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Chapman Family Inspires Believers, Non-Believers with Faith

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By Josh Kimball, Christian Post Reporter
August 23, 2008|10:02 am

A special series of interviews with Steven Curtis Chapman will air for three days next week on the daily broadcast of Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson.

Since participating in their first public interviews this month following the death of their youngest family member in May, Chapman and his family have appeared on “Good Morning America,” “Larry King Live,” and “People” magazine.

Next week's special series, titled “The God Of All Comfort,” will feature an extended conversation between FOTF founder Dr. James Dobson and the Christian music superstar about the recent loss of five-year-old daughter Maria Sue Chapman and how faith in God has helped his family cope with the tragedy.

The Chapmans' story of tragedy and healing has touched people across the nation, from believers to even non-believers.

“This morning in my office full of non-believers, someone mentioned that they watch Larry King every night,” wrote Mary Kay Grantham to Chapman’s manager, Jim Houser, on Friday. “I asked him if he was able to catch the interview with the Chapman family. He didn't recognize the name, so I pulled out my copy of the article from People Magazine and he remembered the family after seeing their pictures.

“Let me just say that God showed himself … in the office this morning,” Grantham continued. “Talking about Maria, and how my co-worker was especially impressed with how the Chapman family surrounded Will with prayer and support allowed us the opportunity to open an awesome dialog about how amazing and full of promises God truly is. Thank You Chapmans for sharing Maria with us. She is touching people’s lives and spreading seeds everywhere.”

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It has been three months since five-year-old Maria Sue Chapman, the youngest of the six Chapman children and one of three adopted from China, was accidentally and fatally struck by a sport utility vehicle in the driveway of the family's Williamson County home.

The driver, 17-year-old Will Franklin Chapman, was returning home and did not see his sister running toward him to greet him.

Though the Chapman family initially declined all interviews and Steven Curtis Chapman mulled the idea of not returning to the stage, the family ultimately decided to speak out publicly.

"Initially Steven talked about never doing any concerts or media ever again," commented Jim Houser, Chapman's manager, in a released statement. "But quickly God began to show Steven that if he ever believed the songs he was writing, singing and recording before May 21st and Maria's loss, that they must still be true now. It's the family's hope that these appearances will serve as a chance to proclaim to a watching world what they know and are deeply convinced of even in these difficult days, the Gospel is true and faith in Christ is our Hope."

Beginning with the interview on “Good Morning America,” the Chapmans shared with the nation and the world their account of that tragic day.

"The girls had been playing on the playground,” recalled Chapman's wife, Mary Beth, to GMA’s Robin Roberts. She described the May 21 incident that involved their youngest daughter, Maria Sue, and youngest son, Will Franklin, as a “complete accident.“

“And … she (Maria) was, actually excited that he (Will Franklin) was coming home. And he is so great with the girls. They just love him. And she was running to see him and, you know, ran, you know, into the path of the car," she said.

In the interview with Larry King, which aired August 7, one day after the GMA interview, Steven Curtis Chapman added the account of his daughter Shaohannah, who said Maria Sue had run toward Will Franklin to ask him to lift her up to play on the monkey bars.

“Shaohannah saw him coming up the driveway. And she said, ‘Hey, here comes Will. He'll get on you the monkey bars,’" Chapman recalled to King.

“And he would. It didn't matter what was going on. In Will's life, he would stop and play with his sisters," the award-winning artist added.

“And so what we understand is, is he just came around the corner, he didn't see her and she was running to him and struck her at that point.”

Despite the pain and suffering that the accident has brought, the Chapmans have held on to their faith and to each other while receiving comfort from God and the wider Christian community.

And their process of mourning has been an inspiration to many – even those without faith.

“Larry [King] openly admitted to the Chapmans, he lacks faith and he doesn't understand their faith. Going to one break he did say, 'wow,' when reflecting on their faith. And also then said, 'I wish I had your faith,'” reported Houser in his web log the day after the Chapmans' appearance on "Larry King Live."

“Steven commented, ‘Larry, if Billy Graham is praying for you, I think you're a marked man.’ And as they parted ways Caleb Chapman said to Mr. King, ‘I'm going to pray that God will give you the faith you need,’” Houser added.

As for believers, many are witnessing how large an impact the Chapmans’ loss has had and continues to have.

“God really used the Chapmans last night to speak to so many people,” wrote “Ginnie” in response to Houser’s Aug. 8 report on the Chapmans' "Larry King Live" appearance.

“Only God can bring a tragedy like this and turn it into an opportunity to show millions of people His strength and power in our lives as His Children.”

In addition to media appearances, Chapman has also been using the stage to share about his family's path toward recovery following Maria Sue’s death.

Although Chapman had stopped touring and declined interviews after the May 21 tragedy, he decided later to continue with his U.S. concerts, according to manager Houser.

"We wanted to go forward and give him the opportunity to share his faith," Houser told the Star-Telegram. "Faith is what he does. It’s a profound, sad time ... But the family is clinging to their faith and the assurance they will see Maria again."

Beginning with the July 11 Lifest in Oshkosh, Wisc., Chapman hit the road and plans to continue through Sept. 20.

In October, Chapman will team up with fellow Christian music superstar Michael W. Smith for the first time for “The United Tour,” a monthlong tour that kicks off Oct. 9 in Columbus, Ohio.

Chapman's international tours, meanwhile, have been canceled so he can be close to his family.

On the Web:

Radio times and broadcast listings of “The God Of All Comfort” at family.org.

 

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