‘A prophetic word, given to me a few years earlier, about how I was following a paper trail was brought sharply to mind when I walked out of my office to find hundreds of small pieces of paper on the stairs, leading down to the basement and on out of the back of the university building into the dark street. Was God really leading me out of my job in Newcastle University?
That was just one of the many threads that God was drawing together to bring me to start The Living Wall.
I grew up with a lot of privilege and an excellent education but also plenty of hang-ups and a lack of confidence in God, and myself. Fear of failure and of what people would think controlled me. For decades I was ashamed of my privileges and had an acute sense that my own abilities counted for nothing in God’s economy. There was even an expectation of failure and a sense that it was somehow more spiritual to fail than to succeed.
I really noticed God at work in me through Celebrate Recovery, an already established programme that I helped to introduce to our local Church. I gradually became confident that God could use me, that He is with me and He wants me to succeed. This began to affect other areas of my life and I started looking at where I could use my gifts in areas other than Celebrate Recovery.
Growing up, I hadn’t been shown, or even looked at my own strengths and gifts, but now God was making me aware of them. The more I was changed on the inside, the more God revealed to me what He put in me and the more I wanted to use that to serve him and bless others.
I have worked abroad in India and Africa and I have seen first-hand how many programmes designed to help people end up being ineffective. It is not possible to motivate people to do what they don’t want to do, no matter how good the idea. However there are many people in each community who do have the ideas and skills to build something, which with support, they can turn into sustainable, community transforming businesses.
God gives us skills and abilities, but we are not self-sufficient; we need others to make the most of these gifts. It is as part of the body that we are able to use our gifts and talents for God’s glory. God gives passions and dreams, even the hard experiences of life can motivate us to work for change. Those provide a much stronger motivation than anything external.
Many Christians in the past have understood that they are called to serve God in the area of business, bringing employment, meaningful work and societal change through the enterprises that they started and developed. Cadbury, Fry, Clarks, Lloyds and Rowntree come to mind. I truly believe that the church today must not neglect the area of business (or those of politics, the arts and the media) as these are areas of such significance for society and for the Kingdom of God.
So can we, the older generation, help those who have the ideas and the passion to start sustainable businesses? This is the vision of the Living Wall. The Living Wall seeks to provide support and mentoring to enable local entrepreneurs to fulfil their God-given potential and establish healthy, sustainable businesses.
We are aiming to see individuals supported and empowered, enterprises initiated and developed, churches envisioned to what God can do through God-centered businesses and ultimately the region impacted. We can’t do it, but God has done it in the past and can do it again.’