Joni's Video Message
Through the Roof were involved in the Enabling Church conference in the West Midlands recently, which drew a crowd of 400 to be inspired and equipped by a range of presenters, including Joni Eareckson Tada. Watch her video message just below, and get a flavour of the event from this video made by the Diocese of Lichfield a little further down the page. You can read more about the day in our Summer 2014 newsletter, which you can download by following this link.
Here's Joni's video message to the conference...
And here's the video of the day from the Diocese of Lichfield...
Questions, Questions (Ros' Blog)
Around 30 years ago I was just beginning to discover the extent of my daughter’s disabilities. She had failed to meet any of the normal milestones during the first year of her life, was not moving around, sitting unsupported, picking up toys (or anything else), moving her head or forming any intelligible words, and already the tightness of her muscles was beginning to pull her little body into a distorted shape. A paediatrician came to visit us at home with the diagnosis; she told us that Ellen had cerebral palsy, with “spastic limbs” and might lack the intelligence ever to learn any speech (which turned out to be overly-pessimistic). After she had gone away, I put Ellen to bed and as I looked down at her twisted form on the mattress of the Moses basket which she was still tiny enough to fit into, a poem of sorts formed itself in my mind:
Limbs like a corpse, too stiff to play,
Voice that says nothing to no one all day;
No wonder, then, pillowed alone in the dark,
You coil yourself into a question mark.
Over the years that question mark came to symbolise so many things for me: Where was Ellen’s guardian angel the day when her catastrophic breathing collapse caused major brain damage at the age of nine weeks? Surely this couldn’t be God’s will; but what kind of God permits things that are not His will? As part of my degree course I had studied several theodicies (ways in which Christian thinkers down the centuries have tried to reconcile evil and suffering with the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God). I knew which ones I found convincing in theory, but in the face of the actual suffering, both physical and emotional, which I had to watch Ellen endure, all of them rang hollow.
And yet alongside the questions I was finding an ever-deepening embrace in the love of God. Somehow, as my experience of His love grew larger, the questions grew smaller. They don’t go away – there are some I would still dearly love answers to. But first of all I came to see that the answers were not important as the questions; because asking the questions was an act of honesty with God, and being real with Him drew me ever closer towards Him. And secondly, in that growing closeness, I came to experience Him as utterly trustworthy. He holds my questions for me, and for now I am content to leave them there and know that whatever the answer is, it all has to do with Ellen’s ultimate good and blessing.
As an A level student, I had read Camus’ “La Peste” in which a Catholic priest watches a tiny child die in agony from the plague, and then asks, in his next Sunday sermon, “Who are we to say that even a whole eternity of bliss could possibly compensate for a single instant of human suffering?” As a degree student I remember writing an essay about the man born blind from John chapter 9, in which I explored the idea that to inflict him with blindness so that God could display His own works through him seems like the action of a megalomaniac. Now I came to understand that it was far better and more blessed for the man to have been born blind and to have been healed than if he had been born sighted in the first place. Somehow, every instant of Ellen’s suffering was working for her an eternal weight of glory. And I believe I can say that without at all meaning that God caused, willed or planned her suffering.
When she was 4 years old we went to a large, international conference headed by a well-known evangelist (I am not going to name or criticise him; he is someone for whom I had, and retain, a great deal of respect). Among the congregation was a man who’d had a leg amputated. At the first appeal for healing prayer, he made his way to the front on his crutches, and asked for prayer that his leg would grow back. In this article I’m less concerned with that than with the attitude of the congregation. This man went forward with the same prayer request at every meeting. As the week went on, he didn’t wait for the appeal, he simply went forward before the sermon ended. I began to hear people talking about him. I noticed that people would enter the auditorium and begin looking for him, pointing him out to one another when they spotted him. I heard people speculating about when he would go forward, whether he would wait for the appeal or go up during the sermon, and whether this spectacular miracle would take place or not.
During the conference another internationally well-known evangelist announced that he would be holding a healing meeting at 1pm. By 12.15 there was a 300 ft queue of physically able people outside the venue. Like other disabled people, our daughter could not queue outdoors for 45 minutes. When the doors finally opened, able people all rushed in to fill the front rows and get a good view. We, and many other disabled people, were relegated to standing room at the back.
The conference had been trumpeted as an occasion when great miracles would take place. It’s not true to say that nothing happened that week. I personally witnessed one lady with MS who was apparently cured, enabled to get out of her wheelchair and walk normally for the first time in many years, and her joy was palpable – I was left in no doubt that God had given her a gift of physical wholeness and I rejoiced with her. But there seemed to be no understanding of the deeper healing that God can bring about even without a physical cure, and the results of the week certainly did not match the hype which preceded it.
During that week the impression I gained was that people had gone to watch physical cures as a spectator sport. There was something very disturbing about the way in which physically able Christians appeared to have come to be entertained by the misfortunes of people who had been promised a physical cure (even though God might not have seen that as their most pressing need at that time). I overheard people gossiping and speculating, and it was unedifying. As I reflected on the impressions of the week, I found myself turning to Mark 5, the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Verses 37 and 40 stood out to me: “And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James, and John the brother of James.” And “But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was.”
By contrast with the vast spectacle of a public gathering, when Jesus performed a truly outstanding miracle in which even death had to obey Him and yield the little girl back to her parents, He admitted only those people who loved her and those few who truly believed in His power. I thought of Galatians 5.6 where we are told that faith works by love. The kind of “faith” that manifested in that conference was not true mountain-moving faith because it was not fuelled by love. Perhaps there might even have been more physical cures in evidence if there had been more genuine love.
Over the years, I know that God has given me some specific promises for Ellen. I haven’t seen all of them fulfilled yet, any more than I have had all of my questions answered. But I know that His love for her is unimaginably deep and constant, and my faith is fuelled by that love, as well as by my own love for Ellen. I hope that 26 years on from that conference, the church is beginning to understand that God’s omnipotence does not equal doing things the way we tell Him to, and that if we do sense that He is asking us to trust Him for a miracle for someone, whether of the outward and visible or the inner and quiet variety, genuine love for the person is the vital ingredient to activate our faith.
International Newsletter - July 2014
Once a month, we send out an email newsletter to supporters, volunteers and friends of our International Missions trips. If you'd like to receive these emails, please get in touch with us - follow this link to email Reninca at Through the Roof. Here's the July issue...
Uganda WFTW Trip
Dates: Wed Oct 22nd arriving home morning Sat 1st Nov
We still need therapists for this trip to visit RILD on the outskirts of Kampala in Uganda. We will be sending the container at the end of July but will have to cancel the trip if we do not have the sufficient mix of skills needed. RILD are excellent hosts and lovely, Godly people who share Through the Roof’s heart and passion for empowering disabled people. There are many in need of a wheelchair or rehabilitative device. Please get in touch ASAP if you are interested or have any questions.
The WFTW team just returned from a successful Mission Trip to Kosovo. It was very different to an Africa trip but the real needs were apparent. The team did a lot of home visits to some very vulnerable people. Even though the war ended 15 years ago it had a real impact on the country. Kosovo is 95% Muslim with the majority being cultural Muslims as opposed to attending the mosque regularly. We managed to share the gospel with some who had never heard the word of Jesus before and give out some Bibles to those who had never had or heard the Word of God before. Everyone enjoyed it.
You can check out the blogs at www.throughtheroof.org.
We are looking to recruit some volunteers for the Aldershot unit to help with sorting, organising and wheelchair repairs. This could be once or twice a month for 2- 4 hours. Even if you can’t yourself commit to volunteering we may need some people to assist in training volunteers. Please let me know if you would be interested or able to assist in training volunteers or volunteering yourself.
We want to increase the amount of corporate prayer for international trips and TTR. From September we are having monthly Monday night prayer meetings. We will try and time these around when the trips are happening so we can pray for the trips specifically as well as other TTR needs. In January we hope to have a specific Prayer Conference where we can meet for a day and get together to pray together for the future. Look out for the date TBC. Even if you can’t get to the TTR office to pray please join us praying wherever you are.
The dates of these meetings for the next term are:
- Monday September 23rd 6.30 – 7.30 TTR Office (this is when Integr8 team are in Moldova)
- Monday October 27th 6.30 – 7.30 TTR Office(this is when WFTW team are in Uganda)
- Monday November 17th 6.30 – 7.30 TTR Office
- Monday December 15th 6.30- 7.30 TTR Office
I was reading this morning and it seemed fitting to share with you.
Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
‘God has issued some dramatic calls to service. Moses heard His voice from a burning bush (Ex. 3). Isaiah saw a vision of heaven’s throne room (Isa. 6). However, a spectacle is the exception rather than the rule. For most who follow the Lord to the mission field, His call is a persistent tug on the heart. It is a whisper in their spirit asking, “How will they know God unless someone tells them?” (Rom. 10:14).
People can try to ignore the heart tug, block the ever-present question with activity, or satisfy it by giving money rather than themselves. Some outright say no. But the call persists. God’s will is set and His plan is steadfast. Though we may run, we can’t escape His call to obey (Jonah 1:1; 3:1).
Carrying the gospel is a great opportunity to serve God. What better way to thank Him for saving us and writing our name in the Book of Life than to share that experience with others. If the Lord’s still small voice is calling you, say yes and see what amazing, life-changing work He can do through you.’
Don’t forget the International Mission Day on 6th September from 10am- 2:30pm in TTR Office.
Also November 15th Team Leader Training in TTR Office from 10am – 3pm
International Trips 2016
Through the Roof have trips planned right through into 2016 at the moment, with both our Wheels for the World and Churches Inc programmes. If you're interested in volunteering, or supporting these life-changing trips, please contact our International Missions Manager, Reninca, by email by following this link
Here are our planned trips for 2016.
- 10th to 20th February 2016 – Ghana, Accra, Wheels for the World, with one person providing Churches Inc training – Postponed from October 2015. Trip is FULL
- 17th to 26th February 2016 – Kenya, Eldoret, Wheels for the World, partnering with CBR and Liza and David Cooke – Trip needs therapists, technicians, administrators and pastor
- 31st August to 10th September 2016 – Kenya, Elburgon, Wheels for the World, partnering with Pastor Davis and Nyeri Hospice – All positions available
- October 2016 – Uganda, Kampala, Wheels for the World & Churches Inc International, partnering with RILD – All positions available, and people needed to provide training alongside wheelchair distribution
- March 28th - April 7th 2015 (over School Easter holidays) – Uganda, Churches Inc Training trip - All spaces for anyone interested. Our partner is RILD (Response Initiative for Learning Disabilities) follow this link to visit the RILD Uganda website Cost: £500 + flights.
- May 1st - 10th 2015 - Kenya, Eldoret with WFTW - All spaces for anyone interested - Partner is Liza Cooke (follow this link to visit David and Liza Cooke's website), we are returning after a mini visit last year. Cost: £650 + flights
- You are not taking God to this place; rather, God is taking you! (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 139:1-10)
- God has been at work in this place long before you arrived.
- God has a plan for this community, this people, and each person (Jeremiah 29:11; Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Peter 3:9).
- Follow God’s lead, not yours.
- God will always be with you (Matthew 28:20b, Romans 8:38-39; Hebrews 13:5).
- An open heart is free to be filled by the Holy Spirit and overflow with love (John 14:15-17; Acts 13:2-4; Romans 5:3-5).
- An open heart is free to be broken by the injustices and poverty of the world (Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Psalm 9:18, Psalm 82:3-4; Galatians 2:10).
- An open hand is ready to receive.
- An open hand is a sign of good will and humility (Galatians 5:22).
- An open hand cannot clutch a clock, a schedule, or a stereotype.
- Be like Jesus. Walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6; Matthew 5:1-16; John 15:1-14).
- Be human beings not “human doings”! (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Focus on people, not just on the task (1 John 3:18).
- Work on building relationships, not monuments (Romans 12:9-15).
- Take a deep breath when things don’t start or end on time; there are more important things in life than sticking to a schedule.
- Be flexible – things will rarely go as you planned.
- Learn from your hosts; honour them and God by serving them (John 13:12-17).
- Find out what your hosts pray for, and commit to praying for that, too (James 5:16).
- Accept the leadership of your hosts. You are not the one in charge.
- Practice humility (Luke 22:24-27; James 4:10).
- There are many ways to do things; yours is only one way, and it may not be right for this time or place.
- Be adaptable – try new things, set aside biases, and work on fitting into the culture.
- Follow this link to download June's Through the Roof Podcast.
- Follow this link to visit our Podcast page on iTunes, and subscribe to receive it as soon as it's released
- Follow this link to download July's Through the Roof Podcast.
- Follow this link to visit our Podcast page on iTunes, and subscribe to receive it as soon as it's released
Each trip changes hundreds of lives, but costs thousands of pounds to run. Could you help, by fundraising or making a donation?
Mission with Through the Roof
When we go on mission we believe that:
God is in Charge
To Be Open
Through the Roof is recognised by Global Connections as operating under the Code of Best Practice in Short-Term Mission 2019 and 2020
'Accepted and Loved No Matter What' - Our Summer 2014 Vital Link
Our Summer 2014 Vital Link is now available for download. It contains a report about our Dalesdown family holiday, stories from our two different trips to Kenya, feedback from our golf day, and much more! Please download it and take a look.
Please note - the PDF also contains a Wheels for the World sponsor form.
Please get in touch (on 01372 749955 or by following this link to email us) if you have any problems downloading this, or if you’d like to receive future newsletters by post or email.
Our podcast is back, with a brand new edition for July 2014. There'll be another episode next month - please do get in touch and let us know what you think about the podcast - or leave a review on iTunes. We're always looking for new ideas for features too.
Music is used with the kind permission of Andre Luis and comes from Andrelouis.com
'Amazing Grace' - July 2014 Come Fishing
Here's the latest episode of 'Come Fishing', from Jenny Edwards MBE. Each episode contains news, stories, music, and inspiration. We hope you enjoy it!
Samuel Rutherford (Ros' Blog)
What a pity that so much pastoral correspondence now takes place through texts, emails, phonecalls, and won’t be preserved for the encouragement of future generations!
When life gets tough, I often find myself turning to the letters of Samuel Rutherford. No matter what difficulties I may be facing, they pale into insignificance beside all that he went through. Yet he learned to trust adversity and make a friend of it, because every trial he went through served only to make him lean all the harder on Jesus, and there he always discovered some new facet of His glory which made all the suffering worthwhile.
He was born in 1600, and as a very small child he fell into a deep well. The children he was playing with ran to fetch his father, who arrived to find little Samuel sitting dripping on the side of the well. He told his father that “a bonny white man came and drew me out”. A very bright scholar, Rutherford graduated with a master’s degree at the age of 21, and at 24 he first surrendered his life to Jesus.
During his lifetime he endured much sorrow. His 2 little children died, and then his wife died also after a painful illness and many nights of torment which Rutherford could hardly bear to watch. All this made him a very tender and loving pastor who understood the troubles that his people faced. He became minister of the small Scottish parish of Anwoth, and as a truly Christlike pastor he had a deep love for his flock. He was unafraid to speak out against political wrongs in the nation or heresies in the national church, resulting in his exile to Aberdeen and ban from preaching. This was a source of almost unbearable grief to him. Since the death of his wife and children, caring for his beloved flock and preaching Christ to them had been his one great joy. Of this time he wrote “Next to Christ I had but one joy, the apple of the eye of my delights, to preach Christ my Lord; and they have violently plucked that away from me.”
During his banishment he at first struggled with dejection and a sense of abandonment; and yet as time passed he began to discover that in his isolation he could enjoy the most wonderful “love-feasts” with the One whom he sometimes referred to in his letters as his “only, only Lord Jesus”. His great love for his congregation at Anwoth led him to fear that during his absence wolves would come in among his flock. And so he wrote them letters to encourage them in the Lord. Two centuries later some 200 of these letters were collected together and published by Andrew Bonar.
Lady Kenmure was one of his parishioners, and she and her husband were very dear to him. She lost three little daughters in early infancy – a sorrow which he could well understand from his own experiences. When she was 7 months pregnant with a son, her husband also died, and finally the boy died at the age of four, leaving her alone in the world. Rutherford was astonished that God had allowed this last, greatest sorrow to befall her, and he wrote to her with the utmost empathy and tenderness, acknowledging that her grief “will have its own violent incursions in your soul: and I think it will not be in your power to help it.” But he also wrote these words, which have carried many a suffering Christian through earthly hardships – and I count myself among them: “I shall believe for my part that He mindeth to distil heaven out of this loss, and all others the like; for wisdom devised it, and love laid it on, and Christ owneth it as His own, and putteth your shoulder beneath only a piece of it.”
Eventually Rutherford was able to return to Anwoth, but he was only there a year before the church authorities appointed him professor of divinity at St Andrews and once again he had to leave Anwoth. He continued to write his letters from there.
To a dying man who had lived a worldly life and was afraid of death, he wrote these words: “I find this world, when I have looked upon it on both sides, within and without, and when I have seen even the laughing and lovely side of it, to be but a fool’s idol, a clay prison… I recommend Christ and His love to you, let Him have the flower of your heart.”
Eventually Rutherford remarried, and over time he and his wife buried 6 of their 7 children in infancy. Even then he could write, “Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know that He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.” The secret of this confidence, this ability to hold fast to his faith in God through the hardest of trials, stemmed from the intimacy with Jesus which he had learned to cultivate during his time of exile.
I think this is why I so often turn to Rutherford in difficult times; it’s not that he is simply a role model, nor that his words are comforting; he’s not a leaning post but a signpost, pointing me always to Jesus, the true Comforter: “There are curtains to be drawn by in Christ, that we never saw, and new foldings of love in Him. I despair that ever I shall win to the far end of that love, there are so many plies in it….His love surroundeth and surchargeth me. I am burdened with it; but oh, how sweet and lovely is that burden!” “Oh, what a fair One, what an only One, what an excellent, lovely, ravishing One, is Jesus! Put the beauty of ten thousand thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden, in one….And yet it would be less to me than that fair and dearest well-beloved, Christ.” Of his sufferings he wrote, “O sweet, sweet is His yoke! Christ’s chains are of pure gold; sufferings for Him are perfumed. I would not give my weeping for the laughing of all fourteen prelates; I would not exchange my sadness with the world’s joy. O lovely, lovely Jesus, how sweet must Thy kisses be, when Thy cross smelleth so sweetly!”
Finally, Rutherford lay on his deathbed, calling for a harp to join in with the music of heaven which he could already hear. His wife had died before him, and at his side was his 1 precious remaining child, an 11 year old girl named Agnes, who was about to be orphaned by his death. But he knew that the Jesus who had brought him through all the storms of life would also take care of her, and so he simply said, “I have left her upon the Lord.”
Ultimately, the hope that sustained him was the same hope that we share, but we’re almost 400 years closer to it than he was: “Christ will be upon us in haste; watch but a little, and ere long the skies will rive and that fair lovely person, Jesus, shall come in the clouds, freighted and loaded with glory.”