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(US, MA, 10 September)

In Ruhi book 1 we read, “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues.” Which virtues is this believer drawing on in striving to serve the Cause?

When we first venture forth to teach the Faith to others, it can seem like a daunting prospect. And this is precisely why this story from an individual in Boston (A-stage cluster) is particularly touching. The fears expressed with humor and frankness are surely shared by many of us—and yet this is not the end of the story. Instead it is about feeling the fear, and yet acting anyway, of the power of prayer, of reliance on God, on the unity created by collective effort, and the transformation that results from service.

I don’t know how this all happened. And yet, I do. Really, what choice do we have? Once you recognize Bahá’u’lláh you are committed to a path of self destruction, the lower self, of course.

I can’t say I had a passion for teaching or even a desire to have a passion for teaching. Mostly, I have a desire to be obedient to God’s Will. . . .

So when we became an “A” cluster, I was there. When we started our first intensive program of growth, I was there. When my family’s neighborhood was identified as a receptive community, I was there. And when they selected our home as the meeting place for our teaching effort, I was there . . . looking for every and any excuse possible to flee. I was feeling sick. I was feeling exhausted. I’m sure I was needed elsewhere. Anywhere frankly. I settled on the notion that I could cook for everybody. I would keep the home fires burning as others ventured out into the neighborhood. But alas I was given a street to visit and a buddy to go with. I couldn’t jump ship but maybe God would strike me dead. I was hoping.

In the days before I would wake up in the morning thinking of plausible excuses to not be in my own home on Saturday.

With fear in my heart and total reliance on God the dreaded day began. People would be in my house, eating my food for the sole purpose of spreading the Word of God to my neighbors.

Like a mantra I kept thinking, I can’t do this. And I was right. I couldn’t. But it turned out I could do this. I could put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Soon the happy Bahá’ís arrived. We reviewed our tasks. Acknowledged our assigned buddies. And then we prayed. Oh boy did we pray. These were the most ardent felt, sincere prayers I had ever been a part of. Love, submission, obedience was bending us into conformity with His Will.

My community really loves to pray but these prayers, these sweet sincere prayers spoken, chanted and sung went on and on. I hoped they would never end. After days of fear, I finally felt safe. But the prayers did end. And off we went.

I had a plan, I had a buddy and I had God. My feet kept moving up and down staircases, and onto porches. And at the end of they day we returned to our safe haven with stories of joy. Whether we encountered an empty home, a rejection, a listening ear, a hospitable coffee, or a person who declared their belief, everything was a joy and a success. We owned each others stories and experiences. We were one.

That was two teaching efforts ago. That was a lifetime ago, when I was dead and Bahá’u’lláh raised me up and I was able to share His message.

Much love and still scared but committed,

P

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Walkway in the courtyard of the Mansion of Mazra‘ih

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Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms, and its leaves and its fruits. Consider the days of Christ, when none but a small band followed Him; then observe what a mighty tree that seed became, behold ye its fruitage. And now shall come to pass even greater things than these, for this is the summons of the Lord of Hosts, this is the trumpet-call of the living Lord, this is the anthem of world peace, this is the standard of righteousness and trust and understanding raised up among all the variegated peoples of the globe; this is the splendour of the Sun of Truth, this is the holiness of the spirit of God Himself.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SWAB, p. 82

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(Excerpted and adapted from the teaching blog, http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/09/when-we-first-venture-forth-to-teach.html ) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

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(US, AZ, 3 September)

The Seeker Response system in place in the US for seekers who register their interest in the Faith on the internet or by telephone is increasingly leading to declarations. In one Arizona cluster five declarations in a single month have been seen by such contacts. These individuals were connected to a believer that lives nearby; one such believer here describes the steps she follows in contacting him/her:

An email is first sent, which reads:

Dear ___,

On ___, you asked for more information from the U.S. Bahá’í Web site. I live near you, and I would love to talk with you about the Bahá’í Faith. I would also like to hear what attracted you to the Web site. I’m sure I could provide you with more information.

You could reply to this email, or you could just call me at home. My number is _____. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Warmest Regards

R

She goes on to explain her practice:

Most generally I hear back from them within two days, and often immediately. I then either email back or call, inviting them to meet and asking them where they would feel most comfortable meeting. I ask this, particularly if it is a woman, so that we could meet in a public venue if they request. If you and they are both comfortable, you can offer your home. (Most are not comfortable with meeting in their own homes.) I generally ask if it is alright to invite another friend to accompany me. . . .

Since the majority of people are most comfortable meeting for the first time in a public place rather than a home, a coffee shop is a great venue. They have, in most cases arrived early. That allows them to get what they want and settle in before I arrive.

I first tell them a little about myself, and ask them to tell me a little about themselves. Generally I ask what they know about the Bahá’í Faith. I tell them I can offer them a brief presentation and begin Anna’s presentation. I do not stop for questions unless they request it, so I do not lose my train of thought. I try to read sideways but if there are two people I am reading upside down. Pictures help!

If they ask questions I answer them, being careful to remind them I am giving my interpretations and that as Bahá’ís we are obligated to investigate the truth for ourselves.

I try not to deviate much from the original language in Anna’s presentation. When we get to the laws I may interject that we are all striving to bring ourselves in line with the guidance and none of us is perfect. I always ask them to read at least a few of the quotes and the closing prayer. Then I ask if they believe Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation for today.

If they say yes, I tell them they are already a Bahá’í and ask if I can hug them and welcome them. I try to have a prayer book for them on that day.

I offer two quotes from Ruhi Book 1 and invite them to Feast and so on. I point out the importance of the Obligatory prayer. I generally follow up the same day in an email telling them how enjoyable it was for me to have met them and offer to meet again. That allows me to schedule a follow up visit the next week to introduce them to some of the Bahá’ís.

Love, R

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Hand of the Cause Tarazu’llah Samandari with Gloria Faizi, New Era High School, Panchgani, India, 1967.

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O thou lamp who art enkindled with the fire of the Love of God!
Verily, I read thy recent letter which showed thy strong love, thy being ablaze with the fire of the love of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Praised, and the penetration of the Spirit of Truth in thy limbs, nerves, veins, arteries, bones, blood and flesh, until it hath taken the reins of power from thy hands and moveth thee as it willeth, causeth thee to speak in what it willeth and attracteth thee as it willeth. This is becoming of whatever heart is replenished with the spirit of the love of God. Thou shalt surely behold wondrous traces and shalt discover the signs of thy Mighty Lord.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 716-7

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(Excerpted and adapted from the teaching blog, http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/09/exciting-breaking-news-seeker-response.html ) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

(US, MT, 7 August)

This was reported from one of a range of courses offered at this Bahá’í School recently. 

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Consolidation was implemented immediately. Two people who live in Karen’s hometown made plans to enfold her into the Bahá’í community with a welcome reception as soon as school ended.
 
Karen became very emotional reading the words of Bahá’u’lláh. By the end of the presentation, she was ready to be a Bahá’í and signed an enrollment card.
 
In one class, participants were encouraged to memorize the first paragraph of Anna’s presentation from Ruhi Book 6, Teaching the Cause. The instructor, H., soon had a living example of the importance of being prepared.
 
As she visited the kitchen for a pitcher of coffee, the cook, Karen, impressed by the friendliness and unity she had observed, asked, “Who are you people?” Without hesitation, H. invited the kitchen staff to attend the classroom session, where she gave the presentation while the rest of the class provided prayer support.
  

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Youth pyramid, complete with Ruhi themed t-shirts at the John Wilcott Bahá’í School 2008

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The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquillity of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God. Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of all gifts, offereth the cup of prosperity, imparteth eternal life, and showereth imperishable benefits upon mankind.

– Bahá’u’lláh, ToB p. 129-30

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(Emphasis added. This story is excerpted from an article originally published in the online edition of The American Bahá’í, and is republished by permission. Text and photo is copyright the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States) (http://tab.usbnc.org/ContentPage.aspx?id=20080&LangType=1033)

 

(Northern Ireland, 1 September)

Here is a discerning reflection about the vital role that teaching the Faith plays in the spiritual growth process of a believer, brought to you by the Bahá’í Council for Northern Ireland:

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As Bahá’ís we are expected to participate fully and appropriately in the world we live in. This has not always been the case with previous religions. Yet living in this world can be like a slow drip of negativity to our soul. The more we involve ourselves in living the more erosion it can cause to our spiritual being. We have to learn to balance the worldly and the spiritual and if we are not careful we can spend our time swinging from worldly concerns to spiritual highs. The leaven to this way of being is teaching: by its nature teaching demands socialisation with others around us while the subject taught demands the integration of spiritual insight into everyday life. Teaching then becomes the shield for our souls in a troubled world.

If we look at teaching in this way it becomes a powerful spiritual protection

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A Bahá’í teaching a scripture class at a public school in Australia

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O ye servants of the Blessed Beauty!… It is clear that in this day, confirmations from the unseen world are encompassing all those who deliver the divine Message. Should the work of teaching lapse, these confirmations would be entirely cut off, since it is impossible for the loved ones of God to receive assistance unless they teach.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SWA 264-5, no. 209

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(Emphasis added. Excerpted from CommuNIqué – Newsletter of the Bahá’í Community in Northern Ireland, 1 September 2008, http://www.btinternet.com/~iain.s.palin/bc4ni/comm/council.htm) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

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