“We can talk to Marianne, because she understands how we feel.”
On October 6, 2022, Marianne Louise Murphy finished her earthly journey and was gathered into the arms of Jesus. OMF (U.S) Retiree Care Coordinator Pam Kaczmarczyk shares with us Marianne’s journey of faith and service.
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Marianne Murphy was born on December 18, 1956, to Richard and Donna Murphy in Spokane, WA. She was the oldest of three girls.
The Murphy’s moved to Washington State in 1955 and moved back to California in the summer of 1957. Although a shy girl, Marianne flourished in her 4-H club, where she gained confidence and learned leadership skills from caring adults.
When her parents moved back to Washington and purchased a farm on the outskirts of Colville, she had every opportunity to be immersed in her love of dogs, cats, and any of God’s good creatures, great and small. Always one to see the world around her with a keen eye, she was quick to see beauty and then record it as a photographer. As a reward for her artistic talent, she was named “Top 4-H Photographer in Washington State.”
In the fall of 1975 she moved to Bellingham, WA, and enrolled at Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University). In a divine appointment that changed the course and tenor of her life, she met Christian students in her dorm who enveloped her in the love and knowledge of Jesus.
Through Campus Christian Fellowship her faith became her own; she was baptized in the spirit and decided to follow Jesus with her whole heart. She became an active member of this student organization while she pursued a BA in Biology. In 1979 she participated in a summer mission trip to Japan, an experience that opened a new vista for Marianne’s life. She decided, after graduation, to attend Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada, in preparation for a career as a missionary.
For the next 26 years she served in faith and joy with OMF, first on the Island of Hokkaido for language school, then church planting in Asahikawa. After 15 years she was involved in an international church in downtown Sapporo.
Marianne was known for her gentleness and humility. One shy university student said, “We can talk to Marianne, because she understands how we feel.”
One of her co-workers wrote, “I worked alongside her when I was a new missionary in Sapporo and appreciated her so much as a big sister in the Lord, someone who was always open and ready, personable and a great example in faithfulness towards the Japanese people and international people the Lord brought to us in Sapporo International Church.”
Marianne’s pastor from Colville wrote her an encouraging note just before her death, “You have fought the good fight with such a gentle spirit, you have run the race with determined perseverance … you have caused all of heaven to rejoice on many occasions…countless souls will be in heaven because of your faithfulness to our Lord! Thank you for being an example to me of someone completely sold out to Jesus!”
Another one of her co-workers in Japan said, “Way before ‘authentic’ became the buzzword it is now, Marianne was truly ‘authentic.’ Apart from her joy and her love, which were also strong characteristics that blessed us, her integrity, her transparency, vulnerability, ‘what you see is what you get,’ her down-to-earth sincerity was what God used to most strongly impact our lives. To this day I can remember praying with Marianne. It was a joy. It was refreshing. She was ‘real’ before her Father. I learned a lot about prayer just from praying with her. I determined to pray like Marianne prayed. And to the degree that I have succeeded, I’ve been blessed. She had a simple, straightforward way of talking to God.”
In the fall of 2011, Marianne returned to the States due to a cancer diagnosis and declining health. In Bellingham, Washington, Bob and Betsy Patton opened their home and hearts for her to live with them while she maintained an aggressive fight against cancer—The “farm girl” in her just wouldn’t quit as she underwent numerous medical tests, doctor visits (locally and in Seattle) and maintained an increasingly restrictive diet regimen.
Marianne was surrounded by an outpouring of Christ’s inspired love through a host of dear people around her, particularly in the final months of her life. During this time, Marianne was a vital community member of her home church, Hillcrest Church in Bellingham. Amidst her physical suffering she continued to live the way she had always lived her life—sensitively reaching out to all different types of people, with authenticity and Jesus’ love.
Her compassionate spirit and steadfast obedience to the Lord continued to draw people close, like a gentle light in the darkness, showing the way for so many, as she faithfully prayed for people across the globe.
I was blessed to have met Marianne in Sapporo. She was so kind and full of joy, even in the midst of real trials. I wish I could have known her better. I look forward to seeing her again in glory.
I remember Marianne fondly when we were students in the same dormitory (Sigma) at Western Washington University. She was always of buoyant personality and her attitude positive and of outstanding warmth. Even after now four and a half decades she remains a very memorable soul!