I met God in Scripture class – and now I'm teaching Scripture
How Madi’s life changed forever at school
“My family’s not Christian or religious or spiritual or anything like that. Even my grandparents never went to church. When I was a kid, there was a general feeling that it’s just not part of our life,” 24-year-old Madi* explains.
And yet, as Madi shares her story with Eternity, she is employed as a ministry apprentice at an Anglican church in northern Sydney, which she has attended for the past ten years.
So how did she get from a non-believing upbringing to the place where she’s ready to commit her whole career (and life) to the spread of the gospel? Well, it all began with Scripture classes at her public primary school.
“I went to school to learn to read and write and do maths, and the like. In that same classroom, I was also learning about God. And so, I just treated them as if they were the same,” says Madi.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe and had to be won over by Scripture teachers. It was just part of my process of learning about the world and growing up.”
She clarifies that this was during the days when almost all schoolkids attended Protestant Scripture, with the only other option being non-Scripture. So, while her family weren’t believers, they were happy for her to attend Scripture classes.
At school, Madi was also surrounded by friends from Christian families. “I remember a conversation with one particular friend whose family were really solid members of their local church. We were really young, maybe six or seven, and I was having a conversation with her about my parents and how they didn’t believe. And she said, ‘Yeah, some people don’t believe in God, and that means they’re going to hell …’”
“I remember accepting that. I found it sad and upsetting, but I accepted it as truth. And then, I thought, ‘well maybe they’ll change their minds. Maybe they’ll believe.’”
“I did count the cost and understand that I was broken and needed forgiveness …” – Madi
Madi’s faith grew when a Scripture teacher (who she is still in touch with) gave her a Bible of her very own.
“I was a big reader as a kid, so I started reading it cover to cover (although I didn’t actually make it all the way!). So I was reading the Bible and praying pretty regularly as a kid, but kind of keeping that on the down low with my family.”
It was during these early years that Madi committed her life to God.
“I did count the cost and understand that I was broken and needed forgiveness, and that meant that things about my life were going to have to change – and I wasn’t the boss,” she recalls.
In Year 5, Madi moved to Abbotsleigh Anglican School in northern Sydney, where her beliefs were fuelled by chaplains, weekly Christian Studies classes and a lunchtime Christian group.
Later, in high school, a friend invited Madi to a Friday night youth group, and she began going regularly (even if, as she admits, it was mainly for the social side at first).
Soon afterwards, she began attending a Sunday evening service at the same church.
“There were a lot of awkward conversations [with my parents], because I was obviously having to ask for lifts. I was pretty embarrassed to ask my parents. Mum was fine with it and would happily drive me, but I remember Dad being like, ‘Oh, it’s Friday night or Sunday night. I don’t want to go out.’”
‘Only one life, twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.’
When Madi was confirmed at 15 (after first being baptised), she feared her family thought she was “getting swept up in a cult or something. But I guess they also thought, well at least she’s staying out of trouble,” she reflects.
Madi’s sister (who is two years younger) came along to youth group for several years before she stopped attending, while her brother (seven years younger) joked that Madi was “the weird Jesus freak in the family”.
Completing high school with excellent grades, Madi followed the academic path and enrolled in a science degree, in which she also excelled. But then, immediately after completing her degree, rather than going on to study medicine or enrolling in a PhD, Madi made a countercultural decision: she decided to go into church ministry.
“During my honours’ year, I was working in a medical research lab for the whole year. And I think I just expected that to be a bit more profound than it was.”
“In a sense that was the final straw … I had read Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper and was impacted by that quote near the start: ‘Only one life, twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.’ So ideas began bubbling away in my head.”
While Madi is quick to add that she believes secular work to be “very valuable”, she began to feel a different calling.
Madi has been teaching Scripture to Year 1 students at the very same primary school she attended.
“I always wanted to do science and medical research because I wanted to help people and to make a difference. But it dawned on me as I went through uni that while there was heaps of value if I did go down that career path, at the end of the day, if I’m improving someone’s quality of life for however many years, what’s the point if they’re not going to heaven?”
“At the same time, I was getting more involved with youth leading and I was enjoying that heaps more than what I was studying.”
So when the opportunity arose for Madi to take on a two-year apprenticeship at her church, she took the plunge. As part of this role, Madi has been teaching Scripture to Year 1 students at the very same primary school she attended.
“It’s nice that things have come full circle,” she says, smiling. “I’ve just loved [this role].”
When her ministry apprenticeship finishes in January, Madi plans to continue in vocational ministry, and perhaps enrol in Bible college. She’s even starting to think about missionary work in a closed country down the track (hence why her name has been changed for this article).
Although Madi suspects her parents may feel a bit disappointed that she’s throwing away a well-paid stable career, she says: “To their credit, they’ve never said that to me. I think they can see that this really makes me happy and they’re okay with that, and they’ve come to terms with the fact that this is more important to me than money.”
*Name has been changed