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(US, PA, 21 August)
Here is a refreshing report from Pennsylvania where they are learning to apply the guidance of the Five Year Plan, and to move collectively.
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Dearly Beloved Friends,
It was a beautiful day to teach! After the devotions and consultation, a group of beloved souls embarked on an afternoon of directly sharing the message of Bahá’u’lláh.
A pair of believers went on a home visit planning to share Anna’s presentation with a friend. Instead, they found themselves sharing the Faith with members of the whole family. One friend lovingly expressed the joy she saw in one of the souls: “They were listening to Anna’s presentation and were really interested. One said, ‘You have opened my eyes to something new and I do believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the return of Christ.’ It was a wonderful experience for me.”
Two other friends spent a few hours in a park. With a table and books set up, they were prepared and energized to encounter new people. One member described her experience: “A woman stopped by. She was happy to listen to the whole of Anna’s presentation and is interested in attending devotional meetings. We wrote down her information for future contact.”
The wonderful part is that we are exploring a number of different ways of directly sharing the Message. The more we teach, the more we develop our capacity to teach. Friends, we encourage you all to participate… The Area Teaching Committee continues to pray for the success of our community.
We leave you with the words of our Beloved Master: “Of all the gifts of God, the greatest is the gift of Teaching.” Let us continue to share this gift with others.
With hearts full of love and excitement,
The Area Teaching Committee of Philadelphia
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Cactus garden at Bahjí, ‘Akká (Acre), Israel
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For every era hath a spirit; the spirit of this illumined era lieth in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. For these lay the foundation of the oneness of the world of humanity and promulgate universal brotherhood. They are founded upon the unity of science and religion and upon investigation of truth. They uphold the principle that religion must be the cause of amity, union and harmony among men. They establish the equality of both sexes and propound economic principles which are for the happiness of individuals. They diffuse universal education, that every soul may as much as possible have a share of knowledge. They abrogate and nullify religious, racial, political, patriotic and economic prejudices and the like. Those teachings that are scattered throughout the Epistles and Tablets are the cause of the illumination and the life of the world of humanity. Whoever promulgateth them will verily be assisted by the Kingdom of God.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SWA 109, no. 71
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(Excerpted and adapted from the teaching blog, report from the Philadelphia A-stage cluster: http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/08/across-country-friends-are-discovering.html ) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)
(US, SC, 31 July)
This astonishing report shows how a believer used Anna’s presentation in a simple way to confirm those people he had nurtured friendly contact with over a period and whom he felt to be receptive, in the Faith.
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Recently a forum was held for individuals who lead chapters of the Bahá’í-inspired Black Men’s Gathering. One of the activities at this event was an in-depth study of and consultation on the use of Anna’s presentation, which helped the participants gain confidence in using the presentation in their teaching activities. Here is a brief report from one individual at the Black Men’s Gathering Leadership Forum about what happened with Anna’s presentation after returning to his home in Greenville, SC (B-stage cluster). This experience also shows the power of directly and lovingly inviting someone to embrace the Faith.
I just wanted to share our results with Anna’s presentation here in Greenville since returning from the gathering. Dad and I have shared it with three seekers and we have three new Bahá’ís! We picked who we thought was the most receptive in our community of interest and invited two of them to the [Bahá’í] center on Saturday evening and told them we wanted to share something with them. We got through the section on the Báb and then had some refreshments and then invited them to become Bahá’ís!!! They immediately and excitedly almost jumped off the couch with Yes! Yes! Yes! and shared with us how special they felt to be invited to become Bahá’ís in such a way. On Sunday evening we met with a third person we had thought of and shared Anna’s presentation again breaking at the same spot for refreshments, inviting them to become a Bahá’í and with the same results!
These new Bahá’ís were seekers in our Saturday morning African drum class and have recently been attending our Sunday Devotionals and adult class. We have another Anna’s presentation scheduled for tomorrow at 7:30 pm
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Inside the main entrance of the House of ‘Abbúd in ‘Akká (Acre), Israel
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O thou who art turning thy face towards God! Close thine eyes to all things else, and open them to the realm of the All-Glorious. Ask whatsoever thou wishest of Him alone; seek whatsoever thou seekest from Him alone. With a look He granteth a hundred thousand hopes, with a glance He healeth a hundred thousand incurable ills, with a nod He layeth balm on every wound, with a glimpse He freeth the hearts from the shackles of grief. He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we? He carrieth out His Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth. Then better for thee to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in the All-Merciful Lord..
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SWA 51, no. 22
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(Excerpted from the teaching blog: http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/07/black-mens-gathering-is-organization-of.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)
This story from Chantelle’s blog demonstrates the effectiveness of a discerning use of arts and media as a means for attracting hearts when presenting the sacred Message of Bahá’u’lláh.
– “Are you a Baha’i?”
– “No, my daughter is, she just got back from Israel, she can tell you all about it.”
So we organised this event, with her in mind, going through ‘Anna’s presentation’ with songs dispersed throughout and two videos, and slide show with quotes on….
It was AMAZING, we had three interested people come, and [after the presentation] we all naturally paired off and went through in more detail what we had covered using the flipcharts….for about 45 minutes we did that one-on-one type deepening and the room was alive… [My mother] handed out dessert and we continued, then the lady [my father had] brought came to me and said “I just told [your mother] and I would like to tell you that I would like to formally become a Baha’i” – Stunned look on Chantelle’s face….
“Wow…yes oh my gosh…thats great”
Of course we have no declaration cards…but yeah…she just instantly recognised Baha’u’llah in those two hours…
She is from India, had been living in NZ for two years, and told me, at the age of 13 she [had encountered a man in New Dehli who informed her about] the building of the ‘new Baha’i Temple’. From that moment on she was intrigued by this Faith…and then as a 32 year old living in NZ….she finally finds out more deeply about it and declares…
What a gift.
I sat and talked with her at her place quite a few times…, it was like meeting my sister in a way…we just got each other!!
Chantelle adds in an email to me about what they did after the media presentation, studying together one-on-one:
Thank you, Miss Brader!
Ringstone symbol on the Shrine of the Báb
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Down the millennia, the lives of those who responded to intimations of the Divine have inspired breathtaking achievements in music, architecture, and the other arts, endlessly replicating the soul’s experience for millions of their fellow believers. No other force in existence has been able to elicit from people comparable qualities of heroism, self-sacrifice and self-discipline.
The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith, p. 14
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(US, VA, 23 July)
This is a remarkable report that illustrates how the confirmations from on High will shower upon whoever arises to carry out Bahá’u’lláh’s weighty ordinance to teach the children of the world. Specifically, it is about learning to apply the guidance given to us by the Universal House of Justice in the form of the Ruhi Institute course (Book 3) ‘Teaching Children’s Classes’.
With prayer, a group of teachers try to start a children’s class and one forms almost spontaneously! The openness of the families and the enthusiasm of the students are truly delightful.
While the door-to-door teaching was going on, two adults, four youth, and two children gathered at a small park on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. They set up picnic blankets in the shade under a tree and asked Baha’u’llah to send some children. Immediately, three boys approached the teachers and were invited to attend the children’s class. It turns out the mother of one of the boys had declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh a couple months ago! They were very excited, so two Baha’i youth accompanied them to their homes, explained what the children’s classes were, and the parents and care-givers happily agreed to sign permission slips.
A few moments later, the teachers noticed some children in the front yard of a near-by home. Two Baha’i youth approached the mother, showed them the invitation to the children’s classes in Spanish, and received permission for her three children to join the class. Ten minutes later, the woman’s sister brought her two daughters to the class as well. So, within 15 minutes, there was a class of 8 children, all eagerly sitting on the picnic blankets ready for the class.
The teachers used the lessons from Ruhi Book 3 and taught the children a prayer, some songs, and a quotation by Baha’u’llah about unity. They ended the lessons with cooperative games and coloring. Two mothers stood nearby and enjoyed listening to the lesson and encouraging their children to participate. One mother rushed to her home in the middle of the lesson and came back with a pitcher of juice and some cups so all the children could have something to drink.
On Saturday, the children were asked to memorize the quotation by the next day. Sure enough, on Sunday, five children were completely prepared to share the quotation they had ALL memorized. All eight children who attended on Saturday came rushing back to the class the next day, ready for more, and all the children were invited to attend future classes as well. The children ranged in ages from 4 years to 10 years old, and they were all brilliant stars!
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Children and their teacher in Colombia
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Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded. The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom…
– Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 259-60
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(From an update from the Intensive Program of Growth in the A-stage Loudon County, VA cluster) (http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/07/another-gem-from-loudoun-county-va.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)