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Marilyn Vyzourek: Rescuing the Lost and the Least

CBC graduate and founder of Gospel Shelters for Women in Colorado Springs, Marilyn Vyzourek. Photo courtesy of CBS Denver (Click to enlarge)In the mid nineteen-nineties, Marilyn Vyzourek and her husband, Paul, were living contently in Kansas. In May of 1995, however, a single conversation changed the direction of their lives forever. Friends of the Vyzourek's brought up the topic of speaking in tongues. Having come from a conservative church background, they didn't knowing much about the gift of tongues, so the couple gave Marilyn and Paul one of Andrew's teachings on the subject. This was the Vyzourek's introduction to Andrew's ministry and it marked the beginning of a new season in their walk with the Lord. After listening to the message, Marilyn and Paul Marilyn walks with one of the many women she has ministered to through her Gospel Shelters for Women ministry. (Click to enlarge)were baptized in the Holy Spirit and received the gift of tongues, and by August of 1995, the Vyzoureks had relocated to Colorado Springs and enrolled in Charis Bible College.

During his first year at CBC, the Lord led Paul to bring sandwiches to the homeless and needy in the Springs. With the assistance of one of Paul's CBC instructors, Don Krow, and several fellow classmates, Paul and Marilyn steadily served the homeless community. It was out of these efforts that a food pantry ministry was birthed.

Liza's Place in Colorado Springs.
(Click to enlarge)
Initially the food was stored in a closet at the AWM headquarters, but in 1996, after Marilyn joined Paul as a student at CBC, the couple took a step of faith and founded Springs Rescue Mission (SRM). More than a food pantry, SRM became a parachurch ministry set up to serve and help the hungry, homeless, struggling, indigent and addicted in the Springs, by ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of each person.

The Vyzoureks graduated from CBC's two-year program, Paul in 1997, Marilyn in 1998, and Marilyn was ordained in 1999. Marilyn giving the ladies from Covenant Presbyterian Church a tour of the Hope Home facility. Hope Home is a 10-bed facility serving women with co-occurring disorders. (Click to enlarge)She credits her time at CBC with helping her identify who she is in Christ and for recognizing the call on her life to minister to the forgotten and the lost. The couple also learned what unrelenting faith is all about. "It was one step at a time, without knowing what the next step was—a lot of faith in God's leading," remembered Marilyn.

Paul and Marilyn remained at SRM until 2000, when they moved to New York City and established another rescue ministry called, New York Metropolitan City Mission, part of which remains active to this day. After getting the ministry off the ground, the Vyzoureks returned Marilyn and staff during a GSW graduation ceremony in April of 2011. (Click to enlarge)to Colorado and rejoined the staff of SRM.

In 2002, the Lord led Marilyn to launch a new, non-profit rescue ministry focused on homeless women and women recently released from incarceration in Colorado Springs. Prompted by her passion for society's rejected and an unfortunate tragedy, Marilyn opened a transitional housing facility called, Liza's Place under the ministry name, Gospel Shelters for Women.

The unfortunate tragedy, which led to the naming of the facility, occurred on September 10, 2001 Because Marilyn believes that it is only through Jesus Christ that the human heart can be healed, group Bible study is a mandatory part of the rescue mission programs. (Click to enlarge)when 39-year-old, Liza Chavez, a woman whom Marilyn had been helping, was murdered on the streets of Colorado Springs. Liza was an alcoholic and had served time in jail for several non-violent crimes. Upon release from jail, Liza found herself without a support system, living outside, and sleeping in local parks and under bridges in the Springs. Although Liza faced an uphill battle to create a stable existence for herself, Marilyn said she was anxious to turn her life around. The night before Liza was killed she called Marilyn and said, "If you don't have a women's home for me to go to and get off of these streets, I would just as soon go to be with Jesus." Marilyn formed the shelter in response to the need for a safe, supportive home environment for women like Liza.Mighty women of God celebrate another graduation in June of 2011. The women are transformed as they go through the program. (Click to enlarge)

Gospel Shelters for Women, which now includes two rescue programs, the second one called Hope Home, provides housing and structure for the women it serves and teaches them about God's love. "At Gospel Shelters for Women we have devotions and a Bible study in the morning and a Bible study at 7pm. Many of the teachings are things that we learned at CBC. We also teach Discipleship Evangelism and many of Andrew's other teachings," said Marilyn.

While introducing the women to Jesus and equipping them spiritually is foremost on Marilyn's mind, her vision for rescue includes practical life skills and workplace training as well. As Gospel Shelters for Women Thrift Store in Colorado Springs provides a place for the ladies of Liza'a place and Hope Home to learn business skills as part of their training. (Click to enlarge) part of the program, the women learn how to take care of themselves, manage and budget their finances, and they also develop marketable business skills while working at the Gospel Shelters for Women Thrift Store.

Marilyn is many things to many people, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a business manager and a minister, but at her core she, like Jesus, is a lover of people—especially the lost. In Marilyn's own words rescue ministry is, "Ministry to the least, the last and the lost; men or women who are homeless or about to be homeless if not for your help."

"People turn their back on the poor because they do not understand them and they judge them. Most of these people have an addiction which hides the hurt and pain of the past," said Marilyn. She considers her work to be her calling and her ordination to be like a marriage vow. Marilyn works diligently to fulfill both. If you would like to know more about Marilyn's work or help support her efforts, visit the Liza's Place website.

National talk show host Glenn Beck.
(Click to enlarge)
Special Note: Marilyn's mission statement: "To help homeless and previously incarcerated women with programs of restoration through the Love of Jesus, Bible truths and self-discipline," is boldly posted, front and center on the ministry's home page. Marilyn has never hidden the ministry aspect of her efforts. Recently, however, the shelter's emphasis on sharing God's Word caused a stir in the media. In early November, Marilyn's ministry made local and national headlines, when her organization lost State and Federal funding for refusing to make the Bible study components of the programs "optional." The story even caught the eye of well-known American conservative political commentator, Glenn Beck, who not only supported Marilyn's refusal, but
made a large donation to help offset the lost funding.

Reader Comments (3)

I heard the "episode" on the radio when Glenn told her he was going to make up the lost funding. It was really heart-warming and touching that he did that. She was pretty shocked and grateful.

December 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

I agree, it was kind of Glenn to make a donation. Hopefully the national spotlight drew more attention (and support) to the Gospel Shelters for Women and Marilyn's ministry efforts.

January 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterKevin Bree

Pastor I have a question, so are you saying that pastors should not explain to people who have come to know Christ what sin is? For example, in my neighborhood the schools are teaching children about two mommies and two daddies and that this it's okay. Also, in High School, many of the teenagers are being told by their friends that lesbianism and being Gay is acceptable. To point out that these behaviors are sinful, are we wrong to speak about this? How will they know, except they are told, and isn't it our responsibility as leaders to point these things out? Also, since Christ paid for our sins, are you saying that we can continue in our sins...and expect to still enter in to heaven because Christ has paid for our sins or are we accountable to cease from sinning? How will we know this except someone explain the consequences. Thank you for your time. God Bless. Sorry about the errors in the first post.

January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPastor Annette Grace

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