Marilyn Gibbs: Missionary in Ukraine
By Selma Komisky
Marilyn Gibbs is a single missionary woman who has been serving in the Ukraine for 15 years. Seasoned, she has also served seven years at Calvary Chapel Ternopil and 10 years in Austria, Romania, and Hungary. Currently, she is a part of Calvary Chapel Living Water Mukachevo and this is her testimony.
“I spent many years partying and being involved with several long term relationships that left me hurt, angry, and bitter,” says Gibbs. As a restaurant manager, she spent most of her life working and going to alternative and punk clubs where she would try to dance away her emptiness and hurt. When someone shared with her that he was a Christian, Gibbs states, “I asked him to take me to church, I knew that God was my only hope. It several weeks of sitting in the back of church crying that I finally understood that I was forgiven.”
She continues, “I went home, kneeled on my bathroom floor, and prayed to receive Jesus into my heart. I was done with the world and I wanted to follow Him alone. When I stood up, the Lord spoke to my heart to study His Word and that He would send me out. I understood that I would be a missionary. Almost three years later, I left for Austria with two bags, a guitar, and several hundred dollars. That was almost 23 years ago. I have had the blessing and privilege of serving the Lord as a missionary all these years.”
Gibbs serves in the church as a musician playing the flute on the worship team. Additionally, she teaches women’s bible studies, assists with children’s ministry in several of the villages, and teaches a midweek Bible study in Beregova, Ukraine. However, the majority of her time is immersed in ministering to the surrounding Gypsy villages in the region which began after a season of church planting.
Right now, in three different villages, about ten to twelve Gypsy women gather from the ages of about 15 to 60 years old. The younger women are already married with children and often sit in on the studies. These studies are simple and focus on God’s grace and the need to trust Him in all situations. Gibbs shares, “We follow the studies with discussion and prayer. Often, we are invited into their homes for coffee. This is so special to me and this is where we learn of many of the challenges they are facing. I teach the women through a translator, Notika, who has been working with the Gypsies villages for the last five years. The Lord used Notika’s relationship with the Gypsies to open the door for me to minister to the people.”
Gibbs shares her closing thoughts, “I became a missionary, I thought of all the ways I was going to bless people and draw them to Jesus. But the humbling fact is I have been blessed by the local people’s love, prayers, and hospitality. The people I have come to minister to have ministered to me and shown me God’s amazing grace.”
Find out more about Marilyn at http://gibbsinukraine.blogspot.com