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Posts Tagged ‘Grace Rivers Development’

Grace Rivers Featured in Local Magazine

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

In the June 2010 issue of “Delivered” magazine, StefanieLewallen wrote a very good article on the ministry of Grace Rivers.  It very clearly displayed the heart and soul of our ministry.  This is the first media representation of the ministry that has been done.  We are thankful for her insightful writing following the interview she had with John Smid.

As we all understand, when anyone outside of an organization writes a report, not everything in the article is 100% accurate but the heart of Grace was clearly seen. We are thankful for this opportunity to report to the Memphis region about what God is doing through Grace Rivers to reach out to others with the Love of Christ.

Delivered Article_5-2010


Saving Grace

By Stefanie Lewallen — John Smid, founder and Executive Director of Grace Rivers Ministries, wants others to know the Jesus he knows.

Grace River’s mission is to challenge believers to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to represent Jesus. He believes it can be done by being honest, authentic and real with people.

According to Smid, The uniqueness in this ministry is to not just give people the four spiritual laws, but to invest in them relationally, to show them “grace, mercy love and redeeming hope.”

Smid believes that our world is very hardened. “too often believers wear a mask of Christianity said Smid. He wants people to take off those masks, say what real people say and not feel like they have to hide themselves to show Jesus. ‘Many believers do not understand how to show Cod’s grace. We tend to be legalistic. Smid defines legalism as any expectations and standards we may set for those we encounter He wants us to instead send the message I love you the way you are.

Relationships are very important to Smid. He loves people for who they are and wants to genuinely share Jesus with them. He believes that being their friend and walking alongside them gives the Holy Spirit more of an opportunity to work in peoples’ lives, “People make people subjects” stated Smid. “We go into a relationship and instead of seeing the person we see a goal. They become a target of accomplishment instead of people, instead of relationship.

Smid, who once lived in the homosexual lifestyle, remembers, that once he knew the love of Christ, he began to love and appreciate the Scriptures and the teachings, of Christ. He is now out of that lifestyle and has been married for twenty-two years. “If someone Is struggling with an issue, we have to be spirit led when dealing with them.” He refers to Galatians 6 where we are instructed to catch those caught in trespasses and catch them gently. Smid believes taht sometimes helping other people may also include getting out of our comfort zones and reaching out to people who are from different backgrounds and races.

Grace Rivers is also the reverse of a typical church. ” A church invites you to church. We invite people into our lives.” commented Smid. The ministry works on individual relationships first than invites the individual to home group meetings, missional groups and celebrations gatherings. “My objective is to not have any agenda, goals or requirements. I just really want to know them and want them to know the Jesus I know. Jesus loves them and cares about them.” ” I reach out to anybody,” remarks Smid. “But I do have a burden for the gay community. I have a burden to communicate the love of Christ.” Smid wants us to get outside of our churches so that the people we get to know may want to follow us through the front doors someday. “We can’t just go after people and think that their sin is any different than ours. We all need God’s grace.”

If you have any questions for John Smid about this article, please contact him 901-753-0744 or check out his website at


Reaching Out

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

A Personal Note from John Smid

John in Sweater

A good friend asked me what motivated me in ministry. I shared with her some things that really tugged at my heart.

The modern American “church” is typically known as people who gather in buildings on Sunday morning for teaching, singing, and smiling about life.

I see it more as a collection of those who have embraced their own frailties, and have received the offer of grace through the salvation gift from Jesus Christ. These are members of the church and are in need of healthy connection to the Body of Christ.

However, some people are missing in action. There are events, circumstances, and personal wounds and choices that can bring someone to a place where they do not feel welcome to gather with others of like faith. Sometimes people experience rejection from others or they are consumed with shame and may find themselves alone and unsupported, Some of these folks may become susceptible to seeking connections outside of those who can encourage them towards growth in their faith and in making healthy decisions.

In some of these cases it may be desirable to reach out to these individuals and imperative to do so in safe one on one meetings to build a relationship based on honesty, active listening, and respect. This takes time and certainly a leading of God due to the sensitive nature of the individual’s fears and concerns. Without an outcome agenda, these meetings must contain a neutral stance on standards that come from perceived performance expectations. God’s standards are complete perfection and therefore, no person will reach that standard this side of heaven in human experience. Therefore, we are all on a journey and it is really important for us to seek ways to support those who are faltering or feel intimidated by large gatherings of believing Christians.

As the leading is present, making the effort to invest time and effort to build relationships with those around us will hopefully provide the safe atmosphere necessary to build a bridge from the lost, forsaken, and alone – to relationships, growth, and peace in a life with Christ that is rewarding and fulfilling.

Grace Rivers features a specific selection of concepts and core relational values that will help to guide relationships into building honest, listening, respectful connections. It is called The Journey of Thomas. This material can be reviewed in as little as one hour and thoroughly explored in an eight hour seminar format.

There is no lack of need for reaching those who are lost and afraid. The time is of the essence, there are lives at stake that desperately need a touch from a caring friend.

If you find this ministry vision something you resonate with and you aren’t already involved in Grace Rivers, we invite you to join us. Reaching those in need of a friend who can help is what we do. We hope you feel the same way.

Several people invested in my life to bring me back.

Read the story!


John J. Smid

Executive Director


End of the Year Message from John

Friday, December 18th, 2009

John in Sweater

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I cannot help but be thankful for His life and transforming power in our world. It is his personal touch and intervention that brings me hope; not only for myself, but for the many whose lives He will touch deeply.

This year God has taken me deeper into understanding the true meaning of Grace. He has challenged my critical spirit that can rise up when I am feeling fearful or insecure. He has continued to transform my life by shaving off the portions that do not reflect Him.

I have enjoyed spending rich time in fellowship with others who are seeking God’s love in their lives. I have been privileged to know men who are lonely, some who are recovering from a life challenge, a few who just need a listening ear and some that are there for mutual support and encouragement.

My wife and I have had a precious time of renewal in our relationship from an intentional time away with each other. At 21 years of marriage, we were long overdue for a tune up.

It has been encouraging for us to walk alongside the Lord in such a way as to seek Him each day for His provision, His leading, and His plans. I can think of many times I have been at the end of my rope and found myself searching in His Word for hope, an answer, or to know Him better.

Writing the Journey of Thomas has been none other than a miracle in and of itself. To think that I would write a book was clearly foreboding, but God devised a plan through which He would surprise me! Low and behold, when I compiled all of the sections that were written, the basic material was there! I hope it is published this coming year.

I worked as a car salesman for a short period of time. It was surreal for sure. I was willing, and thought I understood the plan God had for me in working there but within two weeks, God surprised me again and showed me His heart – for mine and His willingness to allow me to pursue my dreams for a life of ministry. I am thankful that I was only there for two weeks!

At the end of this year, it is my desire to remain thankful. Just a couple of years ago, God opened my heart and my eyes to see that He wanted to free me to follow a new dream that seemed so unclear. He challenged me to be willing to go wherever He might lead me. My wife and I are at that place. We have agreed to keep our hearts in a “Whatever Lord!” place. It is both exciting and fearful for us for sure. But, at this moment the dream seems to become a little clearer. This next year will surely be interesting.

We hope that your new year will be filled with the knowledge of the Love of Christ in a very personal way. Our prayers go out for you and those you love.

A very Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year!


John J. Smid

Executive Director


Successful Event to Kick Off Grace Rivers

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Last evening we had a wonderful dessert event to officially announce the beginning of Grace Rivers.


There were about 36 people in attendance.  I was able to find a background video loop of river scenes to play on the huge “video wall” in the Magnolia room in the Woodland Hills Event center. It was great to have that back drop for our program.


 I gave the foundational Grace Rivers teaching encouraging honesty and authenticity within the Body of Christ.  After that  I went through the history of the development of Grace Rivers and introduced our Steering Committee.  The Board of Directors was introduced and three men gave their stories of being involved with the development of the ministry.


Through the message there was encouragement to get involved through networking with churches and organizations for opportunities for Grace Rivers to serve and minister.  I also asked for people to pray about being a part of our Board of Directors if they felt an organizational burden for the ministry.


I also mentioned at the end that we will be looking for financial partners to underwrite the ministry so we can continue our development.


Many wonderful comments and encouraging words were spoken afterwards.  We are thankful for all of the prayers and all of the hard work that has brought us to this place.


Grace Rivers Officially Kicks Off

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I am very excited about today.  We are having a dessert event this evening that will officially announce the beginning of Grace Rivers Ministry.  Six months ago, this ministry wasn’t even thought of.  I remember praying that God would surprise me with whatever plans He had for me.  I didn’t want to contrive my future, rather I wanted God to lead me where He wanted me to go.


So, we are now set to go forward into a future that has yet to be seen by us but clearly written by God.


We praise Him for His faithfulness and His covering on our lives.  There is nothing more exciting and challenging than walking the life God has for us.  It is exciting because you never know what is around the next corner.  It is challenging because God desire for us to grow and growing comes from the challenges of life and seeking God in them.