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Marli Spieker's Testimony

Marli is executive director of Project Hannah, a ministry of Trans World Radio, that  is reaching out with compassion and hope to suffering women across the globe living in spiritual darkness.  After ministering to women in Brazil, her home country, Marli has been leading women's ministries in Canada and the United States since 1983.  For more information, check www.gospelcom/twr/ph/index.php

After living and serving in my homeland of Brazil for 38 years, God took me to the ends of the world to show me His transforming power and grace reaching out and saving women in many countries on five continents.  He also burned into my mind and heart a picture of the suffering, the horrors, the fear, and despair in which millions of our sisters, especially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, live with day in and day out.

So, I warn you that what I am going to share with you is not amusing at all.  No, it is not something which will thrill your heart.  It might upset you, and may I gently say that:  I hope it will!  I hope your heart will be broken as mine is.  For only then God will be able to use you in ways you would never imagine to bring glory to His name.

God is able to bring Beauty out of ashes and Hope out of despair.  If He can use a simple mother and grandmother from South Brazil to go around the world in HIS name and for HIS sake, He certainly has a plan for you today.  He wants to open your horizons and take you out of your comfort zone so that you will stand in the gap.  If nothing else, you will pray for those women around the world who cannot pray for themselves!

I was born and raised in Brazil in a humble Salvation Army family.  I remember my mother going out on the streets and bringing the homeless, the downtrodden and the prostitutes to our house.  She would feed, bathe, love them, and then talk to them about Jesus.  When I was 5 years of age, I was sent to a girls' boarding school because my parents took care of 65 orphans-ages 4 to 18--all boys.  Because I have two natural brothers, I grew up among 67 brothers!  That was a dangerous place for a little girl to be, and that's why my parents sent me away.  At age 13, I came back home.  By then, I was a sad, insecure teenager, struggling with feelings of inadequacy and rejection.

At 15, sad and tired, I gave my life to God.  He gave me His love, joy and peace.  In return, I gave Him my all.  At 16, breaking all the Salvation Army rules, I was accepted at their Bible school.  I started working in the slums, the brothels, and the bars of big cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, doing exactly what I had seen my mother do: giving hope to the hopeless, feeding, bathing, loving, and then telling them about Jesus and His love for them.

Later, God gave me a wonderful German husband who shares the same desire to reach out to people and to serve the Lord with all his life.  For over 31 years, we have been with Trans World Radio (TWR), starting out in Brazil.  Sixteen years ago, TWR invited my husband to join their international team.  So, we came to the United States with our three children.  For 10 years, my husband was TWR's International Director and concentrated much of his time in Asia Pacific.  I was here in the U.S. as his "support staff."

After our daughter and youngest son got married (four months apart), my husband invited me to go to Asia with him.  Since Edmund was away more than 6 months a year, I sure wanted to be with him; but there was nothing ministry-wise for me to do in Asia.  He kept reassuring me: "You will see; God has something beautiful for you there.  I know He has!"  So, convinced that he is my first priority, I went with him first to Guam where TWR has its powerful transmitters and studios. 

I am a Martha - a doer.  I am also a woman who always has a plan A, B, and C in my pocket, just in case.  I was presenting my well-elaborated plans to the Lord, trying to convince Him that the best thing for me to do would be to stay in the States and take care of the new ministry to 83 young mothers, which I started in our church, and also help take care of our new grandson--the most beautiful baby in the whole world!

The day after our arrival on Guam, having nothing to do, I took the mission's old car and drove to a deserted beach.  I had my Bible with me.  I was hoping God would talk to me and give me an answer to my suggestions.  As I opened my Bible, the Lord took me to the Potter's house in Jeremiah 18:2, "Go down to the potter's house..."  In verse 6, I read: "So declares the Lord: Behold like clay in the potter's hand, so are you in MY hand..."

I closed the Bible.  God was talking to me, but I did not want to hear that kind of message.  I opened the Bible again.  This time, I was in the book of Isaiah, my favorite prophet.  My eyes fell on verse 8 of Chapter 64. "But now oh Lord, we are the clay and you are the potter, and all of us are the work of your hands."   I closed the Bible quickly.  What He was saying was really not what I wanted to hear.  So I tried again!  Maybe in the N.T. Paul would have something for me.  I chose Romans 8, which has blessed me so many times, and kept reading through Romans 9.  Verse 20 jumped out at me.  "Who are you, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this?'"   Listen to what follows: "OR DOES NOT THE POTTER HAVE THE RIGHT OVER THE CLAY?"

God brought me to my senses.  I broke down and relinquished all my rights, my plans, my will to Him.  I understood so clearly.  Yes, I am the clay, Lord.  Clay does not rebel, does not make plans and does not even talk back!  Clay abandons itself in the potter's hands.

You see, I thought I was a flexible person.  I was willing to go back and forth to Asia as many times as needed.  I had sold my house in order to provide for my personal expenses.  I left everything--family, church, friends, and comfort.  I am a flexible person, God!

But God did not want my flexibility.  He wanted my total abandonment in His hands.  He wants us to be pliable, not just flexible.  So, after 32 years of missionary service, I surrendered my life again to His sovereign will.  I said, "Do with me whatever you wish, Lord."

From there, we went to Singapore.  After 10 days, my husband was busy working late hours; but I did not have anything to do there.  So, I decided to do some cheap missionary tourism riding the city buses and observing the beautiful Chinese, Indian, Malay, and a few Caucasian women who live there.

One day, I was making a phone call next to an automatic door in a mall.  The door opened, and a couple came in.  I could feel the hot air from outside.  Singapore sits right on top of the Equator.  It was 104 degrees outside.  I looked at that woman who was dressed in black from head to toe with only a little net over her eyes.  Her husband, though, was wearing a comfortable, cool, cotton t-shirt.  A "holy" anger took over me.

I felt as if the Lord was saying to 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."  And my response was: "Lord, whatever I can I will do to bring her to the light!"  From that day on, the Lord opened my eyes.  He started pouring information about the plight of women around the world into my lap.

You see, coming from a third world country, I thought I knew poverty, misery and despair from inside out.  But I was wrong.  I did not know a third of what women, especially in the 10x40 window, have to endure day-in and day-out.  Women in Asia live a life of suffering unimaginable to women in the West.

  • Over one million women and girls are sold into sex slavery every year.

  •  Many thousands of baby girls are routinely and systematically aborted or killed in various countries for social, political, or economic reasons.

  • Of the 3.04 billion women in this world, 23% of them are Muslims--one out of every four.  If you put them shoulder-to-shoulder, you can wrap the world 41/2 times.  Most of them live segregated in their own homes.  They are barred from schools, from the work place, and most certainly from the Gospel.

  • In Pakistan alone, by the end of 1999, more than 350 women were burned alive by their male relatives.  Why?  For crimes such as looking at another man in the face.  In a report from BBC London about the horrors of the so-called "HONOR KILLINGS," a father with four sons said he was proud that they killed his daughter who was seen together with a male friend.  One of them stated that women are "basically flawed.  You cannot trust them."  A recent report issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that a woman is raped every two hours in Pakistan, and gang-raped every four days. 

When I realized the extent of the suffering that goes on all over the world, I asked God with my broken heart: "God, what can I do?" I felt Him asking me: "Marli, What do you have in your hands?"  Radio!  Yes, radio is THE tool to reach these women in the secrecy of their homes, free from fear.  Radio can leap over the walls of poverty, ignorance, fear, and despair which surround them.  For thirty years, I had seen the power of radio working first in my own country, and then around the world.  TWR's transmitters are located in eleven strategic locations reaching 80% of the world's population in 180 languages! Radio is quite a revolution, a very effective one, believe me!

So I started to dream, to pray, and to work hard.  That's how Project Hannah was born.  Today we have hundreds of women actively involved in program production and in our Global Prayer Movement.

Project Hannah has three main thrusts: PROGRAMMING, PRAYER AND AWARENESS.


It's been 4 1/2 years since our first broadcast of the Women of Hope program which went on the air in the English language.  Today, we are broadcasting in 13 languages--English, Indonesian, Korean, Burmese, Thai, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Khmer, Javanese, Tagalog, Guarani, Spanish, and Creole.

Six more languages are in the translation and contextualization process, and five will be on the air by the end of 2002 in Ukrainian, Madurese, Australian English, Angolan Portuguese, Brazil Portuguese and a Central Asian language.

Prayer and Awareness

Prayer and Awareness of the plight of the women goes hand in hand.  However, the evil which these women face is too great.  No radio program, government program, or any human effort can overcome the devil's schemes as he keeps women in all kinds of bondage.  We are convinced that only God's power can do the job.  So, Project Hannah was started with a 40-day fast and prayer, which has become an annual event.  Friends in over 70 countries pray with us through Project Hannah's monthly prayer calendar.  They stand in the gap and do spiritual warfare for these women who need our prayers because they do not have a voice nor a prayer to say for themselves or for their children.

God is answering our prayers.  He is blessing this ministry of compassion and encouragement to the unloved, unsaved, abused, and forgotten women of this world.  I want to bring all the honor and glory to Him because He is using simple, obscure women in Project Hannah.  Just like Paul said in 1 Corinthians: 1:27, "God has chosen the foolish, the weak and the base and despised and the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are."

If in His marvelous sense of humor, God can use a simple mother and grandmother from Brazil, He certainly can use you.  Please learn how you can be part of Project Hannah today.

God is choosing and empowering women.  He is restoring their lost dignity.  He is wrapping them with Jesus' robe of righteousness.  He is reclaiming their rightful place of Daughters of the KING of KINGS!!!

And God is fulfilling His promise of Isaiah 42:16 - "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them!"  To God be the glory!!

Marli Spieker

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