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Bible Translator, Missionary Marilyn Laszlo Dead at 88

Bible Translator, Missionary Marilyn Laszlo Dead at 88

A Bible translator who helped develop a written language for a Papua New Guinea village has died.

Marilyn Laszlo, 88, died Sept. 9 from Alzheimer’s near Valparaiso, Indiana.

Laszlo is best known for her work as a Bible translator, a missionary and her time spent in the Hauna Village in Papua New Guinea helping create a written language to translate the Bible, Christianity Today reports.

Laszlo spent 24 years living in the village of the Sepik Iwam people, where she first started teaching by carving words into banana leaves.

According to Christianity Today, village leaders began a five-day mourning ritual called a “house cry” in Laszlo’s honor when they heard of her death. They covered themselves in mud to grieve and to take part in commemorations for her.

“Marilyn’s legacy is still touching lives in Hauna Village and across the world,” said John Chesnut, President and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators. “Praise God that this faithful servant is now in the presence of her Savior.”

Laszlo was sent to Hauna through Wycliffe in 1967 and later served as a speaker for the ministry before launching her organization, Laszlo Mission League, in 2003.

Laszlo’s missionary story has been the subject of several documentaries, memoirs, and even Laszlo herself spoke about her experiences in churches and colleges.

“The number of people who are on the mission field today because of Marilyn’s story? Who knows,” said Topher Philgreen, president of Laszlo Mission League, which estimates that she inspired thousands to become missionaries. “We need to carry on what she started. The need is still very large in places like Papua New Guinea.”

Previously, Laszlo said she lived in the village to “meet these people in their own culture and in their own language.”

Laszlo finished her translation work for the village in 1990. She spoke and worked in missions until 2012. In 2013, she took her final trip to the village.

“Marilyn Laszlo was tough as nails and had guts for Jesus; and she will be greatly missed,” said Franklin Graham, who got to know Laszlo through her work in Papua New Guinea in the early 1980s and wrote the foreword to her book, Mission Possible. “To know Marilyn Laszlo was to know a woman of good humor, grace, and grit. She wasn’t afraid of anything and her compassion for people was the hallmark of ministry throughout her life.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Hicco Dodi FC

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.