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For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise who are prisoners 

Psalm 69: 33

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Parenting Today’s Youth

Since 2004, Youth Direct has hosted a weekly Christian talk show Parenting Today’s Youth.

The program is currently broadcast in Dallas / Fort Worth at 9 am every Saturday on station KDKR 97.5 FM with 7.2 million audience potential.


Media Experiences

Through God's providence, God prepares people for future ministry. Don started making films in his backyard at age 14 with an 8mm camera. This would grow into professional assignments with Leo Burnett Advertising Agency and NBC News in Chicago. As his cinematography skills grew in proficiency, God was laying a foundation for his future work documenting prison ministry in some of the toughest prisons in America.


Prison Ministry Films

Don has produced more films about prison ministry than any other person. Inspired by the 1970's films of Chaplain Ray, Don used his talents, developed during years of professional assignments, to illuminate the power of God to reach a diverse variety of prisoners from a simple thief to a serial killer. The themes were always the same: God's captivating grace and His boundless mercy.


Strategic Meetings

By God's grace, Don had meetings at the highest levels of American government. These meetings broadened the research for many of his future books and lent Youth Direct Ministry increased credibility with correctional facility leaders. All of these meetings were substantial lasting from one hour to ninety minutes in length. These were not photo sessions but discussions about prison conditions and prison ministry. Don also met with prison ministry leaders and juvenile gang members.

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Gifts for Prison Ministry

When God calls a man or woman to any form of ministry, He also equips that person with gifts necessary to execute that ministry. As the leader of Youth Direct Ministry, God has given Don gifts that enable him to relate to troubled and incarcerated youth and to lead, encourage and instill confidence in the ministry volunteers and to communicate effectively with corrections and school professionals.

Community Impact

Troubled and Incarcerated Youth

Juvenile Prisons





Billy Graham wrote about Don Smarto in his written preface to the book Justice & Mercy, calling Don

“one of America’s prison ministry experts

Texas State Governor Rick Perry awarded Youth Direct

Texas Ministry of the Year 


Prison Fellowship Founder Charles Colson endorsed the work of Youth Direct Ministry saying

“Don is a true professional who understands how to reach incarcerated teens”

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