Why Luis Palau? Why now?
I did my first festival six or seven years ago. And I'd never met Luis but had heard a lot of great things about his ministry and what was happening with that. He's incredible and has been a real blessing to me. He's done so many things around the world, too, and that was one of the first things that impressed me and got me excited to lock arms or join hands with that ministry. I saw a real global vision for what they were about.
Haven't you also been involved with them in China, which is a country you've been deeply involved with for some time? [The Chapmans have adopted three little girls from China.]
Yeah. I threw it out there when we met that if they were ever interested in doing something in China to let me know. A couple of years later he called and said we're going to China, and I got to go and spend a lot of time with him for a week and fell in love with him for his heart, what he is about, and got a chance to see what all goes on inside that guy's heart and mind for people and for God. I said then that any time I could be part of one of his festivals I wanted to do it. He's been oriented to make it as non-churchy or "Christianese" as you could be. It draws people in, passers-by, everyone, so it is an exciting thing to be a part of.
The festival is being held in Washington, D.C. With so much talk about Christians in politics these days, do you think that there is a message here about any of that?
One of the reasons why I'm excited about the festival is that [Washington] is a place where so much is taking place. There are these great battles on so many issues, and so many decisions are made, and the powers that be congregate and reside there. I believe very confidently in the truth of Scripture, where it says that there is no authority, no power given to man except as given by God. Unfortunately that doesn't obviously mean that everyone is using it for the glory of God or for his purpose. But I think that is one of the reasons for the festival. Luis [Palau] understands that there is this greater authority that is above people and above politics.
[NOTE: One of Chapman's earlier records, "Heaven in the Real World," included this spoken introduction: "Where is the hope? I meet millions who tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us. Where is the hope? The hope that each of us have is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things that we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people, and that's where our hope is in this country; that's where our hope is in life." It was spoken by Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson, whom Chapman befriended as he worked with prisoners and prisoners' children.]
You once sang of "The Great Adventure," but looking through your projects you seem to be living a big adventure of a different kind. You've adopted three little girls from China, you've set up a foundation to help other families adopt, you've been all over the world trying to help with poverty and AIDS and orphans. What is pushing you there?
I wrote in "Coming Attractions" on "All Things New" [his latest album] that:
A day is coming
That won't fade to night
There'll be no more hatred to endure
No wars to fight
There'll be no orphans
No prisoners or slaves
And all the tears of death and pain
Will be washed away
This day is coming
It's surely coming
Jesus, You're coming
But until that day comes
Shine Your light through me
Live Your life through me
Let the world see Your Kingdom come in me
For me I have come to this new understanding of what Jesus meant when he said "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I used to think of those as religious and flowery words. But I think he is saying that there will be this day when things are new and the tears will be gone. The question then becomes, "What does it mean today for it to show up in small ways in my own life?"
The hurt is overwhelming. If you look at it you can't believe it. Fifty million orphans in the world, AIDS, natural disasters, tragedies. OK, so if I really do believe that a day is coming when things will be made new, what am I doing? We believe that by rescuing one orphan or two orphans, or in a church coming together and adopting 10 or 20, the ripple will go out from there and God will multiply it all. It is more about experiencing God and watching him bring his kingdom to bear on our lives in this present moment than it is about saying we're going to erase the need. What God wants is to reveal himself more fully to us.
Some rapid fire questions
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When I go to Africa and spend more time there with people who are the least of the least, those in desperate situations, I am broken by it. But I also find people with so much more joy and freedom living with nothing than I see walking down the streets of my own community here in Tennessee. There is something about what God wants to reveal through us. He never said your job was to do away with all the suffering in the world. Unfortunately, that will always be there, but God is inviting you to come and know and see him at work in those broken places. I don't have any good answers to these questions. I'm just trying to figure them out.
We're going to rapid fire some last questions, ready?
Your favorite cartoon character?
Name a food you hope to never eat again.
Vegemite...though they only say it is a food.
What is your favorite prayer?
[Chuckles] If you mean what prayer I say most often, it is, "Please help me, Lord."
The character you most identify with in the Chronicles of Narnia?
What is your favorite Chinese phrase?
Wo ai Ni. (I love you).
What is a one-word description for life on tour?
Name the one sport you wish you could play as well as Michael Jordan played basketball.
Basketball...that way my kids wouldn't beat me so badly.
You have to choose to be one-a zookeeper, a Fortune 500 CEO, or an astronaut...
Zookeeper-I love animals.
Who had/has the greater impact, Ronald Reagan or Billy Graham?
Billy Graham. [Laughs] Are these questions supposed to mean something?