Home at Bauer: Public Campus Ministry in Action

By Georgia Schulze -  May 1, 2024


Home at Bauer: Public Campus Ministry in Action

God has used the Bauer church to connect individuals and create a community in which all those who are interested can find a home and a place to worship. 


At the Bauer church in Hudsonville, Michigan, Sabbath potlucks have become an extra special part of the week. Every week after the worship service at Bauer, church members and students from nearby Grand Valley State University (GVSU) enjoy homemade food and friendly conversation. These meals are a wonderful fellowship opportunity for all involved and have built a welcoming community for students far from home.

Don and Bonita Hamstra are leaders for youth activities at Bauer church and have long had an interest in helping GVSU students. In September 2022, they met Obed Boateng, an Adventist international student who studies at GVSU. The Hamstras offered to provide him with a ride to church each Sabbath. He gladly accepted and soon discovered that another student on campus was also interested in joining them.

The Hamstras opened their home and shared lunch with the two young men each week after the service. Within a few weeks, other members of Bauer church became interested and were eager to get involved. Don recalls the solution saying, “We decided that probably the best way to go was just to have our fellowship dinners at the church.” This is exactly what they did. Weekly Sabbath dinners were offered to the students as a place to fellowship in a family-like atmosphere.

Not only did Bauer church and the Hamstras provide the students with a home away from home and delicious Sabbath lunches during the winter session, but they also provided them with clothing and blankets to keep them warm. Besides collecting coats, hats, and other winter necessities for the students who were not used to Michigan’s cold climate, Bonita and Celeste, another member of the church, decided to gift them each with a handmade quilt. The two had been quilting together every week for a while and had plenty to share.

Don reflects on the day the students received the quilts saying, “They each came out with a quilt and when they came out of the room, they weren’t just holding [the quilts], they were hugging them.” This was yet another example of how the Bauer church offered the kind of warmth and care that can only be found in a home.

The following summer, meals were not offered, however, the two students enjoyed participating in activities with the church youth group and were often invited to different members’ homes. Don says, “We would go out on Sabbath afternoons and visit the parks and take walks.” These activities were a great experience for all involved. Especially considering Obed’s explanation of Sabbaths at home. Obed says, “Back home, church on Saturdays is something that we take great interest in. Almost every Sabbath there is something going on in the church.”

When the church began holding the fellowship meals again in the fall, they were excited to learn that more Adventist international students from Africa had begun attending GVSU and were interested in attending the Bauer church. Soon, the group had grown to seven students who regularly attended Bauer church. Obed comments that while many Adventists on campus live nearby and are able to go home for the weekend and worship with their families, those from far away are not.

Obed further explains that with the growth of this group came the idea for an on-campus Adventist student group which is now a reality. As the student leader/advisor of the group, Obed says that the goal in creating the group was, “to be able to build ourselves a community and to be able to encourage ourselves spiritually and physically.” This group provides a way for students to worship together during the week, stay connected, and reach out to others. Obed explains that the group is continually growing, and each new member is not only encouraged and welcomed to the on-campus vespers but is extended a warm invitation to Bauer church.

God has used the Bauer church to connect individuals and create a community in which all those who are interested can find a home and a place to worship. He continues to work through this loving community which has provided good meals, worship opportunities, and warmth, but most importantly, a family. Bonita says, “These kids are our kids,” and the students definitely agree.

Paul writes about the church in Acts 2:44, 46-47, “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common…So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.” This description fits the Bauer church well. Whether it is through making extra food for the students to take home in the evening or offering a ride, the actions of the Bauer members show that they are a church filled with unity, thanksgiving, and love.

Obed reflects on the kindness of Bauer church and the Hamstras’ love saying, “It has been a blessing to have a church family close to campus where we can go almost every Sabbath to worship…It makes us feel like we have a church family like we have back at home.”


GVSU students, Bauer youth, and members during one of their many Sabbath afternoon walks in the park.
GVSU students, Bauer youth, and members during one of their many Sabbath afternoon walks in the park.