Who is my neighbor? Anthony Khair, a Palestinian Christian young adult, invited Eastern Mennonite School students to consider the question during Chapel recently with fresh eyes.
Born in Honduras, Khair’s family migrated to Palestine when he was 10 years old. Fluent in Arabic, Spanish, and English, Khair is an International Fellow in the National Peace and Justice Ministries office of Mennonite Central Committee in Washington D.C.
His Chapel presentation reminded students in grades six to 12 of the parable in which Jesus told about an injured man, passed by religious and political leaders along the road. A Samaritan man, looked down on by Jewish society, stopped to help.
Khair shared context from his life that shapes his own interpretation of the parable. He noted that as a Palestinian, he must get special permission to visit the city of Jerusalem, just 20 minutes from his home. He shared an image of the Wall of Separation which cuts off the town of Bethlehem from the rest of Israel.
With this context, he shared a childhood memory of his father, a Palestinian whose rights were restricted by Israeli occupation, stopping to help an Israeli woman alongside the road. “Why did you help her?” he asked his father. “How could you do that?”
“Because she is a human being first,” his father said, modeling a modern day Samaritan.
Another modern day example was offered by Khair when he invited students to imagine seeing a photo of a Ukrainian woman bending over to help an injured Russian soldier.
Watch his full presentation here.
Khair is in the United States as part of the MCC International Volunteer Exchange program. He earned a diploma of Theology and Biblical Studies from Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Palestine, and is doing advocacy for MCC on topics related to Palestine, Occupied Palestinian territories, Syria, and Latin American migration.
With his dual Honduran-Palestinian experience, his job consists of public speaking, and writing for MCC newsletters, action alerts, and articles that address the roots of migration and its trauma. Find links here to sign up for alerts, receive newsletters and other information from MCC in Washington, DC.
In addition to speaking at EMS, he spoke in two classes and meal gatherings at Eastern Mennonite University while in Harrisonburg.