The beginnings of Grace Rivers can be traced back to 1986, when John Smid was invited to join in full-time ministry work with Love in Action in San Rafael, California. By 1990, Smid was leading the ministry as Executive Director. A move to Memphis Tennessee in 1995 began a brand new season for Love In Action as well as for John.
Love in Action-an internationally known ministry for those dealing with sexual brokenness-provided many successes and many challenges for Smid over the next 17 years. But in 2007, a new burden began to grow inside him. He desired to reach out to the entire Body of Christ, helping men and women to remove their masks of fear that can block their effectiveness in the kingdom of God. A vision of discipleship and mentoring began to well up in dreams and practical potential.
In November of that year, John shared this burden with his pastor, Dana Key. After much prayer and time spent in counsel, he was convinced that God was calling him to leave the ministry of Love in Action and move forward into a renewed vision for God’s kingdom.
By faith, John resigned from Love In Action in May 2008, still growing in the understanding of God’s call. His church appointed him to lead a small group study introducing his teachings which he titled Tributaries of Grace. This series of teachings was the foundation for what has become the ministry’s signature message, The Journey of Thomas.
The series was well received. As families came forward with relationship struggles, John put together a conference just for them. This became the model for what is now the Families of Grace conference.
In September of 2008, a steering committee was formed to test the feasibility of forming a non-profit entity bearing the name Grace Rivers Ministry. After several meetings and much prayer, the committee formed the vision, the mission, and the core values of Grace Rivers. They made the official recommendation for Smid to form the ministry, with some of the Steering Committee going on to form the first Board of Directors.
Celebrated at his home church with friends, church members, and ministry supporters, Grace Rivers had its official launch party on December 2nd, 2008.
Today, because of John Smid’s vast experience with men and women facing homosexuality in their lives, Grace Rivers is a ministry with the gay community that reveals the message of an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ and genuine community with His followers – because every person deserves to know that Jesus loves them.