20 Years of God's Faithfulness (Ros' Blog)
1997. The year of Labour’s landslide victory under Tony Blair. Scientists succeeded in cloning a large organism, resulting in the birth of Dolly the sheep. The first Harry Potter novel was published and the UK handed the sovereignty of Hong Kong back to the Chinese. The world was shocked by the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the BBC launched its full time online news service. Twelve disabled people were arrested at Downing Street for a protest against cuts in benefits, in which they daubed red paint all over the pavement to symbolise “Blair’s blood”, while others padlocked themselves to the gates of Downing Street. David Blunkett became Britain’s first blind cabinet minister and Anne Begg became the first full time wheelchair user to sit as an MP at Westminster since Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh in 1880. And in the same year, via a tour of Bristol, London, Sheffield and Belfast with Joni Eareckson Tada, Through the Roof was launched.
All of these events left their mark on the world, whether positive or negative. The impact of Through the Roof, a small charity that punches above its weight, has perhaps been one of the more quietly remarkable.
Earlier today I was reading some of the statistics of what has been accomplished in the 20 years since the birth of Through the Roof. 40,000 people have heard the Gospel preached through our ministry. 20,000 people in 13 developing countries have received a wheelchair or mobility aid and a Bible. 6,000 people have found friendship and encouragement in groups and holidays. And thousands of Christians and churches have been helped to become more fully inclusive of their disabled brothers and sisters.
That is the overall picture; some of the individual stories are truly inspiring; the young man who came on one of our holidays as a volunteer to support a disabled person and left having given his life to Jesus in one of the meetings on the holiday. The blind volunteer who was able to tell an African audience of disabled people that their disability was not a curse as they had previously been taught. Rather, as the story in John 9 of the man born blind shows, it was that God’s good works could be displayed in their lives. The young Kenyan man who had suffered a catastrophic head injury in a road accident, which had left him paralysed but still with feeling and pain. With no medical care his joints had seized to the point where he could no longer sit up, and his legs were covered in bed sores. Our team were able to obtain wound care advice from a specialist in the UK, and also found and adapted a suitable wheelchair in which he could be wheeled around while lying almost flat. It was adjustable, meaning that his family would be able to sit him more upright very gradually over a period of time. And then there’s this little lady, whose joy at receiving a wheelchair and a Bible shines from her face and needs no words to describe it.
I recently bought a CD of Methodist worship, and I’ve taken to listening to it on the way to work. The track I keep playing over and over again is Great is Thy Faithfulness, and when I look back at what God has accomplished over the 20 years since the inception of Through the Roof I can see exactly why that particular hymn evokes such a response from me.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
As we look forward to the next 20 years of Through the Roof, how might you get involved and partner with what God is doing through our work? Could you become a Roofbreaker in your church, tasked with helping your church to ensure that disabled people are welcomed and can belong with you, giving and receiving as God intended? Follow this link for more information about becoming a Roofbreaker.