A school administrator from the Holy Land was amazed at the zeal that Disciples youth showed for the message of Jesus Christ at the 2009 General Assembly. Maha Khoury also said she was overwhelmed with the kindness and outpouring of goodwill that she received from all of the Disciples that she encountered after traveling more than 6,000 miles from Jerusalem to the Assembly in Indianapolis.
“What really affected me the most at the Assembly were all of those young people who seemed so attached to religion,” said Khoury about the youth she observed during worship services at the gathering of Disciples. “I talked to a few of them and what impressed me is that they go to church to pray every Sunday and they do Christian activities in their communities,”
The youths at the Assembly made a powerful impression on Khoury because she is not used to seeing such emotion among the youth in Palestine. But it could also be because Christians constitute only 1 percent of the population in Palestine, she said.
“My girls don’t appreciate religion like that,” said the mother of two girls, ages 7 and 15. “But I’m going to work on changing that.”
Khoury works at Rawdat El-Zuhur meaning “Garden of Flower,” a secular school for students ages 4-12 in Jerusalem. She was at the Assembly to speak about her school, where she helps raise money for its budget. Her trip to the Assembly was sponsored by American Near East Refugee Aid, BibleLands, a Holy Land aid group based in the United Kingdom, and Global Ministries.
Rawdat El-Zuhur has 233 students. They are taught the curriculum of the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Their classes include French, drama, art, music, a folkloric dance (Dabkeh), and singing, among other courses. In addition, the students learn to play instruments, such as the violin, lute, and zither. Religion is not taught.
“Maha does great work with the children at that school,” said Peter E. Makari, Global Ministries executive for the Middle East and Europe. “She is the coordinator of our child sponsorship program in Jerusalem.”
Khoury, who is Catholic, is among the small group of Christians living in Jerusalem. “Because of the occupation and the difficult situation in my home, most Christians have emigrated to Australia, the United States or Canada,” she said. However, she feels obligated to stay in her native country.
Her second visit to the United States was even more fascinating than the first 16 years ago. That time she visited New York City, Washington D.C., and Orlando, Fla. In New York, Khoury saw a Broadway musical, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and she went to Disney World in Orlando.
But the trip to Broadway and Florida was topped by her visit to this year’s General Assembly. “It was an awesome experience,” she said. “It was the first time I was able to take part in such a large meeting of Christians. I am really thankful for Global Ministries, the exposure for our school and all of the great people I met here.”
By: James Patterson