Christianity with a difference?

John Harper and his wife and daughter have been working around the clock to get the centre open.
John Harper and his wife and daughter have been working around the clock to get the centre open. / T. Bryant
  • A new Fuengirola-based Christian fellowship claims to have no restrictions of faith

Following months of hard work and preparations, a new community fellowship in Fuengirola has opened its doors to the public.

Living Waters is a Christian foundation that has recently taken over the Ark foundation’s former residence in Fuengirola.

The fellowship claims to have no grand aspirations, just a simple belief that a body of like-minded people, working together in unity, and “in accordance with God’s word as defined in the scriptures”, can make a difference. There will be no restrictions of faith, and anyone is welcome, they say, even non-believers.

The Christian fellowship will have coffee mornings, bible-bingo sessions, and a regular service where people, converted, atheist or other, can ask questions about any aspect they wish.

The man behind Living Waters is John Harper, a 66-year-old Londoner who has lived in Spain for more than 30 years. A member of the Ark foundation for more than 20 years, John believes God told him to open a new foundation, and he was convinced that this was a necessary undertaking.

John, who descends from a family of chimney sweeps, lived and worked in Malaysia, before heading to the Costa del Sol in 1985.

Formerly involved in construction and real estate, he now spends his time spreading the word of God, although he is most certainly not the stereotypical God-fearing preacher.

He certainly has the ability to make people feel comfortable, yet he is not out to convert; he simply offers his advice to those who might need it.

“Who am I to tell people what they should do or what they should believe? Living Waters was created to offer assistance to anyone, whether believer, atheist or those who just want to come and have a coffee and a chat,” John told SUR in English.

For John the bible is the rule book, although he believes the meaning of the scriptures has been grossly twisted and reinvented over the years. By his own admission, he has indulged in the pleasures - and sins - of life, but he says he turned to God for guidance and is now offering to help those who might also need direction.

“We are a community open to anyone and we welcome non-believers to check us out - sort of try before you buy - and even if you are not wanting a relationship with Christ, we are happy to have a relationship with you,” he says with sincerity.

John, along with the help of his wife and daughter, and some loyal helpers, now has the premises ready to provide a friendly place for anyone who wants to visit.

The foundation has a book shop and library - kindly donated by a former local second hand book shop - and a thrift shop selling clothes, porcelain, glassware, ornaments and knick-knacks.

John claims that Living Waters is more of a social club than a church and he points out that there will be no crosses or ecclesiastical paraphernalia; instead, just a welcoming ambience for whoever wants to visit. In fact, he intends to install a large bin at the entrance of the building with a notice that reads ‘Please leave your traditions, doctrine and dogma here’.

“One of the most common complaints in churches is that there is a division between leadership and the congregation; well not here, the members are encouraged to do what God leads them to do, we have no prayer teams, just believers who will pray or assist to the best of their God-given ability,” John explains.

Living Waters is open daily from Monday to Friday, with family fellowship on Saturday and a traditional worship service on Sunday.

John is appealing for donations of coffee tables, armchairs and sofas to furnish the property, and he would like to hear from any volunteers who may be able to offer their services.

More information is available on the Living Waters Facebook page (LWCF).