The House of Prayer officially began on July 4, 1976 when a group of six people, (along with our founding and current pastors, Pastors Steve & Sharon Stells) who were hungry for the presence of God and all that He had for them, gathered together with open hearts to God, love for one another, and a deep and heartfelt desire to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.
It all started in a basement on the Boulevard in Colonial Heights, Virginia. We gathered each Friday night for an informal Bible study, prayer and refreshments and fellowship, and on Sunday mornings and nights to worship the Lord together.
Many people were transformed and healed through the power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our church grew and needed to find a new home, which we found at 622 Boulevard, where we remained until 1979. Many more were added to the church as we continued to grow in our love for God and in His Word. It was during these years that we took our music and message to the streets and had many street meetings where many people were saved, healed and set free.
It was also during this era that we began a “coffee house” called ABBA’S, which means “Father’s”. ABBA’S was a place of worship, food and fellowship; frequented by many who were hungry for the things of God and those who were searching for answers in their lives; and as a result, came to know Jesus.
By the early 80’s we began to realize that we needed once more to move, so we began to fast and pray and seek the Lord for direction. He led us through a type of “wilderness experience”, as we had no real home, after selling at 622 Boulevard. Our journey became a bit transient as we held our Sunday service at Meadowbrook High School for approximately two years. This move definitely required faithfulness and unity, as we had to set up music equipment and nursery and Sunday school classes each Sunday around 6 am for our 10 am service. We had many faithful and committed people who labored in love every Sunday to make this happen.
It was during this phase of the ministry that Melvin “Cotton” Stells (after a massive heart attack and an experience in eternity) gave his 82-acre farm located at 10500 Newby’s Bridge Road in Chesterfield to The House of Prayer. He and his wife, Jewell, had lived there since 1949 when they were married. Cotton and Jewell had been Christians for many years and, at that time were Elders at The House of Prayer. Although a devout Christian for many years, Cotton’s experience in eternity had deepened his understanding of God’s priorities and given him eternal perspective as never before for the remainder of his life.
We left our temporary home at Meadowbrook High School one Sunday when we showed up for the service as usual and the school was locked because the floors were being stripped, cleaned and waxed. We were unaware of the schedule change, but were not deterred at all as we all decided to go out to the 82-acre farm and have church in the barn…..a real barn where cows still ate!!
We had a wonderful service; took a vote on whether to continue future services at Meadowbrook or return to the barn, and the vote was unanimous, except for one man who was visiting from out of town. This gentleman (who had not been on our journey) probably wondered why anyone would want to have church in a barn!
We did, however, have church in the barn and grew in numbers, unity, love and Spirit. We worked together and renovated the barn into a unique church building with classrooms for Sunday school and Wednesday night teachings.
The House of Prayer remained in this building for 7 years until we were able to erect (debt free) the building we are currently in. This building was completed and dedicated in October 1990.
Our journey has been an amazing one and we have experienced the faithfulness and presence of God throughout. Even when we began in the basement as The House of Prayer, according to Isaiah 56:7, we had a heart for all people and all nations.
Since beginning in 1976, we have established several churches in the United States from our own membership and have numerous partner churches in India, Africa, Germany, and Australia.
Our goal is to obey the Great Commission Jesus gave before He ascended into Heaven, “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (20) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”