Nine years ago, a true test of faith rocked contemporary Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman. His adopted 5-year-old daughter, Maria, was killed when his 17-year-old son accidentally struck her with an SUV in the family's driveway.
The incident almost caused Chapman to give up music. As time passed, however, music eventually became the balm for his pain. Many of the songs on his 2009 album "Beauty Will Rise" were inspired by the tragedy; he's called them his "personal psalms."
"I say, 'God, I'm going to trust you even though I don't understand this. I have questions; I am mad and fearful. I have a lot of unbelief in my heart right now, but I choose to declare this is what I believe,'" he said from his home in Franklin, Tenn. "For me, those kinds of songs in many ways helped keep my faith, my heart and even my life alive."
The five-time Grammy Award winner and 58-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award winner is one of the featured performers on this year's Rock and Worship Roadshow. The family-friendly Christian music tour, produced by Compassion International, a global child sponsorship organization based in Colorado Springs, will make a stop at The Broadmoor World Arena on Sunday. The evening also will feature Francesca Battistelli, Rend Collective, Phil Wickham, Family Force 5 and Jordan Feliz.
During the course of his 30-year career, Chapman has released 23 albums and sold almost 11 million records. Last year's "Worship and Believe" was the artist's first worship album, an increasingly popular sub-genre of Christian music that Chapman defines as songs written to be sung in a congregation with others.
Though it's technically his first album of that ilk, he believes the oeuvre of his work is worship-based, even songs that don't specifically mention God, such as love songs about his wife or his daughter. Chapman and his wife of more than 30 years have six children, including three adopted daughters from China.
"They're written from the perspective of I want to live life as a dad and husband," he said. "The way I love my wife and my family is an act of worship to God. They're the most important acts of worship I can offer."
Three years ago, the musician began work on a memoir. It wasn't easy to relive the memories of Maria's death, but Chapman believes the process was necessary. "Between Heaven and the Real World" will be released Tuesday.
"As you would imagine, it was pretty brutal, unbearable," he said. "It was pulling a lot of those scabs off that were on your heart. Scabs have to grow over those wounds. Doing something like this was a process of pulling that back off. Hopefully it was for good. It felt that way and the family felt that."
Outsiders might wonder what that sort of hardship does to one's faith - how did Chapman come to terms with the agonizing loss?
"I've learned how much I don't know and yet that's what faith is," he said. "It's coming more to understand that trusting, even when it doesn't make sense, and being able to say, 'I don't know the answer and I may never have the answer, but at least I'm going to trust on this side of heaven.'
"I hope this means my faith has grown on this journey and realize there is much I don't know."