It all started on September 29, 2006 at the “Czech Symphony Project” ministry dinner banquet. Pastor 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 church planting was not in the forefront. The options included starting up a Christian Music School or serving the Lord overseas as missionaries, but God began revealing the next steps very soon. Even at the banquet several people spoke to Michael expressing their desire to follow his leadership. Some suggested church planting…
The same weekend Pastor Michael and his wife, Colleen, attended the “Straight Up Conference” at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. They met Pastor James MacDonald, who prayed for them and 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 plant 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 share with and pray for this new vision and the unsolicited alliance with Harvest Bible Fellowship. Over the next few weeks, as they were instructed to simply pray and not “recruit,” the Core Group of participants grew to about 40 people. God was clearly working.
After initially gathering in homes, we began meeting on Saturday evenings at the River Chase recreational facility in Fenton, Missouri.
On November 18 and 19, 2006, we had our first retreat in Elsah, Illinois, where we experienced an unprecedented closeness with God through worship and fellowship. Just a few weeks after getting to know each other, the people in the Core Group became the closest friends.
On December 5, 2006, the leaders of Harvest Bible Fellowship came to St. Louis to meet with the Core Group, share with us the Harvest vision for church planting and discuss our affiliation. With much thanksgiving and praise we “officially” became a part of Harvest Bible Fellowship.
On December 17, 2006, the Core Group visited Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago (Rolling Meadows). Pastor James MacDonald personally took the time to meet with the group exhorting us to stay the course. The Fellowship elders continued to teach and equip both Pastor Michael and the Core Group training us to become an effective launch team for the new church.
In February, 2007, we began inviting friends to our evening gatherings sharing with them the vision for Harvest St. Louis. We continued to pray 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 Hwy 270 at Ladue Road. We moved to the school in July using the five weeks before launch Sunday to “practice” on site.
Harvest Bible Chapel St. Louis launched its public ministry as a church on Sunday, August 19, 2007. Our first worship service was glorious! Over 300 people came to worship with us 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 launch did not happen without challenges, spiritual warfare and persecution. The enemy tried to squelch our excitement as two days before launch some neighbors complained to the school district after seeing our advertisements and accused the school of affiliating with a Bible-believing church. The school officials gave in with fear and almost canceled our contract. Gloriously, the Lord was already working on a solution. We were able to secure a different and much better facility for Sunday worship – the Conference Center at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield. We moved to the new location six weeks after launch and never looked back. The Doubletree Hotel became our Sunday morning home for the next four years.
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 at 17795 Wild Horse Creek 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