Over the next 40 days, I will highlight a member (or couple) of Trinity Baptist Church and tell their life story. I believe everyone has a story to tell. Regardless of one’s experiences, perceived popularity, age, or backgrounds, stories can be found in the simple everyday events and not just within grand or extreme events we so often remember.
The Schapers: The first members I will write about during my Lenten journey is the Schaper Family. Darrell and Andrea Schaper have two daughters, Alex and Claire, who have been active in my youth program at Trinity and the family has been a source of strength in my life and personal ministry at TBC.
Andrea has been a member at TBC since 1966, when she was only 3 years old. For those mathematically challenged like me…that’s 47 years. Andrea is the daughter of Wayland and DeeAnn Simmons, who placed membership once they heard former Trinity Baptist’s pastor Buckner Fanning preach the Gospel on a Sunday morning. They were amazed how Buckner could simply communicate the gospel with such power, grace, and conviction. A combination many pastors lack, including yours truly. When Andrea was a bit older, she was baptized by Buckner in the TBC Sanctuary, grew up in the youth ministry, and went on to attend Texas A&M where she met her husband Darrell Schaper (a football player for the Texas Aggies!)
Andrea and Darrell dated for 4 months, and they had an instant connection and good friendship…but would it go deeper than any of their past dating relationships? Since his walk with Christ began, Darrell always wanted his spouse to desire and respect a “spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.” He even dreamed that God spoke this desire into his heart. Once he started seriously dating Andrea, he asked her what she thought about such a religious desire, and Andrea could not agree with him more (maybe even more so) about the need for common spiritual connection. This realization brought them both to tears that night and led to a deeper relationship that grew into engagement and then marriage. After graduation and leaving Aggieland, they were ready to start a life together!
Darrell found a nice job as an Insurance Salesman. He would be working for a Trinity member, Bill Harrison Sr., in Andrea’s hometown of San Antonio. They both joined and were married at Trinity Baptist in 1986 (where Darrell was also impressed by and baptized by Buckner Fanning). They set their dream and began attempting to start a family. It was all going as planned until they ran into a recurring problem that was out of their control. Darrell and Andrea could not seem to get pregnant. Years went by and they kept getting negative result…after negative result…time after time. It was beginning to weigh on their marriage and spiritual walk. Andrea was becoming more and more upset with God, even asking God if she could at least have child before her 30th birthday. It appeared that God had allowed the “fairy tale” life to come to an end. The negative results continued.
One afternoon during a church mission trip to the Baptist Children’s Home near San Antonio, they met fellow TBC member Kay Ingram, who had an adopted son. Kay told them about the joys of adoption and how God has blessed her family through the adoption process. After much prayer and reflection, Darrell and Andrea decided to adopt a child. After all the process was complete, they adopted 4-day-old Alex Elise Schaper on January 23, 1993. Andrea’s 30th birthday was the day before…”God seems to have a sense of humor when it comes to our plans,” They were now parents of a beautiful little girl! Regardless of the process…she was their child and they were her Mom and Dad. The Schaper family had grown and soon would add another girl into the mix. After consulting more doctors, Darrell and Andrea were able to become pregnant…and October 29, 1995, they gave birth to Claire McCauly. The family was complete. All was right and good. It seemed God’s creativity was much larger than their own imagination and understanding of how a family can be formed and put together.
Having one adopted child and one biological child never seemed to negatively impact their family in any significant fashion. Other than the time Alex kept getting letters from her birth mother and 3-year-old Claire pouted during breakfast because she wanted to know her “birth mother” and receive letters in the mail like Alex. “That’s about as awkward as it ever got with our family” Andrea said. The family knew both Alex and Claire were “chosen for us” regardless of the circumstances of child bearing.
Alex grew up the star singer in the family, and Claire grew up the star athlete in the family. However, the sisters had much in common…despite their different personalities. In the fall of 2010 they both were elected to the Homecoming Court. Alex was a Senior and Claire was a freshman. A fun family moment. For me personally…Alex was a part of my first graduating class at Trinity Baptist. She was a leader for many of my youth events and the president of the Mainstream Choir. She now attends Texas A&M and pursuing a degree in Education. Claire is currently a Junior at MacArthur High School and active in the youth department, Young Life, and volleyball. “But more importantly than all of the accolades”, Andrea says “what makes her and Darrell such proud parents is that both of their children are committed followers of Christ and grounded in their faith in both belief and action. Everything else is meaningless.”
Claire attended our Fall Retreat last year where we participated in a 3-day Poverty Simulation in Waco, TX. During the weekend, they live outside, experience homeless conditions, and learn about world poverty through lessons, personal interviews, and experiments. Needless to say its not your typical youth retreat when you have all your possessions taken from you when you arrive. After the simulation was complete, Claire was moved to sponsor a child in Guatemala while our students were on a Mission Trip during the summer. However, Claire had a problem…she had no money to sponsor a child. Instead of asking others for the donation (even her parents), she decided to earn the money herself so it would truly be her sponsorship. How did Claire raise the money? She made earrings. And lots of them. She is almost to her goal…and is already on her way to a full year sponsorship. Claire wrote about her poverty weekend and the decision to sponsor a child in the December 2012 edition of our church’s newsletter, “The Trumpet.” Here is what she wrote:
“One Earring at a Time — Through Her Eyes”
Gavin had mentioned this trip a couple years ago and I was so excited to get the chance to go. I had no idea what to expect going into the poverty simulation. When we got to Mission Waco we were stripped of all of our possessions and forced to make choices similar to a family trapped in poverty. We also got just a small glance of what the homeless go through by spending Saturday meeting with others who often live on the streets. My group talked with a homeless man named George Strait and he shared some of his life stories with us and the reality of life without many resources. Although we came from different places we actually had much in common! This whole experience was eye opening for me and my friends. We also watched a video on global poverty and it really moved me to action. When I got home I felt like I had the power and the opportunity to make a real difference. I decided to design earrings and sell them at my school to help raise money to sponsor a child in Guatemala. Poverty equals Powerlessness. We, the church, have the resources to eliminate extreme poverty. It can be accomplished.
It is students like Claire (and we have lots of Claire’s in our youth group!) that keep me excited about the future of the church. Claire, like many in her generation, don’t put much value in a homogenous community. Instead, her generation values an intentional community that participates in the diversity of God’s Kingdom.
Above all, the Schaper’s are a family full of laughter, love, and honesty. Following after Jesus, they have the heart to serve others above self, while breaking down boundaries that separate people and life experiences. They truly do what is right by living out the greatest commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”