Residency in Mission
Eliza Edge is the first Resident In Mission and the Director of Programming at Trinity United Methodist Church in Conway, South Carolina.
Contact Eliza at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about RIM at ResidencyInMission.org.
Let us hear from you: email@example.com
Find us on Social Media:
Connect with Rob on Social Media @DrRobHaynes
Rob Haynes 0:10
Welcome to World Methodist Evangelism’s Real Faith Real World podcast where we connect the faith within us with the world around us. At World Methodist Evangelism, we desire for Christ followers within the global Wesleyan family to become agents of transformation by sharing the gospel to the power of the Holy Spirit. We accomplish this through training, gathering and resourcing, to fulfill our mission to equip and encourage Christ followers around the world to share their faith in the context of today’s realities. My name is Rob Haynes of World Methodist Evangelism. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. This podcast is made possible through the generosity of Christ Church Global in Memphis, Tennessee and we are grateful for their support. Would you take a moment to rate and subscribe; your rating and your subscription help us get the word out to others about this opportunity. Also, I want to encourage you to connect with us on social media. You’ll find all of those links in today’s show notes. In 2019 World Methodist Evangelism launched a pilot program to foster missional service and young adults called the Residency in Mission abbreviated RIM. The goal of RIM is to foster evangelistic and missional engagement and learning among young adults and the Wesleyan family. Division for RIM came out of my own work with missional communities in the USA and around the world. In many parts of the globe, there is a great need for laborers in the field. I also found that while many people have a heart for service, there is a need for Biblical missional teaching that leads to better and better practice in mission. RIM was developed to meet the needs of the international church while providing good, sound, practical leadership development for emerging leaders. Working with our ministry partners in New Zealand we launched RIM to fulfill these goals. Our guest on today’s episode is Eliza Edge, our first Resident in Mission. Eliza served in a suburb of Auckland in a church in the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand, planted and led by leadership from South Africa. This provided a particularly unique ministry field and some unique lessons in mission for Eliza and anyone who seeks to serve in ministry. We welcome to the Real Faith Real World podcast Eliza Edge.
Eliza Edge 2:54
Hi, Rob. How are you?
Rob Haynes 2:56
Wonderful. Thanks so much for being on this episode today. Eliza, help our listeners get to know you a little bit. Tell us something about you.
Eliza Edge 3:05
My name is Eliza edge. I can wiggle my ears. You know, they always ask in icebreaker questions something weird about you. That’s my weird fun fact. You’ll just have to trust me that I can do it I guess because you can’t see it. I’m from Conway, South Carolina. I have a degree in music from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and I have served a year as a missionary. Those are the big three things for my life, so now you know all there is to know.
Rob Haynes 3:42
Tell us a little bit about the instrument that you play because it’s not something that most folks play.
Eliza Edge 3:47
It’s true, I have a degree in the French horn and French horn performance, which I didn’t even realize was a possibility of a degree until I went off to a summer camp one summer and one of the teachers there was telling me, “Well, I did my degree in trumpet performance.” I was like, “What does that mean? You mean, you can be more than a Band Director if you like music?” And there I went, off to be a French horn player.
Rob Haynes 4:17
Excellent. You have many talents, one of which was that you served as a missionary in our Residency in Mission Program in 2019 to 2020. Tell us how you heard about the Residency in Mission.
Eliza Edge 4:35
That’s a pretty interesting story actually. I was finishing up my senior year in Cincinnati and I was looking at doing a double Master’s in music performance and in a theology based thing, starting up a seminary degree and trying to do it all at once. There aren’t really schools that offer both of those programs all within one so I was looking actually at cities that would provide me with two different universities or colleges that would allow me to do both at the same time and I would just go back and forth between the two. Easy peasy, done. I was talking with one of my mentors about this idea that I had, this grandiose idea, and he said, “You are crazy. Don’t do that.” Luckily enough for me, I listened enough to the point where a week later, he received an email blast from World Methodist Evangelism about the RIM program. He said, “I don’t know if this is something you’d be interested in, but here’s an application.” And so I applied.
Rob Haynes 5:51
What is it that attracted you, other than the location, to the residency admission?
Eliza Edge 5:59
Well, to be honest, I didn’t know that it was going to be New Zealand for a while. On the page it had multiple options and from what I gathered it was like any English-speaking country was within the realm of possibilities. So the location wasn’t even a part of the attraction so to speak. I had always really wanted to be a missionary. When I was in high school I had done a lot of mission based work in South Carolina through a program called Salkehatchie and it sort of lit this fire in my soul to want to do mission work. In the Methodist church we don’t see missionaries very often, the only ones I had met had been at Baptist churches on random visits or homecomings or whatever. All of those guys had been serving in the same country for 15 plus years, their entire families were born there, most of them were bilingual and they were here just trying to get some more funds to go back and do more work. I thought 15 years and somewhere that is not here, I don’t know if I can do that. I hadn’t given it much thought and then RIM came along and it was a year.
Rob Haynes 7:24
RIM being designed for people about your age and station in life to further explore ministry, but most importantly, to serve the global connection. How did you prepare to spend a year overseas in a way that you were going out of something that you weren’t entirely familiar with number one, and number two you had all of your academic studies and your recitals to do and all of that. Talk about the prep work a little bit in going into it.
Eliza Edge 7:59
That’s a good question. I basically treated it like another class that I just added on at the last minute. I keep a daily planner where I write down things that I need to get done that day or else there will be some things that get lost in the abyss. Each day I would add in all my conservatory things. I was also prepping to go and be a part of a summer symphony in Chautauqua, New York, so I would write down the things I needed to do for that and then I would write down the things I needed to do for RIM. I would usually complete them in that order because I was doing the most imminent next and then stuff eight months ahead of time.
Rob Haynes 8:44
Well, so that’s some of the mechanics of that, but what are some of the things that you wanted to learn about or help you understand a little bit better to be prepared for a cross cultural and a mission service experience?
Eliza Edge 8:59
Once I realized it was New Zealand, I started contacting a couple of my friends. I had done a semester of studies in Brisbane, Australia my junior year, and one of the closest friends I had made as a part of the horn studio at that conservatory was actually from Auckland. I started talking to her a fair amount and asking more about her city and her country and the culture and what to expect and all these sort of things. Funnily enough, I had another friend from that same cohort then move to Auckland to start up a job with her husband. I started contacting her about what it was like moving to Auckland and all these things and basically just used my friends for all their knowledge. In addition to that I was in the process of contacting pastors and organizations and churches asking if I could come in front of congregations or councils or whoever and present myself, present the mission and ask for the church to serve through me in any way they possibly could: through prayer, through funds, through Christmas cards, anything they could offer.
Rob Haynes 10:23
You did a really great job of sharing your story and telling people what was going on and and they responded. I remember you calling me early on, “Can you believe this? This lady just wrote a check and she’s behind me.” You raise all of the funds, the Residence in Mission is a self-funded program and we helped you and coached you along the way, but it took you on the front lines, to be out there spreading the word and you did a great job with it.
Eliza Edge 10:56
If there’s any sign that I should have gone because God wanted me to go, it’s probably the fact that I’m terrible at asking people for money. I was raised very young that you don’t really ask people for things, you just let them offer it if they really want to out of their heart of hearts. It’s kind of embedded in southern culture and I love it, but at the same time, it’s not helpful when you’re trying to raise funds to go be a missionary. It was a very fast learning curve of being comfortable saying, “This is what I’m doing. It does need funds in order to happen. Would you like to contribute?” That was all God’s work, none of mine.
Rob Haynes 11:42
Well telling the story and then letting God do what God does is a great lesson in that. We also worked a little bit on some cross cultural preparation and study of mission and what that meant and why we serve in mission, as well. So you’re prepared, you’re all set, you head off to New Zealand. Tell us about some of the folks that you served with there. You lived in a home there and were hosted by a family. Tell us a little bit about that and the people that you served there in the Auckland area.
Eliza Edge 12:20
Well usually when you move to a country, you expect to be around the people of that country, but that was not my experience at all, which was lovely. Most of the people I encountered in the day-to-day were immigrants and people who had chosen to come to New Zealand just like me. Most of them had intentions of being there for a long time, even the rest of their lives, but they’d still up and left their homes and had moved here. That was true of the family that I lived with. That was true of the pastor I was working with and almost everyone in the church that I was serving and most of the people that were in the school that I was volunteering at as well. They all sort of had this underlying similarity about them. They all had steel inside because it takes a lot of strength and endurance to change countries and to leave your home. They all had this very steely courage about them but at the same time, most of them had a feeling of being uprooted about them as well, like part of them was always a little bit homesick. It was a wonderful thing to get to sort of empathize with them on that level and then use that to then help them grow closer to God if I could.
Rob Haynes 13:58
Interesting. You worked in a church plant of sorts, right? Tell us about that a little bit.
Eliza Edge 14:06
Yes, so the family I was staying with, the dad of that family, had had a vision at one of the larger Wesleyan churches in Auckland. He had had a vision of starting up a church in this new upcoming suburb which was growing so fast. Every person I talked to about Millwater, which was the name of the suburb, were just amazed that in the course of 10 years it turned from cow paddocks into a thriving suburb and it just almost overnight transitioned. He wanted to start a church there because it was a new area and there are lots of new people coming in and he saw it as a need. When he presented this vision to the leader of the Wesleyan Church in Auckland and for New Zealand, the pastor said, “Yeah, that sounds great, let’s do it.” Shortly afterwards they hired John, the pastor from South Africa. John moved over and the church was formed, it started off. I came in about five years into that process and so the church was no longer four or five people meeting in someone’s home; it was closer to 60 or 70 people meeting in a school nearby. They would rent out the gymnasium of one of the schools for an hour or two hours every Sunday and that was where they met.
Rob Haynes 15:39
Right. A church of 60 or 70, is that a large church or a small church in New Zealand?
Eliza Edge 15:48
That’s a good question too. It’s kind of small but it’s closer to average. I would say your average church is about 100 strong and then your big churches are closer to 500 or even 700. You don’t get those mega churches that are like 20,000 people strong, they just don’t exist there.
Rob Haynes 16:12
The church is meeting in a borrowed or rented space and so you really didn’t have an office or there wasn’t a place, a church building to go to day-in and day-out during the week. What did ministry look like in that kind of setting?
Eliza Edge 16:27
As John told me when I first showed up, wherever we went, that was our office. That meant that sometimes the squash courts or whatever restaurant we chose that day or whoever’s home or wherever we happened to have our feet or bums firmly planted was our office for that moment. It kind of makes you feel like a program and reminds me of the early Christians of the New Testament and makes me feel more connected to them. It can also make it harder to do ministries because unfortunately ministries, they need money, and they need backing in order to really happen. If you aren’t meeting in a building or in an office, usually that’s because the money is being used for other things to make the church a better place and to help it grow and to nourish the community around it, but it means there’s not a whole lot of excess to work with.
Rob Haynes 17:34
You mentioned a moment ago about volunteering in a school. How did that come to be and what did you do?
Eliza Edge 17:41
Well, one of the associate pastors that was working for the church was working in the international department at the school and when I first got there he suggested that I volunteer some time there. I thought it was a great idea because my biggest job with the church was to do youth pastor work. It was a great opportunity to be around the young people that I was working with even more and to sort of be in their everyday lives and provide a presence, I guess, in the day-to-day rather than once a week they show up for Youth and I’m like, “Oh hey, time to talk about Jesus.” The school thing came about mainly from that one associate pastor; he brought me in, and I went and talked to the principal of the school and the principal said, “Oh yeah, we’d love to have you. We have some people that sort of do work like you’re talking about and you can just be on that team if you want.” I said, “Sure, sounds great.” And then I ended up basically teaching ESOL for a year, which is English as a Second Language for those who don’t know, but that’s what my involvement sort of turned into the longer I was there.
Rob Haynes 18:57
It sounds like you were a presence with the church out into places like schools and in the public square and then got them connected into the life of the church. I remember, I was in New Zealand a few months, it was probably about four months or so after you had gotten there and at a dinner they announced that you had seven people signed up for the summer camp coming up in a couple of months because of what was going on. This loud cheer went up because it is something we’ve grown from very little but because of your presence out in those other areas then other people got connected with the church.
Eliza Edge 19:37
Well, a lot of what was happening in Millwater was that there were youth who were ready to be served, but there was no one that could really take the time to serve them. When I showed up with all the time and energy and resources to just serve them the program really flourished. For a little while I would have to coerce them into things and be like, “Oh yeah, let’s do this thing in addition to what we’re already doing.” But it got to the point where I would suggest something and all the youth and most of the youth leaders would say, “Yeah please, that sounds great. We would love to do it.” Which was a great place to sit. It’s a very humbling but also encouraging thing to suggest an idea and have everybody say, “Yeah, I’d love to.” That’s one of the best feelings in the world.
Rob Haynes 20:36
Sure. New Zealand is thought of like paradise, it’s middle earth, it’s the ends of the earth, everything is wonderful. So everything was easy every day, right?
Eliza Edge 20:49
No, yeah, absolutely. New Zealand is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, maybe THE most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It is a lot more magical as a vacation than it is as a living place I would say. Not anything against New Zealand or the people of New Zealand but it’s a very transitory country that’s always changing because it’s quite young. There’s always new people coming in and always people leaving and it’s never quite stable. Since it is quite new and just becoming more metropolitan, there’s not great bus systems either or public transport in general so it’s hard to get around New Zealand without your own car. It’s new, it’s young and there’s nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing wrong with it but it also means that it can be quite a difficult place to live in, especially if you’re coming in as someone with no intentions of staying very long term because you don’t want to buy a car or start buying a house or anything like this if you’re only going to be there for a year.
Rob Haynes 22:22
So transportation was one thing and getting around sometimes and getting to things whether that be at the church or around other places is something. What are some of the things that you learned about ministry itself and serving with the people?
Eliza Edge 22:35
The pastor I worked with was really funny, he taught me a lot though. One of the biggest things I learned from him because he was someone who had served this pretty large church in South Africa. He’d worked his way up to the large church and then then transitioned back down to a church plant and so he knew a lot about how to serve a church in a lot of different capacities. One of the things that he really tried to imprint on me was that if a church is not benefiting the community around it, if it’s not this garden that is then creating growth and beautiful plants and fruit all around it, then it’s not doing its purpose and all it’s doing is feeding itself. If it’s only being itself then it’s basically a business instead of a church. That really opened my eyes up for me because I hadn’t really thought about it before. You go to church on Sundays and you’re like, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna sing some songs, we’re gonna listen to the pastor preach and it’s gonna be great.” And you get to Small Group once a week, and you’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s so good to see people my own age.” You don’t really ever think about what you’re meant to be doing as a part of the church to help it serve the community around it so much as what the church is doing to provide services for you. Having that transition helped me form some ideas of how to be more of a beneficial homeland missionary so to speak.
Rob Haynes 24:27
Let’s talk about that a little bit, you grew up in a small town in South Carolina. You were baptized and confirmed in the same church that your family had been a part of for quite a while. We commissioned you for mission service in that church and a beautiful service and it was very obvious how much the people have seen you grow and prepare in preparation for mission service. Now you’re back in that area, not too far from there and serving again. How are things different now that you’re in a new capacity and after this experience?
Eliza Edge 25:09
Well, things are different on lots of accounts. I’ve recently started a job at another United Methodist Church in the same town as their Director of Programming, which is their way of saying they need someone to make sure children’s and youth ministries are happening and they wanted to hire someone that would be in it long term. So basically just planning stuff for children in the middle of a Pandemic and trying to get used to me and wear their masks, even though they’re like, “Why do we have to wear masks?” And I’m like, “Because you have to wear them at school to. Come on.” But you know, it is what it is. I love that job and it’s wonderful but it’s at a church that’s not the one that I grew up in. I’m learning all about the United Methodist churches in Conway and learning more about their histories and how some of them have been served by those same pastors that have been rotated around and how they used to have pretty strong relationships with each other and they would do events with one another but have since grown away from that. They have become more insular and isolated and figuring out how that happened and how maybe we could turn back the clock and connect each other once again. I’m seeing it sort of from the bird’s eye view I guess, rather than from on the ground level and it’s wonderful but at the same time it makes me think, “What was I doing all those years?” where I was just sitting there plotting through my time and singing Victory in Jesus and then going to youth and going on trips off to Alaska and all this stuff and never really seeing what was around me, but instead just sort of being there and participating, instead of being active and asking questions.
Rob Haynes 27:20
Do you think that garden image that your pastor in Millwater taught you is coming back in your work there in South Carolina now?
Eliza Edge 27:31
Oh, I’m doing everything I can to make sure it does. I think it has great potential to. I think a lot of the churches that I see around here, including the one that I work in, including the one that I grew up in, have so much potential to do so much good. The people in those churches are lovely, they’re people who want the community around them to be a better place and who want to serve their church and who want to just be a part of things. They don’t really know how, so to speak. If they’re given more opportunities and if they’re encouraged to do so, then they might step up and step into this place of serving the community around them and serving the church more, but they just have forgotten how I guess.
Rob Haynes 28:42
Yeah. It is an important lesson in ministry that sometimes we need to remind them of what they may have already known or what they have recently forgotten. Eliza, you are someone who, in the midst of an increasingly globalized society, have had a couple of opportunities now in the South Pacific. As you mentioned, being a high school exchange student in Brisbane and then serving in Auckland for a year or so. What have you learned about the global church?
Eliza Edge 29:21
I guess it’s that a society affects its church and vice versa. A lot of the churches that I saw both in Australia and New Zealand were considerably less patriotic than the ones around here, they don’t even worry about being a proponent of their own country because they don’t really worry about that being their place, I guess. Which is a very different experience for me because I’m pretty sure every church I’ve ever been in has an American flag just sitting in the corner and there’s a section of the hymns book that’s just full of hymns about the nation and about God and all these things. That’s not really what the church does as much in Australia and in New Zealand. There’s still that underlying theme of people just wanting to serve Jesus. It’s just people who want to know Jesus and who are trying to do it in whatever way they can and with whatever they’re given and to the best of their ability. There are some interpretations of the Bible that will be slightly different as you find even within your own country, but it’s still just people trying to figure out how to be a better follower of Jesus. That’s the core of it.
Rob Haynes 31:01
We’re recording this in the last few months of 2020 and so we’re still feeling the effects of the global Pandemic. As a result, the Residency in Mission program new applications have been put on pause until we learn a little bit more about just what we’ll be able to do in terms of travel and that sort of thing. But let’s say that someone is listening to this a little further down the road and is interested in residency and mission or they’re able to serve as a missionary in some other way in connecting with a global church, what would you tell that person? Or maybe let’s put it this way, what would you tell yourself now that you’ve learned this, what would you have told yourself a year ago about this opportunity?
Eliza Edge 31:50
It’s probably not going to be what you think it will be and in some ways it’ll be better than you ever thought it could be. In some ways it will be quite challenging. I am someone who still has the itch to travel, I enjoy traveling and learning more about different cultures and just going, in general, I think it’s fun. For me going to another country is exciting and it’s thrilling. It’s very different when you’re going to another country to live and be a part of that community, rather than when you’re going to another country to sit there for a little bit and maybe do some studies, but you’re going to be out in four months so don’t worry about it too much. You don’t have to go somewhere in order to be a missionary. I know I was told that before I went. I was like, “Yeah, yeah, okay. You could be a missionary in your own home, I get it. Sure, whatever.” But it’s really true, more true than I gave it credit for. There is plenty you can do in the community around you to make for Christian growth and to make Christians and disciples of other people. You just have to be willing to go and look for it. And it is easier when you’re thrown into another country where that is your entire purpose, but it’s completely possible no matter where you are, you don’t have to hop on a plane and fly for 24 hours to find that.
Rob Haynes 33:36
Eliza, that’s a great lesson. If people wanted to get in touch with you, maybe to talk more about this program or to learn more about what you’ve learned or what you’re doing there in Conway, how would they reach you?
Eliza Edge 33:51
I’m very easy to reach by email, my email address currently is EEdge@TrinityConway.com.
Rob Haynes 34:09
We’ll put links to that in the show notes and also about the Residency in Mission program. Eliza, we appreciate what you have done in the residency program and the way that you have served so faithfully World Methodist Evangelism, through our connection with our partners in the South Pacific, specifically in New Zealand and the various cultures that you encountered there and thanks for sharing your experience today.
Eliza Edge 34:34
Absolutely, it’s been a pleasure.
Rob Haynes 34:36
My thanks again to Eliza, due to the lingering impacts of COVID-19 here in late 2020, applications for RIM placement is now on hold. However, if you would like to learn more about RIM and to be the first to learn when applications will open again, visit the RIM website residencyinmission.org. We do expect that the RIM program will see further growth in the future with more placements available around the globe so do make sure that you get on our mailing list. We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions about this episode or any episode of the podcast. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would encourage you if you’re interested in these things that Eliza is talking about, you can go back and check previous episodes including cross cultural faith-sharing and you can also find our episode on the Introduction to Embrace which is a posture of faith-sharing that Eliza certainly lived out there. Check out our show notes for all the ways that you can reach WME on social media. You can follow me on social media at Dr. Rob Haynes. Please remember to be sure to rate and subscribe. Thanks again to Christ Church Global for sponsoring this episode of the Real Faith Real World podcast. I am Rob Haynes and thank you for listening.
« Back to Podcasts