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.
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.
The project was a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary of a university where students receive diplomas at commencement held on the Great Commission Lawn, then touch the Great Commission Globe to signify their commitment to serve Christ as they go into the world beyond the campus gates.
UM President Lonnie Burnett said, “The missionary home reflects the service, mission focus of our school. We wanted to give back to the folks who have given so much of themselves on the mission field.”
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 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.
Visitors to the missionary home stay 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.
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.
While the house has had some renovations over the years, this major renovation included a new kitchen island, counter tops 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 initial money to renovate the missionary house was given by the president’s office at the University of Mobile, but we couldn’t have completed the project without the help of others in our community,” said Davis.
Among the many in the Mobile area who provided services or funds to complete the project were 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.
“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,” said Davis.
The University of Mobile is still accepting donations for the missionary house. Visit umobile.edu/giving and click “Make a Gift” to designate a donation to the missionary house or other areas of need. For more ways to give, call the office for advancement at 251-442-2913 or email Lisa Davis at email@example.com.
To see all renovations that were made, watch a video overview of the project below: