God’s call to missions doesn’t always mean going overseas; for some, it means returning to their
alma mater to teach other students who are looking to answer God’s call.
Suzanne Bell, (B.A. ’75) and assistant professor of education at Cornerstone, came to Grand
Rapids Baptist Bible College (CU) intent on answering God’s call, though it’s been a different
road than she expected.
“I had committed my heart to missions before I came, and I knew this was a very strong school
biblically, and it wasn’t too far from home,” Bell said.
The freshman class at the time was just over one hundred, which Bell said seemed huge at the
time. There were fewer buildings as well, such as a much smaller gym. The library was in the
Ketchum building, and chapel and some classes were held in the current dining hall. “Daverman
was where all our classes were, but then it was just called “the classroom building,” said Bell.
Bell met her first husband, Tim Klomparens at Cornerstone. They took turns working to support
each other through college, and then both went to Michigan State University to prepare for
“He was going to work in agriculture. We were accepted by a mission board and all set to go to
Nigeria, and then Tim was diagnosed with cancer,” Bell said.
Their son, Joel, was born November 13 of 1977. Tim was diagnosed the day before, the 12th. Six
months later, Klomparens passed away.
“I had made a commitment to missions a long time ago, so I told the mission that I would still
go out. I couldn’t do agriculture, but they found a place for me in a boarding school called Kent
Academy in Jos, Nigeria,” Bell said.
She served as a “dorm mommy” to 20 little boys. While she was there, she said she realized
she needed a career in order to support her son and continue serving God. Returning to West
Michigan, she got her Masters degree in teaching.
“When I finished, I realized I had this teaching degree but I didn’t want to teach full time
because I had a little boy. But God miraculously opened up the door for me to teach here [at
Cornerstone] part time,” Bell said.
Bell continued to teach and remarried in 1984 to Daniel Bell; soon after she gave birth to a
daughter. When their daughter reached middle school, Bell began wanting to use her teaching
degree again. She taught full time at the Potter’s House Christian School for six years.
Reminiscing about her time there, Bell said “God is at work [at the Potter’s House] but because
I just can’t come home after I teach and forget all the heartbreak and the problems (of the inner-city children in my classrom), it began to become too much for me so I began
asking God if He would open the door to return to Cornerstone to teach full time."
Bell said God once again worked in miraculous ways. "I ran into the head of the teacher
education department, who asked me: ‘You have your Masters in teaching. Would you come
back and teach?’ So that’s how it all worked: God just opened the door.”
Bell is now in her tenth year teaching full time at Cornerstone. She was able to get her favorite
classes back - Children Literature and Adolescent Literature and has added three different
reading classes required for elementary education students.
“As much as I miss The Potter’s House , I realize that I can multiply my impact by teaching
[college] students to teach their students,” Bell said.
Aubree Cantrall, an alumnus of Cornerstone who is currently teaching at Potter’s House,
had Bell as a professor during her time here. Cantrall said “Professor Bell has a deep-rooted,contagious joy. She has been through difficult things in life, but she has not lost her ability to praise the Lord through it all.”
God has used Cornerstone in Bell’s life throughout the years, but He also uses Bell to work in the
lives of Cornerstone students, empowering them to spread God’s love through educating and
serving. “She is incredibly compassionate, is gifted in listening and encouraging, and is always
willing to make time to pour her life into students,” Cantrall said.