By Carrie McGuffin
Shauw Chin Capps serves as CEO of Hopeful Horizons, a nonprofit organization that provides safety and healing for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault in Beaufort, S.C., and is a member of The Baptist Church of Beaufort. During the CBF General Assembly in Atlanta, she shared about her roots as well as dreams for the year as CBF Moderator for 2017-18.
“It is because of the Great Commission that my journey took the path it did,” Capps said June 30 at the 2017 Assembly. “This is my story of the importance of God’s Beloved Community. My life is just one story of the impact of the work of global missions. I think often of all the CBF missionaries around the world living out the Great Commission every day and thank God for all the lives impacted. Each life has an incredible story to tell. Throughout my journey, God’s gracious community has been offered to me by so many Baptist ministers, professors and friends. It is at this big table of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that all these individuals sit, and for that I am eternally grateful.
“I was welcomed by God’s Beloved Community at every turn in my faith journey. Where I stood on issues did not matter, and I’m glad it didn’t because I’ve changed, I’ve grown, and I continue to grow. The safe space to just be who God desires me to be matters a great deal. Will CBF be that sacred space for so many in our world yearning to be loved, to be accepted, to be healed, to be heard?”
Capps challenged the Assembly to always be compelled by Christ to be a movement that is always widening the table and cultivating Beloved Community through ministry and mission.
“My dream as your next moderator is a simple one and it comes from 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.’ So my dream is that all of us around the CBF table will be compelled by the love of Christ to live transformed lives in service to Christ, to one another and the world. I would like to see us set tables of ‘Beloved Communities’ wherever and whenever we have the opportunity so that we can draw more and more people into the circle of God’s love and grace.”
Tell me a bit about your background — where you grew up.
I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and spent most of my childhood years living in Singapore. I went to college in America as an international student. I’m a first generation Chinese American. Paul (my husband) and I met in Singapore in our teen years. He was a Baptist missionary kid. I became a Christian because of the work of Baptist missionaries in Singapore.
Who were important influences in your development as a leader?
I owe the growth of my faith and my development as a leader to many Baptist ministers, professors, friends and family. When I became a Christian at age 16, a Baptist missionary family took on the holy task of discipling me. Janice Capps, who later became my mother-in-law, is one of the most influential people in my faith journey. I would not be where I am today in my faith journey without her guidance and her modeling for me what it means to be a follower of Christ.
If it were not for Diana Garland, I would not have made it through seminary. She was the rock and the constant during those tumultuous times at Carver [School of Social Work at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary]. She was my mentor and kept me grounded and going. She pushed me and challenged me to be the best social worker possible. The lessons I learned from Diana are the core values I bring with me to work every day.
Annette Briggs was my campus Baptist minister and is currently a pastor. She married us. She was influential in solidifying my passion and call to serve the least of these. I am eternally grateful for these incredible and godly women who taught me that there are no limits to what God can do when God calls us.
Could you share about your calling to nonprofit leadership and the particular work that you do with victims of abuse and those in crisis?
This may be odd to say, but when I decided to follow Christ, I also decided that serving “the least of these” was a mandate that came with faith in Jesus.
As a young child growing up in the developing country of Indonesia, I saw firsthand the gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and have-nots. My young heart was never content with what I saw, and I often questioned why some people had to suffer and others did not. I believe that God gave me a strong sense of justice which solidified in my faith when I became a Christian. As a college student, I knew that I wanted to be in a helping profession, but I did not know what that would look like. When I found out about social work and the church social work degree at Southern Seminary, I knew that was where I needed to be.
I remembered calling Anne Davis at Southern and asking for her guidance as to whether I should attend Carver given the writings on the wall of tumultuous political times at Southern Baptist seminaries everywhere. I remembered Anne asking me one question, “Do you feel called to ministry as a social worker?” I answered with a resounding “yes.”
I found my calling in the nonprofit world because I was drawn to ministering to one of the most voiceless populations in our society — victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. My greatest joy in the work I do as the CEO of a nonprofit children’s advocacy, domestic violence and rape crisis center, is the privilege of seeing victims become survivors. It is a true honor to walk alongside these remarkable women, children and men who must overcome tremendous trauma so that the abuse they experienced does not define them for the rest of their lives. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of hard work, and I admire that greatly!
It is a joy to be able to give voice to those who have no voice. I love to advocate for policies and laws that can pave the way for a more just and merciful world. To sum it up, the greatest joy in the work I do is to be able to do what God requires of us in Micah 6:8.
What do you bring to the table as CBF Moderator?
I believe I bring a global perspective that can be helpful to CBF. I’m used to straddling many worlds and cultures and have a deep appreciation for the value of diversity and unity. I have also experienced firsthand the impact of global missions, and I hope that my story can help churches and individuals connect to CBF on a deeper level. I think God knows more than I do what I bring to the table as CBF Moderator — all I know is that God can use my very meager offerings to feed thousands.
What is your vision for CBF? Over the next year? Into the future?
CBF has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. We are in an exciting time of growth and change. I’m extremely encouraged to see the level of involvement with the younger generation in the life of the Fellowship. They are our future, and I hope that what we can pass on to them will be a healthy and robust organization that is adept at following the lead of the Holy Spirit working in this world.
These are also unsettling times as we are faced with issues that have the potential to divide. Whatever decisions the Governing Board must make regarding the findings of the Illumination Project, my prayer is that those decisions will be made with courage and never as a reaction to fear. My vision is that CBF will keep the Great Commission as the focal point of the work we do where all nations and all people are invited to the table of the Beloved Community of God.
What prayers would you ask of Cooperative Baptists — for you, the Fellowship or the Governing Board — during your term as Moderator?
I humbly ask for my CBF family to commit to praying for me, the Fellowship and the Governing Board as we all seek to faithfully and humbly serve. Pray for wisdom, courage and discernment. Pray that we will all give generously of our time, talent and resources to ensure that our field personnel have the resources to do God’s work of justice and mercy across the globe.