Steven Curtis Chapman reflects on 10 years of care at Maria’s Big House of Hope
In the summer of 2009, our family and friends stood in amazement of a six-story building in Luoyang, China, painted sky blue and dotted with white clouds and six-petal “Maria” flowers. We sang, cried, prayed, and celebrated the official opening of Maria’s Big House of Hope (Maria’s). We had watched the God who “opens doors no man can shut” (Revelation 3:7) make a way for us to be a part of something miraculous—to help bring life-changing care, hope, and healing to precious children who were in great need.
We knew that this work was going to be a “two-edged sword” for us. In fact, this blue building filled with so much beauty and goodness stood, in great part, due to the tragic loss of our daughter Maria Sue, thus bearing her name and carrying the memory and legacy of her short but full and eternally significant life.
Ten years later, this past July, we returned to Luoyang with our family and friends to remember and celebrate what God has done in and through this work.
The phrase “full circle” came to mind as we gathered on the fifth floor of Maria’s to sing some of the same songs and declare some of the same truths we did 10 years earlier: “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord … you give and take away,” “How Great Is Our God,” “Savior, He can move the mountains, our God is Mighty to Save.”
Many of the same faces were gathered there … some of them a little older with a few more “lines around the eyes” but with the same passion and commitment beating in their hearts that was there in the beginning. One young lady with us, who today is the bright and beautiful daughter of our friends and whose father is a Show Hope board member, was one of the first little ones God brought into care at Maria’s when it first opened.
“What God had planned was an even greater, ‘fuller circle’ of effect and impact than we could’ve imagined.”
My experience during our time also made me think of the phrase “full circle” in a different light. What we as the Chapman family and the Show Hope family understood and intended to be the work of Maria’s was to bring care, comfort, healing, and hope to the lives of children who God brought into our care. (And that has been accomplished in ways beyond our wildest expectations.) But what God had planned was an even greater, “fuller circle” of effect and impact than we could’ve imagined.
This is the way with God. We set out to accomplish a single, significant purpose for His glory and for the benefit of the one—or ones—we hope to help, but He has more in mind. Adoption is a great example. A family decides to adopt because they believe God has invited them into the joy of helping to bring hope, healing, and fullness to the heart of a child. But our God is a God of wholeness and the “full circle,” and family after family has explained how He brought hope, healing, and fullness to their own hearts as a result of adopting their child.
This is what overwhelmed me as I considered how much more of a “full circle” God has been accomplishing through the work of Show Hope’s Care Centers. More than 2,700 children have been touched through our work in China, and more than 790 children—that we know of—have been welcomed home by a family through adoption. Those 790+ children have gone on to impact lives in their communities, schools, and churches, and are, in small and big ways, literally changing the world! Some came to us for a season to receive care and love that will leave an eternal mark on their lives. And some were shown and told how precious and wanted they were even as they passed into the arms of Jesus. All of this done in His name.
“The heart of the gospel beats inside the walls and the work of Maria’s …”
There have been hundreds of caregivers, cooks, and more who have come in direct contact with the heart of the One who said He would not leave us as orphans but came for us (John 14:18). Truly, the heart of the gospel beats inside the walls and the work of Maria’s, and we believe the individuals walking those hallways and working in those rooms are being eternally changed by it.
There are government officials—some we had dinner with in China (I ate eel before I knew it!)—who have come as close to Jesus’ love and the heart of the gospel as they may ever come because of this work.
Our staff and volunteers who God led to us in China have poured their hearts and souls into the work and are evidence that ours truly is the God who provides! All of us at Show Hope have come to know more of God’s power, presence, and provision because we’ve seen Him work in and through Maria’s.
And in a deeply personal way, the Chapman family has experienced healing and hope through the work at Maria’s. For the past two summers, our daughter Shaohannah Hope (Shaoey), whose arrival into our family would help give birth to the work of Show Hope, has had the opportunity to serve as an intern at Maria’s.
Just this last year, Shaoey shared how powerfully and unexpectedly God used her time there to bring healing to her own heart. Talk about “full circle!”
Finally, during our visit, we found our way to the sixth floor where the hallway walls are lined with white clouds bearing hundreds of hand-signed names of those who have visited Maria’s. These individuals represent medical, construction, and student teams as well as donor and sponsor trips. They are lives that have been marked by the life-changing impact of the children, the love, the work, and the presence of the God they encountered there. The countless stories of those who trace faith-defining, life-altering, and even future-determining decisions back to their time at Maria’s are remarkable.
One of the songs I sang to close our time of celebration at Maria’s was “Glorious Unfolding.” The lyric says, “This is going to be a glorious unfolding; we will watch and SEE, and we will be amazed.” Those of us with a front-row seat to the story of Show Hope, and specifically Maria’s, have truly watched in amazement as the story has gloriously unfolded. So many lives have been touched and changed, and the most amazing part is this:
Because of the promises of the One who is authoring the story, we are certain that the best is still yet to come!