Faith Lifts Chapman In Wake Of Tragedy

Christian Star Steven Curtis Chapman CBS/The Early Show

Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman has never needed his faith more than now.

Sadly, it was tested when tragedy struck his family last spring.

His daughter, Maria, was accidentally killed by his 17-year-old son, Will, who mistakenly and tragically struck his 5-year-old sister with their SUV.

Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez spoke with Chapman about his faith, heartache and music.

For a while, it seemed that Chapman's career was in doubt, but he and his family found strength through their faith. He is now channeling his faith and the love of his family through his music.

This May, Chapman and wife Mary Beth joined family and friends at a memorial service for Maria, their youngest child.

"I had no idea what God had in store for us," Chapman said at the memorial service. "Losing a child -- this really is holy ground as I've ever stood on. We know she's in that big amazing house."

Faith has long been the core of the Chapman family.

Chapman, who has written some of Christian music's most popular songs and won numerous awards, finds his best audience to be his family.

When there isn't a crowd at all, the music still plays.

A video was shown of Chapman washing dishes and playing the guitar with Maria, who like her father was quite the performer.

Maria was adopted into the Chapman family from China along with her two older sisters. The Chapmans have three biological children, Emily, Caleb and Will. All of the children have been an inspiration for Chapman's music.

The song "Cinderella" was written for his growing younger daughters and Emily, who will soon be married.

"Cinderella" was moving up the charts and Chapman was experiencing the highlight of his two-decade career when Maria was tragically killed.

Chapman's eldest son, Caleb, recalled the day Maria died at the memorial service when his dad held Maria as she took some of her last breaths.

Caleb also spoke about the importance of holding on to his brother, in the moments after the accident and now as the family continues to mourn and move forward.

Emily, who will be married next month also spoke at the memorial service and talked about how much Maria was looking forward to the wedding.

"Maria cared deeply about how I responded to the proposal. I told her 'I said yes and I need you to be a flower girl on Oct. 4, OK? We've got to start practicing.' And in case you guys haven't heard, she's being buried today in her flower girl dress. She is a flower girl," Emily said.

Although it is still tremendously difficult to relive that moment and watch the footage of the memorial service, Chapman gets through the pain with his faith.

"It's really been a lot of pain, but it's also reliving a lot of the hope that's pulling us together and keeping us breathing as a family, and thanks for including that and letting my family be heard from. Because that's the hard part about being here," Chapman said.

"I'm thankful you got to hear from the whole family. It's been amazing to see how God has given us strength not just from me and my wife, but our whole family together. So many people praying for us and loving us all over the world. So wherever you are, thank you for that. Thank you so much for your prayers and your encouragement," Chapman said.

Chapman has been writing some instrumental music for Emily to walk down the aisle to and his son Caleb is going to sing the song as he does the father-daughter dance.

"It's going to be an amazing day. Obviously there's going to be sadness connected with it. We've working with that Emily and Tanner together, how do we acknowledge and honor the pain and the sadness but the hope. It's going to be a great day of redemption for us. Maria is watching. We're going see Maria again. We're going to dance with Maria again. She's certainly going to be there in spirit. Obviously, our hearts are broken and this is what it looks like to live with broken, but very hope-filled hearts," he said.

The Chapman family established a foundation called
Shaohannah's Hope & Maria's Miracle Fund, which helps families who are looking to adopt to overcome financial barriers.

So far the Chapmans have raised more than $700,000.

Donations can be made to the fund in memory of Maria Chapman by mail and can be sent to Shaohannah's Hope, c/o Maria's Miracle Fund, PO Box 647, Franklin TN, 37065.
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