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Heaven in a Wildflower Receives International Recognition

In New York City in July 2015, Don received an International exness mt5 Photo Award for portraits in his book Heaven in a Wildflower.

There were 5,117 entries from 62 countries. Don won 2nd Place Award. Two of his photos will be displayed in the Heritage Museum in Malaga, Spain September - November 2015.

Don said: "I am humbled and grateful for this honor. I thank God because all gifts come from Him"

Heaven in a Wildflower

After three years of research and writing, Frontline Press has released Don’s 13th book; Heaven in a Wildflower. This epic work is an amazing collection of color photos, scripture and text. What makes this book different metatrader 5 exness from others and so riveting is the depth of the material; an irrefutable argument for intelligent design and a Creator’s imprint.

This deluxe hardback coffee table book is a value at just $29.95 and all proceeds go to ministry to troubled youth. This book makes a great gift, also.

Examine the book for yourself to realize the beauty and depth of a book you will long treasure.

Don's Book Recognized

The text, design and photos in Don's book Italia was recognized with a special award.

McFadden Ranch-December 7th

Join us Saturday at this state facility, as we minister to 50 boys there. This is our last event of the year https://www.e-trading.in.th/exness-metatrader-5. The open setting always makes this a good experience for volunteers. If you intend to participate you must email Don no later than December 3rd at donsmarto@gmail.com

Father & Son Bonding Book

Don's 12th book, Italia; A Father & Son Journey, has just been released. The trip is a metaphor for father and son bonding. Many readers have been moved by the story. With over 200 full color photos, this "coffee table" book is a $60 value priced at $22. Order today and receive a free CD of an 80 minute interview with the author. Order the book by contacting Don at donsmarto@gmail.com.

Here is what people are saying:

"Italia: A Father and Son Journey by Don Smarto is a one of a kind book. The story line follows a father in his sixties and a son in his thirties who take a trip to Italy. Part of the intriguing plot is that this father has broken many of the generation sins that had been placed on him, through God’s help, Don was able to pass blessings onto his son. Don demonstrates for every father that you can touch the heart of your son at any age.

This book has something for everyone. A great story line for the reader. Detailed history for those enjoy the past. Pictures for kids and adults alike to marvel at. Italian recipes for the aspiring cook.

You won’t regret time spent in this book" - Dr. Heath Marion, Pastor

"I have several books of photos depicting the glories of Italy, but none comes close to measuring up to yours. You did a magnificent job!

The script is a magnificent expression of who you are, and demonstrates your commitment to God’s Kingdom and the gospel." - Dr. Tony Campolo, Author & Sociologist

"Don Smarto’s latest book titled "Italia, A Father & Son Journey" has something for everyone. At first look it, it appears to appeal to fathers and sons of all ages which it certainly does well. However you can imagine my surprise when my wife grabbed it out of my hands and said, "Me First!" She was drawn to the beautiful photographs of architecture that reminded her of her journey through Italy in her younger years. She was also captivated by "Mama's Recipes" that provided her with her next culinary challenge that will transition her from the science of cooking to the art. That was enough for her to begin reading the account of Don's and Luke's journey through the old country.

After I got my chance to read, it was clear from the beginning that this was not just a journey through the streets of Italy, it was a father's journey through the heart of his son. As Don shares the history of his ancestors, you feel as though you are there with he and Luke as they explore both the famous and the obscure places of ancient Italy. This includes churches, paintings, sculptures and the tender father and son exchange that go with it. The breathtaking photographs are spellbinding with such color radiance and clarity that one becomes entranced.

As I paged through Don's book, I heard the whispers of Malachi's last words in the Old Testament, "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children..." (Malachi 4:6a) and I know Don heard it too. " - Dominic Herbst, Clinical Psychologist

"Italia warmed my heart. What a beautiful book. It is a legacy to families. I love this book!" - Raeanne Hance, Prison Fellowship State Director

"I was truly touched by this book. I have never seen anything quite like it; a father-son travelogue and memoir celebrating God's gift of life!" - Dr. Phil Ryken, President, Wheaton College

"What a beautiful book! Your book about father and son bonding makes the point as well as any I've seen. You pulled out all the stops to produce and incredible piece of work. It is emotional and powerful." - Paul Heidebrecht, Christian Leader and Author

"Don’t be fooled by the diary-like title of Don Smarto’s newest book, Italia: A Father and Son Journey. It’s so much more than that. Don expertly weaves stories of historical interest, references to films, and applications of theological concepts as the reader follows in the footsteps of this 15-day Italian adventure with his son, Luke. Part reminiscence of his childhood as the son and grandson of Italian immigrants, part self-exploration of his relationship with Luke, and part travel guide, cookbook, and photographic record, Don draws the reader in with his masterful prose and mouth-watering descriptions of Italian food that will have you planning a trip to Italy on your own. His sensitively-framed photographs are unlike any you’ve seen in travel books or postcards. This book is a must-have for the photographs alone, but don’t miss the stories behind them and the lessons learned as father and son create special memories together." - Sarah Crouch, Author and Professor

Also available, a CD of the author interviewed about the book. It is 80 minutes and only $3.

Herbst Seminars Bring Real Recovery

Nationally know therapist, Dominic Herbst, has been a frequent and popular guest on the ministry radio program Parenting Today's Youth. Visit his web site for opportunities in your city and to join seminars by phone and video conference. Dominic says "the root of all psychological and emotional problems are spiritual". That is why secular programs and "pop" psychology fail. If you have or know of anyone with relationship problems, these seminars are essential. Visit restoringrelationships.org or sign up for their proven materials and at home sessions via webcast. Youth Direct endorses this excellent source of true Christian counseling. Here are services the Bethesda team offers:

Personal Interactive Webcast
We offer personal webcasts to take you and/or your family through The Four Steps To Emotional Healing. You will not have to leave your home for this personal and individualized healing journey. Call us today at 570-523-0605 to find out how we can lead you to victory and restoration.

Private In-Home Family Restoration
There is no better place to heal relational conflict and restore precious family relationships than in the privacy of your own home. It is completely private, deeply personal and totally confidential. Call 570-523-0605.

You owe it to yourself, your spouse, and children to seek true healing of the emotional baggage we carry. "I wish every juvenile facility in America used these effective materials. Crime would drop. Families would be healed and we could begin closing juvenile prisons!", says Youth Direct President, Don Smarto.

Collin Creek Counseling Services

Thomas L. Sessums, PhD
Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor

Youth Direct receives many requests for counseling. For those in the Dallas area we recommend the Clinical Counseling Center located at the Collin Creek Church in Plano. Call for an appointment at 214 215 2867 or check www.collincreek.org

Following are some of the issues they have expertise with:

  • Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Child & Adolescent Therapy
  • Crisis & Abuse Therapy
  • Substance Abuse & Addiction Therapy
  • Sexual Abuse, Addiction & Disorders
  • Temperament Counseling
  • Anger Therapy
  • Depression Therapy
  • Family Violence & Abuse

2012 Application

All new volunteers are required to fill out and mail the 2012 Volunteer Application. All questions must be answered and the form signed, before you can join us for an event.


After seven years, the popular and well received radio program Parenting Today's Youth is available ON DEMAND. Just go to WBAP.com and enter the keyword: family.

At no charge, you can download programs into your IPhone, IPod, or computer.

Each week, five programs will be offered. With the continued sponsorship of Five Star Ford, new dynamic guests, including teachers, authors, pychologists, and other experts will give valuable information to parents grandparents, and caregivers.

This is an important program for the whole family.

Visit WBAP.com and enter keyword: family Listen ON DEMAND


We are pleased to announce the new streamlined edition of the powerful book Mended by God with a new ending written by Tony Pack. Sales benefit our outreach to youth.

See the video below and visit resources to obtain a copy.


After 16 years, the new Director's Cut of A Pale Horse is being released on DVD along with the dynamic soundtrack.

Acclaimed for its use of atmospheric low key lighting, the film won over 9 awards at film festivals nationwide.

With a riveting and chilling performance by Jeannette Clift George (The Hiding Place) this PG-13 rated film is based on a true story.

Click RESOURCES to order your copy.

NEW BOOK - Heart of the Young Gladiator

After two years of writing, Don Smarto has completed his tenth book.

Heart of the Young Gladiator is an essay about the incarcerated youth Don taught Creative Writing to. He chose the best poetry and prose from the youth. Clearly, these young people have talent that in many cases the school system did not discover or encourage or "labels" defeated their spirit.

The reader will enjoy this varied collection of humor, insight, loneliness, and faith. You will discover, as Don did, the creativity and potential of these young men.

This promises to be one of the most powerful and exciting books released about the hope for change in delinquents. (click Resources to order your copy)

Consider giving a CD on PARENTING, GRIEF, HEALING EMOTIONAL WOUNDS, MARRIAGE, ABUSE, EVANGELISM, and many more topics to a friend or family member going through tough times.

Don Wins International Award

Don was one of 34 photographers awarded from over 1,024 entries from 45 countries for the photographs in his book Heart of the Young Gladiator.

The award was announced in York, England , February 1, 2011.

His photos will appear in the book Storyteller by WonderPick Publishing.

The award honors talented photographers from around the world.
(see press release)

Gladiator Book Wins Angel Award

In Hollywood, it was announced that Don has won his 16th �Angel Award for his new book Heart of the Young Gladiator. The award given by the Excellence in Media Foundation was for a work of "Great social and moral impact".

Previous winners have been Tom Hanks, Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Art Linkletter, Randy Travis, George Burns, Pat Boone and Roy Rogers.

Don has tied Billy Graham (Worldwide Pictures) for the most awards given to one person.

Click here to read the entire press release from the Excellence in Media organization.

Tony Campolo Praises New Book

On September 22, 2010, author and international Speaker Tony Campolo said "Heart of the Young Gladiator looks brilliant. The photographs of the young men were incredibly moving. I hope this book sells well. It could do a lot of good for the Kingdom if it gets out there where people can get hold of it."

Josh McDowell Recommends New Book

On October 7th, acclaimed author and international speaker endorsed Don's new book. "Heart of the Young Gladiator is a great resource! I enjoyed the book. Thank you so much for sharing this book.

By Don Smarto

Are some prisoners authentic Christians? Are some inmates freer than some church people?

At first glance, these questions seem simplistic. Those in Prison Ministry know many offenders are authentic Christians. But how can a man or woman behind walls, razor ribbon, bars, and heavy metal doors be more free than people in the “free world”?

The answer begins with a key Scripture, John 8:36 “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed”. In a later passage, Jesus relates the freedom he is talking about to truth. We tend to think in black and white; either we are captive or have freedom. But Jesus was not talking about mobility. Paul was free although in prison. John was free although in exile.

read the rest of the story

Youth Direct Featured in Newspaper

Don and his work with troubled youth was a feature story in the October 10th edition of the Dallas Morning News.

The story was on the front page of the Sunday edition, written by reporter Jon Neilson who visited with Don several times at the Youth Direct headquarters in Duncanville and accompanied him when he spoke to incarcerated youth and when he conducted a Writing Seminar in a Texas Youth Commission facility. The story referenced Don's new book Heart of the Young Gladiator . The story also related how Don overcame his own family crimes to go to college and inspire other young boys to reach their potential.

Midwest Review of New Book

Richard Blake's review of Heart of the Young Gladiator was published in the Midwest Book Review.

Mr. Blake wrote: "Don Smarto takes the reader behind the scenes of juvenile correctional facilities and into the minds and hearts of incarcerated gang members.The book includes 55 poems and 40 photos of prisoners. The poems are authentic, simple, original, and imaginative marked by a fierce individuality that resonate the inner being of the soul. The still photos are captivating."

The Genuine Change Agent
By Don Smarto
For many years I have been perplexed by people's criticism of the criminal justice system in one specific area. It takes the form of this basic question: Why doesn't the system change criminals? Implied is a change for the better, meaning transformation into a stable citizen and law abiding person. The disapproval is aimed at Prisons, Probation, and Parole in particular.

If we define criminal behavior as sin, the work of regeneration never has been and never will be the work of any secular government agency but of the Holy Spirit, and it is the role of the Church to restore a sinner through Salvation, confession, repentance, prayer, discipleship, and accountability, which is to say as an instrument of God's grace.

read more

In Youth Ministry, Having a Good Heart is Not Enough
By Don Smarto �2010

In three decades of working professionally with delinquent youth, I have seen many well intentioned people fail. There is often "God talk" and emotion but working with minors requires a higher vigilance and degree of professionalism. One incident of physical abuse, sexual misconduct, or neglect is enough to shatter a ministry permanently, not to mention criminal charges and a civil law suit. Many "wilderness" programs have "hit the Press" in the past ten years. The papers are in the business of selling papers and will rarely back off from an opportunity to expose a ministry that has been irresponsible.

The "Best of" Parenting Today's Youth Now Available
The radio ministry of Youth Direct has produced 1000 programs. Many wonderful guests have been interviewed. Now, some of the best programs are available on CD at very reasonable prices. From interviews with Josh McDowall talking about why youth are not accepting basic church doctrine, to Dr. Jim Denison discussing the real threats from radical Islam, and Judge Grace Lewis reflecting on the origins of crime, plus many more guests and subjects, these CDs will be a significant addition to your library. Redeem your commute time in traffic, listen from your PC or I Pod on a plane trip, or play at home for spiritual growth and information. The interviews are lively and engaging and filled with useful facts. Whether you are a student, pastor, or parent, there is something for everyone in these recordings. Each CD is only $5.00 (plus shipping & handling)

Visit the RESOURCES page to purchase several, today. You can safely use your credit card using PayPal.

Is The Door Closing?
By Don Smarto

For many years, I heard prison ministry leaders talk at conferences about the "open door in prison ministry". That was back in the 1980's. They were right. The open door was an unprecedented accessibility of faith based programs into the prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities of America.

There were several reasons. Many wardens and superintendents were Christians and bold about their faith. As an example, Norm Carlson the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons would welcome Charles Colson and ex-offenders into his Washington, DC office with discussions about the role of faith in regeneration. Chaplains were often strong evangelicals like Harry Howard of San Quentin, Manny Craig of Leavenworth, Al Worthly of Springfield, and Emmett Solomon of the Texas Department of Corrections.

read more


Don has created a new seminar Planning Adult & Juvenile Reentry. This dynamic Powerpoint incorporates the latest research and Don's personal travels to view over 200 aftercare programs in 25 states.

He presents model programs in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, California, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. The seminar presents ideas on ex-offenders keeping jobs, accountability, learning styles, and experiencing community.

Elaborating on the ideas in his books: Keeping Ex-Offenders Free, Faith-Based Mentoring, and Lost & Found, Don gives practical examples of why some juvenile and adult ex-offenders succeed and why others fail.

This is an important presentation for correctional professionals, prison ministries, and churches that mentor and work with ex-offenders.

Don presented this seminar at the Texas Corrections Association Annual Conference in Galveston in June.


The Sexual Offender Dilemma
By Don Smarto � 2009

For thirty years, I have closely observed the restoration of criminal offenders. Christians in particular, embrace the power of God to change people who were criminals through the stages of remorse, repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness. People of faith believe all sins can be pardoned and (with the exception of doubting the Holy Spirit's ability to cause that change) they consider no sin is beyond God's mercy and grace.

Now, this is a theological exposition of Biblical truth, but I do not always observe this mercy in the hearts of all people when it comes to sexual offenders. As a society, America does not practice the old axiom: "Time served pays your debt to society". As a matter of fact, the punishment phase continues for sexual offenders after release in the form of banishment, heightened observation, prejudice, mapping, community alerts, and Internet postings.

click here to read more

Bible Studies for Adult and Juvenile Prisoners
By Don Smarto

Bible studies in jails and juvenile facilities are important for discipleship and evangelism for the "almost persuaded". A new Christian needs direction, and a systematic course of study.

"Bible Study" sounds good but I have witnessed prisoners fascinated by the Book of Revelation yet combining the truths of that book with new age philosophy and the prophecy of Nostradamus. The imagery and metaphors are rich but Revelation should be reserved for Bible Study Grad School. Most prisoners were unchurched growing up and are biblically illiterate. They require the basics (Elementary Education) of the Gospel of John, for example. Read more....

In 2011, Lives Will Be Changed!
This year join our dedicated volunteers and impact troubled and lost youth with the power of the Gospel. Fill out the 2011 APPLICATION (on this web site) and check our SCHEDULE. We will provide training.

Want to see a Youth Direct program? Come to our March 6th event in Grand Prairie.

Strengthening Youth & Families Conference
In Austin in November, Don gave a presentation on Helping Youth with Mental illness in the Juvenile Justice System. An article from his presentation can be dowloaded from the web site. This is an important subject and one seen as a stigma and often met with denial. Please read this important article.

Visit the archives to learn more about this ministry.

Faith-Based Mentoring
This new book by Don Smarto is a practical manual for mentoring troubled and delinquent youth. The book has 51 separate subject headings with applications for adult mentors. The book is 265 pages.

Important features include supplemental training guides, a bibliography, and a profile of an incarcerated Texas youth.

As Don's eighth , it comes from his experiences having mentored 12 young men, each for one year and his observations from years of research and study of programs across America.

There are 1700 mentoring programs in America but few that have a biblical world-view. The author believes that a faith based approach leads to lasting change and suggests that the building of trust and relationships ( which take 1-5 years ) is preferred over short term measurement like reduction in truancy and better grades.

The book is priced at $12.95 each (+ $2.50 shipping and handling). Prison or Youth Ministries receive a discount for a box of twenty books.

ORDERS: Youth Direct
PO Box 764499
Dallas, Texas 75376


Order a copy online today!


The new writing seminars for incarcerated youth are being received with enthusiasim. Seminars are scheduled for McFadden Ranch and San Saba. Don will read selected writings on his daily radio show Parenting Today’s Youth, 100.7 FM, at 8pm. Invite your friends to listen to our radio ministry.

2011� Youth Direct Ministries. All rights reserved.
Don Goes to Schools

Resources can be found on a new website about Don's special ministry to schools. If you are a teacher or administrator, take a few minutes to review the material at www.donsmartpresentations.org

Visit the archives to learn more about the ministry.

Order Family Secrets Today!

New-Family Secrets

320 Pages, Paperback

Click here for more information and to order.