Nehemiah Ministries
A Brief History
 

   
Blaine Smith (L)
and
Nehemiah Ministries
Board President
Bob Newell, III (R)
1996
   
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After thirty years as director of Nehemiah Ministries, Inc., I retired in 2009, and Nehemiah Ministries ceased operation as an organization shortly after. I am continuing to maintain this website under the name "Nehemiah Ministries" (without the "Inc."), to provide an archive of my Nehemiah Notes articles and a place to issue one online twice-monthly (most reissues), to provide information on my books, and to provide archival information on Sons of Thunder. While my books are no longer offered for sale through this site, you will find links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, where most are available.

Here is some history of Nehemiah Ministries, Inc. which I hope you will find interesting!           - Blaine Smith

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When Blaine Smith was a young pastor, he found that many Christians were seriously confused about knowing God's will. As the twentieth century had progressed, the maze of choices available for a person's major life decisions had increased radically. By this time in the mid-1970's, many felt overwhelmed by their options. Guidance had become the central concern of Christians of that time, as it continues to be today.

"I experienced a lot of confusion about God's will myself, and made some serious blunders," Blaine admits. "I began to sense that I wanted to give an important part of my life to studying guidance and teaching on it. I was touched as well by the self-identity struggles many Christians were going through. I knew so many mature, gifted Christians, who longed for their lives to accomplish something of value, who were convinced they had little to offer to the mission of Christ."

These concerns finally led Blaine to form Nehemiah Ministries. On November 6, 1978, he met with a group of four friends, who agreed to form the ministry board--Bob Newell, Tom Willett, Jon Werner and Glenn Kirkland. They were joined by Rev. Pat Hartsock in 1981. 

The stated purpose of Nehemiah Ministries is "helping Christians realize their personal potential." Blaine chose the ministry name because he was impressed with how Nehemiah in the Old Testament helped a specific group of people of his time--the musical artists--to realize their potential. After rebuilding Jerusalem, Nehemiah brought the musicians and singers back into a central role in the worship life of Israel (Neh 12:8-47). This symbolized what Blaine hoped Nehemiah Ministries would do for Christians in general--to help them appreciate their own gifts and potential, and to encourage them to become the unique individuals God has created them to be.

During the past 30 years, Blaine has taught on topics related to this concern on hundreds of occasions, in seminars, conferences and lectures. He has also been a  guest on numerous Christian radio programs. He has published eight books with InterVarsity Press, including two revised editions of earlier titles, which have also been reproduced in many international versions. He also authored the "Leaps and Bounds" column for InterVarsity's HIS Magazine during the last seven years of its publication (1981-1988). In 1991 he recorded the lectures for Guidance By The Book, one of the selections of a home-study course produced by the Christian Broadcasting Network. He has twice appeared on 700 Club programs and been a featured speaker at CBN conferences.

For many years Blaine has also published a monthly newsletter, Nehemiah Notes, which always includes an article on one of this ministry's topics of concern. It is featured now on this site, in a bi-monthly edition.

Blaine's first book, Knowing God's Will, published in 1979, tackled hard questions about guidance head-on. It sold 3,500 copies in three days at InterVarsity Chrisitian Fellowship's Urbana Conference that year, and has since become an InterVarsity Press Contemporary Christian Classic, with over 125,000 copies sold worldwide. It was reissued in an expanded version in 1991, with additional chapters and study questions.

While Blaine has continued to teach and write frequently on knowing God's will during his years with this ministry, his concerns have broadened to include other areas related to decision making and realizing one's potential. In 1984 he published One of a Kind, on the importance of accepting one's personal distinctiveness and maintaining a healthy self-image. In recent years he has given considerable attention to helping singles resolve decisions about marriage, resulting in his "Marriage Decision Seminar," and his 1990 book, Should I Get Married? He followed that book with three that focus on the challenge of moving beyond fear and gaining the resolve to take important steps of faith with one's life: Overcoming Shyness, The Optimism Factor, and The Yes Anxiety. In 2000 he produced a revised edition of Should I Get Married?, with material added on remarriage after divorce, additional counsel on overcoming the fear of commitment and discussion of the question of whether Christians should date.

Blaine is also a musician, having directed one of the first contemporary Christian music groups, the Sons of Thunder, from 1967-1974. The Sons of Thunder reorganized in 1995 and now are performing occasionally again. Blaine plays guitar with the group and co-directs it with Tom Willett. The group released a new CD in 1999, Treasures.

Blaine holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University, the Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister, and served previously as assistant pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.

Blaine married Evie Kirkland in 1973, and for the past 28 years they have lived in Damascus, Maryland. They have two grown sons, Ben and Nate, and Evie is a music teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland elementary schools.

Organizationally, Nehemiah Ministries was a 501-C (3) non-profit corporation, and received that status from the Internal Revenue Service in 1980. Glenn Kirkland continued serving on the Nehemiah Board, as secretary, until his death on August 11, 2008. The other four long-time members of the Nehemiah Board were Bob Newell, president; Tom Willett, vice-president; Jon Werner, treasurer; and Rev. Pat Hartsock, member at large, then secretary after Glenn Kirkland's death.

Family and personal photos.
       

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