Celebrating 10,000 Chairs (the Spring 2018 Vital Link)
Celebrate Wheels for the World's landmark achievement of distributing 10,000 wheelchairs, find out about holidays, Wheels trips, Churches Inc work, and all the rest of our plans for the next year in the new Spring 2018 Vital Link Newsletter - available now!
- Follow this link to download the Spring 2018 Vital Link (including a standing order form) - right-click and select 'save' to save the file for later. It's a 1.5MB PDF.
Or click on the cover image below to read the Vital Link online using Joomag - you can zoom in and swap between pages much more easily that by just using a PDF reader.
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Stephen Hawking - A Bright Star Extinguished (Ros' Blog)
I’m sure that everyone was saddened by the news last week of the death of Professor Stephen Hawking. He is, of course, best known for his amazing advancement of knowledge and understanding in the fields of Cosmology and Theoretical Physics. But he shone as a human being in so many other ways than just his professional accomplishments.
He was a renowned wit. He was happy to take part in sketches for comic relief, as well as an episode of The Simpsons. “Life would be tragic,” he said, “if it weren’t funny.” John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” show, known for his humorous take on current affairs, was once interviewing Professor Hawking. He mischievously asked him, “You’ve stated that you believe there could be an infinite number of parallel universes. Does that mean there’s a universe out there in which I’m smarter than you?” Hawking replied, “Yes, and also one in which you’re funny!”
It’s not uncommon to meet people with enormous intellect but a lack of human wisdom. That accusation could never have been levelled at Professor Hawking. He became famous for pithy aphorisms such as, “Quiet people have the loudest minds”; “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”; “When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really does appreciate everything one does have”; and “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
He of all people had a right to say this. Diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in his early twenties and given just two years to live, no one dreamed of the stellar career that lay ahead of him, nor that he would go on surmounting one obstacle after another until the age of 76. Although the disease took its devastating course, he survived its ravages, even when the only muscles he could use to communicate were the ones in his cheek, by which he operated his voice synthesizer. He could have been excused for wallowing in self-pity, yet this was something he consistently refused to do. “It’s a waste of time to be angry about my disability,” he once said. “One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”
Shortly after his death I came across a debate on social media as to his eternal destiny. At one time there was speculation about whether he believed in God. In one interview, he said, “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?” This was a question he explored in A Brief History of Time, which he concluded with the words, “However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God.”
However, he later made it clear that this was merely a figure of speech. “We are only monkeys on a small planet,” he remarked, “but we can understand the universe. That makes us somebody special.” Eventually he was very specific about his beliefs. “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
In the online discussion I was following, some were adamant that, as an atheist, he had sadly forfeited his chance of eternal life. Others felt that he had been an honest seeker of truth all his life, and that God promises that those who earnestly seek Him will find Him. I’m not qualified to comment on the state of someone’s eternal soul, especially someone I never met. But I do know I have personally witnessed someone in their sixties make peace with God in the last six hours of life, and I know that God never ceases to extend mercy to us as long as we live. So I cherish a hope that somewhere Professor Hawking is face to face with the God who, for most of his life, he didn’t believe in, and finding out how very loved he is.
Emmanuel’s Story (Churches Inc in Kenya 2018)
Kerry, Trevor, Pastor Shadrack, and Pastor Davis ran a Churches Inc training trip to Elburgon, Kenya from the 7th to the 17th February. You can read blog posts from the whole trip by following the links at the bottom of this article, but here's one story from Kerry of their time with a young boy and his family which really shows how Churches Inc's training is transforming attitudes, supporting the work of Wheels for the World, and helping improve people's lives.
Emmanuel is 7 years old. He lives with his blind grandmother and his auntie because his own mother ran away due to his disabilities. Emmanuel was given a wheelchair from Through the Roof’s Wheels for the World programme. However, it is not possible to use this wheelchair inside his tiny house, and sadly, his family are reluctant to use the chair to bring him outside the house, due to shame, stigma, and community attitudes.
Pastor Davis regularly visits this vulnerable family. If he lets them know he is coming, they will place Emmanuel in the chair outside to show that they are using it. They're grateful for the chair and other support he provides such as special formula from the hospital for malnourished children. But if Ps. Davis arrives unannounced, he always finds Emmanuel inside. Inside the house is not a good place for Emmanuel to be. It is very dark inside - there are no windows.
Emmanuel’s house has been badly constructed using sticks and mud. The floor and the walls are crawling with insects. When I visited, I was told not to lean on walls or sit anywhere. But Emmanuel cannot walk or move away. He is being regularly bitten by bed bugs on the old cushions where he sits. This is still an improvement from lying on the dirt floor as he did when Ps. Davis started working with the family. Emmanuel will be left to sit on these cushions all day while his auntie works to ensure the family can survive.
When I met Emmanuel, he was so desperate for interaction he moved with difficulty to bring his enlarged head onto my lap. He wanted touch and eye contact. He wanted to be loved.
This is why the Churches Inc. training trips are so important. Emmanuel already has a wheelchair, but unless attitudes are changed, he won’t be brought outside into the fresh air where he might see other people and be a part of the community. Churches Inc is working to change the attitudes that hold disabled people back, and it's a great fit with Wheels for the World's work bringing physical freedom.
He knows that other families who have relatives with disabilities behind closed doors will hear about Emmanuel’s house and come out of hiding. Pastor Davis will not be able to build them all new homes, but he will be able to help them in other ways. His heart is to transform the whole community.
- Follow this link to read the first update.
- Follow this link to read the second update
- Follow this link to see all our International Missions Blogs
Through the Roof is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all our beneficiaries, volunteers and staff to ensure they are protected from harm.
As a Christian disability charity we are aware that research shows that disabled people are more likely to suffer abuse than non-disabled people. This is not acceptable and we will do everything we can to:
- Provide a safe environment – with particular recognition of children and adults at risk
- Establish a culture that prioritises safeguarding
- Have appropriate policies and procedures in place
- Handle incidents as they arise
- Work in partnership with relevant agencies to ensure individuals receive the support they need.
We are currently updating both our UK and International safeguarding policies which will be available to view soon. We will continue to make improvements to our policies, procedures and practice over time.
If you have a concern about the wellbeing of anyone connected with the charity, please contact: Katie, Safeguarding Co-ordinator – email@example.com
[post added: March 2023]