Fawasi is 18 and from Nigeria. He has cerebral palsy, has never been able to speak or walk and is cared for by his grandmother. They travelled a long distance to meet the Through the Roof mission team at the Lagos distribution centre in the hope of getting a wheelchair to make life easier.

After careful assessment by Lynne, a volunteer occupational therapist, a suitable wheelchair was selected. Fawasi was delighted with his new chair, grinning broadly and thrusting his arms in the air in spontaneous thanksgiving.

Love through action

Fawasi is one of hundreds of people helped each year on international mission trips we run in our Wheels for the World project – distributing wheelchairs and mobility aids to disabled people in Africa, Asia and eastern Europe. Medically qualified Christian volunteers fit the wheelchairs, which are then adjusted by volunteer mechanics, showing love for our disabled neighbours in action. We also offer prayer and Bibles in local languages to address the shocking statistic that only 5 – 10% of the world’s one billion disabled people get to hear the gospel (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation).

We also offer prayer and Bibles in local languages to address the shocking statistic that only 5 – 10% of the world’s one billion disabled people get to hear the gospel.

Love through listening, and service

We also provide a wealth of free resources, training and support to local churches to fulfil the great commission to – and through – disabled people, for example, through our Roofbreaker project. Roofbreakers are volunteers in local churches and ministries who act as disability champions – listening and responding to the challenges disabled people face, enabling them to be fully part of church life. Churches need to be supportive places for disabled people where they can experience God’s love, which is also shown through the ministry of disabled people using their gifts and talents to serve as equal members of Christ’s body.

One example is Laurie, who uses a wheelchair and an assistive device to communicate. Laurie’s church welcomed him and encouraged him to take an active role. He says, I am writing magazines, helping out with a special needs group, emailing prayers and talks of services and helping with social media.” Laurie’s church asked us for a Church Disability Awareness workshop. Their heart was evident in the high number of people who attended, ready to learn and apply the training.

Photo by Through the Roof
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Catch the vision

These stories reflect our vision – to see lives transformed through Jesus with disabled people. In our 25th anniversary year, we invite your church to join in with advancing disability participation and belonging in church life, to better reflect God’s kingdom.

Heartbreakingly, 67% of the UK population feel uncomfortable” speaking with disabled people (Scope, 2015). We want to change this, so that people never cross the street to avoid an encounter with a disabled person. We pray that when you ask, who is my neighbour?” you will always include disabled people in your answer.

Be a Roofbreaker

There are many small, practical things churches can do to be more welcoming and accessible – here are just three for starters – and there is a wealth of advice and tips in our Church Toolkit, free to all Roofbreakers:

  • Speak directly to disabled people, assuming nothing and asking them how they are best supported and included.
  • Offer seating (some with arms) near the entrance and exit. Have step-free access giving level and ramped entry to a building.
  • Use straightforward, jargon-free language. Ensure there are clear and pictorial signs (for people with learning disabilities).

Let’s make the vision a reality – could you join with 500 Roofbreakers across the UK and connect with others in our regional networks? Learn more at throughtheroof​.org/​r​o​o​f​b​r​e​a​kers/

We invite your church to join in with advancing disability participation and belonging in church life, to better reflect God’s kingdom.