TWR Canada past-president Ray Alary blogged every Thursday, telling behind-the-scenes stories and ministry updates you won't find anywhere else. You can still access his stories and read about his time as a missionary with TWR.
The airport was crowded; it wasn’t clean, and it wasn’t efficient. The first time I arrived there, the luggage had to be carried to the terminal by hand, and it took us two hours to get our luggage in the first place! When we were leaving, I had to help load the luggage onto the plane. And the city was no different than the airport. In fact, it was worse than the airport! The country had been at war for the best part of 30 years, and the capital reflected that.
As we drove out into the city, I realized that this trip was going to be like no other. I had been in Africa for just a couple of months so I had not seen much poverty yet and certainly not to this extent. I had not experienced much of what would become normal to me in the future. I had come to this country to observe, and that is what I did. And my observation was this: these people lived with no hope, no future; if there was hell on earth, this was possibly it. The city was Luanda, in the country of Angola.
Can you imagine a city with 5 million people in it? And 4 million of those people with no services, no running water, no electricity, no schools? And the vast majority of those living in the city were women and children, alone and with nothing. The impact it had on me cannot be described with words; I was horrified that any place on earth could be in this position.
The city was a port city, and the country was rich by human standards. It had the second largest oil reserves in Africa after Nigeria. It had some of the largest diamond reserves in the world…yet 4 million people were living in slums.
The question that had to be answered was what were we going to do about it? What could we do about it? TWR is a radio ministry; we could broadcast a radio program, but what impact would it have in such desperate situations? We needed to focus on those living in these terrible conditions. We needed to give the women raising the children something to give them hope. These are the things that went through my mind on that trip.
This trip lasted just a couple of days, but it created a burden in me for Africa that I’d never had until the day I drove into that city. I left determined that we would find a way to impact those women; we would do something to give them hope!
I went back to South Africa with a heavy heart.
All this was happening when Project Hannah was spreading from Asia into a worldwide ministry. I realized there was a way, and it would all begin with prayer. It would all begin with a vision to reach into this huge city and mobilize women to pray for their city. God was waiting for us to catch up to him; he quickly provided a woman who had grown up in this city to lead the initiative. I was seeing God at work firsthand! The next thing we needed was someone to help us financially launch the ministry. Though this was long before I became president, TWR Canada entered the picture and made it possible.
In no time, there were prayer groups, not just in the city but across the country, praying daily for their country. It was amazing! The number quickly grew into the thousands, and this ministry was bathed in prayer. Once the prayer groups were launched, we began the process of producing a weekly radio program, Women of Hope, to encourage not just the women praying, but all women who needed the message of hope found only in the gospel.
Through prayer and radio broadcasts, Project Hannah had an incredible impact on those who heard the message! I had the privilege of going back to this country many times over the following years and hearing the testimonies of women whose human circumstances never changed, but whose outlook on the future did. Many became new creations in Christ; many became friends and found that fellowship with other believers made it easier to get through each day.
One of the most exciting parts of this story is that by impacting these women, we also impacted the children. Many years later, I went to another part of Africa and heard a pastor tell us that when we impact the women, we impact the whole community. The children suddenly have hope because their mothers have hope. The children are brought into God’s kingdom through their mothers and grandmothers.
A few weeks ago I shared how a man came to Christ because of the change he saw in his wife (read it here). This story was repeated again in this country; men also found hope in Christ as we ministered to the women.
It was in this dark city that Project Hannah, now TWR Women of Hope, began in Africa. This vital ministry continues in Angola today and has since spread across the entire continent of Africa!
This story demonstrates how our ministry impacts all members of the family. God has continued to open the door for TWR Canada to broaden our ministry focus, and one of our key areas we now have is a specific focus on ministries for men, children and women. Visit our website to learn more.