Campus Ministry Introduces Christianity to International Students4 min read

Deaconess Anne Bakker wished to become a missionary to a country in Latin America, so she learned Spanish and took classes that would help her understand the culture. Little did she know the plans God had for her. He is using her in international ministry, yes, but not in Latin America. She’s in Mount Pleasant, MI, and internationals from all over the world come to her! Anne is the Director of International Ministry at Christ the King (CTK) Chapel, on the campus of CMU.

CTK Chapel had been built on the edge of campus in the 60s. The campus grew around it and now the chapel is at the center of it all. CTK is connected to Zion, Mt. Pleasant. According to Anne, they are “one church with two buildings and two pastors.” CTK’s International Student Ministry (ISM) started in 1998. Anne is the third director, and has been there for about 7.5 years. In the CTK website, she summarizes the role of the chapel: “I have traveled all over the world, and lived in several different countries for a short time. When I traveled, I wished that there was a place I could go to that would help me with the difficulties and challenges of living in a foreign country. In Mount Pleasant, our International Ministry at Christ The King Lutheran Chapel is that place. We can be a part of your support system away from home, and help make your transition to the United States easier, and your stay in Mount Pleasant enjoyable.”


When Anne began her work with ISM in the summer of 2007, there were about 20 students involved. Now there are over 200 students from 30+ different countries. She remembers one young Asian woman who walked into the church one day; she hardly spoke any English. Anne began to work one-on-one with her, and then started Bible studies. The woman learned her English basically from the Bible. Later she was baptized and joined the congregation.

Anne says that now “Half of the internationals we work with are Muslim. The last few years I have specifically made a point for ISM to host activities and events that would engage our church members and Muslim students (primarily from the Middle East) in conversation, and help them to become more comfortable around each other.” In order to do that, in April 2013 they rented a bus and drove down to Dearborn  to visit the Arab-American Museum in Dearborn. “There, we received a tour of the museum, and ate an authentic Arabic lunch afterward,” says Anne. About 50 foreign and American students participated. Anne says that the trip helped congregation members learn more about and feel more comfortable around Muslims, and all enjoyed the time spent together on the bus.


The ISM hosts an international food night at the chapel every year. In 2011, for example, they had a sushi night, where students watched the rice being cooked, took turns rolling the rice in seaweed, and then got to enjoy it (photo). This year, the featured food was from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran. Internationals, American students, church and community members came together to help make many different, delicious dishes.

In addition to this, there is a group of Muslim and Christian ladies that enjoy going out to eat together from time to time. Anne adds, “We have Muslim men and women who are active in our English classes, some who are interested in sending their children to our preschool next year, and I am currently working with one Muslim lady on the basics of Christianity.”

The Muslim students they work with come from Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Most of them join the ministry because of recommendations from friends or the university’s international office.

We have Muslim men and women who are active in our English classes, some who are interested in sending their children to our preschool next year, and I am currently working with one Muslim lady on the basics of Christianity.”

The International Chapel offers several activities and services to the students, such as: conversation partners, English and Bible classes (including “Introduction to Christianity”), American cooking and baking, pastoral care and counsel, a place to study and relax, TV, movies and video games, ping pong and billiards, free lunch on Mondays, full kitchen for student use, mom and child play group, international women’s club, game nights, weekly Bible studies, weekly worship services, and more.

To find out whether your university in Michigan has a Lutheran Campus Ministry, click here. To learn more about the International Student Ministry at CTK, visit

What about your own community? Do you know which nationalities are represented there? The Michigan District has made available a demographics program whereby congregations and individuals can study the population, economic, and cultural trends of the area around them. You can find it, along with instructions on how to access it, here. You can also see Census data for your area.

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About the Author

Elisa is a staff writer, copy editor, and photographer for the Michigan District, LCMS.

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