When Emily Chapman Richards (’07) arrived at Baylor University in the fall of 2004, she never anticipated how the Lord would use her time in Waco to prepare her for the role of executive director of Show Hope.
Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Emily grew up going to a Christian school, and knew she wanted a similar experience in college. Baylor checked the boxes of her college wish-list.
“Baylor was always this magical place in my mind because I had a handful of really meaningful counselors [at Kanakuk Camps] that were impactful in my life that had gone to Baylor,” she said.
Emily entered college as a nursing major with the goal of ultimately using her education to help care for children who had been orphaned. However, it did not take long for her to decide to switch majors. Nursing no longer felt like the road she was meant to take. Instead, she decided to pursue a BA in international studies with a religion minor.
“In the political science and the religion classes at Baylor, I kind of got two spectrums of conservative thought and liberal thought. I believe it gave me a really well-rounded picture of how God is at work in the world.” Between her time in Waco and her semester abroad in Maastricht, Emily recalls gaining a distinct understanding of the “narrative of God’s grace in the world” through the study of the diverse ways humans try to implement order on earth.
One class that made a particularly strong impact on her was focused on the life and teachings of Jesus, taught by Dr. Mikeal Parsons. As part of the course she was tasked with creating her own commentary on the Gospels. She loved the class and was deeply impacted by the pursuit of understanding of how Scripture could be applied to the modern world.
When her youngest sister passed away unexpectedly not long after she graduated, Parsons reached out to Emily with deep compassion. “All of that – the intentionality of the professor, the way he taught that class and made it so impactful, I just was really positively impacted by that.” Because of the impact from her time at Baylor, Emily moved to Northern Ireland with her husband Tanner to earn her Masters of Theology at Queen’s University Belfast.
Emily’s passion for orphaned children began at a young age with a mission trip to Haiti. She felt the Lord very clearly put the call of adoption on her heart. She pushed her parents, Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman, to adopt.
The Chapman family ended up adopting three girls from China, which set into motion the founding of their nonprofit in 2003, Show Hope. Today, Emily serves as executive director of the organization.
Show Hope began as a way to help families who have the heart to bring another child into their family, but struggle to meet the upfront cost of $35,000 to $60,000 to adopt a child. The next step into orphan care for Show Hope was establishing and assisting care centers for children waiting for adoption in China. “As we continued to get involved and my other sisters joined our family from China, we really had a heart to care well for children living in China that have been orphaned and are waiting for mom and dad to come.” Additionally, Show Hope operates in pre- and post-adoption care for adoptive families, and also engages students who may become future leaders on the issue of adoption.
The mission of Show Hope is “to care for orphans by engaging the Church and reducing barriers to adoption.” To date, Show Hope’s adoption aid grants have helped more than 6,200 children come home. More than 2,500 kids have been impacted by their Care Centers in China. And they have offered pre- and post-adoption support to innumerable families.
When asked about her vision for Show Hope going forward, Emily said, “The vision for the future is, how do we continue to go deep and make very meaningful impact as we look at sustaining the work of Show Hope over time. I have visions of grandeur. That is what I hope and that is what I am praying into and believing. God will find a way.”
If you are interested in giving to Show Hope, being a part of the work they are doing, or applying for an adoption grant, visit www.showhope.org.