Mission & History


Guiding Light Mission exists to create a healing experience that allows individuals to discover a new life in Christ. We expect re-engagement in community. We provide food and shelter to all, and resources to men that support their social, physical, spiritual, and intellectual needs.


Guiding Light Mission was first established as West Fulton Mission in 1929 by a layman named John Van de Water. It began out of a need for meals for the unfortunate in the community.

In 1957, the new Guiding Light Mission was opened at 50 South Division Ave. by Andrew and Cornelia VanderVeer. The VanderVeer’s had been leading the Mission since 1944 and had begun to recognize a growing need for their services closer to the heart of downtown. With the help of the Grand Rapids Board of Evangelism of the Christian Reformed Church, they established their new location and began serving in the heart of Grand Rapids.

Shortly after moving to its new location, Guiding Light Mission started what would become one of the most important components of its program. After receiving its certification from the state, Guiding Light Mission began offering treatment for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. This would eventually develop into the S.T.A.R.T. program. The program has continued to evolve and is now the New Life in Christ program.

The VanderVeers served faithfully until 1966 when Andrew died suddenly while delivering an evening chapel service. The following years were difficult for the Mission. Cornelia passed in 1968; and, after a brief stay, the new director resigned. The board began seriously considering closing Guiding Light Mission. In 1968 Guiding Light Mission officially closed.

The Mission remained closed for one year until Jacob Vredevoog, an assistant to the VanderVeer’s, reopened Guiding Light Mission as an independent faith project. He did this with his own money and with the support of local donors. Vredevoog served until 1972 and passed away.

The Mission was then led and expanded by a number of directors including Edward Oosterhouse, Herm Koning, Lucky Hobson, and Chico Daniels. Under their leadership, Guiding Light Mission outgrew its original location and was moved to its current location at 255 S. Division Ave.

Today, Guiding Light Mission continues to serve the mission set forth by its founders. We continue to provide services to the homeless and suffering while sharing the love of Christ with those in need. As we move into the future, our mission remains to provide recovery and re-engagement for those living at society’s margins.

To learn more about our history, click here