Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog seven
Thursday 26th January
As Pastor Trevor’s flight was not until the evening we were able to buy 150 printed bibles for the children, youth and adults financed by Through the Roof. Pastor Dominique was really pleased and we also had time to visit the Bishop of Rwanda who had recently been given responsibility not only for Rwanda, but for South Sudan, Burundi, and Uganda. It was lovely to meet him and his team, he certainly is a wonderful man.
We also got the chance to visit the deaf-blind centre in Kayonza where it was lovely to see the children being taught so well. Most of the children still have some limited sight left, but we are not sure for how long.
All in all it has been a tremendous trip where we have all been blessed and been a blessing to others.
Our thanks go to Pastor Dominique and all the team for all they have done to make the trip such a tremendous success and blessing. All the glory to God. Amen.
Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog six
Wednesday 25th January
We started a little earlier to ensure we could get away in time for Pastor Davis’ flight to Kenya. Pastor Trevor spoke on ‘community gives us much needed perspective.’ He talked about how God designed us to be in relationship ‘it is not good for man to be alone,’ that our Trinitarian God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in perfect relationship with each other and that the church is always described relationally, as a body of many parts, a household and a spiritual house. Pastor Trevor highlighted that Jesus not only healed people but restored people into the community, and into the community of faith, the church. He mentioned Elijah who after running away depressed was told to be in relationship with his successor Elisha, and that we are often held up and supported because our own relationships. Pastor Trevor also highlighted about unity commanding a blessing and when we are in unity blessing will come, and to recognise the skills and abilities that already exist in the community, not least amongst those with disabilities who we discovered at the workshops have much to offer and willing to do so.
Many positive comments were fed back not least one leader who said that her family loved the audio bible they now listen to it regularly at home together. Praise God. We have all been invited back!
All in all the trip has been an enormous success on every level. Those with disabilities and their families have found renewed hope and acceptance, and have many gifts that they are willing to offer the community, the leaders have all committed to be roof-breakers and there is a sense that there is renewed impetus for them to work more closely together. They have made tremendous strides forward since Pastor Davis’ visit two years ago and there is much hope for the future. Praise God for all He has accomplished and will accomplish in the future.
Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog five
Tuesday 24th January 2023
Yesterday we visited a man who had just been released from prison. He had been held for 11 or 12 years wrongly accused of being involved in the genocide. He was then declared innocent and was able to be released. It was certainly a humbling experience and a privilege to meet him and his family and pray for him.
Today, we had some more workshops with disabled children and their families. Evangelist Enos spoke on the link between disability and sin highlighting that we are all made in the image of God and that God does not repay us according to our iniquities and does not treat us as our sins deserved. Disability is not a consequence of sin, it is not a curse. He stated that when you feel weak God will strengthen you and in a turn of phrase that I loved said ‘God is going to compassion you if you care for someone with disabilities.’ How wonderful is that.
His talk prompted many, many questions and rarely have we seen a group so engaged and willing to discuss their situations. Much of the response centred around empowering them to help themselves, and making the first step, linking up with family members or friends, neighbours and the church and engaging with local authority leaders especially as medical insurance is available. Don’t stay hidden and silent, come out and speak out.
Pastor Davis spoke on ‘being brought into community for a purpose.’ That God is the master designer and planner and He has planted people where they are and like Abraham was blessed God is blessing you. Your disabled child is a blessing. Pastor Davis said God has a plan to bless you, give you hope and a future and God knows why He has given you a child with disabilities. Pastor Dominique then went on to give his testimony of how a family member’s disability resulted in tremendous blessing in the end. We don’t know the future but God does, trust Him, God will give you a good future.
There were more questions and before the session closed in prayer more audio bibles were distributed. We later heard that people were playing the audio bibles in the streets and people were coming out into the street to listen to them.
We also visited the Umutara School for the deaf which was an amazing experience. They have classrooms for teaching, and very well-equipped vocational training programs where the children can learn skills such as sowing, tailoring, hairdressing and masonry. Not only do the deaf children get an education but they get vocational training to enable them to earn a wage and support themselves. They also have dormitories for the children to sleep and cooking and eating facilities too. All in all it was tremendous, transforming many lives.
Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog four
Sunday 22nd January
This Sunday again we met in church. Pastor Trevor and Evangelist Enos attended the ‘The Reformed Baptist Convention Church’. The place was full, probably in excess of 300 attended, which was lovely to see and it was a delight to see how all people of all ages were included, valued and were able to participate, in particular the deaf choir. Evangelist Enos spoke briefly talking on Psalm 27 about the Lord being our light and salvation, renewing our mindset to line up with the Word of God, to live obedient and humble lives to see us take hold of the promises of God because what the bible says never expires. Pastor Trevor then spoke on Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, their refusal to bow down and worship the golden statue, and the need to be faithful, humble and maintain a fear of the Lord for when we do God will use us to bring transformation. Both messages were well received.
Pastor Davis preached at the Miracles Centre on Exodus 33 about needing to experience God’s glory so we can express His compassion, mercy and grace in our lives and know His shelter and protection and again his message was very well received.
In the afternoon we had a second crusade outside the church. Again, many people attended and we had a wonderful time of praise and worship. Again, a number of choirs sang for us and a deaf choir singing, using sign language, continues to be a tremendous blessing and such a positive example to us all about inclusion and the gifts people have. It continues to be a privilege to be part of a congregation that clearly loves the Lord, are full of joy and were so committed to including people especially all the children and those with special needs. The TTR team have been so blessed through the church’s welcome, love and ministry. Pastor Davis preached on ‘God the builder and repairer’ and that God is calling us so His temple can be built in us. We need to allow God to build and repair us just as the wood and stone were fashioned before being used to build the temple. Pastor Davis issued an altar call for people to come and be built and repaired to repent of their sins as there is no salvation or repentance of sin when we get to heaven. The time is now. Many responded to the call. Praise God.
The leaders in pastoral charge were also prayed over and received prophetic words. God is so good.
Again this has been another time of tremendous blessing and fruit borne for the Kingdom of God. God continues to move powerfully in all the sessions and events. What a mighty God we serve. We give Him all the glory and look forward to God doing even more in the coming days.
Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog three
Saturday 21st January
Today we did not meet in the deaf school but the local church ‘The Reformed Baptist Convention Church’. There were over 100 in attendance.
Pastor Alexi talked about being ‘trustworthy in the work of God.’ He talked about being faithful, that you cannot be a Christian without being faithful. You can hold a Bible, go to church be in the choir, even speak in tongues but that does not mean you are faithful. You need to be faithful even when you are alone. Ananias and Sapphira in the early church were not faithful, they sold some land and lied about the proceeds and they died. Being faithful maintains life. If you are faithful God’s power will help you. Being faithful will give you a good reputation, like Joseph serving Pharoah. Being faithful can change your future.
Pastor Davis then spoke on the link between poverty and disability. That there will always be poor people in the land and that we are to be openhanded towards the poor. Pastor Davis quoted Proverbs 22:4 ‘Humility and fear of the Lord being wealth honour and life. We need resources to eat and drink and everything else and these are obtained through humility and a fear of the Lord not through witchcraft or stealing. If you want to be honoured, humble yourself. God will not ask you to give something which God has not already given us. God blessed Abraham so he could be a blessing to others. When we humble ourselves and help those with disabilities and needs, God will raise us up. If you want God to do something for you be humble, be active, serve God. The congregation renewed their covenant to ‘do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.’
Enos spoke briefly on being renewed not just in words but in action.
As we left we had a lovely time of spontaneous dancing with Josiane Jean Damour who were clearly having a great time. I have included a couple of photos.
In the afternoon we had a crusade outside the church. Many people attended and we had a wonderful time of praise and worship. A number of choirs sang for us and a deaf choir singing, using sign language was a tremendous blessing. It was such a privilege to be part of congregation that clearly loved the Lord, were full of joy and were so committed to including people especially all the children and those with special needs. Pastor Trevor preached on Luke 14 about everyone being invited to the Heavenly Banquet of the King and the need to put God first in our lives and 3 people gave their lives to Christ for the first time and a number of others came forward to renew their commitment to God.
Another wonderful day of blessings and much fruit for the Kingdom of God. Praise God.
Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog two
Friday 20th January
Today we had the privilege of meeting people with special needs and disabilities and those who care for them. There must have been about 40 people present. We talked about Through The Roof and its mission to ‘transform lives with disabled people through Jesus’
Pastor Trevor spoke about people with disabilities having gifts and abilities, and how they can be used by God, where they all have something to offer, having something to teach. He spoke about Moses who had a speech impediment, who did not want to be used by God but God chose him speak to Pharoah, to release the Hebrew people. God can use everyone. He also spoke about his daughter Elin, who has special needs, is in a wheelchair and needing constant care but who is used by God to transform people’s thinking, transform lives and bring people to Christ. That God can use our weaknesses so that His power is more perfectly displayed.
We then broke off into small groups. The question was asked of the group what gifts, skills and anointings do you have and what is God calling you to do for Him?
Some of the comments included
- Being a singer inside the church
- Being an evangelist
- Visiting the sick in hospital
- Advocacy of people with special needs
- Working together to show the love of God and teach others the Word of God
- Translating using sign language
There was a tremendous number of gifts people had and was so encouraging that people were so willing to use them for God’s glory.
Pastor Davis then spoke on faith and mental health that we all face challenges and difficulties which impact our mental health and not having certain skills like not be able to communicate using sign language disables hearing people rather than those who are deaf.
He used the scripture ‘The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit’ and affirmed the Lord is here, we need not worry, He is our Good Shepherd. He gave some statistics on mental health and talked about Elijah and his mental health and how God met his needs. He was a man powerfully used by God but suffered in his mental health and was lonely, depressed and suicidal. God provided food and drink, rest and sleep, and reassured Elijah of his future. Pastor Davis talked through some mental illnesses and some common causes and that mental illnesses can be treated with a good success rate and that like Elijah God can help us and support us.
Some questions followed from the group.
Alexi spoke about parent feeling and spirituality of disability. He spoke about Abraham who believed God and who took his son Isaac to be sacrificed to God. Some people disappoint us when we walk with God but we have to trust God. Our mindsets have to be changed so we trust God completely even when we don’t understand, even when people question us, we have to trust God. Alexi also spoke of Dorcas who died and the trust and faith of her friends and family enabled God’s purposes to be fulfilled through Peter who healed her. We have to believe God. The beggar thought Peter and John on the way to the temple were rich begging for money but received much more from them, God’s healing. We need to believe God and then we too will see God’s provision in our lives.
Enos spoke on spiritual development of people with disability. That we are all equal and that people’s negative words spoken to us can stunt the purpose of God in our lives. Like Moses who said he could not speak to Pharoah. He said we need to change our mindset and using his father as an example who was told there was no point in him going to school because of his disability but he went anyway and now serves and helps those who told him he could not do it. Enos talked about the principle of What Would Jesus Do, seeing ourselves as Jesus sees us, being careful about what we listen to ignoring words that do not line up with God’s truth and choosing to speak with people who encourage you and speak positively about you. Enos said we are not here by accident but God has a plan and purpose for our lives, a good plan to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope. God sees us as mighty people of God.
There was an open invitation for people to accept Jesus and one person came forward and gave their lives to Jesus. Praise God.
The audio bibles were also distributed to this group.
Another wonderful day of blessings and much fruit for the Kingdom of God.
Churches Inclusion in Rwanda -- blog one
Thursday 19th January
Trevor Hahn is in Rwanda, taking part in a Churches Inclusion training trip with our local partner Rev Dominique. He'll be sending back reports when time allows -- here's his first report from their important and encouraging inclusion work.
After a few teething issues with transport, the team finally assembled today and we delivered our first set of training sessions to local pastors, deacons and other community leaders. We introduced ourselves to the group of about 35 and also talked about Through The Roof and its mission to ‘transform lives with disabled people through Jesus’ and its vision to ‘live in a world where all people enjoy life together mutually giving and receiving as God intended.’
Pastor Trevor spoke on all human beings, including those with special needs and disabilities, not only being created by God but also being made in His image, that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, that we are God’s workmanship, God’s work of art, God’s masterpiece and God does not make mistakes. God formed us out of the earth with his bare hands, intimately, we are all unique that God looks at the heart, not matter our physical appearance or abilities or disabilities we are perfect in God’s sight. In fact God chose David to be king of Israel even though his father had rejected him so completely he was not included in the group of sons when Samuel asked to see them.
Brother Enos talked of glorifying God and when we serve and meet the needs of someone with disabilities we are glorifying God. He spoke of the blind man in John chapter 9 whose blindness was not the result of sin but to enable God to be glorified. He said we all have different gifts and abilities and talked of his father who has a disability, who has done tremendous things for God. He challenged us about our willingness to be agents of change, ambassadors of Christ promoting and supporting people with disabilities to see them included.
Pastor Eliezer spoke of the responsibility of the church to the community, that the church is the people and is to bring light to the darkness and to bring people, including people with disabilities, out of darkness into the light. Salt may not be sweet but bitter but enhances our food and in the same way although it may be a difficult message it is important to our neighbours and community to include people with disabilities. Salt heals wounds and we are to be the salt that heals. We are not to be like the priest who left the wounded man beside the road but to be like the Good Samaritan. Many people think they have a guardian angel - we can be that angel.
We also distributed the audio Bibles, mostly in dual languages of Kinyarwanda and English to the pastors and leaders who were really grateful for the tremendous blessing but a deaf pastor asked the question as to what we can do to support them.
Pastor Davis introduced himself as the Through the Roof Roofbreaker coordinator in East Africa and spoke of being adopted by God. Jesus on the way to the Jewish feast went to spend time with meet the needs of disabled people instead. People with disabilities are valued in God’s Kingdom.
Pastor Davis highlighted that the Hebrew word for adoption means to ‘make strong’ and when we bring people to the house of God we are to make people strong, including people with disabilities, to empower them, to bring new life, new strength to people with disabilities. The Greek word for adoption means ‘placing as a son’ which describes what God has done for us. We are placed in His family which is why we can call God our ‘Abba Father.’ We become God’s children, we are all equal before God and also that makes us sisters and brothers in Christ. He told a story of visiting one of his congregation and the mother was out so other children let him in and showed him a disabled child he did not know about. He supported this child and within a fortnight 100 families with children with disabilities in the village had come to him. Some have gone to school, others to university, one has become a lawyer and others have had operations so they can walk again. He issued a challenge to the pastors how many families with disabilities attend their church. He also offered his support and asked if any of the group wanted to become ‘Roofbreakers.’ Everyone said yes, the decision was unanimous.
Praise God for an awesome day.
Through the Roof celebrates 25 years of God transforming lives
We looked back over 25 years of disability inclusion work at a Thanksgiving event to close 2022, with worship led by Graham Kendrick and an address in British Sign Language by Revd Neil Robinson. Neil reflected on breaking down barriers to disability inclusion quoting Romans 8: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’
Barriers to God’s calling as an ordained minister were a reality for Neil Robinson who is profoundly Deaf. On this 25th anniversary, Neil shared his message of hope that “God can use us regardless” of our hesitation and doubts. Neil explained with wit and humility how God had called him to ministry three times before he finally accepted that call. The barriers on that journey included negative attitudes Neil experienced from the hearing community. But these no longer hold Neil back. He has been determined to reach the heights of God’s vison for him, including doing a tandem sky dive in May 2019! Neil has just jumped into a new project, producing a Deaf Awareness Video for churches—available on Through the Roof’s YouTube channel, along with a video of Neil’s story of his calling.
Neil’s talk, and the verse from Romans 8:31, was a great encouragement for the next 25 years of Through the Roof. The message was shared with over 100 friends and supporters who met together at the anniversary Thanksgiving service in October at St George’s, Ashtead, to give thanks for God’s faithfulness. Graham Kendrick, singer/song-writer, led the opening worship with his classic ‘Meekness & Majesty’, and ended the opening set with ‘From Heaven you Came’, prompting us to praise and worship ‘the Servant King’, Jesus: the model for TTR’s work and witness.
Thousands of people across the world have experienced God’s love because of Through the Roof’s ministry in the past 25 years. The different aspects of this work are highlighted in a new 25th anniversary video on YouTube (shown above, as well as linked here) - along with other videos available on the channel.
- International mission trips and wheelchair distributions have brought freedom, providing appropriate mobility equipment for over 600 disabled people a year. Lazarus, a young boy in the 25th anniversary video who was supported on a TTR mission trip said “I’m proud of this wheelchair; it has helped me so much” as it had enabled him to get to school to study to become a lawyer.
- Accessible Christian holidays, retreats, and groups from Through the Roof provide fellowship in the UK for hundreds of disabled people who may usually miss out on spiritual and social activities. Sadly, many people can become isolated, with a 2021 survey showing that disabled people are 4 times more likely to feel lonely (Community life survey, England, 2021).
- The Roofbreaker project supports churches through volunteer disability champions or ‘Roofbreakers’ (named after the story of the paralysed man in Luke 5). Roofbreakers support disabled people to live and serve in God’s family, and can access free training and resources to enable this. Ashleigh, a wheelchair-user and TTR supporter, says in the 25th anniversary video: “Through the Roof is so important because it makes a way for churches to be more inclusive. It’s so important to use the gifts that God has given you, as you.”
- Through the Roof encourages everyone to support disability inclusion in their church by watching and sharing the 25th anniversary video and Deaf awareness video. Find us at @TTRChangesLives on social media or contact us to sign up for free resources, a newsletter and weekly prayer email.
Calvert Trust Holiday 24th to 28th June 2024
After a wonderful holiday to Calvert Trust in Exmoor in summer 2023, we're returning there again from the 24th to 28th June 2024. Calvert Trust is an all-inclusive "accessible, exciting and memorable adventure break for everyone."
We're looking forward to a great time together. Guests, Carers and Helpers can enjoy a range of fully accessible activities such as abseiling, archery, cycling, carriage driving, climbing, sailing and much more. If you want something a little quieter, then you can enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Calvert Trust’s 44 acres of land set on the edge of Exmoor National Park.
Our holiday package includes full board accommodation, all the activities and daily spiritual reflection. Rooms are predominantly twins or singles, all with ensuite wet-rooms. Several of them have ceiling track hoists.
Calvert Trust have been welcoming people for 23 years and specialise in helping people relax, enjoy, reconnect, and create new memories.
Costs: Guests - £730; Helpers/Carers - £575. Although we can offer a limited number of discounted places for carers, it is the guest’s responsibility to arrange adequate and appropriate care ensuring that all costs are covered in full. Unfortunately, we are not legally allowed to provide carers.
How to book
Booking forms will be available soon, but in the meantime please register your interest by emailing: email@example.com or phone: 01372 749955.
Please do not send any money until you have booked and received an invoice.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office on 01372 749955.