First Light: The Early Years – Mid Century 1929-1956
Mr. John Vande Water knew he wanted to open his mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The big questions were where and how. He started by touring Grand Rapids neighborhoods, going door to door, and calling on people. He loved meeting strangers and getting straight to the point: “Do you attend any church in the area?”
Some would affirm that they did, but many more didn’t “want anything to do with that bible bunk!” In fact, an astounding two-thirds of the hundreds of homes Mr. Van visited knew very little about Christianity and had a negative impression of it. But God gave Mr. Vande Water a lot of passion and energy for meeting, connecting and helping as many people as he could, regardless of their beliefs. He knew that faithful action and Christ’s love would win hearts.
The West Fulton Street Mission opened on March 31, 1929, a mere seven months before the big stock market crash that kicked off a decade of lost money, closed banks and lack of work. At that time, the Mission was less about handing out food and more about spreading the gospel and saving souls. They did have an on-site thrift store, but for the most part, the space existed as a meeting place – a street church of sorts, attended by whomever Mr. Vande water could get to come.
in 1944, John Vande Water was asked to serve at a mission in New Jersey and Andrew Vander Veer took over the reigns as Field Missionary.
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17