Learning to put down our phones and live on purpose

Shaoey Chapman and the Pause Campaign

November 19, 2019

Emily Chapman Richards is the executive director of Show Hope, an orphan care organization founded by her parents, Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman. But it’s Shaohannah Hope Chapman, or Shaoey (pronounced “Show-ee”), Richards’s 20-year-old sister, who had the idea for one of the organization’s initiatives.

"It was a very elementary idea at first,” Chapman said, describing what is now known as the Pause Campaign, Show Hope’s Student Initiative. But the Pause Campaign isn’t just Chapman’s brainchild; it’s also part of her own story of hope and healing.

A dream begins in Haiti

The summer before her junior year in high school, Chapman traveled to Haiti with her youth group and her dad. They spent the week at Hands and Feet Project’s Children’s Village serving children who had lost one or both parents or whose parents were unable to care for them. This trip made an impact on Chapman, not just because of the work they were doing and the children they served, but also because she experienced it undistracted by social media.

"The fact that I didn't have my phone allowed me to see this whole experience without the lens of social media," Chapman tells me. "You don't really connect through it. It's not a mutual connection; it's very one-sided. Social media is a great tool to use to get the word out, but there's also so much good in putting it down and actually going out and doing that thing that you said you wanted to do."

When she returned to her home in Franklin, Tennessee, she talked with her parents about the frustrations she had with her generation’s relationship to social media and lack of awareness about the needs of the world around them. Her parents encouraged her not to just talk about the problem, but to do something about it. 

So, 16-year-old Chapman got together with Emily Deemers, who was then in charge of Student Initiatives at Show Hope, and the two began developing a plan. Along with two high school friends, Chapman worked to create the Pause Campaign. 

Over the past few years, the campaign has been refined into its current structure, but the basic idea that came from Chapman’s heart after her trip to Haiti is still the vision behind it. Chapman explains the idea of Pause like this: "A student encourages all their friends to put down social media for a while—take a pause from it—and use that time that they would be on their phone to go advocate for something they care about."

Chapman credits Chris Wheeler, an early partner in Show Hope’s Student Initiatives, with frequently saying, “Nothing speaks to a student like a student.” 

“Honestly,” Chapman added, “nothing speaks to adults like students, because when a student actually cares about something, adults take notice."

"It's incredible how God weaves this story of brokenness, but without brokenness we wouldn't need hope."

Much of the Pre + Post Adoption Support Show Hope provides training for is built around the ideas of enabling and empowering children through attachment care. Chapman says this is needed not just by young children, but by students as well. “Students will lose their passion if they’re not nurtured.”

She has seen the positive side of this firsthand in her own family. 

"There was a big interruption in my childhood, obviously, with Maria passing away.” Maria, the youngest Chapman sibling, died in a tragic accident in 2008 when Chapman was eight. “Brokenness is felt collectively and individually. . . . We all had different guilt and different levels of grieving." 

But even in the aftermath of tragedy, she credits her parents with empowering her in her frequently changing interests. 

"My parents were never like, 'Shaoey, you just got off this other thing. Why are you doing this?' It was always, 'Okay, you're into bird-watching. Let's buy you some bird feeders. Let's buy you some bird-watching books and binoculars.’ Then it was cooking, then Greek mythology. They were like, 'We don't understand this, we don't even get why you like this, but we're going to enable this.' That was something I felt like I had the freedom to do my whole life, and so when the Pause Campaign came about, it wasn't like, 'Shaoey, no kid is going to fast from social media.' It was like, 'Okay, Shaoey, if you think that kids are going to do this, you're the one in this world, let's help you do that.'”

The first time God used Haiti to spark a dream

This wasn’t the first time the Chapman family enabled one of their children’s passions coming out of a trip to Haiti. Richards, who went on her own trip to Haiti with her mom when she was 11, has a journal that’s one of her most treasured possessions. The entry from the first day of the trip reads: “I hope this experience will change my life. I also hope that I will change someone's life.”

Chapman says, "I wouldn't be here without that."

That trip to Haiti inspired Richards to begin a campaign of her own in which she petitioned her parents to adopt a baby girl. Eventually, they did, and Shaohannah joined the family through adoption from China. That first adoption led to two more baby girls being added to the Chapman family, Stevey Joy and Maria.

"That's where Show Hope started,” Richards says. “Because we went on a trip, and my heart was captured and imagination was captured by what it would look like to help children." She says her parents may have thought she was crazy for suggesting they adopt, but she didn't get that message from them. "I got, 'Keep praying. If God means for it to happen, it will happen.'"

Mary Beth Chapman adds her perspective on both her oldest daughter’s pleas for a sister and the significant place Student Initiatives have in the life of Show Hope: “It was important when I went to Haiti with Emily and I saw that God does use the voices of the young, and when God puts something in their heart, you can write it off as, ‘She's 11.’  But you don't know what you don't know, and at 11 God can use where you are to say, 'I think we should do this. I think there's room at our table.’” 

She says she first thought, "[Emily] doesn't know what she's talking about, but yet it did crack the door for Steven and I to at least make a commitment to pray. . . . For me, there always has to be a place for Student Initiatives. We see what happened in our own family because of a student, and now God is raising up another generation of students."

Living on purpose

Richards echoes this, commending her sister’s idea behind the Pause Campaign and the meaning behind it. Not only does the initiative ask students to take a pause from social media, but it seeks to open their eyes to the relationships they take for granted every day—relationships that aren’t guaranteed and that aren’t experienced by many children around the world. She says there’s value in pausing from social media because it’s a distraction and an addiction, but the Pause Campaign also intends to help students live more intentionally by taking action not just through “clicktivism”—advocacy through social media—but more purposefully through flesh-and-blood relationships and service.

Geared toward high school and college groups, the Pause Campaign materials include a weeklong devotional that takes participants through a process of education about orphan care. Students will learn about the global need and how we got here, a definition of what an orphan is, and will receive devotional content and a call to get involved in practical ways in their communities. This could mean helping a family in their church who may be adopting or fostering, or finding local orphan care organizations to serve.

But, the idea behind local action is not to teach students that it’s their responsibility to save people. “God’s the Savior,” Richards says, “but you can choose to participate in that redemptive work this side of eternity.”

Last year, the Pause Campaign had 358 students participate in 13 groups. Momentum is growing as students are getting more excited about the initiative. One high school boy was so inspired by his experience that he donated his whole tax return to Show Hope and got up and shared what he learned with his church.

On her internships the past two summers at the Care Center that Show Hope partners with in China, Maria’s Big House of Hope (named after her youngest sister), Chapman chose not to have phone service for the weeks she was there. "I thought, ‘I'm not here to be on my phone,’” she explains. “‘I'm here to invest in some kids that need love and need this care, and I’m here to invest in this city that doesn't know the Lord.’"

For Chapman, the first summer in China without the distraction of social media was the beginning of a healing process for her. At the age of eight, when many children of adoption are beginning to process their adoption stories, Chapman was instead dealing with the trauma of her sister’s death. God used that time at Maria’s Big House of Hope to help her process many things from her past. 

"You sit there in a place that is supposed to be healing for the kids being cared for at the Care Center, and you find that more healing comes to you than has for 18 years."

Her eyes light up when she talks about falling in love with a little girl who was under care during her internship. This little girl is now home in an adoptive family, and Chapman video chats with her weekly. Over the recent Show Hope Fellowship Weekend in Franklin, Chapman’s family surprised her by reuniting her with the little girl and giving her the opportunity to meet the adoptive family in person.

"It's incredible how God weaves this story of brokenness, but without brokenness we wouldn't need hope,” Chapman says, with wisdom beyond her years. “It didn't make sense to me until I felt it in my own life . . .”

This hope, born out of adversity, has led Chapman to take an active role in the organization that bears her name (Show Hope was originally “Shaohannah’s Hope”). As she watches her peers be challenged and changed through the Pause Campaign, it represents more than just an idea; it’s a testament to the work of grace and hope in her own life. And she looks forward to seeing it continue in the future.

"It's grown into something that I never expected, and I hope it continues to grow."

Visit showhope.org/pause-campaign or email [email protected] to find out more.

Catherine Parks

Catherine Parks writes and lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two children, and a cute dog named Ollie. She's the author of Empowered and Strong, collections of biographies for middle-grade readers. You can find more of her writing at cathparks.com Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24