Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Tribute to my friend Dr. Mark Smith

On Monday I attended the funeral of my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Mark Smith. He and his wife Robin planted a church in Warrenton, Virginia exactly five years ago. At the time when Mark was dreaming and thinking about church planting, he was working in a district position working with Assembly of God churches as the senior administrator to Dr. Robert Rhoden. I happened to also be working in the same office as the district church planting director.
Because of my position and relationship with Mark, he came to me early to discuss the possibilities of planting a new church. What I remember is what Mark said over and over: “I’ve got to get in the game. I’ve got to get in the game.” He was like a first string quarterback pacing on the sidelines just waiting for an opportunity to play. He didn’t just feel like he wanted to do it – he was compelled.
Mark always followed the rules, and one of the first steps to church planting was to go through an assessment to determine if you have all of the gifts and abilities necessary to be a church planter. Mark assessed average, which is not real encouraging. Although Mark was extremely gifted, intelligent and diligent, there were some obvious growth areas. Understanding this did not deter him at all. Mark was compelled and determined to overcome them – and he did.
Fortunately, Mark knew how to develop a team, organize them and put them to work. He gathered around him people that made up for his weaknesses. He also had another church that partnered with him, Manassas Assembly of God, which sent core leadership and a group of almost one hundred people. It was obvious that God’s favor was upon him and the new church called The Bridge. The church grew much faster than expected. It was above and beyond what anyone imagined, except Mark - his faith was in God.
Mark loved God. He loved his family. And he loved The Bridge. As mentioned at his funeral, wherever you started a conversation with Mark, it always came back to The Bridge.
Mark was only fifty-two when he suffered a massive stroke that took his life. This young church has lost its pastor, leader and friend. He was well loved and his influence on the community and the Kingdom of God will be remembered for generations.
Mark died doing what he absolutely loved: growing the Kingdom of God. He served the Lord with all his heart, mind and strength. Now he is enjoying his eternal reward.
We will miss you Mark.

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