The Bible Society and World Vision - Lebanon launched an advocacy campaign during the first two weeks of May 2015 among five prominent universities in order to reach out to the student body with the Arabic Peace & Justice Bible. The purpose of the campaign was to allow students to discover the Bible and to think more about the topic of peace and Justice and its connection with the Bible. This special edition Bible highlights more than 3,000 verses that tackle the issues of peace and social justice, and include fifteen articles that address Biblical perspectives of human rights, peace, justice, social issues, etc… (https://peaceandjusticebible.wordpress.com).
Peace and justice have always been, and is more so today, a topic of debate and discussion especially for the people in the Middle East. The students showed a lot of interest in this Bible edition and asked all kinds of questions concerning peace and justice. A questionnaire with seven questions was distributed to the university students; after completing the questionnaire, each student received a free copy of the Peace and Justice Bible.
The questionnaire addressed matters such as:
· Do they believe that the Bible is the word of God?
· How often do they read the Bible?
· If they consider that Peace and Justice are characteristics of God what about the evil things in the world?
· From 1 to 10 how much do they rate their Bible knowledge?
· Do they believe that the Bible teaches peace and Justice principles?
· Stories and verses they remembered from the Bible.
Results were very interesting: 98% of the students believe that the Bible is the word of God, 26% read the Bible daily, eight percent read it monthly, 64% read the Bible occasionally and two percent never read the Bible.
Thirty-three percent of the students rated their Biblical knowledge from 1 - 5 over 10, while 77% rated their knowledge from 6 – 10 over 10; 100 % consider that the Bible holds peace and Justice principles, and 68% do not think that God is causing the evil in the world, 16% think that evil is man-made and 16% did not know the answer.
The parable of the prodigal son and the story of the adultery woman are the most remembered ones, “Blessed are the peacemakers” is one of the most known verses, while 11% of the students couldn’t remember any story or verse from the Bible.
Some humorous statements from the students included:
- “I think that God is just, but He doesn’t know how to use his justice.”
- “God is the God of peace but He doesn’t know what is happening on Earth.”
One of the professors told us that his student entered his business class holding the Peace & Justice Bible; he told his professor that the book was distributed for some students and uttered: “This book should be distributed to all the students, because it is so interesting.”
One of the students was looking from far, so the staff invited him to join them at the stand. He later shared: “I am coming from Iraq, I am here since few months, and I am not Christian. Is it ok if I take a copy? I never read the Bible before!”
The campaign ended with hundreds of copies distributed at: Holy Spirit University – Kaslik (USEK), Antonine University, La Sagesse University, Notre – Dame – Louezy (NDU) and Saint Joseph University (USJ).