Today we both lament and yet celebrate the life of a treasured servant of the Lord,
Marilyn Van Houten aged 93. (October 22, 1929-March 2, 2023)
As those of you who receive our newsletter know, Marilyn had been struggling for the last couple of weeks. Her family gathered around her first at her hospital bed, praying for her, singing hymns to her, encouraging her on until it became clear that her time was short.
Hospice was called and Marilyn was brought home as she requested – to live out her final days at home where she was ably supported and ministered to until the end.
Lisa told me that her last words to her mother were the benediction: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26. Marilyn had tears in her eyes in a sweet and final acknowledgement between them.
Much of how I know Marilyn comes through Lisa. I met Lisa around 1980. Jan and I were youth leaders and Lisa was a junior in high school. Lisa was thoughtful, conscientious, intelligent, intuitive, sincere, and Biblically mature. Jan and I were drawn to Lisa from those early days. And then we learned that Lisa’s dad had died of genetic kidney disease. So, Lisa’s mom lost her husband at a very young age. Lisa is the baby of the family – the youngest in the family of 6.
Lisa and her 3 sisters are each faithful, gifted servants of the Lord in their own unique ways, whether it’s child care, lead secretary at a local Christian school, bookkeeper for a very large area dairy farm, effective, diligent lead secretary for a Grand Rapids attorney. Faithful. Christ centered. Marilyn’s two sons, are also a credit and a blessing to her and shine forth within the family. Ready to serve. Hardworking. Bright. Honorable. Respectful. This is a short and understated list.
How does a mother who lost her husband at a young age raise such a family? I have been to birthday parties organized by her family. Marilyn is adored and honored by them. Kind, faithful, hard-working, charitable, committed to her God and her family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
We at American Decency Association also know her for being one of the backbones of ADA as
a long-time volunteer from the earliest days of our ministry – going back to the late 80s and early 90s right up through recent months. Marilyn was tireless – always at the table with others assembling our newsletters, preparing our bulletin inserts, making monthly calls to our volunteers to inform them of an upcoming mailing and/or event. In short, Marilyn’s family, including Lisa, came by their working spirit and aptitude honestly!
Marilyn was kept by the Hand of the Lord and her ears were turned toward the Lord and the truth of His ways. Her children have seen it in their mother, growing up and watching her care for her husband over the course of his kidney disease, including after he lost his eyesight. Marilyn took him to doctors’ appointments in and out of state. This included the travails of traveling to Nashville, TN for a kidney transplant surgery requiring a significant time away from home. The family lived through these years and through their father’s death and their mother’s continued commitment and adjustments while carrying so much responsibility.
Over these years, Marilyn has kept her focus upon the Lord. Steadfast, honorable, gentle, loving, kind – her ear to truth. Her life is a solid representation of the fruit of truth in her life and in that of her children. She will be missed by all who knew her.