The history is broken down into three phases: The Church in the Valley, The Church on the Hill and The Church That Won't Quit.
The Church in the Valley
The possibility of starting a Free Will Baptist Church in De Soto had already been discussed in the late fifties by Rev. Rolla Smith and Rev. Billie Buster. However, no willing workers could be found. Years later two Free Will Baptist families, unknown to each other, moved to the De Soto area. They tried different churches and found them friendly and warm, yet they felt like God had no work for them there. The Henry Stephens family started attending a Free Will Baptist Church in Festus where Rev. Charles Moyers had pastored. Brother Moyers had just resigned when, during a casual conversation with Sister Eudora Stephens, he was asked if he would be interested in starting a church in the city of De Soto The next day Brother Moyers called her back and asked if she was serious. As it has been said, the rest is history. Brother Moyers went over to see the Rider family where he found Danny working beneath a car. Danny said, "Yes!" before he ever came out from under the car to see who he was talking to. No money . . . no building . . . along with many other obstacles can be overcome when the man of God has willing workers.
On April 3, 1966, they started in the valley of De Soto in an old hospital building rented for $40 per month. Madison County Association of Free Will Baptists paid for the first three months' rent. The first musical instrument was an accordion. Song books were donated and theater seats were loaned from Twin City Free Will Baptist Church. There were fourteen charter members to begin with. Someone had to take the first step of faith or else there would be no other ministries to follow.
The Church On The Hill
In June of 1967 Brother Moyers resigned and the church called Brother Charles Miller, better known as "Charlie" Miller, from Desloge. The church would enter a new phase of work under Brother Charlie's ministry. He had preached a revival earlier for the church, though he was not yet an ordained minister. Brother Miller brought his family, wife Imalea, son Charles (Chuck), and daughter Janice (Jan), to serve the Lord.
It is a great work to start something from nothing. As any farmer can tell you, it's a long process to plant the seed, see it break through the earth, and then bring it to a full-grown, fruitbearing plant. This is what the Miller ministry and church family would be confronted with. The Psalmist said, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." Biblical convictions, bone-weary work, extraordinary faith, and burdens for the lost would be the testimony of this church for the next twenty-five years.
Under Brother Miller's leadership the church moved from the valley below to its present hilltop location. A basement building to start with, the church went through three building phases and grew to an attendance of over 100 almost overnight! Once again, God surrounded the man of God with willing workers. While some preachers complain about their deacon board, Brother Miller wept and rejoiced with his. Most of the work on the church building was done by its members. A better group of trustees would be hard to find. They worked during the day at their jobs and on the church building at night and weekends.
Young converts became seasoned laborers in the field. They sacrificed in their giving, continuing in prayer and witnessing in their living. By the early 1970s the church had grown to over 150 while supporting the Missouri Cooperative Fund and mission work beyond what God requires. Satanic attack was common during these times, but God always blesses willing workers.
As with any ministry, changes took place during these years. Brother Charlie became full-time and ministries such as the Joymakers were added. The altars were blessed of God and some were baptized in the Joachim Creek before the baptistery was built. Older saints, such as Bill Reeves and Sophia Ackerson, along with the younger converts growing in the Lord, made this a special place.
The sign above the altars tells it all, "This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven."