“I’m overwhelmed over what is happening with our Ministry here at the St. Amant Church in Ascension Parish,” Pastor Mark Stermer told Inspire Louisiana. “When I was first invited to come down to St. Amant five years ago to help a small Spanish speaking church survive, all we had was the small building you see at the front of the campus.”
The small building that held the sanctuary at that time looks to be about one thousand to twelve hundred square feet. It is definitely, a small church building by any standard. “What God, through the Holy Spirit, has done here in St. Amant, Louisiana is indeed a miracle, and a huge miracle at that! I had plans to only stay with the little Spanish speaking church for a few months to help it take root. But God had other plans that none of us could even imagine. I couldn’t speak Spanish so my sermons were translated by a speaker standing next to me at the pulpit. Because the services were in both English and Spanish, many people began to come to our services.”
“As the number of English speakers grew in attendance, it was suggested that I consider establishing an English Speaking church. In my naiveté to what the Holy Spirit had in mind, I told everyone that asked me about starting another Church in St. Amant that first of all, I couldn’t see the need for another church in St. Amant; and secondly I had places to go, sermons to preach and churches to build. I had some of it right. I did have churches to build, sermons to preach and mission trips to go on, but the Holy Spirit planted my roots right here in St. Amant.
What makes the St. Amant Church such a huge Godly miracle is that God not only motivated seekers, un-believers, and the curious to flock to St. Amant Church, but he motivated Pastors, Church leaders and Church Builders to our church in overwhelming numbers,” Pastor Mark noted. “I give all the credit and glory to God for what is happening with The Church in St. Amant.”
The campus of the St. Amant Church has undergone considerable building expansion within the last four years. The metal building with a cross-relief and stone façade facing Hwy 431 was large enough to hold the 800 plus worshippers when I attended The St. Amant Church on Sunday, January 17 for the 11 AM services. In addition, over 600 people had been motivated to attend the early morning services and another 500 worshippers were expected for the Sunday evening services.
My host guide on that Sunday at St. Amant Church was Spike Graham. Perhaps one of the primary aspects to the Miracle at St. Amant was what Spike told me early on: “We use our Church building seven days a week. One reason is that we have a limited number of facilities to use; and secondly is that our Church leaders have so many things planned each week for our church-goers to participant in, Bible studies, group studies, and good news activities for our children.”
Once a family begins attending St. Amant Church, our church team members make a point to really get to know the family. We find out their areas of interest, how they would like to continue and enhance their spiritual journey as well as find activities and programs within the church in which they would like to serve. We find that a lot of people coming to St. Amant have a servant’s heart.
Although Pastor Mark Stermer has only been rooted in St. Amant for about five years, it seems that his whole life was has been a preparation for what is now happening in the spiritual realm at the Church in St. Amant. Pastor Mark spent 20 years at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge under Pastor Dino Rizzo, with the last 17 years as an Assistant Pastor.
Mark Stermer is also proud of his tour of duty in the United States Marine Corp. After the Marine Corp, Stermer found employment with Borden Chemical Company in the River Region. It was during this stage in his life that Mark and his wife Cindy started a family that has now grown to eight children, most of whom are involved in The Church in St. Amant ministry.
“If a man is not right with God, his wife and his family, it is going to be very difficult for that man to lead seekers to Christ, help the un-churched to become active worshippers, and to lead Believers in God’s Kingdom work,” Pastor Mark Stermer emphasized. “I’m so pleased with my family. When I’m preaching, I often think of my family that is part of our worship team. My wife is our Worship Leader and my sons are singing, playing music and praising the Lord.”
Stermer continued, “What a great blessing it is for them to be active in our church. It is not easy to raise children up in the ways of our Lord, but the reward is unbelievable. It takes a lot of prayer, a lot of effort, and a lot of teaching to raise your kids up in the ways of the Lord. I don’t think there is any higher calling here on earth than for a husband and wife raise their kids up in the ways of our great God so that they can enjoy life to its fullest and pass on His ways to future generations.”
Teaching the younger generations has become a priority to all the members of The Church in St. Amant. The Church Academy or TCA as it is known around the church, is in its second year of existence. Next year it will be adding two more grades, 9th and 10th. Also, within a couple years, TCA hopes to be moving into new facilities on LA Highway 42, about 7 miles from the current location.
“We were blessed in that we are buying this property for about 60% of its real value,” Pastor Mark explained. “We definitely need more room for our Church and the School. We will be building a new school building and a room for worship services.”
“We don’t plan to alter our services here on the St. Amant campus, but just going full speed for our members in the local area. We already take advantage of the latest technology. We live-stream our services to our other three Church Campuses. They are in Livingston, Donaldsonville, and Rosepine (near Lake Charles). We are also on an internet TV stream that reaches nearly 5 million people. We have two group locations in Mexico and one in Swaziland Africa that our Church works really close with. Also, some of our people just returned from a two week mission trip to Israel.”
Once a month, usually the last Wednesday night of each month, The Church in St. Amant’s Real Men group meets for dinner and worship service. The gumbo and the chili were great on the but I think it took the work of the Holy Spirit to draw 600 men to the Church at 6 PM on a cool January night. The previous Wednesday night, nearly 700 women had come out as part of St. Amant’s “Reigning Women” monthly dinner and praise worship service. Truly, the St. Amant Church is a “Church on Fire”!