The Story of Harvest Bible Chapel St. Louis
It all started on September 29, 2006 at the Czech Symphony Project ministry dinner banquet. Michael Šust spoke about his vision for a new ministry, a vision based on Mark 4:35, "Let us go over to the other side…." At the time, no one knew what this new ministry would be, but the Lord began confirming the first steps very soon. Several people contacted Michael shortly after the banquet expressing their desire to follow his leadership. Some suggested planting a church.
The following weekend, Michael and his wife, Colleen, attended the Straight Up conference at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. They met the founding pastor, James MacDonald, who felt prompted by the Spirit to identify Michael as the long-prayed-for leader for a St. Louis church plant. Pastor James then personally arranged for a meeting between the Harvest Fellowship leaders and the Šusts, affirming the Lord's direction for a new church in St Louis.
Amazed and rejoicing at this unexpected turn of events, Michael and Colleen returned home and on October 10, 2006, met with sixteen other believers to pray for this new vision and the unsolicited alliance with Harvest Bible Fellowship. Over the next few weeks, through prayer (and without recruitment) this Core Group grew to about 40 people. God was doing this, as no one was "invited"—rather, people called in as they heard from the Lord individually.
After initially gathering in homes, we began meeting on Saturday evenings at the River Chase recreational facility in Fenton, MO.
On November 18 and 19, 2006, we had our first retreat in Elsah, IL, where we experienced God's presence and power through worship and fellowship. In just a few weeks of being together we became the closest friends. The Lord was doing something very special.
On December 5, 2006, the leaders of the Harvest Fellowship, Kent Shaw and Gordon Zwirkoski, came to visit the Core Group for the first time. With much thanksgiving and praise we officially became a part of Harvest Bible Fellowship. On January 17, 2007, the growing Core Group visited Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. Pastor James took the time to personally meet with the group, exhorting us to stay the course. Our Fellowship elders, Kent and Gordon, continued to train and equip us to become the Launch Team for the new church.
In February, 2007, we began inviting friends to our evening gatherings, sharing the vision for Harvest St. Louis and praying for God to add passionate and willing people to the Launch Team. In April, we identified the site for our future Sunday worship services, securing the Northwest Middle School on Highway 270 at Ladue Road. We moved to the school in July using the next five weeks to "practice" before launch. On Sunday, August 19, 2007, Harvest Bible Chapel St. Louis was launched and we became a public ministry. Our first worship service was glorious! Over 300 people came to experience our worship, rejoicing at the work of His hands. Pastor Michael preached a message titled "Are You Ready for Harvest?" from 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.
The initial excitement was soon challenged by spiritual warfare and persecution. Just two days before launch, our contract with the school was almost terminated as anonymous neighbors complained to the school district resenting our advertising signs and accusing the school of affiliation with a Bible-believing church. God quickly provided a solution as we were able to secure a new and much better facility for Sunday worship at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield. We moved to the new location less than six weeks after launch.
In August of 2011, Harvest St. Louis leased a church building at 17550 Wild Horse Creek Road in Chesterfield. Little did we know that God intended this to be an interim step to bringing us a year later to our current church building less than half a mile down the road. By His grace, we continue to grow as we worship, walk, work, and witness for Christ. We focus on making quality disciples, proclaiming the authority of God’s Word without apology, lifting high the name of Jesus in worship, believing firmly in the power of prayer, and sharing the good news of Jesus with boldness.
"Oh, sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!" Psalm 98:1