‘Not everybody wants to hurt me,’ was one of the crucial lessons a 15-year-old bully learned when he attended a Bible-based workshop in the Galilee region of Israel.
Samir, who comes from a Muslim background but attends a Christian school, was targeted for many years by bullies at the school.
‘Finally I had to fight back. In the beginning it was very frightening for me to stand up and defend myself. Many fights and disappointments took place until I was able to stand for myself,’ he said.
There was a tragic catch, though. ‘I turned into a bully so others will not try to bully me any more,’ Samir admitted.
The school, well aware of the bullying problem, was very happy for the Arab-Israeli Bible Society to take the initiative and hold a series of ten Scripture-inspired workshops to address the issue.
In the workshops, which are funded by the kind giving of Bible Society supporters, Samir said key themes such as acceptance, love and forgiveness were explored with pupils.
Samir said that ‘Gods' Book’, which is what he now calls the Bible, helped him to understand that loving others was the way to stop people from hurting one another.
‘God’s book helped me to look at people with new eyes and helped me to stop being a bully,’ said Samir.
‘I learned to be secure in myself, develop better self-esteem and realise not everybody wants to hurt me,’ he said.
Samir admits that God’s work within him is not over yet. He admits that he still had a problem with forgiving others, but says he is more in control of his anger.
He told a story of an incident close to his home when he saw a group of teenagers bullying a younger child who was going to the shop.
‘I became furious to see that a number of kids were making fun of that other one; however, I controlled my anger and spoke to them kindly to leave that one alone. I even reminded them of the responsibility that we hold towards each other as part of the one community and village,’ Samir said.
Samir said that one of the activities in the workshop was particularly beneficial. Two students would sit opposite each other at a distance of ten feet. One would read a Bible passage to the other, who would write down what they hear. Samir said if we learn to listen carefully to what others say it not only builds communication but also increases respect for one another and decreases bullying.
Samir said the programme of Scripture-inspired workshops had transformed his life in many areas.
‘I am a more genuine person with my feelings, and more compassionate towards others. I will participate again and again (in the workshops) and I will recommend that every class in my school participates in this programme,’ he said.
In the Galilee region, the Arab-Israeli Bible Society runs many Bible-based programmes to help young people deal with issues including conflict and discrimination. These programmes are made possible by the generosity of Bible Society supporters.
Author: Simon Bartz, 31 January 2022 (Last updated: 2 February 2022)
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