- (Photo: Lifest 2008 • www.lifest.com)
Over the course of two weeks, award winning Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman has hit six different cities throughout the United States, touching the lives of his fans with his family’s story of faith and perseverance.
The July 17 concert in Clarkston, Mich., Chapman’s fourth since the tragic death of his daughter in May, had the crowd of about 2,500 “laughing and crying and praying and rocking, often at the same time," committee member Phil C. Giesken told The Saginaw News.
"It's beyond expectations," Lori Chatten from Carol Stream, Ill., said of the most recent Chapman concert, held just this past Thursday in Wheaton, Ill.
She told the local Daily Herald that she was surprised at how openly Chapman discussed his family's struggles and pain over the last few months.
"It's a blessing that he shared that with us," she said.
Earlier this year, in May, Maria Sue Chapman, the Grammy-winning music star’s 5-year-old daughter, was accidentally struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle driven by one of her brothers as he was pulling out of the driveway of the family's home.
Maria, the Chapmans’ youngest daughter and one of three that had been adopted from China, had celebrated her fifth birthday less than ten days earlier.
Her tragic death triggered a massive outpouring of condolences and words of comfort for Chapman and his family.
In the first two weeks alone, thousands of people contributed over $310,000 toward Maria’s Miracle Fund, set up in honor of little Maria. Additionally, over 19,000 people posted their prayers and condolences to the Chapman family on a blog site dedicated to Maria that is accessible from the ministry's website.
"Thank you so much for your prayers and your support. It's the reason my family is more than surviving, but sure how faithful and true our Redeemer is," Chapman said during Thursday’s concert, according to the Daily Herald.
Throughout his performance, Chapman spoke of how intimately Maria's death has affected him and his songs.
After performing "Yours," a song from his latest album, This Moment, Chapman reportedly shared how he had to examine his beliefs and rediscover how much they still meant.
Chapman said in particular he “had to come to a new realization” in the song “Yours,” which specifically addresses how everything belongs to God.
"There's not an inch of all creation that God doesn't look at and say 'all of that's mine,'" he explained, according to the Herald. For the song “Yours,” Chapman had added a third verse that addresses life after Maria.
Paula Odom, executive director of the Mid Cities Pregnancy Center, told the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas, 17 miles west of Euless, Texas, where Chapman’s fifth show was held, that Chapman is "a great family man.”
"The fact that he is still coming at this difficult time just shows what integrity he has. It speaks highly to his faith," Odom commented.
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 his manager, Jim 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.
Like a number of the concerts prior to Thursday’s, proceeds from the most recent night went to Shaohannah’s Hope, the foundation Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, established to help defray the costs of adoptions.
The Chapmans started the organization five years ago to give information and financial grants to families who want to adopt. Maria’s Miracle Fund, which the foundation created shortly after Maria's death, has received more than $500,000 so far – an "overwhelming and honorable tribute to such a spirit-filled family and a beautiful young girl," said foundation executive director Scott Hasenbalg on Chapman’s website (www.stevencurtischapman.com).
At the present time, Chapman has six more cities to hit before concluding his tour in Puyallup, Wash., on Sept. 20. His international tours have been canceled so he can be close to his family.
List of Remaining Cities:
August 1 - Asheville, NC (Biltmore Estate)
August 2 - Atlanta, GA (Turner Field)
August 9 - Hot Springs, AR (Timberwood Amphitheater)
September 13 - Ft. Worth, TX (Men at the Cross)
September 19 - Brentwood, CA (Golden Hills Community)
September 20 - Puyallup, WA (Western Washington Fair)