It really was no surprise when earlier this year, the five-time Grammy award winning Christian contemporary artist Steven Curtis Chapman played to a sold out concert hall at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. He's sold over nine million records in his career with one album certified platinum and two certified gold.

What might have been a surprise to some concert-goers, however, was Chapman's repeated emphasis on adoption during the concert. It's a theme he has threaded through many of his newer songs such as, "What Now?" and "When Love Takes You In."

But his passionate advocacy for adoption is much more than material for a few hit songs. It's a way of life for the Chapman family.

In addition to their three biological children, the oldest of whom attends Baylor University in Waco, Texas, they have adopted three orphan girls from China. "I've been buying diapers and formula for the past 18 years," he said jokingly at his concert at West Point Military Academy in West Point, NY, on April 2 during a 15-minute heart-to-heart chat with the audience between sets.

Chapman uses his concerts to foster awareness about adoption and to raise money for Shaohannah's Hope, the adoption foundation he and his wife, Mary Beth, started several years ago. Named after their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah's Hope was created to offer financial assistance by providing grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to families who were willing to adopt but could not afford the expenses involved.

Typically, about midway through a concert, Chapman uses a combination of a poignant video and live music to reach out and touch the hearts of those in the audience. This is followed by a short talk from Scott Hasenbalg, executive director of Shaohannah's Hope, who encourages concert-goers to drop by and visit one of the foundation's booths during intermission.

My wife and I were among the 20 or so volunteers who manned several booths at the February 26 concert in East Rutherford. We worked the booth at the main entrance to the concert hall. Before the concert and during intermission, interested people thronged around us to learn more about adoption. Many were also eager to make a donation. Some joined the Stevey Joy Club, named after the Chapman's second adopted daughter, by pledging $20 monthly for a year. Others gave a one-time gift. One person handed me a check for $2,500.

Chris and Stacy Garrison are beneficiaries of Shaohannah's Hope. They received a $2,000 grant towards the adoption of their daughter. They are hoping to travel to China this summer.

The Garrisons are on the ministerial staff at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Paterson, NJ. They were also among the volunteers at the East Rutherford concert. "We were thrilled at the opportunity to work at one of the booths," they told me. "Just think, we have a chance to make a difference in the life of a Chinese orphan we may never meet until we get to heaven."

To date, Chapman's "All Things New" tour has raised almost $2 million towards the goal of $2.5 million. But the goal of Shaohannah's Hope is more than simply taking money from the generous and redistributing it to the needy. Chapman is also interested in creating a desire in the hearts of concert-goers to examine the question of adoption for themselves and their own families.

My wife and I saw this firsthand when we spoke at an America World Adoption seminar held at Hawthorne Christian Academy in Hawthorne, NJ, on April 2. Over 20 couples showed up for the three-hour presentation. At the start of the seminar, each couple introduced themselves to the group. Invariably, they said their interest in coming to the seminar that day to consider adoption was kindled by the message they heard at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert.

When I spoke to Chapman later that afternoon before his concert at West Point, he was truly humbled that his message is having so profound an impact.

Chapman describes adoption as "a perfect picture of what God has done for each of us in making us His children through Christ." He's on solid biblical footing. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul describes a Christian's relationship to God as an "adoption, as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."

Chapman has bigger plans for the future. There's talk of his foundation possibly building a clinic in China for special-needs orphans. And he's trying to gain more exposure among the Chinese people. "He's learning Mandarin," Hasenbalg says. "A friend of his is helping translate some of his songs into Chinese. Steven is hoping to be invited to play at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing."

Explains Chapman: "When Mary Beth and I adopted our daughter, Shaohannah, we realized that it was only through obeying God's gentle call on our lives that we were able to experience His blessings and goodness in this miraculous way. We can honestly say it is through adopting Shaohannah, Stevey Joy, and Maria Sue that we have truly seen the face of Jesus."


Interested in learning more?  Please visit ShaohannahsHope.orgStevenCurtisChapman.com  and AWAA.org.  Gregory J. Rummo, a businessman and a writer, can be contacted through his website, GregRummo.com. This article appeared in the Herald News in New Jersey on April 21, 2005.

© 2005 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.