Who Is Your Child’s Neighbor?

Who Is Your Child's Neighbor? - Parenting Like HannahIf you have taken your children to church for very long, they have probably been told the story of the Good Samaritan. Young people love that story, because it is easy to imagine themselves as the Good Samaritan- stopping to help someone in need.

Yet, what do they do when there is a new kid in school? Maybe one who is very different than the rest of their friends? Or perhaps the new student is someone from a country your children have heard negative things about from adults or on television. Are they still loving, kind and helpful? Are they still willing to go the extra mile?

Older children and teens might be interested in reading the book, Once We Were Strangers: What Friendship With a Syrian Refugee Taught Me About Loving My Neighbor by Shawn Smucker.

Although the book is written from an adult’s perspective, it is an engaging story to which teens could still relate. The beginning of the book weaves together the story of an Uber driver (a side gig) in Lancaster, PA and a Syrian refugee. The Uber driver is the author, but he also tells the background of how Mohammad and his family became refugees.

To me, the book is worth reading just for the clarity it gives to the experience of many refugees. Instead of politicizing the discussion, the author merely tells the story of everything that happened to Mohammad and his family in Syria and as they fled from place to place. It is well written and opens a window into the world of the Syrian crisis.

The remainder of the book is the story of how the author and Mohammad gradually form a friendship. It’s not a fairy tale in the traditional sense. There are hiccups and misunderstandings. The author is honest about his perceptions of his encounters with a culture very different from his own.

Although, the book mentions the Good Samaritan and church, it’s not a book that really tries to teach anyone overtly. The author is hopeful I’m sure that the story itself will teach some important lessons to Christians.

There are a few questions at the very end of the book that may help you if you want to discuss the book with your teens or a group of teens. Personally, I think parents can also use this book to discuss with their children the role of Christians in the world. You can then actively teach your kids how Jesus taught us to treat all of those around us with stories like the Good Samaritan and his example.



This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.


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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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