Many buildings have a history, but few buildings have a personality. The ELWA Missionary Guesthouse had both. It wasn't a consulate, but international dignitaries often visited. It wasn't a school, but life lessons were taught and learned there every day. It wasn't a church, but Jesus dwelled there.
Originally constructed by ELWA's founding missionaries in the 1950's, the Guesthouse was the gathering place for an entire generation of children, who still lovingly refer to themselves as the "ELWA Kids" though many are now in their 40's, 50's and 60's. And its door was always open. Foreign leaders from around the world were welcomed and entertained. Local people walked in any time of the day or night to get a drink, or something to eat, or a kind word in the name of Jesus. Over the years, the ELWA Guesthouse also served as a barber shop, a movie theater, a roller-skating rink, a funeral parlor, and a dining hall. It hosted barbecues, babysitting classes, piano recitals, wedding showers, skit nights, Saturday baking parties, and farewell gatherings for departing missionary families after decades of service. It was home to all and a haven for those in need.
In those days, Sunday school classes were held at the ELWA Guesthouse every week for both adults and children. The memories among the ELWA Kids of those who came to Christ in that large meeting room are numerous, sweet, and indelible. There was the mother who always dropped her kids off for class and finally decided one day to attend herself. She later became a missionary. Then there here was the couple who visited ELWA Hospital for treatment of his wife's depression; they were sent by the doctors instead to the guest house for a dose of Jesus and joined the family of God that very day. There was the German crewman who left his ship due to illness, stayed at the guest house for a few days, and became a believer when a German song was “inadvertently” played on an ELWA Radio program. God was on call 24/7.
The 14-year civil war that devastated Liberia left the ELWA Guesthouse in serious disrepair. Efforts have been made over the years to restore the structure, but the lack of funds and the commitment to other urgent priorities have hampered progress. Now the original ELWA Kids are mounting a new and determined effort to completely renovate the Guesthouse once and for all. One of their own, Dan Snyder, went to be with the Lord recently. Dan was a wonderful man of God who loved ELWA and loved Liberia. After the civil war, Dan brought two pastors from the U.S. to train Liberian pastors. They ministered to them in the run down conference area of the ELWA Missionary Guesthouse. Dan knew that if they went to train the pastors they would fall in love with the Liberian people too. That was the last time the Guesthouse was used for training. Last month these two pastors officiated at Dan's funeral.
In Dan's last visits to Liberia, he often commented on the sadness he felt when he saw the Guesthouse dark and silent. Dan was a member of the ELWA Ministries Board of Directors in the United States and we also heard his heart for restoring the ELWA Guesthouse. Dan's family, the ELWA Kids and ELWA Ministries now see this restoration project as a way to honor Dan's memory and his life of selflessness and love for the Liberian people. We too are now committed to restoring the ELWA Guesthouse to the warm, friendly, personal place it was for ministry again.
The timing of this restoration effort by ELWA Ministries and the ELWA Kids is most appropriate. Since the Ebola crisis has passed, there has been a renewed interest among pastors, teachers, and mission teams to serve at ELWA. In addition, the new ELWA Hospital will be dedicated in October, bringing doctors and medical personnel to the campus for training. An urgent need exists for a fully-operational guesthouse to accommodate these many visitors. The small stipends that these visitors are charged will also generate critical revenue to support on-going projects across the ELWA campus year after year. The ELWA Guesthouse restoration will include extensive interior framing, electrical wiring and plumbing, replacement windows, flooring, new appliances and furniture, as well as painting and decor. When completed, it will feature seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, a full-sized kitchen, large separate dining area, laundry facilities, and a meeting space for 50 people. The estimated cost of the project is $135,000.
The goal is to start the renovation in February 2017 and complete it by June 2017. Will you help us bring the ELWA Missionary Guesthouse back to life for the generations that will follow? We still need $113,000 ($22,000 has been raised so far) to complete this project before the work starts in February.
You can donate by mail to:
ELWA Ministries Association USA
P.O. Box 1
Warrenville, IL 60555
(Enclose a note " ELWA Missionary Guesthouse")
You can donate online:
Just click on the "Donate to ELWA Missionary Guesthouse" button below and when at our website, click on the drop-down box and select ELWA Guesthouse Restoration.
We pray that in 2017 we will finally celebrate the grand opening of the restored ELWA Missionary Guesthouse. On that day, we will remember those who served there in the past and pray for those who will serve there in the future. We will ask God's blessing on it, and ask for His love, grace, healing and peace for all those who visit.
To God be the Glory,
Board of Directors