We are pleased to introduce to you one of our own TWR missionaries, Marli Spieker, who is the founder and global ministry director of Project Hannah, TWR's ministry of compassion, encouragement and hope to suffering women worldwide. With an emphasis on prayer, awareness and radio programming, Project Hannah presents the gospel of Jesus Christ to women regardless of their cultural, social or economic situation.
Marli speaks about her background and her faith in Christ …
I was raised by parents who were missionaries with the Salvation Army in South Brazil. I like to think that I was raised by my own “George Müller” and “Mother Teresa.” Their lives were the embodiment of Isaiah 61. At 17, I joined them in ministering in the slums of Brazil. So it was not a surprise that when my German husband, Edmund, proposed to me, I told him, “With you I’ll go to the moon!” It was not quite that, but as TWR missionaries, we literally have gone to the ends of the world serving our King together. We have three children and eight wonderful grandchildren.
My ministry career began in Brazil where I created, produced and hosted Crianca Feliz, which was a well-known Portuguese children’s program. In addition to this, I produced and hosted various creative programs, including a women’s program for five years.
… And about how Project Hannah came into being
In 1997, while serving with TWR in Asia, the Lord called me to start Project Hannah after witnessing the situations faced by women on the streets of Singapore. I saw an Asian woman who was covered head to toe in a black veil as she walked through 100-degree heat. Anger welled up in me, and I felt God telling me: “Do you see that black veil? It is not only over her head. It is over her mind, her heart, her family, her spirit, her whole life! This woman lives in darkness.” My response was: “Whatever I can do, I will do, to bring her to the light!” But how can the light reach a woman who is hidden away, too isolated by culture, religion or fear to come in contact with the believers who can help change her life forever?
God prepared me for this challenging call earlier, during a time of personal Bible reading on the island of Guam. In that moment, my little car became a sanctuary. I felt as though God was sitting in the passenger’s seat staring at me! I came to my senses. In tears, I relinquished all my rights, my plans and my will to him. “Yes, I am the clay, Lord.” And in my mind and heart I knew that clay does not rebel; clay does not have plan A, B and C; clay does not talk back to its maker! It simply abandons itself to the shaping of the potter’s hands. I thought I was a flexible person. I was willing to go back and forth to Asia as many times as needed. We had sold our house so that we could use the mortgage payments to provide for my personal expenses traveling with Edmund. I had left behind family, church, personal comforts ... but God did not want my “flexibility.” He wanted my “pliability”; my total abandonment to his will and his skillful hands to shape me according to his plan – not mine! So, after 32 years of missionary service, I found myself surrendering my life anew to his sovereign will.
Upon returning home from Singapore, the Lord led Marli to seek the Lord’s guidance, gathering together like-minded women in what would eventually result in the annual 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Prayer is foundational. Out of this came the name “Project Hannah,” taken from the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel in which Hannah prayed and sought the Lord during difficult circumstances and trials and was blessed with children. One of these was Samuel, who went on to become a prophet mightily used by God. The Project Hannah team began holding monthly prayer meetings using a prayer calendar that focused on the plight of persecuted women worldwide.
Since Project Hannah’s beginning, Marli and her team have strived to scale cultural, religious, social and racial barriers using two powerful tools: superpower radio and high-power prayer. God is using their efforts and taking women out of darkness into the light of Jesus …. and hope wins all over the world! Today, Marli is an authority on and a strong advocate for the plight of women worldwide. She has traveled extensively to more than 70 countries and has ministered to women on virtually every continent.
The impact of Project Hannah
Today, there are more than 40,000 Project Hannah intercessors in 120 countries, praying in 70 languages asking God to intervene in the lives of women and their families. Lives are being touched and changed in many nations, and real help is being provided where previously there was no hope for hurting women.
Nearly a quarter of the world’s female population lives under the oppressive teaching that women are deficient in intelligence and spirituality. More than half of Indian women believe they deserve the abuse they receive simply for being females. Five hundred Chinese women kill themselves every day to escape a life of indignities. Something has gone terribly wrong! This picture has remained untouched for ages: historically, women have been on the receiving end of all sorts of abuse and degradation, and they are considered to be property, unclean, inferior and worth less than even a cow! Because cultures are shaped by fallen people who all too often have no understanding of women’s true value and purpose, women remain devalued and disposable. Project Hannah communicates God’s original plan for woman and her God-given destiny of worth and purpose through its radio program, Women of Hope, in more than 60 languages.
Project Hannah’s goal for outreach and expansion into additional languages
Project Hannah’s goal is to continue to expand its ministry not only by adding languages but also by adding listeners to existing languages (broadcasting Arabic programs from three transmitters instead of just one, for example). Another goal is to continue expanding the type of ministry, especially by helping to disciple new believers through partnerships like the new one entered into this past summer with The JESUS Film Project.
Through the “Magdalena” film, distributed by The JESUS Film Project, many women experience release from sin and bondage as their lives are transformed. Project Hannah is joining with The JESUS Film Project to expand the reach of “Magdalena” with a new 15-minute radio program, adding a powerful discipleship tool to Project Hannah’s global outreach to women. We encourage you to join Project Hannah and help provide programs for immigrants on MP3 players, Internet articles created from Women of Hope scripts and other creative media applications. As TWR inaugurates its powerful new AM programming to Afghanistan and surrounding regions, Project Hannah is seeking to develop funding in 2013 for programs to Afghani Dari-speaking women that will air in 2014. This will build on Project Hannah’s 2012 expansion into Arabic, Farsi, Somali and Turkish. In Project Hannah’s 15th anniversary year, God continues to fulfill his call to Marli to reach women behind every “veil” that cultures and societies create to keep women from the truth of the gospel.