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Student Spotlight

Kerri Smilie

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

 

I’m originally from Harrisonburg, VA but currently live near Charlotte, NC with my husband Paul and our three little boys- Nathan (7), Lawson (4) and Joel (6mos). Currently I am a full time student and mom, with a little bit of online teaching on the side. For most of my career I taught Bible History in our public schools.  When not studying, momming, and teaching- I enjoy singing at church, reading for fun, and keeping Hobby Lobby in business with my arts and crafts addiction.

 

What degree are you working on and what brought you to theological education?

I am in the end stages of my M.Div. (hooray!). I committed my life to full time ministry in high school, and received my B.S. degree in Biblical and Theological studies from Mid-Atlantic Christian University. After my son Lawson was born in 2015 with many health challenges, I felt God calling me to go further in my studies and use our family journey to be able to minister to others.

 

What area of ministry do you work in/plan to work in?

 

Wherever God calls, honestly! As a woman, I am not naive to the challenges I face when it comes to entering into full-time ministry. Therefore, I will keep my hands and heart open to the Lord’s direction. However, I am incredibly passionate about theological education and fighting for greater biblical literacy in our churches. In a dream scenario, I would find myself helping adults fall in love with the Word, and lighting a fire in their hearts to pass that knowledge on to their children through family discipleship.

 

How has your education at the GST formed you and the way you think and do ministry?

 

My education in the GST has been a total game changer for me! I have never felt my calling more validated and supported than I have at ACU. Before ACU, I had an extremely narrow view of what ministry could look like for me. But now, I feel like I have been given an excellent tool set to be able to think critically, stretch my faith, and help others to do the same.

 

What’s your favorite part about being in the GST? What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

 

As an online GST student, my favorite part has been the on-campus intensives. I have met some incredible like-minded people who I know will become lifelong friends. Even though I live on the East Coast, a part of my heart lives in Texas.

It is so hard to narrow it down to just one thing! My ACU education has truly been life-changing. I suppose if I can boil it down to one specific nugget of wisdom- it would be that it is okay to ask hard questions, study hard things, and think bigger about our God and our faith than I ever had before.

Do you have any advice for those considering graduate level theological education?

 

If God is in your decision, and at the center of your focus- then no earthly challenges will derail you. But know that sometimes God doesn’t work on our same time tables, and grad school is a marathon, not a sprint. So find the pace that works for you and your family, make sure to create Sabbath, and routinely work on your personal spiritual formation so that Jesus isn’t just another book to read or paper to write, but that the love of him is your whole purpose for why you are pursuing advanced theological studies.