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

Preparations for Cambodia

This is my first update that I am sending to everyone. Since the time is getting closer for my departure to Cambodia, and I have a busy summer ahead, I’ll plan on sending out updates once or twice a month. For the next two weeks, I’ll be focusing on support raising and studying for ordination. Currently, I have 68% of my monthly ongoing support pledged, and 100% of my one-time support has been raised. Here are the places that I’ll be traveling this summer:

June 7-12 – I will be at Ridge Haven, North Carolina for Living in Grace. It is a “grace-based discipleship course that guides attendees in understanding and applying the gospel of grace to their own lives and ministries.”

June 12-14 – I will be at New Life Mission Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Fullerton, CA. I will be speaking in their services about the mission work, and I will be meeting with their session (elders) and missions committee.

July 1-31 – I will be at pre-field training in New York City. The time will be spent in the field and classroom studying language acquisition techniques, church planting and evangelism, and team building skills.

July 31- August 3 – I am tentatively planning on being in Illinois and seeing my family and possibly speaking at their church.

Reflections on graduating from seminary

On May 9th, I graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. Four years and 120 hours later, the degree is finally complete. It is nice to be done, but in many ways it doesn’t mean much. A seminary is one of the few places that when you complete your degree you really have nothing. Sure, I learned many things that will help me in the gospel ministry. But according to Paul in 2 Corinthians 2-3, no one is sufficient for the work of the gospel. No degree, no award, no refined speaking or writing skills, or other human ability gives us the qualifications necessary for the work of the gospel. Paul’s answer is that the sufficiency for the task of ministry and for that matter all of the Christian life only comes from God’s grace. And so may our boasting be only in the cross of Christ for that is all we have and that is fine for that is all we need.

Newspaper article

The Alton Telegraph interviewed me for a story that ran in last Sunday’s paper. Alton is located north of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the river. Here is a link to the article: Newspaper article

Thanks for your prayers and support. Feel free to send me a note to tell me how you are doing.

-Luke

Please note: my new email address is Luke.Bryant.Smith@gmail.com