WHEN he reached the age of 19, James Harper who had spent most of his life in the Costa del Sol decided that he wanted to dedicate his life to Christ and applied to be an intern at Metro World Child in New York City.
The Christian organisation, founded in 1981, aims to help underprivileged inner-city children with education, advice and promotion of a Christian lifestyle but they don’t proselytise although they do teach lessons based on the bible.
After spending four months as an intern, James decided that he had found his calling and has now been working with the organisation in New York for the past eight years but has returned to his family home in Alhaurin El Grande with colleague Josh Lee to see his family and to also alert interested Christians in the Costa del Sol to the work that they are doing.
Working in deprived areas in New York, the bulk of the children the ‘Yogi Bears’ (their nickname due to the three bears on their uniform tee shirts) deal mainly with families drawn from Afro-American or Latino backgrounds, so bilingual James is a definite asset in what can be a dangerous locality.
Happily, the organisation is well respected and although there have been a few assaults and muggings over the years (not thankfully on either of them), generally the gangs in the area respect and like those helping their younger brothers and sisters.
The operation has expanded to cover 100,000 children in New York, India, Indonesia, Kenya Romania, Philippines and South Africa. James and Josh helped to train volunteers in Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai in India and have also worked in the Philippines but at the moment are content to continue their work in the USA.
During their visit, they will be speaking to fellow Christians at the Arc in Fuengirola, Wave in Puerto Banus, the Elim Church in Benalmadena and the Calahonda Evangelical Church amongst others.
This is just the third time James has been able to return home since he left originally and says the main changes he has seen are the major improvements in the roads but coming from a fairly run-down barrio in one of the largest and fastest cities in the world, no changes are likely to bother him at all.
To find out more about Metro World Child or dates of James’ presentations email [email protected]