News release: ABC journey of disability inclusion

News release: ABC journey of disability inclusion

Sarah, Chief Candle Snuffer (Luke 5 Award nominator)

Disability charity Through the Roof is calling on all UK churches to join the ABC journey of disability inclusion, from Access to Belonging to Commission. We are sharing a new framework – the ABC model. It is a simple tool for churches to show that disability inclusion is about more than just access.

Disabled people are hugely under-represented in the Church. 24% of the UK are disabled people: so nearly ¼ of the total UK population. That is more than the percentage of under 18s – yet our churches do not always reflect that percentage, and there is rarely any support or ministry in churches specifically for disabled people.

Many barriers: social as well as physical

There are many barriers faced by disabled people to their spiritual life. Access to church buildings is just the first step. People can still feel excluded once they are in a church, if they do not feel like they belong, or that their gifts are valued.

The later steps, B for Belonging and C for Commission, are essential parts of the ABC journey, as Sarah’s story clearly shows:

“I have Down’s Syndrome and severe hearing loss… . I felt excluded at church because everyone had a job, and I didn’t. Our Churchwardens included me. I am now the ‘chief snuffer’. I snuff out the candles after the service. I am happy because I am helping and I feel part of a team.”

Read more here on Sarah’s church life being transformed. Sarah’s experience of feeling left out is common. Churches often think about practical access to church, but that’s where they stop. At Through the Roof, we are sharing the ABC to show that disability inclusion is a journey, with Access as the starting point. Belonging is a crucial next step, which leads on to the Commission of disabled people to use their giftings.

What is the ABC model?

The ABC is a simple three-part framework which forms a natural progression to help people think through how to include disabled people. It reflects the fact that disability inclusion in church and Christian life is a journey through different stages.

Here is a summary of the ABC model Through the Roof uses, working with churches and people across all disabilities to enable: Access, Belonging and Commission…  

  • Access: For everyone to know Jesus, with disabled people fully welcomed into Christian life  
  • Belonging: For everyone to grow together as the family of God, with disabled people flourishing in community with others  
  • Commission: For everyone to reflect the character of Jesus, with disabled people making disciples, to the glory of God.

Find out more about the ABC at https://throughtheroof.org/about/abc-journey/

How does Through the Roof help?

Through the Roof’s ‘Roofbreaker’ initiative encourages all churches or ministries to have a nominated Roofbreaker disability champion. Or it could be a team of Roofbreakers, who are available to connect with disabled people, listening to challenges they face. Roofbreakers travel alongside people through the ABC journey, supporting them in finding ways around any barriers to being fully included in church and Christian life.

66% of churches say they need ideas about how to include disabled people in church activities (ComRes/Savanta). Through the Roof can help your church or ministry with:

  • a FREE 2 hour Zoom Disability Awareness workshop for churches who appoint a disability champion or ‘Roofbreaker’
  • access to a free downloadable ‘Church Toolkit’ and 'Removing Barriers' church accessibility audit, available to all Roofbreaker disability champions
  • a 50% discount on Through the Roof resources to all Roofbreakers
  • advice and support from one of three Roofbreaker Co-ordinators covering the whole of the UK, to encourage disability inclusion in all churches
  • support through monthly emails, events, social media and Roofbreaker Networks.

Katie Mobbs, Roofbreaker Team Leader, who is herself a wheelchair user says:
“I am so excited about the ABC journey because I believe that it is a pathway for more disabled people to be released for mission, sharing their gifts and skills to the glory of God. The ABC acronym is easy to remember, so it reminds us of God’s ‘Great Commission’. It represents an invitation for each and everyone of us – it is the Gospel in action.”

What can I do?

Help your church to include disabled people – become a Roofbreaker!

You don’t need to be an expert in disability to be  Roofbreaker disability champion. All you need to do is be available to connect with disabled people in your church or community, helping to break down barriers to Access, Belonging and Commission.

With a Roofbreaker, your church can send a positive message to disabled people by joining our online map of Roofbreaker churches. You can be on the map whether your church or ministry is just starting, or continuing, on the ABC journey towards better disability inclusion.

Find out how your church can be blessed by the full involvement of disabled people at: https://www.throughtheroof.org/roofbreakers/ or @TTRChangesLives on social media.

 

Remembering Mike Townsend

Mike_fromAlison-Glasspool_8Oct22_pic_crop

Dear Through the Roof family

It is with sad hearts that we announce that Mike Townsend, Through the Roof’s Chair of Trustees, passed away on 28th November 2023.

Mike and his wife, Edith, had been on a cruise in the Caribbean when Mike was admitted to hospital in Antigua with breathing difficulties. It was found to be a re-occurrence of the pneumonia he had suffered in recent years. He had also endured a cardiac arrest, which meant some of his organs had begun to shut down. Although his condition stabilised for a short time, sadly he had encountered too many complications for his body to recover. Edith’s sister flew out to be with her, to support her in plans and arranging the logistics of returning to the UK.

Mike played a huge role in the development of Through the Roof, having been involved since the early years, and we are grateful for his giving of time, energy, skills and experience. We remember him as someone who was passionate about challenging people’s attitudes towards disabled people and helping them see things from God’s perspective. He was also a great advocate, and role model, for disabled people fulfilling their potential in God’s sight - a real Roofbreaker! A very moving obituary has been published by Premier Christianity.

We will miss Mike, but we share his faith and trust in the Lord, so we rejoice that Mike is now in his eternal home with Jesus. We’re sure he was greeted by those wonderful words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matt 25:23).

Please join with us in continuing to pray for Edith; their daughter, Christine; and the family. Thank you.

Yours in His service

Tim Wood (CEO) and Rev Trevor Hahn (Vice Chair)

 

Share your memories and condolences

Many people have asked if they can share condolences and memories of Mike in a memorial book or page.

There is now an online condolences page set up, so follow this link to contribute to it with your thoughts and prayers. 

If you would like something to be put on the page but can't access it, please feel free to email annette@throughtheroof.org with your comments and we will sort this out for you.

God Grows Our Gifts: Winter 2023 Vital Link Newsletter

Front-cover-Vital-Link-WINTER-2023_crop

Welcome to the Winter 2023 Vital Link newsletter from Through the Roof.

Download your copy to:

  • read all about our the latest Wheels for the World work of lives transformed with our partners in Kenya
  • watch our new autism support video and share it in churches, with more videos to come!
  • hear about the launch of Together @ Home, a new online fellowship and prayer group
  • read stories of success for Disability Awareness Sunday 2023, from churches and in the media
  • find out the power of a mustard seed, demonstrated by a church in Yorkshire
  • and much more...

Wheels in Kimilili and Eldoret, Kenya 2023: blog

Kimilili_Blog1_pic5_IMG_8054

Through the Roof is blessed to have two Wheels for the World missions to Kenya in 2023. On the second trip, volunteers visit Kimilili then Eldoret to distribute wheelchairs and mobility aids to disabled people, as well as Bibles, to bring them physical and spiritual freedom. Sophie Luckett, a UK team member, writes about the experience of the mission trip.

Kimilili distribution

Day 1: Arrival at Kimilili

After a long 22 hours of travel, 11 exhausted volunteers arrived in Kimilili, Kenya. We were greeted with a warm and enthusiastic welcome by our hosts at the guest house, owned by IcFEM, our local partner organisation. We were met by Leonard, a local team member, at Kisumu, from where we had a three-hour drive to the guest house in Kimilli. Ruth, Irene and lots of other workers at the house warmly welcomed us and Philip the chef prepared us tea, coffee and sandwiches, before we rested and settled into our accommodation. 

UK Wheels team members on their journey to Kimilili, 3 ladies with suitcases are stood outside a station or airport, talking to a local man in a smart, patterned shirt.
Time to pray

After a delicious chicken dinner, we had a time of prayer and reflection as a team. Carol shared Philippians 1:9-11, ”And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

It was a great reminder to us all, that what Paul is talking about to the people in Philippi is the same for us today. We should be praying for ourselves, our team and all the other people that we encounter during our time away that our love may continue to grow and grow in Christ, and pray that any decisions we have to make will be done for the glory of God.  

 

 

Day 2: Preparation day in Kimilili

Preparation Day! The power of a good night sleep was felt amongst us all this morning, with Leonard noting, “they look a lot better than yesterday”; a cheeky chappy! It was great, as feeling refreshed and rested meant we were ready for a long day of preparation at the IcFEM mission headquarters. 

On the short walk to the headquarters, we walked past lots of children and their mothers playing on the grass, with lots of laughter and screams of joy. The children were so excited to see us, they came bouncing over, skipping and very eager to shake our hands and ask us “how are you?” I was so struck by not only the confidence they had, but the contentment, happiness and joy that beamed from them when playing with any other children around them, and greeting visitors in their village. It was so beautiful to see!
Photo of rows of wheelchairs, lined up ready to be distributed on the Wheels for the World mission in Kimilili. UK and local Kenyan team members are checking and organising the chairs.

Getting to work

We arrived to see the 135 wheelchairs that had arrived in the container before us. It was time to meet the workers from IcFEM who each gave us an introduction about their role on the team. IcFEM aims to reach a huge range of people in the community, through the many programmes that they have thought and prayed so hard about. They want everyone to see that they are a Child of God. Everyone is loved by Him: no matter their gender, age, ability or anything else. Ruth quoted “love thy neighbour as thy self”, which emphasised their mission to reach the lost and to love them like Jesus loves us! 

We got straight to work: the four therapists, two techies and helpers from IcFEM all started arranging the wheelchairs into piles, according to the coloured tape which showed the size differences. 135 wheelchairs, numerous sets of crutches and walking aids and 8 buggies were sorted, then we selected what was needed for day 1 of the distribution.

Two female UK Wheels team members unpack Bibles to give out on the Wheels for the World mission. They are smiling, stood at a table outside the IcFEM centre.Meanwhile the other members of the team were arranging all the extra materials: seat covers, harnesses, extra padding and foam. Myself, Carol and a few members from IcFEM were sorting out all the Bibles for the wheelchair recipients, putting stickers on them and sorting them out for each distribution day. While we did this, we had a lovely opportunity for conversation, where we found out lots about the workers’ families, children, wives, husbands. It was such a precious time for both myself and Carol as we began to build foundations for friendships with those we’d be working with over the next few days. 

 

A photo of buildings at the IcFEM centre, with finished neatly painted buildings at the front, and rough stone block buildings with scaffolding at the back, as construction continues.

Visiting IcFEM hospital

After lunchtime, we visited IcFEM Dreamland Hospital, where Ruth gave us an amazing tour of the site: the different wards, inpatients, outpatients, and then the school. It was incredible to see the work they have done and prayed for over so many years. This year they have opened the new-born unit for premature babies, where they’ve recently had tiny triplets staying. Currently the hospital is building two new operating theatres. We ask that you may continue praying for God's provision, that the resources and funds will be available.

Please also pray for Wheels for the World teams: that the Lord is with us and will continue to use us for glory, honour and praise. 

Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

 

Day 3: First distribution day - Naitri

The first day of distribution: 26 wheelchairs; 12 mobility aids. The team were ready to go, although slightly apprehensive and a little nervous for what the day would unfold. We were reminded of Philippians 2 verse 3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

A female UK Wheels team member is sitting on the floor with a smiling young Kenyan boy. They are talking and using paper from a notebook. There are coloured crayons and coloured fabric on the floor– perhaps a play parachute, with stripes of red, yellow and purple. When we arrived in Naitri, we were greeted with a crowd of women welcoming us off the coach, hugging and leading us inside the centre, ready for the distribution. One older lady came and lead me over to a little corner of the field, where there were four children, one who was severely disabled and looked in quite a lot of distress.

Encouraging play

As the play specialist on the mission team, my aim was to make the little boy and the siblings feel as comfortable, loved and valuable as possible, whilst they waited to be seen by one of our physios. I greeted little Moses gently with a wave and a “Jambo” (a Swahili greeting) and gave him time to look in my direction and understand that I was talking to him. Throughout the morning, I supported the family and brought in a range of different sensory toys, lights, noisy toys, and little cars and a dolly for the other children to play with.Sophie, the UK Wheels team play specialist, demonstrating use of a scarf as a swing for a young local Kenyan boy who is severely disabled, to give him relief and sensory input.
Moses really responded well to the stimulus of the lights. He would fixate on them, which would calm him down and would relax his body. We also made a makeshift swing out of a large scarf. I demonstrated using this to the family to show them how they can give Moses relief, as well as sensory input, from being swung side to side.

Having the time and resources to come alongside the family and teach them how to engage with their children was hugely rewarding. It led to lots of positive conversations and the families feeling cared for and acknowledged. After having these conversations, I was then able to give the therapist team the information they needed to support the families. I continued to be available to support the children and families during their consultations.

Two female UK Wheels team members talking to two local men – one of them is holding a book. One of the men in a red baseball cap and a smart suit is gesturing to the book. They are sitting in a circle in a hall, with others in the background.Prayer and pastoral care

The Pastoral Team sees each person who comes to the distribution, and their family. The team have been opening up the Bible and sharing Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The most important thing for people to know is that there is a God who made them in His image and loves them. Please pray that each person we encounter will see the love of Jesus and will come into a personal relationship with him.

Each person who receives a wheelchair also receives a Bible, and all people who see the pastoral team receive prayer and a copy of Psalm 139. Carol in the pastoral team has been reading to the children from a book called ‘Just as I am’ which highlights that God made them in his image: that they are special to Him and loved very much by Him. 

 

Day 4: Namwela

A number of people walked into the distribution centre, visibly struggling; they were provided with walking aids. Many of these people were limited in their mobility due to circumstances that in the UK would have been resolved and treated, resulting in no lasting impact.

One adult that Kathy saw had a large open wound on the top of his foot due to a road traffic accident. He really needed a skin graft but could not afford the medical insurance. He was provided with a walking aid to help him to get around and a referral has been made to Dreamland Hospital. With the support of IcFEM we hope he will get the treatment he needs to make a full recovery.
A female UK Wheels team member talking to a local family – she is holding a clip board with a form on it. The family includes a man in a red baseball cap and a yellow T shirt, a woman in a bright blue coat and grey woollen hat, and a young boy in a maroon jumper. They are sitting in a circle in a hall.

John's story

During the morning, Joanna saw a wonderful 71-year-old man, John, and his adult grandson. John was wearing a very smart burgundy suit and very trendy croc shoes. The grandson did lots of the advocating for John, as he is blind, has diabetes, previously had a stroke, and was very tired, falling asleep quite often.
John also has memory problems, which we suspect may be dementia. Joanna fitted John with a wheelchair which will give John a comfortable and safe way of being moved without having to be carried everywhere. This will have a huge impact on John’s grandson and the rest of the family who care for John. Carol and the pastoral team prayed with them. She encouraged the grandson to keep doing a wonderful job in looking after his grandfather, reminding him that Jesus will give him the strength each day. John was given an audio bible to take with him so he can still regularly listen to God’s Word.

The last two days have been very busy but extremely positive. We’ve seen 87 people over the first two days of the distribution, but there will be a much wider impact on their families, friends and community. We pray the Bibles they have received will be well used, and that the people will integrate into a loving and welcoming local church.

 

Day 5: Sunday rest

A day of rest… the 11 of us split between 3 different churches on Sunday morning. Some of us went to Chrisco, some went to Friends church and others visited King Jesus Gospel Ministries (KJGM). It was so lovely to be welcomed and accepted into each church. 

Graham, who has been our administrator and finance man, went along with three others (including his wife Kathy) to KJGM. The sermon was on the Good Samaritan and was preached by David, part of the IcFEM team who is one of the pastors, and guest speaker Leonard. Graham was thrilled to hear the sermon preached, with the link to disability inclusion. They sang hymns in both English and Kiu Swahili, and the preacher David’s twin sons sang a duet. The noise of praise for Jesus was joyful. 

After our church services, we all went back to our host’s houses. Carol, Gunn and John went to Macdon’s house where his wife Shelia cooked a delicious hearty meal, and there were lots of appearances from their own children and other people they support in their home. The children sang them lots of songs with actions, which brought lots of smiles and laughter.
A big group of Kenyan children singing and dancing in an outdoor yard, with washing hanging above them, led by a Kenyan lady in her Sunday-best green dress

Day 6: From calm to crazy-busy!

The busiest, craziest, most tiring day: 10 hours; 57 wheelchairs; 6 mobility aids. Our 5 therapists, 2 technicians, 1 admin, 1 play specialist, 1 pastoral worker, 1 photographer and our lovely translators and workers from IcFEM tackled the day with compassion, empathy and strength from the Lord. We drew on the promise in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. It was great to be reminded of this, as lots of us were feeling a bit nervous and fatigued with the amount of people needing to be seen – but it is not from our own strength, but through the Lord’s. 

The day seemed to go by in a bit of a blur… Neil and Enos, our technicians, were hard at work all day long, fixing parts of the chairs, making lots of cushions and adjusting lots of footplates. Neil was relieved when the day was finally over, but was joyful as he reflected back on what the team had achieved. He said:

“It was a very worthwhile day, seeing so many people helped with wheelchairs & mobility aids. It was evident that they were pleased by the smiles on their faces which showed their joy in receiving wheelchairs and the impact it will have on their day-to-day life. They were then in a situation of being able to go to church; the children were now able to go to school; when previously so many of them were stuck at home. There were lots of challenging and complex adjustments that needed to be made for the clients, but I was grateful for the partnership and teamwork that Enos and myself developed, along with IcFEM partner David. It was a tiring but a great day!” 

Sammy signs 'happy'

Photo of Sammy, a young man with cerebral palsy, wearing a red T shirt. He is crawling on his knees, next to his new wheelchair, given to him on the Wheels for the World Kimilili mission to Kenya. Behind him a female UK Wheels team member is chatting to a Kenyan lady.One client that arrived at the IcFEM headquarters was Sammy. Sammy was only 21 but had already conquered many challenges in life – he has cerebral palsy, was non-verbal and unable to walk. Sadly, his father died and his mother left him when he was three, taking the other ‘healthy’ siblings with her, due to the stigma and difficulties around having a child with a disability. However, a lovely guardian took him in, loving and caring for him. Joanna (one of our physios) requested that I came over to Sammy, as during her observations, she noticed that he was gesturing with his hands.

Sammy was indeed communicating to us using Makaton. Once we realised this, I began talking to Sammy using the basic symbols that I know. He had already been given the wheelchair at this point, but adjustments were being made by the techies. The independence that Sammy had using his wheelchair, as he was able to self-propel, would allow him to comfortably and safely get around college and his home. 

Sammy beamed with joy and kept signing ‘happy’. He was now ready to go to the pastoral team. Both myself and Joanna were feeling very emotional at the joy in seeing the transformation from a young man shuffling in on the floor, to the same man leaving with dignity. I signed to Sammy ‘Jesus loves you’ and he reciprocated ‘Jesus loves you and me!’. Which was the best result!

 

Day 7: Kwaheri (goodbye) Kimilili, Jambo (hello) Eldoret

We had a lovely debrief with our partners at IcFEM in Kimilili, as we prepared to say goodbye. We chatted through the trip: the strengths, the weaknesses, the improvements, but most importantly we prayed with thanksgiving to the Lord for the 102 wheelchairs, the 44 mobility aids and the many Bibles given out. We pray they will have a ripple effect through the families and local communities. 

The director of IcFEM, Solomon, led the meeting and was visibly emotional whilst reflecting back on what the team had achieved over the three distributions, transforming the lives of many in their communities. Matthew 28:19 tells us to “Go out and make disciples of all nations”. The distribution of wheelchairs and mobility aids was extremely important, however even more importantly was the spiritual health of all those we encountered. What side of the fence were they on? Had they rejected Jesus, were they undecided or had they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour? We pray that seeds of faith in Jesus have been sown.A female UK Wheels volunteer (Sophie the play worker?) is sat at eye level with a disabled Kenyan child who sat in a push-chair. The child has an enlarged head and a very small torso with little or no limbs. She is wrapped is a soft cream blanket, and the Wheels worker is clipping her lovingly into the push-chair to keep her secure with the safety belt.

We strived to show the love of Christ in whatever role we played during the days in Kimilili. Carol and the pastoral team were really able to show people why we came on this distribution: not for our own glory, but for Christ’s – to show how wide and long and high and deep His love is for all people, including those with a disability! 

On the road to Eldoret

A last snack of chai tea and a slice of bread was eaten before we headed off on the bus, beginning our journey to Eldoret. The 2-hour drive went relatively quick, with the majority of us falling asleep before the driver had turned the engine on! 

We arrived in Eldoret, at the CBR guesthouse, where we were greeted by Reverend Grace, who took us to our rooms and allowed us to rest and recharge before another day of distribution. After a delicious fish dinner, we had a time of reflection and prayer as a team. Carol opened up the Bible in Philippians 4; it was great to be reminded of the peace that the Lord gives us and how we need to take our anxieties to Him and let them go, because He is in control:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:4-7)

 

Days 8 and 9: A sprint to the finish! 

An early start: breakfast at 6:30am; doors opened at 8am. Verse of the day: Philippians 4:8 “finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”. We were out of a comfort zones, another new place to navigate with new people who we needed to get to know, we were tired but rejoiced that it was a new day. 

We set up our stations, the 5 therapists scattered around, the play zone, the techie corner, the check-in station in the sun, and Carol in a little side room. Now we were ready and eager. And we were excited for the clients we were going to meet. 

Therapists Frances, Belinda, Kathy, Gunn and Joanna were whizzing through each client, carefully assessing and working out which wheelchair or mobility aid would be suitable, and what adaptations they would need to make with the techies. 

A young Kenyan girl in a dark blue tracksuit is smiling at the camera, holding the box of a space jigsaw puzzle she’s been given to play with. Joy and faith

A very smiley and chatty young girl, who was around 11 years old, stole both mine and Kathy’s heart. She had polio as a young child which affected her walking and was using homemade crutches out of wood to get around. The girl loved bubbles, and was very excited to be able to use them herself. We had lots of games of who can pop the bubbles the fastest, which echoed a roar of giggles around the centre. 

Kathy was able to provide a set of new crutches, which fit the girl correctly, and instantly she was up walking around and smiling lots. The girl and her parents were evidently so grateful for the freedom that these crutches would be able to give her in being able to safety and comfortably move around her school and her home. She left with lots of little toys and when asked what she wanted to be, she said “a Doctor, not sure what type, but God knows.” What an encouragement of faith this young girl had: her trust was completely in Jesus’ plan for her!

Before we knew it, the last wheelchair of the trip was fitted! Please pray with us that all those wheelchairs and mobility aids we have distributed would bless their users and the families and communities around them. 

 

Day 10: Goodbye Eldoret, hello Nairobi!

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call and me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. Jeremiah 29:11–13. 

It was great to be encouraged that the Lord knows his plans for us, he knows what will happen in our lives. The Safari truck was 45 minutes late and the entrance fee to the National Park caused a lot of stress... But God was still in control, and he knew what his plans were. 

Seeing the sights

The group split in the afternoon. Four went around the town, visiting the Bead Factory, the Giraffe sanctuary and the Karen Blixen Museum. The other seven of us ventured to the National park for a Safari tour… to see the lions (we hoped). After all the chaos of the truck turning up late and the long process of getting into the park… we were all finally relieved when we went through the gates, onto the bumpy terrain to go and find some animals.

We all got very excited when we spotted the first giraffe, and the first zebra. They were so beautiful and elegant close up. Riding around was very exciting and we left just after darkness, seeing a whopping 25 or more different species of animals and birds of prey. The wonders and the awe at God’s marvellous creation never cease. 

Saying goodbye

We returned back to the CHAK guesthouse, where we enjoyed our last dinner as a team and said farewell to Enos who would be travelling overland back to Zanzibar. Then we were off to bed for an early night as our alarms were set for 4:30am to ensure we arrived at Nairobi airport in time for our flight home. 

A big group of Kenyan children waving at the camera, stood in an outdoor yard, with washing hanging behind, next to a Kenyan lady in a Sunday-best yellow dress
The past 10 days have been such an amazing, eye-opening and humbling experience. It was a joy to come out to both Kimilili and Eldoret and serve alongside their local teams. Please pray for IcFEM and Reverand Grace and all at CBR that the Lord will sustain and strengthen them day by day, as they continue to serve their local communities. Pray too for each encounter we had with all those at the distributions, pray that little seeds would have been sown, and they would open up their Bibles and come into a personal relationship with Jesus.

Find out more about Wheels for the World at this link if you'd like to get involved by applying for a trip, fundraising, donating funds or praying for the work. Thank you for your support.

Together on Retreat: 'Following Jesus'

Page3_Emily-Owen_crop2

It is our privilege and pleasure to confirm that once again Emily Owen will be our speaker for 'Together on Retreat' this March.

Join us as we follow Jesus to the garden, the cross, and the tomb.
Come, and share in the wonder of the Easter story.

Online Easter retreat: 'Following Jesus' the journey of Christ to the cross and resurrection
Date: Monday 18th March, Wednesday 20th March and Friday 22nd March 2024
Time: 2:00pm - 4:00pm on Mon, Wed and Fri
Venue: Online via Zoom 

To join us: contact together@throughtheroof.org by 14 March for a Zoom link.

Photo of a Christian cross built from bricks, standing in a garden with trees and bushes around it, and the sun rising behind it

 

Please pray that this will be a blessed time of preparation through Lent, to help prepare for Easter.

The retreat will be particularly suitable for disabled people. There will be opportunities on the Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for 1:1 prayer.

If you, or anyone you know, may be interested, please contact together@throughtheroof.org 

 

 

 

 

About Emily Owen, our speaker

Emily is an award-winning author and speaker, with several books to her name. She lost her hearing overnight aged 21 and has had numerous surgeries. Emily knows what it is to be broken, and she knows what it is to meet God there. We are really looking forward to Emily sharing with us - and we know Emily will enjoy it too, as her website says:

"Speaking to groups? I love it, because I love people. Big groups, little groups, one-to one. Christian, secular, faith, disability, communication, my personal story, deaf awareness… anything you like really. Though probably not astrophysics."

Her faith is also really important to Emily - she says: "I’m a Christian. No idea how I’d get through life without God. Glad I don’t need to know." She shares: "I have a condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. Feel free not to try and pronounce it. I write about it in my memoir." Her memoir 'Still Emily' is a moving and inspiring read.

To find out more about Emily, visit her website at https://www.emily-owen.com/ 

About Through the Roof's retreats and holidays

Through the Roof (TTR) offers accessible, supported retreats and group holidays, as times of fellowship for disabled people and for all, in an atmosphere of joy and togetherness. Many lasting friendships (as well as two marriages) have been formed through these special times.

We offer a combination of organised trips, activities and free time with the opportunity to be refreshed spiritually through prayer, praise and worship.

We are committed to enabling you to:
- make new friends
- leave feeling refreshed
- want to come back.

If you would like to join us for what will undoubtedly be a very special and spiritually deepening and uplifting time, please do email us at together@throughtheroof.org 

Find out more about Through the Roof retreats and holidays, visit https://throughtheroof.org/holidays-and-retreats/

Together in the Lounge: our online coffee and chat time

relaxing-1979674_1920

Together in the Lounge is a regular catch up for an hour on Zoom for a cuppa and a chat.

We will be making another visit to The Lounge on Tuesday 12th March, 2-3pm. If you would like to join us for a cuppa and a chat to catch up with existing friends or make new ones, we would love to have you join us. There will be a brief closing devotional at the end of our time together. 

Date: Tuesday 12th March 2024

Time: 2:00-3:00 pm

Where: from the comfort of your home (via Zoom link)

Cost: Free

How to join: Email together@throughtheroof.org by 10:00 am Tuesday 12th March for the Zoom link to be sent to you.

Access: If you have specific accessibility needs, please get in touch as soon as possible and we will do our best to help. We will have captions switched on. We have a BSL interpreter available – please notify us if you need this service.

Please do email us at together@throughtheroof.org to find out more – we look forward to having you with us. You will receive the Zoom link by email in advance.

Please come and join us. Details of future meetings will be posted here in advance.

Until we meet, be blessed.

News Release: video on Supporting autistic individuals in our churches

Triona Brading, an autistic Christian who works with children with additional needs, is busting myths on autism in the church with her latest video, ‘Supporting autistic individuals in our churches’. The video shares practical tips from her own experience of autism and encourages churches to take a fresh perspective in forming a welcoming environment for autistic people.

Triona, Roofbreaker disability champion for Christian disability charity Through the Roof, released the video as the first of a series about autism and neurodiversity inclusion in the church available at youtube.com/TTRChangesLives.

How we can be supporting autistic individuals in our churches

Triona says “Autistic people experience the world in a different way… There is a myth that the [autistic] spectrum goes from less autistic to more autistic… The spectrum itself is actually more like a circle with lots of different variations and presentations. So it can be quite overwhelming if you’re thinking ‘How do I support someone in my church who is autistic?’”

Church can be a difficult and confusing place for autistic people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This video aims to help people in churches learn how to create a more inclusive church environment for autistic people, with practical tips and advice that can be easily and quickly implemented.

“The best thing you can do is talk to autistic people you know that come to your church groups and services, and see what they would like in place.” Triona says.

Through the Roof provides free support and resources through its Roofbreaker project to enable churches to support autistic people and disabled people. Find out how at: https://throughtheroof.org/forchurches/roofbreakers/

Disability Diaries - Part 2: Bursting the Balloon of Fear

Bursting the Balloon of Fear - 1

To celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday, we're sharing Disability Diaries – stories of disabled people’s lives transformed by church disability inclusion.

Deena meets K

When I became a Roofbreaker disability champion with Through the Roof, our church put up some publicity posters and several disabled people (not previously connected to our church) approached us for support.  

Roofbreakers has helped me meet a dear Christian friend of mine, let’s call her K. K is a young woman who has a learning disability. She recently started coming to our church and went with us to a weekend Christian festival (NUA).  Going to the NUA festival was a new experience and such a big step for K, yet one that God has used to heap more blessings on her and many of our church members.

Bursting the balloon of fear

At the NUA festival, K was healed from her fear of balloons - which often limited her involvement in events.  During the festival, there were huge colourful balloons used to decorate the tents where the main meetings took place.  I had forgotten of her fear of balloons until she pointed them out to me.  I asked her if she wanted to leave, but she said she was okay.  When we returned from the weekend, K expressed how pleased she was that this fear no longer existed.  She is an amazing young woman, and it is great to see her more fully exercising her gifts (as her confidence grows) of loving and caring for others through her thoughtfulness and practical support. 

The difference a Roofbreaker makes 

K is really enjoying her new friendships from being part of the church, and thanks God for these. K frequently talks about how she now relies on God and how He has built up her confidence and sense of peace.  She is so happy in the church.  Even her family have commented on how she has changed and is so much happier – she is experiencing more freedom and joy as she embraces and is embraced by the community.   

Having a Roofbreaker in our church has definitely given us more focus – although this is all down to God's leading.  I've had to do very little.  It has been God who has brought the people along and God who has given so many of our church members open hearts to provide support wherever they can. It's amazing what God has done in our church in such a short period of time. 

 Find out more or to sign up as a Roofbreaker disability champion here: https://throughtheroof.org/forchurches/roofbreakers/

Wheels for the World in Elburgon, Kenya 2023: Blog 4

20230825_172506

For our last blog post from this trip, Andy Tyas shares his memories of the end of our 2023 Wheels for the World trip to Elburgon, Kenya, to distribute wheelchairs that bring freedom to disabled people. This Christian mission is taking place with our local partner in Elburgon, Pastor Davis from Hope of Glory Church. Here's is the final report.

Days 8, 9 and 10/11: 24th–26th August 2023

No-one went away without help

On Wednesday 23rd, the Wheels team members - both UK and local partners - worked so well together. They managed to provide everyone a mobility device who came for one. All 129 wheelchairs and other mobility aids that we had were distributed, so no disabled person went away without being helped in some way. Praise God! We are grateful to God for his many blessings on this Wheels for the World trip to Kenya. We pray that God will continue to bless the lives of disabled people in Elburgon.

Nature's blessings in Nakura National Park

A flock of flamingos drinking water from a pool in Nakuru National Park, KenyaOn Thursday 24th we rose very early before dawn to go to the Nakura National Park. We were accompanied by Pastor Davis’ wife Ruth and their daughter Ann.  The vehicle had a roof that lifted so we could see the sights more clearly by standing up. We drove around the park for nearly 5 hours, stopping to look at a great variety of wildlife including Malibu Storks, Monkeys, Bamboons, Impala, Gazelle, Waterbuck, Antelope, Water Buffalo, Zebra, Giraffes and Fish Eagles.

 

We stopped at the lakeside to see a magnificent display of Flamingos and white pelicans. Then we were fortunate enough to see a rare and endangered group of White Rhino close up, having spotted a group of Black Rhino earlier. After stopping to see a waterfall and ascending to a view point, we returned to Nakura for some welcome refreshments in a local hotel. Later Pastor Davis and Ruth kindly hosted a late lunch for us at their house.

 

 

The journey home begins

Friday 25th was our last day in Kenya (boo hoo!).  After a unrushed late breakfast we journeyed to Nakuru for a final bit of shopping and then travelled onwards towards Nairobi. After passing tea plantations we took lunch at the Brackenhurst centre – a very peaceful retreat with good food. We were joined by Pastor Joseph and Geraldine, good friends of Pastor Davis who live in Nairobi and who had hosted us for breakfast on our arrival morning. After that onwards through Nairobi to the airport. A final adventure was waiting in the dark by the departure gate due to a power failure. Everyone there was remarkably calm as though it was an everyday occurrence! We all landed safely and travelled home to rest on Sat 26th.

Please contact Shaun shaun@throughtheroof.org if you are interested in a future follow-up Roofbreaker Church Inclusion trip to Elburgon, supporting recipients practically and spiritually.

Wheels for the World in Elburgon, Kenya 2023: Blog 3

Assessment

Shaun Burrows, our International Missions Manager, is taking on the role of blogger on our Wheels for the World trip to Elburgon, Kenya to distribute wheelchairs to disabled people. This Christian mission is taking place with our local partner in Elburgon, Pastor Davis from Hope of Glory Church. Shaun will be sending back reports when he can -- here's his third report.

Days 5, 6 and 7: 20th–22nd August 2023

Dancing before the Lord

Sunday morning was bright and sunny, as were all the previous days. I felt very much at home watching the large bald Ibis birds pecking for food on the large grass patch opposite the Distribution Centre. The Ibis, common throughout Africa, is commonly known further south as the Ha-de-da because of their loud cries. As we entered the church building the people were already praising God with fervour and expectation. It was wonderful to see four young Maasai men dancing before the Lord. It wasn’t long before everyone had joined in, including the UK team, all of whom are well into our 60’s.  

We were delighted to see a few disabled people join the service, some for the first time we were told. They got there using the mobility aid that they had just received at the Distribution. Four hours later we walked back to the hotel for a two-hour rest.  In the evening we enjoyed supper with Ps Davis and his family and neighbours. 

Meeting complex needs

It wasn’t long before Monday morning arrived, and we were back at the Centre. Many were already sitting on plastic chairs in the early morning sun. The waiting room was being set up and those outside entered and sat down.

A smiling UK team-member is shown pushing the newly received wheelchair of a Kenyan lady who has a big broad smile on her face.We were able to assist several people with complex needs of Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida disabilities, including stroke victims. But it never ceases to amaze me the number of people who arrive at our Wheels for the World Distributions who are amputees because of motor vehicle collisions.    

Reaching disabled people on the fringes of society

Our partner for this region of Kenya is Bishop Dr Davis Gatua. He is a professor at the University of Nairobi, but affectionately known to us as Ps Davis. He is also our Regional Network Coordinator for our Roofbreaker programme. God has given him a heart to reach and touch the lives of those who find themselves at the fringes of society due to disability. One of our team today referred to Ps Davis as the most tender-hearted person he knows. God has also given Ps Davis the gift of encouragement to those who are the most influential in society. Today he and I were invited to eat lunch in the home of the member of parliament of the local constituency. This lady has the same heart for disabled people as Ps Davis. During lunch she told us that when we return for our planned Roofbreaker event next year she will take us to Nairobi to meet with the president, so that we can encourage him to give more of his attention to the disabled people of his country.

Tomorrow will be our last Wheels for the World Distribution Day. We only have 17 wheelchairs left out of the 129 that arrived in the container. The team are a bit anxious that some disabled people having travelled long distances to get a wheelchair might have to be turned away because there may not be any left. Thursday will be our team day out, an early morning game drive in the Nakuru Game Park, and then lunch with Ps Davis and his family.