MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Some of the hardest work in Christianity is done by missionaries. People who travel the world to spread the Gospel—but everyone needs a break, even missionaries. That’s what the Missionary House is at the University of Mobile. We’re talking about that this morning with University of Mobile VP of Advancement Bruce Ernest. What is the Missionary House?
Guest: In 1977, the University of Mobile established “The Missionary House” a block from campus to provide a temporary home for Southern Baptist missionaries on furlough. To celebrate the university’s 60th Diamond Anniversary in 2021, the university took on a major renovation project to transform the home.
In the late 1970s, the Board of Directors of First Southern Federal Savings and Loan Association approached then-Mobile College about establishing a memorial for Mrs. Maury Lyon, a charter member of the Mobile College Board of Trustees. The house was constructed a block from campus in the neighboring College Woods subdivision.
Since then, the University of Mobile has hosted alumni, family, friends and more serving across the globe.
What are the recent changes that have been made?
While the house has had some renovations over the years, this major renovation included a new kitchen island, countertops, and cabinets. The bathrooms were updated with new sinks, cabinets, toilets and showers. All flooring was removed and replaced with luxury vinyl plank. Appliances including an oven/cooktop, dishwasher, refrigerator, fans and more were replaced. A new laundry room was added to the interior of the house with a new washer and dryer.
The project was a labor of love for Lisa Normand Davis, coordinator in the Office for Advancement, and Barbara Greene, administrative assistant to the president. Davis brought her professional decorating talents to the task and Greene, with a daughter and son-in-law serving in Japan through the International Mission Board, brought a heart for serving missionaries.
To see all renovations that were made, a video overview of the project is on the University of Mobile’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/universityofmobile.
Members of the community joined in the project to renovate the home, and there are opportunities for more people to join in supporting the families who come to stay. There will always be ways to improve on the missionary house. We always buy new linens, pillows and other amenities for each family that is staying. We want to make sure they have the best stay possible.
Donations to the University of Mobile Missionary House may be made at umobile.edu/giving and click “Make a Gift” to designate a donation to the Missionary House or other areas of need.
Some of the donors who contributed to the renovation are Dayspring Baptist Church in Mobile (Kris Nelson and Rob Hartman); S J & L Contractors Inc. (Mike Tew); Roberts Electric; M & E Plumbing; Hembree Heating and Air; Scotty Goldman, director of the Office of Global Missions with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions; Ray Van Slyke and Alan Nations with Campers on Mission; North Mobile Rotary Club; National Plant Services; Signal 88; Barbara and Bill Greene; Brian Boyle; Lisa Normand Davis; Phillip Maddox; Caleb Croom; Vicki Burgin; Jim Simmons; and UM Baseball Coach Jon Seymour and baseball assistants.
Why is this place important?
The missionary home reflects the service and mission focus of the University of Mobile, which was founded on Dec. 12, 1961, by Alabama Baptists and the greater Mobile community to provide Christ-centered higher education in our region.
Through the decades, University of Mobile students have served as the hands and feet of Christ in our community and across the world. One example of this service is Project Serve on Oct. 22 this year, a university-wide day of service where the entire university family comes together to go into the community and volunteer at over 30 locations. This is the 10th anniversary of Project Serve, and the list of service sites can be found at umobile.edu/projectserve.
The Missionary House is an opportunity to serve as well. We wanted to give back to the people who have given so much of themselves on the mission field.
Now, the 1,754-square-foot three-bedroom home is a beautiful and peaceful place of rest for missionaries who are answering the call to share the Gospel throughout the world. Visitors to the missionary homestay from three months to a year. The University of Mobile covers all rent and accommodations. The new renovation will help missionaries rest and rejuvenate in an up-to-date, comfortable home before heading back into the field.
How have the challenges of missionary work changed in the 21st century?
At the University of Mobile, we prepare graduates to fulfill God’s calling for their lives in whatever field He has called them to serve, whether that be in full-time missions and ministry or in fields such as health care, education, business, music, and the arts, and any of the over 75 academic programs we offer.
We believe God calls each of us to a higher purpose in whatever career field we enter. That’s what we mean by our motto, Higher Education for a Higher Purpose. So, for example, we prepare an accounting graduate to KNOW how to be excellent in his or her career field. But we train them for more than knowing their field of study. We also want them to BE KNOWN for sharing Christ’s love in all that they do, so they can be missionaries in whatever career they pursue.
That’s what we mean by the phrase Know and Be Known, and you can learn more about that at umobile.edu/beknown.