All posts by Luke Smith

The Harvest Fields…

Greetings from Cambodia,

Well, here in Cambodia we are in the midst of the cold season. That is if you can consider a low of 72 degrees at night to be cold. Nonetheless, I am really enjoying this weather compared to the weather when I first arrived. But I hear the hottest weather will come in April. While the weather here hasn’t reminded me that Christmas is only a few days away, the “consumerism” spirit of the season seems to be alive and well here in malls and other businesses. Hopefully, someday soon more people here will hear about and embrace a distinctive Christian understanding of Christmas as the incarnation of our Redeemer. Learning the Khmer language is progressing, but learning a new language is much more like a long distance race than a sprint.  I am not for sure that I am all that fast at running this race, but it seems like if one runs long enough that fluency will eventually come. For most of you, I am sure that some days your jobs are enjoyable and other days they seem somewhat monotonous and at times boring. I feel the someway with language learning.

As you will see from a couple of the pictures, I recently had the chance to see firsthand what rice harvest in the countryside is like. The couple that lives next door invited me to come along for the day to her family’s village. Although I have seen some modern machinery being used, most of the field work in Cambodia is still done by hand and with animals. The family in the village is representative of about 80% of Cambodia’s population who are subsistence rice farmers. While I grew up on a farm and spent several years studying agriculture in college, practices here are much different. The field that the family spent most of the day harvesting would have taken about 5 minutes to harvest with a combine. The process of hand harvesting involves several steps. First, the seed head and upper part of the stalk are cut off with a hand sickle and tied together in small bundles. The bundles are left to dry on top of the stubble for several days and then hauled to the threshing floor. Threshing is often done by beating the bundles against pieces of slatted wood. The final step before bagging is cleaning the grain. This can be done by winnowing which involves tossing the seeds in the air and allowing the wind to blow away the lighter chaff and weed seeds. But often machines are used for this last step. I was reminded of the many Bible stories about harvesting as I worked. I thought about Gideon who was threshing wheat in a winepress to hide from the Midianites. But ironically the Lord calls him a mighty man of valor and tells him that he will be with him as he delivers Israel. And such are you and I – ones that are weak and timid, but are used by God because his grace in Christ is sufficient in our weakness.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement over the past few weeks. I am feeling much more settled in than when I last wrote. I pray that you know the love of our God to us, his undeserving children, as you celebrate the incarnation of our Savior during the Christmas Season.

In Christ,

Luke

First few weeks…

Greetings from Cambodia,

Last night was the three week anniversary of my arrival in Cambodia. I arrived on a Wednesday evening. The next morning I left with the MTW team for our annual retreat which was along the coast. It was nice to spend a few days getting to know the team to start my time here. After we arrived back in Phnom Penh, I started unpacking and getting things for my house. I have started to feel more settled in this week. My time is spent meeting with a language tutor four or five days a week, studying the language, and spending time with a few Cambodians that I have met and some of the team. I have been eating most of my meals with a Cambodian Christian couple that live across the street from me. We sit on the floor to eat and we have had rice with every meal but one. Life here has been about as different as I expected. But it is much different to hear and read about these differences than to actually live in the midst of them. I am reminded of a David Powlison quote where he says, “Love of comfort and ease leads to every sort of evil…love of pleasure, love of excitement, the desire to never be bored…love of good health, love of control, love of adoration, love of good looks, love of getting your own way, love of what people give me, love of self-righteousness…these are profound idolatries.” I probably didn’t realize how much I loved my relative life of ease and comfort in the US until I stepped off of an airplane a few weeks ago and it was gone.

Prayer: You can pray for my cultural adjustment. I guess being a white guy in Asia has its limitation to fitting in, but you can pray that I fit in appropriately. Also, pray for my language learning and that I am disciplined in my study. Finally, pray for me as I am in the midst of many adjustments and frustrations at times that I would take comfort in Christ’s gospel.

Thanks,
Luke

The entry to my house
The view from the back of my house

Leaving for Cambodia…

Friends,

I don’t think that it has fully sunk in for me, but I am leaving for Cambodia on Tuesday morning. I remember just a few months ago having lunch with a  friend after church and telling him that I was at a loss for what to do next in the support raising process. Yet, even in all my doubts, God was faithful to answer our prayers and bring in the needed support. It is easy now to look back on this initial support raising process and think that it was much easier than it was. There were many joys along the way from seeing ways God provided and from many encouraging friends, but some days were filled with disappointment and frustration. You have prayed with me during this time, and now you can offer thanksgiving to God with me for answering our prayers and his faithfulness during this time. I’ll write more in a few days to give more details about moving to Cambodia.

Thanks,

Luke

Ordination/Commissioning Service

Friends,

I want to invite those of you in the DFW area to my ordination/commissioning service. It will be on Sunday, September, 20th. It will be part of the regular service at my church, New St.

Peter’s Presbyterian Church. It will start at 9:30 am. We meet in the main theater of the Dallas Children’s Theater.

Here is the address:

5938 Skillman Road

Dallas, Texas 75231

If you don’t regularly attend New St. Peter’s, let me know if you plan on attending.

Thanks,

Luke

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Ordination Update

Dear friends,

I passed all my ordination tests this weekend at presbytery. With this now complete, I’ll start preparations to move and focus more time on support raising. There is about 15% more needed in monthly pledges before I can leave. Depending on how the next couple weeks unfold, I am tentatively planning on leaving for Cambodia the first week of October. Also, this upcoming weekend, September 4th – 6th, I’ll be preaching and speaking at New Life Mission Church of Northern California (PCA) in San Jose.

Sermon: On August 8th, I preached at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Godfrey, IL. Here is a link to the sermon: John 15 sermon

Prayer: You can join me in thanking God for his faithfulness during a hectic summer of travel, training, study, and testing. Also, the weeks ahead will be filled with many transitions and goodbyes.

Thanks,

Luke

P.S. In case you are curious what the ordination process looks like that I just completed, below is the description given in the Book of Church Order.

Trials for ordination shall consist of:

a. A careful examination as to:

1. his acquaintance with experiential religion, especially his

personal character and family management (based on the

qualifications set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:6-9),

2. his knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages,

3. Bible content,

4. theology,

5. the Sacraments,

6. Church history,

7. the history of the Presbyterian Church in America, and

8. the principles and rules of the government and discipline of

the church.

A Presbytery may accept a seminary degree which includes

study in the original languages in lieu of an oral examination in

the original languages.

b. He shall prepare a thesis on some theological topic assigned by

Presbytery.

c. The candidate shall prepare an exegesis on an assigned portion of

Scripture, requiring the use of the original language or languages.

d. He shall further be required to preach a sermon before the

Presbytery or committee thereof, upon three-fourths (3/4) vote.

ordination-service1

Pre-field Training, Study for Ordination, and Travel

Dear friends,

I was in New York City for the month of July at pre-field training. There were 16 missionaries going through the training in preparation to go to Cambodia, Mexico, Japan, East Asia, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, and England. Our time was split between the classroom and field ministry. Our classroom time focused around language acquisition skills, cross-cultural adjustment, evangelism, contextualization, and church planting. For our field ministry, the group I was in partnered with Uptown Community Church, which is a granddaughter church plant of Redeemer NYC. With the help of a few members from the church, our team ran a ten day kids’ club in a local park to help connect families in the community with the church. Another part of pre-field training was to help establish realistic expectations before going to the missions field.

Currently, I am in Illinois spending a few days with my family before going back to Dallas. On Sunday, I spoke during Sunday school to the congregation at my parents’ church. It will likely be the last time that I am in the area and see my family before leaving.

Upcoming schedule:

*August 9th – Preaching and speaking at Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Godfrey, IL.
*August 28th – Being examined for ordination by the Theological Examining Committee of the North Texas Presbytery.
*August 29th – Preach and be examined before the presbytery.
*September 4th- 6th – Preaching and speaking at New Life Mission Church of Northern California (PCA) in San Jose.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

-Luke

At kids’ club in the park
At kids’ club in the park
Times Square
Times Square

Travel and Support Update

At New Life Mission Church Fullerton

Travel: From June 7th to the 12th, I was at Living in Grace in North Carolina. It is a grace-based discipleship course for all Mission to the World (MTW) missionaries preparing for the field to help us in understanding and applying the gospel of grace to our own lives and ministries. Among many other sins and struggles, team conflict is one of the main reason why missionaries leave the mission field. But this is only an external outworking of not living in God’s grace. If I am I one that knows and lives in the Father’s love for me through Christ then I will be one that can repent and forgive. So pray God’s grace would work in my life for that is my only hope for putting away sin.

It was also great to catch up with several friends that I have met along the way at other MTW training events. It was nice to be around others that could relate with the joys and frustrations of the itineration process. It is encouraging to see Christ’s church sending out missionaries throughout the world.

Then from June 12th to the 14th I was at New Life Mission Church Fullerton (Presbyterian Church in America) in California. This is a Korean American church and part of New Life Mission Association which is made up of several Korean American PCA churches that are focused on church planting in Cambodia. They welcomed me with open arms, and I enjoyed meeting with several of their pastors and elders.

Support: My monthly pledged support is now at about 80% of what is needed. For the next couple weeks my time will be spent on studying for ordination and support raising. Then, for the month of July, I will be in New York City for pre-field training.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

-Luke