Steven Curtis Chapman

After a horrific tragedy, the singer and adoption advocate united his family through faith.

Most Inspiring person of the year

It was the darkest version of every parent's nightmare.

Last May Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman's teenage son Will Franklin accidentally ran over his sister, Maria Sue, in the family driveway. The five-year-old died of her injuries later at a Nashville hospital.

Rev. Scotty Smith, the family's pastor, told Beliefnet that when he arrived at the hospital the whole family – Steven, his wife Mary Beth, children Emily, Caleb, Will, Shaohanna, and Stevey – were all on their knees around their sister's bed.

"Steven was holding Will Franklin around the waist and saying, 'I am not gonna let go of you, Will Franklin,'" Smith said. "I am thinking, how many dads are free enough to move into the chaos of the loss? But here is a dad that is a huge model for the rest of us. He said, 'We will walk through this and grow and groan through this together.'"

Chapman, 45, is nominated as one of the year's Most Inspiring People for living out his faith in the face of a horrible tragedy, becoming a standard bearer for others whose faith sustains them through horrors they could never have contemplated.

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Maria Sue came into the Chapmans' lives while Steven, a Grammy and Dove Award-winning artist, was on tour in China in 2004. After an Easter Sunday performance, some missionaries introduced him to the baby. The two had an instant connection--her name reminded Chapman of a song he had written called "Who's Gonna Love Maria?" Chapman called his wife and asked if they might adopt her.

The Chapmans have long been advocates of overseas adoption. Before Maria Sue, they brought home Shaohannah and Stevey Joy. The couple founded Shaohannah's Hope, an organization that offers financial assistance to Christian families seeking to adopt, both overseas and at home. To date, more than 1,600 families have been aided.

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Kimberly Winston
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