,000 and $40,000, depending on if you adopt in the United States or internationally. Emily says, “Don’t let finances scare you away from considering extending your family through adoption. We serve a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. All the funding is His anyway. I’ve yet to meet a family who has started the adoption process and couldn’t finish it because of finances. There are so many resources out there for families, and God is very creative in finding ways for families to fund their adoptions. Show Hope is just one organization that exists to help resource families considering adoption.”
Don’t you love the way God does math? Look what He’s done with fives and zeros. The Chapman’s had hopes of helping 500. Instead, to date, Show Hope has given Adoption Aid grants averaging $5,000 each to help more than 5,500 waiting children in over 50 countries come home to loving families.
Care Centers. Let’s get to know some of the children who are receiving care at Show Hope’s Care Centers. Huck is a ticklish 11-month-old with a contagious giggle. God put an irresistible twinkle in his eyes. He is receiving care at Maria’s Big House of Hope for needs stemming from spina bifida and a cleft palate. The hope is for Huck to come to know the love and protection of a family through adoption. Meet Christian. He loves to play with other children and make them laugh. He is always eager to greet people with a big smile. Almost 3 years old, Christian is receiving care at the Nanyang Care Center for a gastrointestinal and nervous system condition. Growing up, Adrian recently celebrated his 4th birthday with his friends and nannies. The joyous celebration included party hats, marshmallows, and birthday cake. Adrian works hard to overcome physical challenges and now walks like a champion. Although these children receive much needed attentive care, their most pressing need is to still know the love of a family with a lasting home, which is Show Hope’s greatest prayer.
Pre + Post Adoption Support means Show Hope also exists to help families and children through the many transitions associated with adoption. From www.showhope.org. “The adoption journey doesn’t end on the day a child is welcomed home. In many ways, it’s just beginning. And this journey, which is different for every individual and family, can be difficult. Many children who come home through adoption have experienced abuse, neglect, or some sort of trauma. As parents, guardians, professionals, or caretakers, it is important to know the best ways to help children heal and thrive.” One of their recommended resources is the book The Connected Child, co-authored by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross. “It has helped countless adoptive and foster parents better connect with their children as they seek to love and care for them in a way that honors God.”
Student Initiatives exists to help students discover incredible ways they can make a difference in the lives of waiting children. So much of the Show Hope story began in the heart of a student after she returned from a trip to Haiti; therefore, Show Hope is finding creative ways for students to help in the effort. Why wait until you’re an adult to help change the lives of children around the world when you can do it now?
Show Hope offers two courses of action for students. First, the Pause Campaign is a week devoted to help students live intentionally for the sake of others. Youth take a break from cell phones, social media, or some other activity to spend time in devotional material about orphan care. Show Hope is looking for student groups from churches, schools, neighborhoods, and colleges to dive in! Pause Campaign devotional booklets are available to teachers and youth by visiting www.showhope.org or by contacting Student Initiatives Coordinator Emily Demers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 550-5600 Extension 138.
Secondly, students age 15-22 have the opportunity to travel to Luoyang, China, for a visit to Maria’s Big House of Hope. Here, youth discover in person what it’s like to answer God’s call to care for orphans. Details and cost estimates are available through Emily Demers for ten-day trips scheduled in June and July of 2018.
What if each one of us did something to care for orphans? It’s true, I’m just one person and you’re just one person, but working together, God’s family can bring comfort to vulnerable children. Emily says, “18 million orphans may seem overwhelming to us, but each number in that 18 million is a story. Each number is a little boy or little girl who has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. They have favorite colors and favorite foods. It’s all worth it for one. What we do for one matters.”
Supporting Show Hope is one way we can help. When asked about their greatest needs, Emily replied, “Prayer, always. We need people praying that we accomplish what God has for us to do by stewarding well what He’s given us.” They believe every penny freely given must be properly stewarded to the glory of God. “Please pray that God will continue to provide for us.” Another constant need is finances. The more funds Show Hope can raise, the more Adoption Aid grants they can provide. That means more orphaned children come home to loving families. Raising more funds also means more children with serious medical and special needs will receive loving care at Care Centers like Maria’s Big House of Hope.
What if we get creative? How creative can you and I be in finding ways to support Show Hope? The list can go on forever…bake sales, garage sales, donating for birthdays, school events, collecting change, concerts, canoeing or horseback riding events. No effort is too small. What if we prayerfully find ways for what God might be calling us to do? The result will be you and me showing hope and bringing comfort to the orphan. If you choose to have a fundraiser or mail donations to Show Hope, please send to:
PO BOX 647 • Franklin, TN 37065
For questions, email email@example.com or call (615) 550-5600.
What if you’re considering the adoption of a child in Show Hope’s care in China? Because Show Hope is not a placing agency, they cannot be directly involved in the adoption process of children from their care. However, they can direct you to a licensed agency through Cathy Troyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 550-5600 Extension 108. Those who are interested in applying for a Show Hope Adoption Aid grant should contact Kathy McKinney, Grants Manager at email@example.com or (615) 550-5600 Extension 102.
One child. It’s how this story began, with one child wanting to do something.
One child is also the definition of an orphan. No mother. No father. Just one child.
Hope comes through One God who loves us so much, He willingly sacrificed one child, His Son, so that we will no longer be orphaned but be able to say, “Our Father.” What a privilege it is that our Father lovingly invites us all to show hope to the orphan.
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:18