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Interview: Richard Gamble, founder, Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer

06 August 2021

Eternal Wall may tell us as much about those who ask as it does about the God who answers’

Seventeen years ago, I was walking across Leicestershire carrying a cross, trying to inspire people to think about Jesus during Easter. I prayed, and felt God tell me that the next thing I needed to do was to build a wall where every brick within it represented an answered prayer.

The Eternal Wall is a project to build a Christian national landmark in the centre of the UK.
It’s a Möbius strip reaching 50 metres into the skyline, and every brick represents a story of answered prayer (News, 18 September 2020). It’ll be near Birmingham between the M6 and M42 — Coleshill, Birmingham — and finished by the end of 2022. It’s being funded from the public and trust funds.

We’re aiming to build the biggest database of answered prayers globally,
and we’re partnering with hundreds of Christian organisations to achieve that. Seventy-nine countries currently have contributed, and we’re also collecting stories of answered prayer from history. Prayers are recorded through writing, video, and audio, and people will be able to point their phone at any of the million bricks in the structure, and the phone will light up and share with them the story that lies within that brick.

We’re hoping for around 200,000 stories of answered prayer.
At night, we will only light up the landmark to the extent to which we have stories; so people who are driving will be able to see that grow over time. Once we hit a million, we plan to create another five million opportunities.

When people first hear about it,
they might think: “What’s going on here? What a waste of money!” But when people lift the lid off it, and hear the heart of it — it’s not about believing in a supermarket God, who gives us everything we ask for, and we’re really wrestling with these questions — hopefully, it will impact the nation.

I’ve run my own businesses, and consulted for other businesses for 20 years,
but the challenge of this project is that we’re doing a number of things that have never been done globally: pushing the boundaries in engineering, the collecting of stories, and the tech that will read them to visitors. We have 20 people working now, full-time and part-time, and over 200 volunteers.

There’s no one, neat answer to the question why we aren’t remembering our answered prayers.
But we live in a culture where, as Spurgeon puts it: “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.” I write about this in my book Remember. There’s a tendency to focus on failure now rather than success, and focus on the present moment rather than the past.

There’s also the fear of hurting people who’ve suffered disappointment and pain.
That heart of compassion has perhaps muted us as a Church. My best friend died of leukaemia. Clearly, I’d swap thousands of answered prayers for that one of seeing my friend alive. We submit to the wisdom of God, and we don’t always understand it. There’s loads of things in my life that I don’t understand. And that’s part of the journey: building an intimacy with God that comes through the pain.

I’ve had so many answered prayers.
The challenge is which one to pick. They mean different things at different moments. With Eternal Wall, we’ve some mountains in front of us, and, praying in the night this week, I recall some amazing things that God has done to help us get to this position. That recalibrates my brain to focus on his will and not the difficulties. For example, we prayed for land, and someone gave us land worth £1.7 million — a ridiculous, miraculous story. Those are the sort of things I hold on to when I’m wrestling with doubts.

We’ll be building the road to the land in September.
We have to do a big crowdfunding at the same time, and, as long as we raise what we need, we’ll start building in January and be ready to complete at the end of 2022.

Prayer’s a conversation with God,
and a journey towards a deepening relationship with him. As we’re all unique, those journeys are unique, and so, consequently, the way God responds to us can’t be categorised. When we build Eternal Wall, the prayers that lie within will produce a piece of public art, which will also give us an indication of where our focus is in our prayers. It may tell us as much about those who ask as it does about the God who answers.

During the pandemic, people have valued stories of answered prayer more.
We definitely saw a significant uptake in the amount of people who were reading and sharing stories of hope.

Yes, football is important.
I came back from a match where Leicester had got relegated to League One for the first time in its history, feeling really cross with myself that I’d let the emotion and disappointment of a football match affect me so much. I felt God saying: “I’ve given you this passion for a purpose.” The following day, I got an email about a vacancy for chaplaincy for Leicester City, and I knew God wanted me to apply.

Elite sport’s a different world.
Being able to be part of that for a time was very rewarding and fascinating; but what you realise is that they’re just real people — and predominantly young men — operating under extreme pressure, but still having to wrestle with the problems everyone else has. I enjoyed supporting them, and I’m continuing to provide some support to a handful of people in the media spotlight inside and outside sport.

I wasn’t brought up in a Christian household,
but I was fortunate to be in a loving family. Probably the main thing I learnt from my father was how to debate and question and think outside the box.

I’m married to Sarah, with three children.
Sometimes, it feels like life is so perfect that we’re living in an advert. Other times, with teenage children, it may feel more of a horror movie.

When I was 11 years old, I overheard my mum saying that she may have cancer.
Though I didn’t have a Christian upbringing, I knelt by my bed and asked God to look after my mum, which he did. But in that moment — difficult for me to describe — I felt God’s arm around me, telling me it would all be OK. From that moment on, I believed in God. It was another nine years till anyone shared the gospel with me.

When Eternal Wall is finished, I’d like to be a postman in Scotland, and run away from Scottish dogs on a daily basis. That’s what I tell God when I’m really struggling. My wife says: “You wouldn’t last two weeks.”

Spending 20 minutes trying to find my phone in the morning makes me angry.
Finding said phone in my pocket makes me happy.

The biggest lesson for me from the Eternal Wall has been understanding God’s pace and his timing
— and trying to eradicate hurry and striving from my life. God told me: slow down, and things will happen faster than I can imagine.

The pandemic enabled me to carve out time for important things:
my relationship with Jesus and my family. To date, I’ve managed to maintain that priority.

“Remember”, by Lauren Daigle, has been my go-to song.
It sums up perfectly why we’re doing what we’re doing. It encourages me when I’m low to remember what God has done.

Knowing it’s often through impossible situations that God can be glorified gives me hope;
so I approach each one knowing it’s an opportunity for him to be praised.

I talk to God many times during the day,
mostly asking for wisdom. I feel completely unequipped to do this project; so I’m always asking him for help and insight and direction.

I always wanted to meet George Michael.
One of his albums had a real spirituality to it; so it would be a great experience to worship with him, if we found ourselves locked in a church together, and then discuss his album afterwards.

Robin Gamble was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.


“Remember” is from Lauren Daigle’s album Look Up Child, on the 12 Tone Music label.

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