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(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)
Everyone playing their part
(US, OR, 6 May)
The friends in this “A” stage cluster have been busy and systematic during the first expansion phase of their intensive program of growth, which was launched just before Ridvan 2008. A variety of approaches were used, with each facet supporting the others. Here are some excerpts:
Informational tables were set up at the local Bahá’í Center and at two colleges. The use of Anna’s Presentation at the booth at the Bahá’í Center provided an easy format to present the Faith.
The friends gathered at the Bahá’í Center each day in the morning, noon and evening to offer prayers for the teaching efforts. These were attended by between five to fifteen believers each time.
Children’s classes and one junior youth group were conducted and were attended by members of the wider community.
Exploratory teaching was carried out in a few neighborhoods in the cluster. Several positive opportunities emerged, including requests for subsequent visits, which are being followed up. At one apartment complex, a relatively large percentage of those visited expressed an interest in learning about the Faith.
(Report from the Area Teaching Committee of Eugene, OR)
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Unremitting faith, prayer, the promptings of the soul, Divine assistance — these are among the essentials of progress in any Bahá’í undertaking. But also of vital importance to bringing about entry by troops is a realistic approach, systematic action. There are no shortcuts. Systematization ensures consistency of lines of action based on well-conceived plans. In a general sense, it implies an orderliness of approach in all that pertains to Bahá’í service, whether in teaching or administration, in individual or collective endeavour. While allowing for individual initiative and spontaneity, it suggests the need to be clear-headed, methodical, efficient, constant, balanced and harmonious. Systematization is a necessary mode of functioning animated by the urgency to act.
Our lot, dear brothers and sisters, is to be consciously involved in a vast historic process the like of which has not ever before been experienced by any people…Does not every one of us…have a divine obligation to fulfil, a sacred duty to perform towards every other one who is not yet aware of the call of God’s latest Manifestation? Time does not stop, does not wait. With every passing hour a fresh affliction strikes at a distracted humanity. Dare we linger?
…one thing above all else is necessary: to act, to act now, and to continue to act.
Our heartfelt plea at the Holy Threshold on behalf of us all is that we may be divinely aided and richly confirmed in whatever we do towards meeting the urgent aim of the Divine Plan at so fate-laden a moment in human history.
Universal House of Justice, Ridván 155/1998 message
Learning from Palm Beach’s Intensive Program of Growth (US, FL, 28 April)
In the few months since its launch, there were 41 new enrolments following a collective door-to-door teaching project. Here are some of the insights that have been gained as the friends have reflected on their experiences so far:
Explore and analyze the receptivity of the neighborhood well in advance of the expansion phase.
Concentrate on one community with receptive populations and avoid diverting teaching teams to less receptive areas.
Include newly enrolled believers as part of a teaching team when they demonstrate enthusiasm for teaching.
Give attention to teaching junior youth.
Youth who become Bahá’ís are very eager to teach their friends.
On-going follow-up activities with seekers are extremely important.