On the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Haigazian University hosted a panel discussion on “Protestant Inspiration for Today’s Leaders.” The panelists were Dr. Basem Shabb, a surgeon at the AUB Medical Center and a Member of Parliament; Dr. Nuhad Yazbik Dumit, Associate Professor at the American University of Beirut and President of Lebanon’s Order of Nurses; and Rev. Pierre Lacoste, pastor of the French Protestant Church in Beirut.
Dr. Dumit highlighted two key aspects of her Protestant heritage: the reading of the Bible and love. “It was the example of indiscriminate love that helped me accept and welcome others,” she explained. “This became very important for me when I worked as a nurse at Makassad Hospital during the war. And it is important for the profession of nursing in general. It cannot be done without love.”
In his contribution, Rev. Lacoste put the focus on Jesus: “It was not the Protestant tradition that changed me, but Jesus.” The encounter with Jesus leads, according to Lacoste, to service. “Sometimes that means taking a risk,” he added. Lacoste also stressed that Protestantism is not primarily an attachment to institutions, but a way of life.
For his part, Dr. Shabb explained that to him education, culture and respect for time are important elements from the Protestant tradition. “My family has humble origins, but through education my father and I became good surgeons. When I perform a surgery, only God and I are looking. I can do a sloppy job, but my Protestant tradition taught me that I have to do a good job, every time.” Concerning culture, Dr. Shabb remarked that the Protestant tradition teaches openness to cultures. “Traditionally Protestant countries have an interest in the world that you do not find in other countries,” he stated.
To an audience which consisted primarily of students the three panelists emphasized that the Protestant tradition has much to offer to future leaders, to Lebanon and to the Middle East at large.