Many buildings have a history, but few buildings have a personality. The ELWA Missionary Guesthouse has 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 "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 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 were made over the years to restore the structure, but the lack of funds and the commitment to other urgent priorities hampered progress. In xxxx, the ELWA Kids mounted a new and determined effort to completely renovate the Guesthouse after one of their own, Dan Snyder, suddenly went to be with the Lord. Dan was a wonderful man of God who loved ELWA and loved Liberia. After the civil war, Dan brought two pastors from the US to train Liberian pastors. Dan knew that if those pastors went to Liberia to train the pastors they would fall in love with the Liberian people. The training was held in the rundown conference area of the ELWA Missionary Guesthouse. A few months later, those 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's family, the ELWA Kids and ELWA Ministries saw this restoration project as a way to honor Dan's memory and his life of selflessness and love for the Liberian people and 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 was most appropriate. Since the Ebola crisis had passed, there had been a renewed interest among pastors, teachers, and mission teams to serve at ELWA. In addition, the new ELWA Hospital was dedicated in October, XXXX, bringing doctors and medical personnel to the campus for training. An urgent need existed for a fully-operational guesthouse to accommodate these, and other visitors.
Miraculously, $135,000 was raised quickly and work began early in 2017. The project included extensive interior framing, electrical wiring and plumbing, replacement windows, flooring, new appliances and furniture, as well as painting and decor. The result is seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, a full-sized kitchen, large separate dining area, laundry facilities, and a meeting space for 50 people.
The guesthouse was dedicated in November of 2017 by a group of ELWA Kids who traveled to ELWA for that event. Two ELWA Kids in that group had lived in that house during their childhood years. One of those spent the following year at ELWA running the Guesthouse.
The small stipend visitors are charged generates critical revenue to support on-going projects across the ELWA campus year after year.
EMAUSA is grateful for the partnership with ELWA Kids in this project.