Marilyn grew up on a small farm in Valparaiso, Indiana, as the eldest of four daughters of Martin and Lois Laszlo. As a young girl, while plowing the fields of her parent’s farm, she made a commitment to be a missionary.
She graduated from Bryan College, Tennessee, which awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Letters (May 2003). Marilyn studied linguistics at the University of Oklahoma and then kept her commitment to God by serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators. She and a translation partner served in Hauna Village, home of the Sepik Iwam people of Papua New Guinea. Marilyn, her sister Shirley, and their language helpers took an unwritten language and created an alphabet and reading books, and taught the people to read and write. Marilyn and Shirley did medical work, and trained indigenous people to operate a local school, store, and clinic.
Today the ministry that Marilyn started continues on in Hauna Village being led by her sister Shirley. 700 students are being educated in Hauna and other surrounding villages on the Sepik. Teachers are trained in Hauna and then sent out to work in villages up river. The two-story medical clinic that Marilyn built still exists. Each day, one room is used as a clinic where a nurse gives basic care and hands out medications if they are available. Occasionally the other rooms are made operational for a team of doctors who bring their specialties to the jungle environment.
Marilyn moved back to the United States permanently to take care of her aging parents. She began telling her story in churches and through her three videos “Mountain of Light,” “Come by Here” and “Return to Hauna.” They can be found in our store here. During the past 20 years, Marilyn has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people in churches, on college campuses, at retreats and conventions.
In 2012 due to health issues, Marilyn had to cease speaking publicly on the road. She returned to Hauna for a final visit with her friends there and to remember where it all began.
Marilyn passed away on September 9, 2021. Many people gathered to celebrate her life and hear and share stories of her impact. The LML Board of Directors established the Marilyn Laszlo Legacy Fund in her memory. This fund has been set up as a scholarship endowment for young people going into the mission field or Bible translation work. Giving to the Marilyn Laszlo Legacy Fund will allow your gifts to give vital scholarships in perpetuity to those following Marilyn’s path. You can give toward this fund here.