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03-24-2014


From Football to Foreign Missions: McCalmon Makes Impact in Nepal

 


Williamsburg, Ky. University of the Cumberlands (UC) takes pride in their students as they leave the University to go into the world and make an impact. Whether big or small, each and every student will in one way make a difference. One particular student-athlete took a passion that he had for a long time and turned it into a life-changing experience.

Madison McCalmon was a member of the UC Patriot football program from 2006-2010, redshirting one season. During his tenure the Patriots became a household name in the NAIA, winning four straight Mid-South Conference (MSC) Divisional Championships and making their way into the NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) each year. UC went 34-11 while McCalmon was a member of the team and was a part of an offensive line that pushed the Patriots down the field. Madison, a 6’2” 245 pound offensive guard, was a key piece of the line that helped UC rank in the top four in the NAIA for rushing yards per game in the NAIA. UC made their way to the NAIA FCS Quarterfinals once in 2008.

 


McCalmon said, “Football brought me to University of the Cumberlands. Winning those four Mid-South Conference Championships was amazing! Having that sense of comradery with my teammates and my friends was incredible. At the time, I was a part of the winningest class in school history. The education I received was great as well. I left UC with two degrees, one in religion and one in business administration. I had a great experience in Williamsburg.”

While at UC, Madison was a face that was seen around campus in many ways. Being involved with numerous campus organizations, McCalmon always looked to help in any way possible. He was a member of Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM), the President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a resident assistant (RA) in his dorm Robinson-Cook Hall, a tutor in the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and competed in intramural athletics all while being a student-athlete at UC.

During his freshman year in Williamsburg, Madison attended FCA a little bit as he was trying to focus as much of his time on his academics as well as his athletic career. It was his sophomore year when he started to really dive head-first into being a key member of so many different organizations. McCalmon stated that FCA was a big part of his time at UC. “It was great. We did a lot of different activities. We did a Gatorade ministry on campus where we picked out a team that was kind of “under-appreciated” and we would go for a few weeks after practice and give them Gatorade. We would go to their games or matches and support them. It was just a lot of fun getting to support others and showing them love.”

McCalmon loved to work with ministry. While at UC, he attended Disciple Now events with BCM as well as two Spring Break mission trips, one to New Orleans, Louisiana and the other to Ecuador. He remembers those trips so well, but it was certain aspects of the trip that he says will stay with him forever. “We always worked with kids. We worked at a community center in New Orleans, and then at a school in Ecuador. Playing with kids and sharing with them the love of Jesus while spending time with my friends was just a blessing. My best friends always went with me on these trips. It was just a lot of fun getting to share Christ and His love with people that normally don’t get it.”

Madison credits UC with helping advance his faith and ministry. He said, “UC is great. There is just an atmosphere of showing Christ to others there. At UC as you have mentors and professors that are always willing to help. Our coaches did a great job as well. The department heads as well as other professors on campus are strong believers. The University is surrounded by good churches that are always involved. You walk around campus and you see the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes and it just gives you a culture of Christian values, sharing your faith, and you just can’t help but to show spiritually there.”

It was after graduating from UC when Madison really took his faith and ministry and decided to take it abroad. McCalmon recently just returned from a two-year mission trip in Nepal through a program called Journeyman through the International Mission Board (IMB). While in Nepal, McCalmon was stationed in the capital city of Kathmandu. He was a Journeyman for the IMB reaching out to unreached and unengaged groups in the Tibetan and Himalayan areas of Nepal. He worked with Nepali people who were ethnically Tibetan talking and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Most of the people he reached out to in Nepal hadn’t even heard of Christianity or the name Jesus Christ. Madison and his group were the first people to ever tell some of these groups of Nepali people about the Bible and God. He participated in some community development projects as well as some sporting projects there. He also worked and taught at some of the schools.

Instead of pushing his modern culture toward the Nepali people, Madison and his group of co-workers were very sensitive to the Nepalese. With the amount of poverty in the area, McCalmon and company learned to live simple. Gifts to kids weren’t necessary, but just giving them love and attention gave them a hope and reason to keep going. Madison was always one people looked at because of his stature, being nearly twice the size of a typical Nepali person. That didn’t stop him though from being the loud and fun person he is, because it helped open doors and outlets for him and his co-workers to speak to the people there.

“Being on the other side and being the foreigner, I was trying to learn the language and doing cultural things wrong. I basically spent two years offending people, but you have to humble yourself and it was a lot of fun,” commented Madison.

Without electricity for 12 hours a day for months at a time and going to places with no running water, Madison truly saw a new side to life. He learned that a lot of things in life are truly a blessing. Learning to adapt and overcome was a daily chore. When he returned home, Madison gave a bunch of his things away because he realized he didn’t need them. “You learn quickly how little you truly need to survive and be happy, which is pretty cool. It’s a pretty good lesson,” he added.

Many of Madison’s friends in Nepal were Buddhists. After converting to Christianity, many of them kept their hard-working Buddhist background and put it to use for God. Many times, they would be out pushing for people to listen to others speak about God and the story of Jesus Christ. Madison said, “It’s truly amazing to see. Buddhists are very works-oriented and are always working to increase their karma and work off their sins. These people live with intensity and a focus like no other. My friends now brought that to work with Christianity and it’s really great.”

When asked about his calling to reach out to the people of Nepal, McCalmon commented, “It’s something that I had been involved with in the past. When I was in high school, I had traveled to Jamaica on a mission trip. I’ve been to Ecuador as well while in college. These international trips are something I was somewhat used to. It’s something that God has been leading me towards for the better part of my life. The Journeyman program was just a great opportunity for me to take advantage of coming right out of college.”

Madison is now back stateside where he has already continued to travel. After touching down in the US, he traveled to Arizona to spend some time with his brother Preston, who is a junior and a collegiate wrestler at Arizona State University. He also came to Williamsburg to visit with numerous friends before heading to Georgia to spend time with his parents and family and decide on what God has in store for the next chapter of his life.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit www.ucumberlands.edu.