Q&A with Elisabeth Elliott

Elisabeth Elliott will join the City Church staff as our Assistant Director of Women's Ministry on September 1st. To help you all get to know her a little better, we asked her a few questions…

What led you to pursue the role of Assistant Director of Women's Ministry at City Church...as opposed to anywhere else in the world? I've been serving as a missionary in Matagalpa, Nicaragua for the last four years. When I returned to the States, I decided to set aside some time dedicated to transitioning well during the Spring of 2017. I ended up in Richmond because of my friends Corinne and Andrew Case, thinking I'd just be here for a few months resting, studying and eventually starting to think about what's next for me. I didn't at all expect to fall in love with Richmond and find such a fun community here in such a short time.

In that discernment process this Spring, I felt most clear that I wanted to stay in Richmond if at all possible, and that I wanted to be able to continue to focus on my seminary degree (I am about half way through a Masters in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary). Almost before I even had the chance to ask God for those things, it seemed that He was giving me the opportunity to do both by coming on staff at City Church.

What are you excited about as you take on this new position? What are you nervous about? I'm grateful and excited to be joining a great staff and to learn from them as in seminary. I loved being in ministry while I was in seminary during my last year in Nicaragua, and I'm excited that God is giving me the opportunity to do that again. I'm both excited and nervous to find out what this position will look like—because it's new, there's some freedom to see what God will do with it, but that also means some uncertainty. 

Who/what have been the biggest influences in your life (in any respect—intellectually, spiritually, personality-wise, etc)? Wow... there are so many! The people that God has put in my life are undoubtedly one of His greatest kindnesses to me. My lifelong mentor and friend, Gil Kracke, has been the most important and consistent influence. Many, many other friends and mentors are very much responsible (for better or for worse!) for who I am today, but I couldn't possibly name them all.  

Other influences include Camp DeSoto, the Christian girls' summer camp that I grew up going to; RUF; the academic environment at Wake Forest; traveling; stories and songs from Narnia to U2 to the Jesus Storybook Bible; and of course, my time in Nicaragua has had an immense influence on me in lots of ways that I probably can't even identify yet.

What part of town do you live in? I'll be in the Fan, just a few blocks from City Church.

Where did you grow up? Birmingham, Alabama

What were you like in high school? I was pretty reserved, except with people who I knew well. I ran cross country and track, loved traveling and art, and had some really dear friends who are still dear friends.  

What did you do AFTER high school? I went to Wake Forest University where I majored in Spanish, fully planning to live the rest of my life as a missionary in Tirrases, Costa Rica. God had other plans, and after graduating in 2010, I ended up going back to Birmingham where I was a youth minister for two and a half years. These were really formative years for me, and I began to sense a call to ministry and teaching the Bible as a career. 

While in Birmingham I also started to feel pulled back to Latin America again. Towards the end of 2012 an opportunity came up to serve as a missionary teacher at a new Christian school in the north-central mountain region of Nicaragua, and it was clear that's where God would have me.  I left for Matagalpa, Nicaragua at the very end of 2012. The first year I taught English as a Foreign Language, and the last 3 years I was the Director of Spiritual Formation, developing and overseeing our Christian education and discipleship program. God brought us a fantastic Nicaraguan pastor to step into that role this year, which is an answer to many prayers, and the reason for my return to the States at the end of 2016. It's hard to sum this experience up in a few words, but it was without a doubt the most difficult and also the sweetest, most adventurous, and richest season of my life thus far.

During my last year in Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to begin pursuing a Masters in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary as I sought to further equip myself for ministry. I am currently about half-way through that degree and will continue to work on that part-time while I am at City Church.

What does a typical weekday look like for you? There's no "typical" in my life quite yet, and I don't know what typical will look like once I'm back in Richmond. But most likely, I'll spend most mornings studying (usually in the library at Union Seminary) and most afternoons and evenings either getting together with you guys or planning for Bible Studies and events.  

What does a typical weekend look like for you? In my free time, there's nothing I love more than to be outside with good friends—playing Ultimate, reading in a park, hiking, going to the Farmers' Market, being on the river, exploring RVA.... 

What are some of your favorite books? Although most of my reading is academic these days, I still try to make time for fiction, and I love to recommend and lend books to people. I love to re-read Harry Potter and other childhood classics.This summer I've been on a fantasy kick: I read C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy for the first time, a series called The Legender by Jason Link (a fellow teacher in Nicaragua!), and I'm reading Lord of the Rings for the first time (I know, I know. I might not have even been a Christian.) A few books that have been influential on my walk with Christ and ministry are most things by Tim Keller and C. S. Lewis, Gracias by Henri Nouwen and When Helping Hurts.  

What are some of your favorite foods? Favorite restaurants in town? I like all kinds of food, especially any kind of ethnic food. I haven't been to many restaurants in RVA yet, so I'm taking recommendations.

What type of music to do you listen to? U2 has been my all-time favorite since middle school, but otherwise I like folk, bluegrass, singer-songwriter... and pretty much anything live.

Any big plans for the summer?  I'm living the nomad life... I took a class in DC at the end of May, I just spent a month at Camp DeSoto in North Alabama, I am currently spending about three in Orlando taking some more classes and closing up shop with my mission organization, and I have spent some time with my family in Birmingham in between it all. I'm planning to move back up to Richmond (permanently this time!) the first weekend in August.

How can the congregation be praying for you as you enter into your work here at City Church? I am still "in transition" back to the United States. For the most part, God has been very gracious and it's all gone pretty smoothly. But moving back to Richmond permanently will be a new season in that transition, so I will still need your prayers (and your grace!).