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Archive for January, 2009


Frank Worthen Turns 80

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009


 

Frank Worthen will be 80 years old this coming February.

 

I have known Frank for over 22 years and live every day in the fruit of his labor in my personal life.  I have experienced the amazing testimony of Frank’s walk with the Lord from  personally and have seen the integrity and powerful hand of God in everything he has done.

 

Frank is an amazing unsung hero of the Christian Faith.  Due to the length of his ministry vocation and the 100’s of thousands of lives that have been touched by Frank’s quiet yet strong convictions that God can set people free from a life of homosexuality.  I would place him right alongside Corrie Ten Boom, Mother Theresa, and many other Christian heros.

 

There will be a day when Frank Worthen’s life will be memorialized as one of the greatest men of our time for these very reasons!

 

In 1973 Frank didn’t know how the Lord would use him but the foundation was laid through his life for a specialized ministry to help men and women walk away from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.  This developed into a distinct movement of God called the “ex-gay” movement.

 

Frank’s vision was to develop a world-wide ministry based upon solid biblical truth.  He believes in the strength of a person’s testimony to help people gain the hope they need to follow Christ.

 

This vision continues today through Frank’s involvement in founding Love In Action International, Exodus International, Bagong Pagasa and New Hope Ministry.

 

One of the most memorable statements I heard from Frank regarding Roman’s Chapter 1 is:  “God’s wrath is letting us have our own way!”  Another saying I remember from Frank is:  “The height of victory equals the depth of submission.”   Frank is deeply convicted about our calling from the Lord to be obedient to Him!

 

Virtually every established ministry around the world offering help to those seeking freedom from homosexuality today has been influenced by Frank’s 35 years of devotion to helping people.

 

One of Frank’s greatest desires is for the people he knows and loves to live in unity of relationship and purpose. This was his initial reason for the first meeting of ministry leaders back in 1974, which eventually became Exodus International.

 

New Hope Ministries and Church of the Open Door will mark this special event on February 21, 2009.

 

The celebration will take place at the San Rafael Community Center in San Rafael, CA. Admission is strictly “reservations only” event.  To reserve your place call Church of the Open Door or email “franksparty@hotmail.com”.  RSVP no later than February 13, 2009 (please) The cost is $10.00 per person in advance or at the door.

 

There will be a buffet supper, special slide show of Franks life, a cake and a special gift given to Frank.  If you would like to contribute towards the gift please include this in your check for the event.  Checks can be made payable to Church of the Open Door mailed to PO Box 6217, San Rafael, CA 94903-0217.  For questions call Church of the Open Door at 415-459-1980, ask for Barbara or leave a voice mail.

 

This would be a great time to send him our blessings to help him celebrate 80 years of life! Send your blessings to New Hope Ministry.

 

Frank Worthen’s Life Story

 

Nanny Express!

Monday, January 19th, 2009



 

Hallmark Movie; The Nanny Express

 

 

 

“The Nanny Express,” a new romantic family drama, on the Hallmark Channel. It stars, clockwise from left, Vanessa Marcil, Brennan Elliott, Natalie Dreyfuss and Uriah Shelton.

 

 

Vanessa Marcil plays Kate Hewitt, who takes over as nanny to a couple of precocious kids who have driven away all of their other nannies. Kate, however, is up to the challenge. Not only does she win over the children, but she also strikes up a romance with their widowed father (played by Brennan Elliott).

 
This movie has a theme in it that very significantly portrays the very spirit of Grace Rivers Ministry. The 16 year old daughter, Emily, is struggling because her mother died, which brought this family to the need for a nanny. In her grief, she set ablaze any attempt to “replace” her mother by hiring a strange woman to take care of her and her brother.

 
The difference came when Kate was hired. What Kate didn’t talk about upfront was the fact that she too had lost her own mother to cancer when she was a teenager. Without sharing this information, she just unconditionally and patiently gave herself to the rudely rejecting Emily. She understood her plight and the pain in her young heart.

 
At her sixteenth birthday, Kate gave Emily a gift. It was a book wrapped in colorful paper. In her rejection of any love, she threw it on the bed, said “wow, I really need another book” and ran off to her larger than life celebration. After her party she went to her room and in a very poignant moment, she opened the gift grudgingly.

 
Kate had given her more than just a book. She gave her more than she could have every purchased with physical dollars. She gave her a journal from when her own mother died. Immediately Emily’s walls of resentment and rejection of Kate’s love tumbled down.

 
This was the changing moment in the plot of the entire movie. Not only did the daughter begin to accept the relationship of her nanny, her father ended up marrying her and in the end she found a new authentic woman to share in her life.

 
Grace Rivers is all about “relating to those in prison as though you are fellow prisoners with them” (Hebrews 13). Kate walked back into her own emotional prison once again to give her experience to Emily that needed so desperately to know she wasn’t alone.

 
Great move! Great message!

 

Cardboard Testimonies

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009


Watch this video and see God’s powerful grace at work.

 

 

A Tribute To My Dad

Monday, January 5th, 2009


By John J. Smid


Luke 1:17
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
 

“Dad, I’m gay and I’m going to divorce my wife.” All I remember from that evening’s discussion were tears, love, and a father that was trying to share wisdom from his own life experience. “John, don’t do this. Leaving your family will not help anything. I don’t want to see you do this to yourself or to your family.” My dad didn’t scold me or get angry. But I was too stubborn. I was stuck and rebellious. At that point in my life, I wasn’t listening to anyone.


My dad had a life of many sorrows and disappointments. There were times when I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through. But one thing was consistent: his active faith never wavered. As long as I knew him, he never left God’s side . . . no matter how tough things got. One of his many sorrows came as he was faced with my homosexual struggles.


I had been married for six years and had two beautiful daughters that I loved very much, but my heart was so confused. When I got married in 1973, I swore that I would never get a divorce. I had been hurt so much by the divorce of my own parents that I didn’t want to ever see my children go through that experience. Yet through pornography, feeding on my deep curiosity about men, I developed a homosexual fantasy life. The final step came through a homosexual friend who led me into acts of adultery.


Ignoring my father’s counsel, I left my wife and family and embraced homosexuality for four years. But through this period of my life, no matter what, there was always a connection with my dad. We didn’t separate from each other. Yet the nature of my sin and the difference in our lifestyles created an invisible barrier between us.


I thought by simply introducing my dad to my partners and friends that he would grow to understand and embrace homosexuality in my life. My dad’s responses continually revealed his relationship with the Lord to me as he exhibited the spirit of Christ. One night I stopped by my dad’s house, testing the waters of acceptance. “Dad, I would like you to meet Jim. He is a good friend of mine.” My dad responded with grace, extending his hand to Jim. He would engage in conversation with my friends, and never pulled away from them.


I invited my dad to my house to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. I still have pictures of my homosexual partner cutting the cake amidst a roomful of friends. My dad was right there, supporting my daughter and relating to the others with grace. He never faltered in his convictions or in his relationship with Christ. He was uncomfortable with my lifestyle and disagreed with my choices, yet he was willing to be uncomfortable in order to love me.


My friends were aware of my dad’s respect for them. They respected him and trusted him, not because he accepted their homosexuality, but rather because he treated them as human beings loved by God.

 
Through the witness of a friend, I eventually accepted Christ as my Savior. As I found victory over my homosexuality, my dad was still there rooting for me. But my new life in Christ was not yet clear to him. As a result, when I decided to work for Love In Action, a ministry to homosexuals, he was very uncomfortable with the idea. “John, I ‘m not sure about this. You’ve always had a hard time sticking with something. You might change your mind, and be worse off than you are now.”


I stood on my convictions. “Dad,” I said, “that is how I used to be. But Christ is changing me. He’s giving me the strength to be committed to His will.” About a month later my dad came to me. “John, I beli eve this is a good decision and I want you to know I am with you all the way.” With my father’s blessing on my work and calling, nothing could stop me!


When I was scheduled to be on Larry King Live, my dad once more showed me the spirit of Christ. The day before the program was to air he called. “John, I told all my friends this morning at breakfast to watch the show. I told them my son was going to be on TV.” My dad was not ashamed or embarrassed about my life, past or present. He carried no guilt or shame from my choices. He was proud of me and supportive of the message that people can be free from homosexuality. He continued over the years to tell others about me, our life, and Love In Action.


In one newspaper interview regarding my recovery, I stated that during part of my childhood my dad had been emotionally absent. I later asked if it had hurt him to read what I had said. “Sure it hurt,” he responded, “but it was true. During that time in my life, I was under so much stress that I was unavailable for anyone.” His response put healing salve on my wounds. I saw more clearly into my dad and the way our father-son relationship had developed.


Over the last couple years of his life, my dad’s health began to fail due to a lung disease. He hated being attached to an oxygen hose, and became frustrated when he couldn’t go places like he used to. But each time I would call, or he would call me, he would repeat the same message. “Everything with me is just great, I love you, keep up the good work.” During the last two months of his life he was in the hospital hooked to breathing machines and IVs. When we went to see him, he would usually smile and wink. It wasn’t until his last week alive that he became more frustrated with the medical input. He knew he was going to die and was ready to go.


March 21, 1997, my father passed away. He was seventy-five years old. Following my departure from homosexuality, we had spent thirteen years building a deep, rich relationship. His godly faith and humility played an important part in my recovery.


Norman John Smid has left this world for a better place. I still miss him greatly, and would love to hear him say once more that he loves me and I am doing a good job. But I have no regrets about our relationship. During his last bout of illness, he had no dying words or last minute rushed message to tell me or anyone else. He had already shown and told us many times. Likewise, I don’t feel I left out anything. I had shown him my love and respect, and he’d let me know that I had also blessed him in his life and faith.


I received a model from my dad that I share with others as they suffer through the difficulty of having a homosexual loved one.


• Love your kids, and tell them you love them.
• Be willing to be with them even when it may be uncomfortable for you.
• Respect all people no matter how you feel about their behavior.
• When they take steps of growth and healing, bless their steps and show them that you see the changes they are making, even when they don’t have a proven track record.
• Model humility and trust in the ever faithful Jesus Christ.


I am not sure I will ever be able to measure up to my dad’s reputation or his love, but I know he supported me and believed in me. I’ll never measure up to God’s standards either, but I know I am His and He loves me and believes in me.

 
Rev. John J. Smid is the Executive Director for Grace Rivers Ministry. John is commissioned and licensed as a minister through Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, TN. He and his wife Vileen live in Germantown, Tennessee.


PDF – A Tribute To My Dad


© 1999 John J. Smid
Permission to reprint may be obtained by contacting:
John J. Smid
jjsmid@gracerivers.com

Grace Rivers Ministry
www.GraceRivers.com
PO Box 382277
Germantown, TN 38183

 

Listen To What They Say

Monday, January 5th, 2009


By Rev. John J. Smid

 

Hebrews 13:3
Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner and those who are ill-treated, since you also are liable to bodily sufferings.
 

When we minister to men and women who seem trapped in a cycle of negative choices, we must “become a fellow-prisoner” in order to really reach them and help them find freedom.

 

Lately, I have been hearing in various new reports about men and women who are “coming out” with regards to their homosexuality. In one recent story, the person happened to be the son of a nationally-known female Christian leader.

 

I heard one homosexual man comment enthusiastically that now this leader has been affected by homosexuality. She and her son had to make great efforts to counter the allegations that they may have a bad relationship. This man was apparently delighted to think that a Christian’s “mask” of victorious living was being torn down by the media.

 

Dishonest Christians

If you listen closely to the words and messages of the pro¬-gay people, they are actually complaining about our dishon¬esty as Christians. They are pointing out all the faults that they can find in an attempt to blow our cover. There is a basic mistrust of Christians based on a perceived plastic mask that is always smiling and rarely revealing our vulnerability or struggles with sin.

 

If you are honest you probably struggle with an area of unresolved sin in your life. Maybe you struggle with deeply seated shame or some area of an addictive cycle. Maybe you struggle with lust, greed, or sexual temptation. I don’t have to name the sin, you are probably well aware of the daily struggles you face.

 

Let’s look at this from another angle. Maybe you have a sin area that is already dealt with. Praise God for the victory! But are you free to talk about it? Or do you struggle with the fear that if someone finds out, your life with Christ will be discredited? Or that your reputation may be hurt with the closets of your past?

 

I don’t think a homosexual person is out of touch with his or her own areas of struggle. While involved in same sex relationships, I certainly knew I was experiencing relational break-downs and struggles with my own immorality. I knew I had problems in my life.

 

I found that I was more open to discuss this with those who were aware of their own struggles. I longed to find a place where I could release my burdens. But this didn’t happen with people who always seemed to have their life together.

 

I wasn’t about to reveal my ugliness to someone who seemed perfect. Actually I knew they were not really so perfect; I figured they couldn’t be trusted due to their masks.
Do you come from a past of divorce, drugs, and dysfunctional family issues? Do you have a permissive sexual history? Have you shared your story when you find someone is hurting from the same struggles you have? Do you share your shortcomings and failures? Do you struggle with feeling that you have to stand up to an image of “Christian perfection”?

 

Difficult Issues

When Sarah was active in the drug abusing lifestyle, she was walking through some very difficult issues, like the loss of her family and children through divorce. She experienced an emotional imbalance in her relationships. Sarah had always had a love for Jesus but was very confused about who God really was and how He related to her struggles. She secretly wished that she had a Christian to talk with about these things.

 

To learn that there was hope in the midst of her crisis would have been a breath of fresh air. Sarah thought that the only people with whom she could talk were stuck in the same mire she was. But she was really looking for someone who had a solution to her struggles.

 

Just about any Christian woman could have ministered to Sarah’s needs. A drug past wasn’t needed, but simply the ability to relate with another woman struggling with her identity and relationship with God. Any one of us could relate to those issues if we were totally honest with ourselves.

 

Isaiah 61:1 tells us that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on us, because the Lord has anointed us to preach good news to the poor. He has sent us to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

 

Have you experienced any freedom? Have you seen the prison door open on your own cell?

 

Deceived In Prison

You may be wondering why I am talking so much about your life in an article on how to help others who are trapped in sin. People ask us all the time how to minister to the person in their family or office who is gay. We get questions all the time about how to fight the battles with the pro-gay activists in the political realm.

 

I believe one of the strongest tools to minister that we have is our own honesty. Our testimony is vital in ministering to those caught in prison. As I mentioned earlier, the Christian mask breeds distrust and builds more prison walls around the very people we are trying to reach.

 

Do you feel a burden for those strug¬gling with sexual sin? God is holding us responsible to show them the way out of prison as we have been led out.
I was talking with a young man recently who was really struggling with a “secret sin.” Sam mentioned that he struggled with exaggerated lust and, even though he seemed quite uncomfortable talking with me, he was open. He said that he felt the freedom to talk with me because I had just spoken so freely about my past sins and current struggles.

 

Sam went on to talk about struggles with masturbation. It was the first time he had talked with anyone about this. I find this story very interesting, considering. Sam was not struggling with homosexuality like I had but he became open with me due to the fact I had been honest. Coming from a homosexual background, I have to see the value of my life in ministry to all types of struggles.

 

Hebrews 10:34 says “You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your prop¬erty, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”

 

Are you willing to lose property, possessions, or your own reputation in helping someone else? Do you realize the eternal possession you have, your testimony of the freedom you have found with an abiding relationship in Jesus Christ?

 

Hebrews 13:3 says to remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner and those who are ill-treated, since you also are liable to bodily sufferings.
 

The whole principle of this article is to recognize the prisoners and to know how valuable your prison story is to them, to realize how many people stuck in homosexuality could be helped if you could walk into their prison with them.

 

Think about a time when someone saw your pain and began to talk about how they could understand because they too had been hurt. Weren’t you freer to release your burdens with them?

 

Dreams That Reveal

I had a dream that so clearly illustrates what I am saying to you. In my dream, I was in a prison cell with several beds. It was such a fearful place to be that I didn’t want to do anything but lie in my bed under the covers. I remember thinking, if I could just have a stable roommate, someone familiar who could help me in this awful place, my life in prison would certainly be better.

 

But my roommates kept changing, leaving me very insecure. (This was similar to my experience in the homo¬sexual lifestyle, looking for one person to stay by my side.) Finally I asked why I was in jail, and the response shocked me. I was in prison for not returning a video to the rental store on time!

 

Although this may seem quite ridiculous, as dreams often are, the reason for my imprisonment was really important to what I was about to learn. God said that I needed to know what it was like to be in prison for something that seemed quite ridiculous.

 

Many people feel that their bondages are undeserved, unreasonable and sometimes feel entitled to freedom regard¬less of the crime.

 

The dream went on with other lessons to be heard. I kept asking to go home. “I don’t deserve to be here,” I said. In this dream, the next thing I knew, my earthly father came into my cell and said he had come to take me home.

 

What a great correlation with our Heavenly Father, the one Person who holds the key to our freedom. God doesn’t stand in some remote location with a special button with our cell number marked on it. He walks right into our prison cell to release us. He knows what it is like to be in prison. Think of all the prisons that Jesus endured while He walked the earth.

 

Dealing with Our Own Bondage

When we come to grips with our own experiences with bondage and sin, and when we are willing to share our experiences with others, we will see a breaking of walls between our lives and the lives of others still caught in bondage.

 

What is our closet? What walls still exist in our life? People want to know who we really are. Through our vulnerability and honesty, they will see true Christianity. When they see that they are not worse than us, they will feel much more able to share with us the hidden struggles in their lives. When they hear our honesty, they will begin to trust.

 

For example, people with homosexual struggles are no different then you and me. They have needs, emotions, fears, and desires. They go to work, love their friends, and pursue their hobbies. There is just a part of their lives that may have experiences from yours.

 

As you begin to look honestly at your own life and the willingness to open up to others, you will see the correlations between you and others, regardless of how different they seem.

 

Jesus spent a lot of time with “sinners” and others who really needed the Gospel message. Unfortunately, many of today’s church members are exactly the opposite, spending most of their time with other Christian friends. Will you follow Jesus’ pattern? In reaching out to others who are “different” from yourself-including those dealing with ho¬mosexuality? You will be influencing people’s lives for all eternity.

 

PDF – Listen To What They Say

 

© 2007 John J. Smid
Permission to reprint may be obtained by contacting:
John J. Smid
jjsmid@gracerivers.com

Grace Rivers Ministry
www.GraceRivers.com
PO Box 382277
Germantown, TN 38183