Young Alum Award: Elijah Friedeman ’15 – Asbury University
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Young Alum Award: Elijah Friedeman ’15

Planting Ministry Seeds in Mississippi and Beyond

June 2, 2023

This year’s Young Alumni Award winner Elijah Friedeman ’15 recalls his father’s words to him as a junior in high school: “If the Lord calls you to plant a church, then he has equipped you for it.”

Soon after reading a book about church planting, Elijah journeyed from Mississippi to Kentucky to study Communication and Ancient Languages at the university where his mother studied.

“I came to Asbury ready to plant a church,” he said. “As a freshman, I remember the Lord meeting me in my chapel seat during a message by Steve DeNeff. With Matthew 16 in mind, Steve posed the following question that shaped my life: ‘What if God’s plans for you are smaller than your plans for yourself?’”

As Elijah continued to discern God’s call on his life, he received the Deese Initiative Grant and served for six weeks in Papua New Guinea with World Gospel Mission.

“Our group helped to record an audio Bible for a tribe of 30,000 people, so they could hear the heart of God in their language,” he said. “A year later, the project finished with scriptures loaded onto solar-powered audio players, so people without electricity could listen to God’s Word.”

Upon graduating from Asbury University, Elijah journeyed across the street to receive his Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary.

“As I finished seminary, I had two opportunities in front of me,” he said. “One involved missionary work in the Philippines, and other involved founding a church in Mississippi.”

Having to choose between the two options, Elijah prayed diligently, and the Lord revealed a word of wisdom to him written by John Wesley.

“To know the clear will of God, Wesley offers a thought-provoking question: ‘Which option will make me most holy in my walk with God, and which option will do the most good?’” Elijah said. “I recognized that the church in Mississippi would not get planted if I did not go there.”

Recognizing the positive team already “doing good work” in the Philippines, Elijah heeded the call in 2018 to establish Foundry Church in Flowood, Miss.

Foundry Church remains committed to leading people to “live and love like Jesus” through four steps of knowing God, finding freedom, discovering purpose, and making a difference. Learn more:

In addition to serving as founding pastor at Foundry Church, Elijah serves at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Ridgeland, Miss., beginning as director of admissions and most recently as vice president of enrollment.

“What I enjoy most about my job is working with students to explore their callings and seeing them graduate and step into new ministry roles,” he said.

Asbury University President Dr. Kevin Brown shares his thoughts: “Elijah has been a faithful example of one who seeks after the heart of God, giving all his talents and resources in service to Him through his ministry and vocation. His engaging and steadfast ministry continues to impact our Asbury family, directly and indirectly.”

When asked about his memories of Asbury, Elijah fondly recalls his literature and culture class with English professor Dr. Daniel Strait.

“Our class read ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen, and we talked about the concept of constancy, of being someone who is consistent and faithful regardless of external circumstances,” Elijah said. “That conversation reverberated in my heart and has stayed with me through seasons of church planting, working at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and serving on boards to advance Christ around the world.”

Since 2000, the Asbury University Alumni Association has honored outstanding young alumni under 40 who have been out of Asbury University for a minimum of five years. Each Distinguished Young Alumni Award recipient has reached a high standard of excellence in their professional achievements and field of calling and has served for the benefit of others and for the glory of our Heavenly Father.