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Steven Curtis Chapman, wife, help children process events of Sept. 11

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman was in good spirits on the morning of Sept. 11. He had just completed an interview with CNN’s “Daybreak” about the adoption of their daughter and later that day he and his wife, Mary Beth, were scheduled to receive the National Angel in Adoption Award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.

Chapman appeared on CNN at 7:50 a.m., discussing how the adoption of 2-year-old Shaohannah had changed their family. He also premiered segments of his new music video, “When Love Takes You In.”

Satisfied at how the network handled the interview, Chapman left the Atlanta-based network’s Washington studios and returned to Metro Center Marriott where Mary Beth and Shaohannah were sleeping.

“I came back and woke up Mary Beth so we could watch a replay of the interview on CNN,” Chapman told Baptist Press. “We turned on the television and the first thing we saw was one of the World Trade Center towers with a hole in the side of it. We stood there and watched and couldn’t believe it.”

Minutes after the second plane crashed into the WTC, Chapman said he received a call from a White House assistant.

“At that point, they were telling us that it was an act of terrorist and that all of the events were canceled,” Chapman said. “They suggested that we should get out of Washington, D.C.”

As Chapman and his wife sat on the bed of their 14th-floor hotel room just five blocks from the White House, another jetliner slammed into the Pentagon.

“We were just stunned,” Chapman said. “We heard all these sirens outside and then we saw people looking out their hotel windows. We got to a window and saw smoke rising from where the Pentagon was. We couldn’t see the building, but we could see the huge billows of smoke.

“My wife thought we needed to do something so we just started to pray,” Chapman said. “It was one of those moments when you have to trust God and believe that we are either in his hands or not. There was nowhere to run or hide. We prayed that God would bring peace to bear in the chaos of what was happening.”

A Chapman associate ran 12 blocks to find a rental car. “There were F-14 fighter jets flying overhead, people running everywhere. It was a war zone,” Chapman said. “There was a mass exodus of people trying to get out of town.”

At the rental car agency, more than 200 people lined up trying to obtain transportation out of the city. “One guy got up to the counter and announced he was going to Texas and he had room for two people,” Chapman said. “It was amazing watching total strangers work together.”

While arrangements were being made to evacuate from the city, Chapman and his wife telephoned their children back in Franklin, Tenn.

“Our children were very worried,” Chapman said. “We called Emily at school and got her out of class. She was freaking out a little bit, wondering what was going on with mom and dad. We told her we were going to get a car and drive home.”

It took the Chapmans a day and a half to drive back home, leaving behind a city that resembled a ghost town.

In the days and weeks since the terrorist attacks, the Chapmans have spent quality time with their children — Emily, 15, Caleb, 11, and Will Franklin, 10 — making sure they understand what is happening.

“Every night and throughout the day, whenever we pray over a meal or are tucking the kids in at night, we pray for the families and the leaders of our country,” Chapman said. “But as I watch them process what has happened and listen to the things they have said, they’ve had a lot of questions about suffering.

“It all culminated for us in one conversation with Emily,” Chapman recalled. “We were talking about children and Emily talks about the kids she wants to adopt. She has such a heart for missions and children. She said, ‘Mom, I wonder with the way the world is going, you get scared thinking about having children in this world. What is the world going to be like when I have children?’

“It is certainly a thought that we’ve all wrestled with as parents,” Chapman said. “It was one of those opportunities for us as a family to process this. Yes, we pray for our government leaders to have wisdom, but we also know that our hope is ultimately not in the government or in anything we can do, but it is the fact that God has put us here for a purpose.

“He put Christian families here for a purpose,” Chapman said. “That’s why the Bible talks about being salt and light.”

Chapman said Americans are searching for hope and the time is ripe for Christians to take a stand.

“We as Christians need to answer our calling and recognize what the calling is,” Chapman said. “We know the one true God. We must encourage one another with it and communicate it with gentleness and respect. Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that you have.”

(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net.

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  • Todd Starnes