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The clarity of purpose expressed by these Baha’i teachers, and the resultant enthusiastic response of their hearers, provides us a valuable lesson in conveying the Message!
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On Tuesday, October 5th, about 10 friends from Nonthaburi planned to attend a devotional meeting in Mooban Kor To Mo (KTM) Soi. Some of the friends realized there was not enough seating at the devotional, so they decided to visit the home of a neighbor instead.
The neighbor, a lady in her mid-40s, owns a beauty salon, has two children and offers her home as a place to hold a Junior Youth group every Sunday. Although she was already somewhat familiar with the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme (JYSEP), she had never heard much about the Faith. That evening she was sitting with a customer in the beauty salon who had just finished doing her hair. Three of the friends walked into the salon, introduced themselves and explained that they were in the area attending a devotional meeting.
The conversation then led to the JYSEP. The friends acknowledged how the lady had graciously offered up her home for the Junior Youth group. In turn, the lady expressed her admiration for the program and the JY animators, but she was puzzled as to why her own 13-year old daughter did not want to attend the group. The friends asked some questions about the situation and after learning more, advised her not to force her daughter to attend. They explained that this is a sensitive period for the junior youth and that perhaps her daughter did not feel comfortable in such a setting at her own home. They provided some alternatives for her daughter – either to attend a different JY group in the area where she may feel more comfortable or to become an assistant Children’s Class teacher with some of the other youth from the community. The lady felt relieved to hear there were other options for her daughter and was grateful to the friends for helping her come up with a solution.
Junior Youth group at the home of the beauty salon owner, Thailand
The conversation then led to the work of the friends in the community and the reason why they were undertaking such activities. The friends explained they were Baha’is and they were there to help develop the community by raising the capacity of individuals. The lady and her friend were quite interested and continued to ask questions about the Faith while also sharing some of their own beliefs about religion, superstitions and horoscopes.
Towards the end of the conversation, the friends mentioned that they offer a sequence of courses for adults to gain further insight into spiritual matters and to develop skills for service to the community. Upon hearing this, the lady was eager participate in the course and wanted to start Ruhi Book 1 within the next week. Since her beauty salon is closed on Wednesdays, she suggested that this day would be the perfect day to meet for the study circle. She even noted that studying one-one-one with a tutor would not be exciting and she would prefer to gather at least 4-5 of her friends for the first session!
The friends left very pleased with their teaching efforts that evening. They were excited that a new study circle would be opening up in KTM and that a tutor and co-tutor had already been identified. Although during a previous encounter earlier in the year the lady had mentioned she was too busy to partake in the activities, the friends learned that in reality when an individual is truly interested and their soul receptive, there will always be time to dedicate to spiritual pursuits. The friends also learned that by listening to the lady discuss the situation with her daughter and by providing sincere counsel and advice, she was able to build a certain level of trust with the friends which opened her soul to the Cause of Baha’u’llah!
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Thousands upon thousands, embracing the diversity of the entire human family, are engaged in systematic study of the Creative Word in an environment that is at once serious and uplifting. As they strive to apply through a process of action, reflection and consultation the insights thus gained, they see their capacity to serve the Cause rise to new levels… As they call on one another in their homes and pay visits to families, friends and acquaintances, they enter into purposeful discussion on themes of spiritual import, deepen their knowledge of the Faith, share Bahá’u’lláh’s message, and welcome increasing numbers to join them in a mighty spiritual enterprise.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2008 Message, par. 1)
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(Shared on the Thailand Baha’i news list 10 October 2010. Report, with photo, comes from the Nonthaburi Baha’i Community. Text by Rahul Thampi, used with permission.)