Permission to Fail (Ros' Blog)

Permission to Fail (Ros' Blog)

Permission to Fail (Ros' Blog)

I was talking to a friend recently about the difficulty she has in finding people willing to get involved and take leadership roles in groups and church activities. “People don’t want to do it,” she told me, “because they’re afraid to fail. I wish I could get them to see that it’s better to have a go, even at the risk of failing, because they will grow through the experience and others will step up to help them.”

That started me thinking. Is failure really the worst thing that could happen? Sure, it can be embarrassing and dent one’s pride, but is that such a bad thing? I remember when I started a community service from our church, giving practical and emotional support to families with seriously ill and disabled newborn babies in our local hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit. I woke up in a cold sweat one Sunday morning as the realisation hit me that if I messed up on this it wouldn’t just be personally embarrassing, it would tarnish the church’s reputation in the whole community. Self-doubt crept in: could I really do this? And then I went to church and that morning someone got up to share a quote he had just read: “Attempt something so big that it’s bound to fail unless God intervenes.” It was God’s answer to my self-doubt. I set up the project, and God did intervene. Over the next seventeen years until it closed it became a lifeline to almost 100 families in our community.

When you look at the stories of the great people of God in the Bible, many of them arrived at their greatness via the route of failure. Moses allowed his fear of public speaking to cause him to refuse God’s assignment for his life, to the point where he really tried God’s patience: “Then the Lord became angry with Moses. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say.’” (Exodus 4. 14-16).

And what about Elijah? Even after his defeat of the prophets of Baal he allowed himself to be overcome by fear and fell into a deep depression (1 Kings 19). When Mordecai asked Esther to plead with the king for her people, she at first refused, fearing that she might be killed. It was only when Mordecai pointed out that unless she persuaded the king to change his mind she would be killed along with all her people anyway, that she submitted to Mordecai’s words and God’s plan for her life (Esther 4. 7-13).

Joseph confidently followed God’s will; once in Egypt, he didn’t put a foot wrong. And yet he had to go through unjust accusations, a long imprisonment and being forgotten by those he had helped until he saw the fulfilment of God’s promises for his life (Genesis 40). Hot-headed David would have wiped out all of Nabal’s family and incurred bloodguilt, if it hadn’t been for the pleading of a wise lady who dared to challenge him and cause him to turn back from the course he had set out on (1 Samuel 25).

Martha misunderstood the heart of following Jesus, and blamed her sister when she should have been following her example. Jesus had to correct her publicly, in front of her sister and the disciples (Luke 10. 38-42). Peter denied Jesus out of fear for his own life, and came to bitterly regret it (Matthew 26. 69 – 75). Paul made a mistake about the character of Mark, assuming that if he had blown it once, he could not be trusted. But Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement, gently showed him that God had a better way. (Acts 15. 36-39)
Even Jesus had his own experience of failure, both in private and in public. He reached out in love to the rich young ruler, only to see him turn his back and walk away (Mark 10. 17-22). He preached in his home town and far from receiving a standing ovation, the crowd tried to kill him. (Luke 4. 16-30)

So if you have ever thought about becoming a Roofbreaker, going on a Wheels for the World trip, running a Disabled Christians Fellowship group or volunteering to come as a helper on a Through the Roof holiday, but you’ve stepped back because you’ve thought, “I’m not good enough” or “What if I mess up and look a fool?” I would encourage you to think again. Many of the people we now honour as having served a vital role in God’s purposes arrived there via the route of failure. In some cases, God used them in spite of their failures; in other cases, the journey through failure was an essential part of their spiritual growth and character development.

What if God is challenging you to trust Him in spite of your self-doubt? What if He plans to intervene in your venture so it doesn’t fail? What if failure is one of the ways He intends to grow your character? Would you turn down the chance of being schooled by Him into someone who can make a difference and bring about change in the world? So I would encourage you to think again, dare to step out and see what God will do with you and through you.

Planned International Trips

Planned International Trips

Every year we run several Through the Roof international mission trips. There are two main types of trip to developing countries:

  • Wheels for the World trips to distribute wheelchairs and Bibles
  • International Roofbreaker trips (formerly Churches Inc.) to increase disability awareness in churches and communities.


Here is a list of the latest Through the Roof international mission trips planned.

Upcoming Wheels for the World trips

  • Dates: 27th August–7th September 2024, Destination: Rwanda (Kayonza), Partner: FOH Rwanda (Rev Dominique)
  • Dates: 16th–26th October 2024, Destination: Mozambique (Mocuba), Partner: Somos Nós in Maputo  (Melvin Kelly)

Please email Kathy Birch to apply or get more information.

Upcoming International Roofbreaker trips

  • Dates: 4th–14th September 2024, Destination: Kenya (Elburgon), Partner: Hope of Glory Centre (Bishop Davis Gatua)
  • Dates: 15th–25th January 2025, Destination: TBD West Africa, Partner: TBD

Please email to apply or get more information.

More trips will be announced soon.

If you're interested in volunteering, or supporting these life-changing trips, please contact our International Missions Manager, Shaun, by email by following this link, or get started on your application by following this link.

We'll bring you more details of future plans as soon as we can.

Each trip changes hundreds of lives, but costs thousands of pounds to run. Could you help, by fundraising or making a donation?.

The Five Essentials (Ros' Blog)

The Five Essentials (Ros' Blog)

When I was younger, sailing was my passion. My father and some of his friends used to charter a couple of yachts from Maldon in Essex for a fortnight every summer and run two one-week sailing holidays for young people. The first was for beginner sailors, with evangelistic Bible studies, and the second was for more advanced sailors, with discipleship Bible studies. I went on both weeks every summer except one from the age of thirteen until I was eighteen, and my school friends were bored of hearing me talk about it non-stop!

My children have decided that I should be reliving my youth. So for my birthday this year they enrolled me on a Royal Yachting Association level 2 dinghy sailing course. It’s not quite as exhilarating as yacht sailing on the North Sea, but it’s definitely the next best thing. And I’m pleased to say I passed, and have a certificate to prove it!

In sailing a dinghy, there are five essentials that have to be borne in mind, and it struck me that they make a good analogy for our Christian life, especially when we may find ourselves grappling with the storms of disability, financial worries or the general vicissitudes of life.

The first essential is sail trim. Sail too close to the wind with the sails too tight, and the power that buffets your sails could tip you right over. But let out too much sail or turn to the wrong angle into the wind, and the sails flap uselessly, with no forward motion. To make steady progress as fast as possible without capsizing, the person at the helm has to keep an eye on both the direction and the state of the sails.

As Christians, we have to keep a weather eye (so to speak) on the wind of the Holy Spirit. Events in our life may seem to rush us along at breakneck speed, or even threaten to overturn us. But as long as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, sensitive to what He is doing in our lives, then whether we find ourselves sailing smoothly in a gentle breeze or tossed about in the storms of difficulty that disability can sometimes bring, we will be safe and, crucially, will end up where He wants to take us.

The second essential is balance. If you are not careful your own weight will tilt the boat in the same direction that the wind is causing it to list, and you may unwittingly capsize it yourself. The idea is to keep the boat as level as possible, even if this means leaning right out over the side to counterbalance the wind in the sails.

In being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, it’s important to be aware of where He wants us to be. As long as we remain in the place He has appointed for us for this season in our lives, we will come to no harm. It’s when we are heedless of what He is doing in our lives and we fail to respond to His movement in our lives that we risk finding ourselves out of balance and out of control. Do you seem to be being thrust into the limelight, with lots of opportunities to share your testimony? Go for it! Now is your moment to lean out of the boat and be visible! Is a season of weakness or pain keeping you indoors at the moment? Take the opportunity to rest in Him, and don’t try to lean out into areas where He isn’t asking you to go.

The third essential is boat trim. It’s not only important to balance the boat so it doesn’t capsize, it’s also important to place your weight in the right place along the length of the hull. Getting this right can prevent the boat dragging in the water, and can enhance your speed and manoeuvrability. Where you sit will depend whether you are on a run before the wind or a reach alongside it.

Which direction is God taking your life in at the moment? Position yourself to co-operate with Him and you will not be hindered in following the course He has set for you.

The fourth essential is the centreboard. Unlike the yachts I used to sail which had fixed keels, a dinghy has a centreboard which can be raised or lowered. The purpose of the centreboard is to correct sideways drift, so when the wind is from behind and there is no sideways drift, it can be raised. Depending on where the wind is coming from, the centreboard should be lowered in stages, all the way to fully down when the wind is from the side, although this can also cause some drag through the water. It’s a question of maximising both speed and stability.

There may be times when life is plain sailing, and we hardly even feel as if we need to hold onto God, because we are so conscious of His hold on us. There are other times when we feel so buffeted by our situation that we need to reach down deep into Him and hold on. We should keep our eyes fixed on Him and on where our circumstances are taking us, and be ready at any moment to reach down deep into Him so that we don’t get blown off course.

The fifth essential is known as “course made good”. This simply means that you look at where you are going, and take the most direct and efficient route to get there. You can’t sail into the wind and may need to tack across it (you may have seen this if you watched the TV coverage of the sailing at the Olympics) but you should make the fewest possible manoeuvres, and if you are running before the wind you can take a more direct route without deviation. At sea you may also need to take account of the direction of the tide so as to hold to the most direct course.

When God sets the course for our lives, we can meander around, veering away from His purposes even though vaguely heading in the right direction. Or we can do as Jesus did when He set His face like flint and determinedly headed into what God had planned for Him.

We didn’t all get it right all the time on the sailing course. Some took longer than others to get the hang of it. But everyone ended up safely moored where they were supposed to be at the end of the weekend. So don’t be harsh on yourself if you don’t always sail perfectly through your Christian life. God is gracious; co-operate with Him and He is committed to bringing you safely to the amazing destiny He has planned for you.

Day 11- Saturday (Wheels in Elburgon 2016)

Day 11- Saturday (Wheels in Elburgon 2016)

John and Gunn woke very early as they were catching a flight nearby to enjoy a short safari holiday in the Masai Mara. Thankfully Pastor Davis and his wife, Ruth, accompanied them in the taxi as the ‘airport’ was an unmanned clearing in the forest with no shelter and only a rickety bench without shade. It was unsafe for them to be left alone, as they could be attacked and robbed by locals wanting money from rich mwazungu (white man), or stampeded by zebra and impala. When the plane finally arrived it was a small 12-seater and Pastor Davis was not allowed to leave the ‘airport’ until the plane was airborne as it might not get into the sky!

Meanwhile Shaun, Roy and Jill were relaxing in the hotel grounds, which were ablaze with colour from indigenous plants. There was a large poinsettia tree which looked very different from the poor specimens you sometimes find at Christmas time, and a bottle brush tree was silhouetted against a cloudless blue sky.

After a relaxed lunch we loaded our luggage in the taxi and set off for Nairobi Airport. We had no idea that it would take 6 hours, as the traffic and driving conditions were poor due to many people taking risks when trying to overtake, the roads being crowded with pedestrians in towns and villages and sheep, cattle and donkeys grazing along the roadside when driving through more rural areas. It was a memorable way to finish a challenging trip.

Overall we registered 165 clients and seated 103 clients in wheelchairs or buggies, gave out over 40 pairs of crutches, 8 walking sticks and several rollators and zimmer frames. Each person received a bible and prayed with the pastor before returning home. Many lives have been changed as clients are now able to become integrated members of their communities or attend school for the first time. Let’s give God the glory!

Day 10 - Friday (Wheels in Elburgon 2016)

‘Food, glorious food’, might sum up the day, which started as usual with a walk to the Centre taking in more local sights and sounds along the way. Pastor Davis had indicated that there were to be no more clients, but when you arrive and find clients waiting, who had travelled several hours hoping to receive a mobility aid, what can you say? We therefore unexpectedly set to work again...

There were 10 wheelchairs left over from the previous day, so we were able to give out 2 more chairs. Sometimes you have to appear cruel to be kind, and one lady did not need a wheelchair as it would impede her independence. Jill gave her a rollator, complete with a seat which would enable her to stop and sit down if she needed a rest, and a pair of elbow crutches to use indoors. Initially she was disappointed but after discussing the issues she realised it was a better option for her than being reliant on someone to push her in an attendant propelled wheelchair.

Meanwhile Gunn was seeing a paraplegic lady who had spent many years confined to her house and then a young lady with polio crawled through the gate having been on her hands and knees for years. She needed a self propelling wheelchair and the one selected was almost made to measure so only needed padding on one foot rest. She left with a huge smile and grateful thanks, pushing herself along the pot-holed road. Roy, meantime was mending a young lad’s wheelchair which needed the brakes, wheels and footplates repaired. Although the boy had come hoping for a new wheelchair there were no small chairs left so the toolbox, which had been checked and packed away last night, was opened and modifications made to the rickety frame.

Pastor Davis was keen for the local hospital to receive some equipment, so 3 wheelchairs, 2 rollators and 10 pairs of elbow crutches were loaded into hospital transport and we followed in cars. The team were greeted by the Medical Director and the Heads of all the departments crammed into a small room. More tables and chairs kept coming through the door and before long it was evident that we were going to have more than a cup of coffee which Pastor Davis had requested! What do you do when you are given 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 samozas and a cold sausage on a plate in front of you when you were expecting a drink; eat it gratefully, of course, whilst listening to each member of staff introduce their department. We then handed over the equipment before touring the hospital, including the new operating theatre which they hope to open later this month. In the pharmacy we wondered if they had many pills to distribute as the shelves were so empty. Why do we complain about the NHS and the facilities we use as, compared with that hospital, it is fabulous?

We returned to the Centre to find that the ladies had prepared a delicious lunch so we filled our plates again and shared a meal together before a debrief evaluation meeting with our partners under Pastor Davis’ leadership. Everyone contributed one thing they had learnt or received from working together and the overall message was that our faith had been strengthened as God had done ‘exceedingly more than we could ask or think’ – to Him be the glory. A huge thank you to everyone who has joined us through prayer – we were very conscious that the Lord was protecting, strengthening and enabling the Team to fulfil the task. Praise the Lord!

We returned to the hotel to prepare for a Farewell Supper at Pastor Davis’ house – a magnificent spread with 6 different national dishes, fresh fruit, followed by a delicacy of spiced chicken and rounded off by a sweet biscuit. Wow – truly a gastronomic day! It was great to spend time relaxing together with his family and their hospitality was generous in the extreme.

An Introduction to Through the Roof

An Introduction to Through the Roof

Find out all about Through the Roof in our new video, 'An Introduction to Through the Roof'. This video, which talks about all our different programmes and features short interviews with supporters and volunteers, has been produced through the hard work of 3 Strands Media. We hope you enjoy it - please share it around anyone you think might benefit from knowing more about TTR!

Day 9 - Thursday (Wheels Elburgon 2016)

Day 9 - Thursday (Wheels Elburgon 2016)

A lovely sunny morning again and we all enjoyed walking from the hotel to the centre taking in local life on the way – sheep and goats wandering across the road, little toddlers helping dad fill tins with charcoal to sell and stall holders washing plastic flip flops and shoes before displaying them for sale.

We had a lovely welcome from the nursery school children and their teacher in the classroom next to the centre – all smiling and waving and singing for us as we entered the compound. Teaching pre-school children is a challenge for anyone, but it takes someone special to have 48 children in her class enjoying their initial school experience.

There were not many chairs left and we were conscious that several children would be coming although fewer were registered. Amazingly God provided and chairs were found for all who turned up except for a couple who had very particular needs.

Jill had two very complex and challenging children, but with the help of Roy and the rest of the team we were able to provide a couple of very satisfactory chairs with adapted seating after many hours work. Many families left having had their lives transformed, clutching their bibles and wearing a huge smile.

Also, we had another first (on the last day of distribution!) as we finished our work in daylight and were able to walk back to the hotel, encountering a minibus in the town with two wheelchairs strapped into the roof. Roy checked that they were securely tied and suggested another piece of rope as they were a little wobbly! We prayed that they would arrive at their destination intact so that the children would be able to experience being an integrated member of their community whilst giving glory to God’s goodness and provision.

Day 8 - Wednesday (Wheels Elburgon 2016)

Day 8 - Wednesday (Wheels Elburgon 2016)

We woke to a lovely sunny day after the rain and storms of the previous night. A large number of children from a special boarding school came with their social worker and pastor and because they knew the children and their needs they were very helpful when we were assessing the needs of the children and their families. We saw a large number of people and worked well after dark - but the person of the day was a child with very severe and complex needs who was still being seen seeing when the power went off just after 7pm. Gunn carried on by torch light, but when it became too difficult to see the mother and child were taken to Pastor Davis’ house to stay the night so they could come back the following day to complete the assessment as she lived too far away to go home. What generosity and kindness!

Day 7 - Tuesday (Wheels Elburgon 2016)

Day 7 - Tuesday (Wheels Elburgon 2016)

In the afternoon Gunn and John accompanied Pastor Davis in his car to a remote village Mariashoni 12 kms away high up in the forest hills as it was difficult for the disabled people to make the journey to Elburgon. The wheelchairs and walking aids needed were loaded onto a truck which came with us. The road in places was deeply rutted and potholed so progress was slow.

Our first visit was to see a 4 year old boy who had hydrocephalus (water on the brain), he had a very large head small for his age and was paralysed. We walked a quarter of a mile through a field with sheep and donkeys, over a fence to the house made of mud and sticks – it measured about 12’ by 10’. The entrance was through a doorway bur there were no windows. A family of five lived here – there were some cooking facilities otherwise only some rugs and one stool. The family would sleep on the floor. The little boy lay on the floor and could not go outdoors. As we arrived a girl of about 3 screamed and ran away – it was the first time she had seen white people.

As Gunn chose a wheelchair and adjusted it we were surrounded by the local people. The little boy can now sit in his wheelchair, go outside the house and watch other children play. The family were so pleased as the “Prophet” had been unable to heal him but God had performed a miracle through a wheelchair and given the boy a new life.

As we moved on to the local church the rain started followed by thunder and lightning. We were greeted by many parents and children, some of whom had never seen a white person before and wanted to shake our hands or just touch us. The church was no bigger than a small chapel, made of wood with a sandstone floor. Gunn worked tirelessly in cramped and dark conditions with interested onlookers peering in. Wheelchairs were given to two boys and crutches were given to a couple of others.

When we finished there was no truck to take back the wheelchairs that were not used. As we left in the car with Pastor Davis the village give us a good send off. A young man hailed the car as he wanted a lift to Elburgon – he turned out to be God’s angel. The road was wet and deteriorated quickly. The car started to skid on the mud as though it was ice so we drove at a snail’s pace to avoid going into the ditches on the sides of the road. We then encountered several abandoned lorries that had skidded off the road making passing them extremely difficult. Our angel was able to get out of the car to guide Pastor Davis on the best route to avoid deep puddles and ditches. There were moments when we thought we might be spending the night in the car – we prayed hard.

Two hours later we arrived back safely. The rest of the evening the team were guests with Pastor Davis, Ruth his wife and their children for a delightful meal at his home. Gifts were exchanged at the end – Jill and Gunn each receiving a beautifully made bead and bamboo bag.

Day 6 - Monday (Wheels in Elburgon 2016)

Day 6 - Monday (Wheels in Elburgon 2016)

Wheels for the World are working hard in Elburgon, Kenya until the 10th September 2016 - follow their journey with our regular blog updates.

After breakfast we meandered through the town to the Distribution Centre to set up for the day. Due to a thunder storm the previous evening there was no electricity. This gave Roy, our Techie an opportunity to improvise. About 36 people were seen throughout the day and into the early evening. People left with smiles on their faces. The elderly gentleman in the brown cap suddenly proclaimed the goodness of God as he sat in his new wheelchair repeatedly shouting ‘thank you Jesus’.

As it grew dark the mobile phone torches emerged providing ample lighting to see the last seven or eight clients, the last of whom were seen after 8pm. The team retired to the hotel in time to see the electricity come back on, and to eat a well-deserved supper around 9.30pm.