A Former Valor Teacher on the Other Side of the World
Madison Kempton’s roots in international missions run deep. So do her roots at Valor Christian.
The daughter of one of Valor’s original staff members, Madison joined the Valor Christian faculty in 2012. She taught Geometry and Algebra 2 that year, then traveled with Discovery to serve alongside International Medical Relief in Haiti. Despite leaving soon after to pursue a career in paramedicine, Madison returned to Valor in 2016 to teach Chemistry and AP Chemistry.
Then, just two years later, a stirring in her heart prompted Madison to begin thinking about moving out of the United States. Just as her parents had done six years before, Madison packed up her things and moved to Rwanda. In three years at Valor, she’d found meaningful ministry in the classroom and helped transform hearts on five Discovery teams – but no matter how fulfilling the experience, God had other plans for her. Out of obedience, Madison followed His lead.
Of course, leaving the comfort of the US to live and serve long-term in another country wasn’t really a foreign – or scary – notion to Madison. She recalls an upbringing that brought exposure to travel, generosity, foreign languages and an intentional love of others. International vacations often ended with family dinners in the homes of new friends. She found herself hooked on missions after her first trip to Mexico as a junior in high school.
In 2012, she moved to Jodhpur, India for six months. Still, no matter how long she stayed, Madison struggled to feel like she was doing enough. The continued pull on her heart contributed to the nudges she felt in 2018 to leave the US. Though she didn’t necessarily feel called to go to Africa, her connections at Bridge2Rwanda (a partner of Discovery’s) allowed her to move with the promise of employment.
Now, just as she did at Valor, Madison is teaching science at a Christian secondary school which has students from more than 30 countries. That means her life – just like the lives of Valor teachers and students – has changed drastically in the past few months. Forced into lock-down by the spread of the COVID19 pandemic, Madison shared recently what life in quarantine has been like on the other side of the world. She admits that she’s part of a lucky minority who has access to both technology and necessary devices, but laments that public schools and remote villages have likely struggled to maintain regular education for children.
“It has been kind of a ghost town around here,” she shared recently. When the country’s first case of COVID19 was discovered, Rwanda immediately locked the country down, limiting travel to grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals.
“This season has definitely brought many challenges, but it also has been a beautiful testament to what people can do for each other. My church started a project to help communities with no access to food. We have been able to provide food to over 55 Rwandan families who, as day laborers, have been unable to work. It has been so beautiful to watch the teens and college kids (who also have no income) from my church get involved. As hard as this season has been, it’s also been so beautiful.”
Now, as restrictions in Rwanda begin to lift, Madison – like so many of us – looks ahead to a future filled with uncertainty. And though she doesn’t know what life will look like a year or even a month from now, she has a peace that comes from trusting the One who does.
“Something God has taught me a million times over while I’ve been in Rwanda is the phrase ‘so much better your way’ from the song Defender by Rita Springer. I didn’t really feel called to Africa but it was the door God opened so I walked through it. Time and time again, despite my best efforts to know what’s next or control it or perfect things, things are always better God’s way. He has healed me immensely over the past two years and he has brought so much back to life in me that I allowed to die in my own selfishness. I lived so much more for myself when I was in Denver and did whatever since no one needed me for anything. Here, God has shown me what it means to live with less physically but be required to give more…more time, more resources, more love…just more. And ultimately that all comes from Him doing it all His way. He has shown me that He wants my full attention and full heart and that may come with sacrifice but the life I lead is so much more rich because it is His way.”