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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. 

♣ ♣ ♣ 

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)

 

(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.

♣ ♣ ♣

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 Bahji, ‘Akká (Acre), Israel

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.

♣ ♣ ♣

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.

Dearest ___,

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

I really felt the workshop on Anna’s presentation at the Leadership Forum was Great! I feel so much more comfortable using it now.

Will keep you posted on our progress,

Much Love to you,

j

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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.

[I] had an incredible experience back home, we had a musical fireside the second Saturday I was back at my house, and [my father] who’s not a Baha’i brought along his new tenant who had shown an interest in the Faith when she saw the newspaper article in his office with my massive face on it saying “Baha’i baby.”

– “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:

[Basically, the initial, general] presentation took highlights of [Anna’s presentation], such as relationship to God, Manifestation, Baha’u’llah, the Covenant, Oneness of humanity, and then we went through step-by-step in more detail of Anna’s presentation in flipchart form so they [could] internalise what they just saw and dig [deeper] into concepts.

.

Thank you, Miss Brader!

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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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(Emphasis added. Used with the author’s permission) (http://chantellesadventures.blogspot.com/2008/07/wellington-to-singapore.html) (Another of Chantelle’s postings is cited here) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

(US, WA, 28 July)

The following article-series hopes to share relevant points of learning gleaned from collective teaching efforts worldwide. Here is from a C-stage cluster (sure to advance very soon considering their dedicated efforts!):

Learnings, tips, insights gleaned:

· Try to ascertain what the person’s needs are and then address those. Maybe they need to empty themselves first. Choose parts of the presentation that seem needed.

· Don’t be afraid.

· The person who makes eye contact with the seeker should do the presentation, while the other team member prays.

· Have at least one female on the team. A team of two guys could seem threatening to women who answer the door.

· Age diversity is good in a team.

· A follow-up fireside can be focused on something from “Anna’s Presentation”.

· When the door opens, what do you say? Basically give the introduction to Anna’s Presentation. “We are Baha’is, followers of Baha’u’llah, members of the Baha’i Faith, a new religion whose purpose is to unite all the people of the world in one common purpose, one universal Faith.”

· Don’t make a big deal of saying your name. Say your name and shake hands.

· Give CONCEPTS not facts. These are most important.

· For home visits give the “Gift of Prayers”, or other printed prayers.

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November 1998, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in France, when more than 2,000 people came from some 50 countries to celebrate.

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Problems arise where followers of one of the world’s faiths prove unable to distinguish between its eternal and transitory features, and attempt to impose on society rules of behaviour that have long since accomplished their purpose. The principle is fundamental to an understanding of religion’s social role: “The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be 38 the same as that which a subsequent age may require”, Bahá’u’lláh points out. “Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.”

– The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith, p. 37-8

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(From an update about the direct teaching effort in the C-stage Spokane, WA cluster, http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/07/here-is-update-about-direct-teaching.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

(US, Northeast, July 2008 )

The following is a list of possible avenues of service (though by no means exhaustive) that we ALL can consider carrying out in our lives (or better: make habits of). In this way we will fulfill directly the purpose of our creation, according to Bahá’u’lláh, “to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization”:

  • Setting up time to speak with friends and give them parts or all of Anna’s Presentation
  • Reaching out to neighbors and inviting them to dinner and discussion about the Faith with prayers
  • Starting a neighborhood children’s class
  • Sharing and discussing a prayer with a friend or co-worker
  • Hanging out in coffee shops and starting conversations with people about the Faith and religion

The means to carry out each of these vital services have (potentially) been given us through group study of the Ruhi institute books, notably Books one, two, three and six. In applying the knowledge gained through such studies, assistance is meant to be at hand for the participants in the form of a tutor who has completed the prescribed practices (as in the avenues above) himself, and who should be ready to support and walk together with us in taking our initial steps along these paths. Ultimately, through persistent and courages practice, we should become able to sustain these activities on our own initiative. The House of Justice wrote in 2005:

A discernible outcome of the emphasis on capacity building has been a steady increase in the exercise of individual initiative… Endeavours are pursued in a humble posture of learning within the framework defined by the Plan.

(Universal House of Justice, 27 December 2005, my emphasis)

And in this year’s Ridvan message we read:

In previous messages we have referred to the impetus that the institute process imparts to the exercise of initiative by the individual believer. The friends in every continent are engaged in study of the Writings for the explicit purpose of learning to apply the teachings to the growth of the Faith. Remarkable numbers are now shouldering responsibility for the spiritual vitality of their communities; energetically, they are carrying out those acts of service befitting a healthy pattern of growth. As they have persevered in the field of service to the Cause, maintaining a humble posture of learning, their courage and wisdom, zeal and acuity, fervour and circumspection, determination and trust in God have combined all the more to reinforce one another.

(Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2008, my emphasis)

“A humble posture of learning” is one of the recurring themes in the House’s messages of late. Can you name others?

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Resting places of The Purest Branch (Mirzá Mihdí) and Navváb, the wife of Bahá’u’lláh, in the Monument Gardens on Mount Carmel

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In truth, the hearts of men are edified through the power of the tongue, even as houses and cities are built up by the hand and other means. We have assigned to every end a means for its accomplishment; avail yourselves thereof, and place your trust and confidence in God, the Omniscient, the All-Wise.

– Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, §160

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(Suggestions given by an Area Teaching Committee (ATC) in the Northeast for those not participating in the door-to-door teaching campaign of the Expansion Phase of their Intensive Program of Growth, adapted and expanded) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

Invitation to prayer, service to community, children as teachers, the effects of prayer, lessons learned

(US, MA, April)

The following is an exciting and discerning report from the first cycle of this”A” stage cluster in the northeast:

Over the last three weekends, 25 friends in the South Middlesex cluster have valiantly and joyfully arisen to share the news of Baha’u’llah throughout the cluster. Through personal teaching, home visits and door to door teaching, these friends have introduced hundreds of people in this cluster to the Faith of Baha’u’llah in the last two weeks. 145 souls have accepted the invitation to investigate the Faith and have asked for teachers to come back and visit with them to share with them more about these Glad Tidings. One eighty-two year “young” luminous soul, who we met this past weekend, became the first during this IPG to accept the message of Baha’u’llah and declare herself as His handmaiden.

* One team went out in their neighborhood in Marlborough. They found a Brazilian lady across the street from their home who invited them inside. Initially, the team invited them to prayers at their home, but finding the friend to be very receptive and interested in learning more, pulled out Anna’s presentation and began offering it. Not blinking at the sight of “a flipchart being pulled out of nowhere”, she listened with an open heart to the presentation. At page 22, her friend arrived–she had apparently been scheduled to leave for another meeting. She repeatedly begged the teaching team to remember where they were in the presentation so they could learn more… The team promised to return the next day.

* A third team went to the home of a seeker whose children are in children’s classes in Lexington. This family took them throughout the neighborhood and introduced them to all of their neighbors. The Bahá’í “Peacemaker kids-group” decided to return to the neighborhood to help some of the older residents and one disabled woman with their yards as a service. The spirit of love and community that was created was unimaginable–and people naturally began to ask more about the Faith. Three teachers returned to share Anna’s presentation with the original seekers and were met with an incredible receptivity

* We had a children’s cluster meeting at the same time as our adult cluster meeting and the children created their own personal teaching plans for who they would like to teach. A five year old decided that he was going to share the Faith with his babysitter. Well, the next week his father learned that their nanny was in fact interested in learning more and decided to invite her to a fireside in Lexington the following weekend. She came and was incredibly attracted to the Faith. She has decided to investigate the Faith further and is coming to her first study circle tonight!

 

Lessons learned:  

 

* the power of prayer – this has turned out to be the most important teaching tool we have. There are countless stories of teams that were struggling about where to go, prayed, and then immediately found the receptive soul. This is first and foremost a spiritual process. One team was not meeting success and decided to pray in the stairwell. As they were finishing, a young man approached the mailboxes in front of them wearing a big “19” on their shirt. His name was Israel and after listening to Anna’s presentation, he has become one of the seekers who is interested in learning more.

* we cannot find receptive souls if we do not prepare ourselves for the possibility and arise to teach them. The number of people we have taught in the last two weeks is far greater than the number we have taught in probably the last several years combined. During these teaching days, more and more people have arisen in this path. The unity and love they have created in their relationships is truly palpable. By the end of this expansion phase, one in six people in this cluster had taken part in this process, most people multiple times.

* we have learned that in certain neighborhoods, door to door teaching is a very effective way to share the Faith in our cluster. In Framingham, we learned that one-in-four to one-in-six people who answered their doors, depending on the neighborhood, were interested in hearing more about the Faith and readily gave their contact information–and the rest were in general incredibly polite, and often wished us well. In neighborhoods where the friends had formed some bonds of friendship already, the reception was of course far friendlier.

* we learned the great value of starting with Anna’s presentation and sticking to it, whether it is during home visits or in the door to door setting. We have built enormous capacity in this cluster to do this and have learned in the field that this is one of the most effective ways to quickly develop a truly spiritual conversation and to share the fundamental verities of the Faith. We are finding that we have a much better sense very quickly whether someone is truly interested in learning more.

* we learned the importance of inviting people to accept the Faith. Our task is to offer the Faith as if it were a “jewel to a king.” This means we have to offer it completely (and not just say, “I’ll bring the jewel back for you to see next time!”). This past weekend, we found a Catholic woman, Rose, and her mother, Viola, who received Anna’s presentation with great interest. The mother kept nodding and reading the sacred word with great wonder. At the end of the presentation, they prayed and were invited to consider in their hearts whether this was the Spirit of Truth and whether they would like to join the Baha’i Faith. Rose immediately said she would need to investigate further, but Viola, after looking at her askance a couple of times, said well, I would like to fill out one of those cards and become a Baha’i.” She then turned to her daughter and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to take one of these cards and at least hold on to it?” We assured her that it was OK for her daughter to take her time to investigate and that we would return to share more about the Faith with both of them. They both gladly accepted this invitation.

It is between each soul and Baha’u’llah when they will accept the Faith. Our job is merely to offer the invitation to the Divine Garden.

 

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The Baha'i House of Worship in Sydney, Australia.

The Baha’i House of Worship in Sydney, Australia.

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O My beloved friends! You are the bearers of the name of God in this Day…. You are the lowly, of whom God has thus spoken in His Book: “And We desire to show favour to those who were brought low in the land, and to make them spiritual leaders among men, and to make them Our heirs.” You have been called to this station; you will attain to it, only if you arise to trample beneath your feet every earthly desire, and endeavour to become those “honoured servants of His who speak not till He hath spoken, and who do His bidding”.… Heed not your weaknesses and frailty; fix your gaze upon the invincible power of the Lord, your God, the Almighty…. Arise in His name, put your trust wholly in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory.

The Báb, quoted in Century of Light, p. 53

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(Report from the the expansion phase of So. Middlesex County (MA) cluster, taken from a report from expansion phases in the northeast distributed by the Regional Baha’i Council of the Northeastern States by e-mail 19 May 2008 ) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

(US, NV, 6 June)

This Nevada “A” stage cluster reports how many new believers are arising to participate in teaching the Faith as a result of consolidation activities, particularly starting study circles.

Many teaching and consolidation teams have been following up with seekers and new believers by sharing Anna’s presentation and beginning Ruhi Book 1 study circles. The new believers benefit so much from saying prayers together and connecting with the Word of God. Starting a Ruhi study circle immediately after a soul’s declaration has been shown to be vital to the consolidation effort. This past weekend, the teaching and consolidation teams started at least three Ruhi Book 1 study circles with seekers and newly enrolled Bahá’ís. Here is an account of one of them:

The teaching team that had taught this family did not speak much Spanish so they asked us to accompany them and start a Book 1 study circle. We arrived and met a lovely couple with a young toddler. We talked some then began to go through the first two sections of Book 1. The couple commented throughout that they enjoyed the approach of the Ruhi Book and how everyone was free to share their thoughts. Once we had completed the two sections, the wife asked if she could keep the handouts. We replied that it was hers to keep and that we would return next Sunday to continue. She then said that each day between now and Sunday she would read the quotes and try to apply them to her life in order to improve herself. We were all overwhelmed by her comments; it was truly amazing.


More good news:
Six Bahá’ís who enrolled in the last cycle came forward and taught the Faith! These friends not only shared Anna’s presentation, but also helped bring new souls into the Cause. Of all the victories won in this cluster, this is perhaps the most outstanding.

 
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 The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh

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O CHILDREN OF MEN!

Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.
 
– Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, part 1, #68

 

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(Adapted from a report from the Area Teaching Committee of the Southern Nevada cluster) (http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/06/update-from-southern-nevada-which-has.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

Connecting hearts and souls

(US, DC, 9 June)

Here are three highly inspiring stories of teaching encounters by experienced teachers in teams in this “A” stage cluster. They clearly illustrate the working of unseen spiritual forces that are released when the believers unitedly arise for the triumph of the Cause of the Bahá’u’lláh!

We arrived at this house last. I personally was praying to Bahá’u’lláh that I not be distracted the bit of hunger and fatigue I was feeling. As soon as we knocked on the door, a man and his two children appeared. His radiance dispelled any thoughts I had about sleep or food.

He greeted us warmly, stepped out to the porch and his next question was, “So what is this Bahá’í Faith anyways?” My teaching partner began the presentation and there was a flow of warmth and camaraderie between the two men. I began to pray, imagining that ‘Abdu’l-Baha was standing between the two men with his hand on both of their hearts serving as a conduit for Bahá’u’lláh’s love.

As we proceeded with the presentation, he agreed with many of the concepts introduced, saying that he always knew there was one religion, one human family, and one God. He seemed visibly touched by the picture of Bahá’u’lláh’s chains and when asked if he thought Bahá’u’lláh was one of the mirrors he said, “If Christ is a mirror then Bahá’u’lláh is too.”

We talked about getting back together soon. We were impressed with his compassion. We all embraced and departed.

A second story:

Our teaching team came across one person. We proceeded to present the presentation to him and he seemed rather engaged, really looking over the pictures and listening intently to the quotes. We made it through the section about the life of Bahá’u’lláh and asked if he thought Bahá’u’lláh might be one of these Manifestations sent to guide us. He nodded yes and we asked if he would like to join us in our mission to unify mankind and he said yes.

So we continued with more on the history of the Faith and some further principles. After hearing more about the life of Bahá’u’lláh and some further teachings, he suddenly had a look of intensity and started to look around for the declaration card. He really wanted to sign it. It was as though his soul was recognizing the truth before it—as though it had been waiting for this—and he was suddenly very intent about signing the card. He clearly understood the significance of this act and it was a moving event to witness. It conveyed to us that the soul is so aware of what is happening and is always ready to recognize it’s Creator.

We gave this man the Gift of Prayers and said the Obligatory prayer with him before moving on in our teaching. A few porches down we had another long adventure—this time with my teaching partner doing the presentation. From the porch I could see the gentleman that had just embraced the Cause. The entire 30 minutes that we were engaging with the next group, he was reading the Gift of Prayer with all of its prayers and Writings; he never put the book down.

And a third:

We were standing outside a lovely home, and a kind man came down the stairs in response to the bell ring. We introduced ourselves and shared with him that we are Bahá’ís and would like to share with him about the Bahá’í [Faith]. He invited us into his home and said that he was feeding his wife who was a little ill. Together we held hands and shared the short healing prayer by Bahá’u’lláh, and he shared his own prayer as well.

We asked if we could share the presentation and they agreed, so we started sharing Anna’s presentation, and as each page went by and each beautiful quote was read, he was agreeing more and more.

We asked him if he believed that Bahá’u’lláh was one of the Manifestations from God, one of these perfect mirrors that we had spoken of earlier, and he said yes. It was a wonderful conversation and spiritual moment. We asked if we could finish the presentation with them and both of them said “yes!”. At the end of the presentation, both he and his wife declared.

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Monument of the Greatest Holy Leaf

Monument of the Greatest Holy Leaf

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The ordinances of God have been sent down from the heaven of His most august Revelation. All must diligently observe them. Man’s supreme distinction, his real advancement, his final victory, have always depended, and will continue to depend, upon them. Whoso keepeth the commandments of God shall attain everlasting felicity.


A twofold obligation resteth upon him who hath recognized the Day Spring of the Unity of God, and acknowledged the truth of Him Who is the Manifestation of His oneness. The first is steadfastness in His love, such steadfastness that neither the clamor of the enemy nor the claims of the idle pretender can deter him from cleaving unto Him Who is the Eternal Truth, a steadfastness that taketh no account of them whatever. The second is strict observance of the laws He hath prescribed—laws which He hath always ordained, and will continue to ordain, unto men, and through which the truth may be distinguished and separated from falsehood.

– Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, CXXXIII
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(Adapted from a posting at teaching.bahai.us: http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/06/here-are-three-recent-stories-of.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)

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