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(Thailand, 2 October 2010)
A report shared on the Thai mailing list that demonstrates understanding of the need for the core activities to be integrated, which would involve invitation of contacts made in one such activity (e.g. with children’s classes, inviting the parents) to another of the core activities (e.g. study circles or devotional meetings). Home visits would here provide the link between the various components of the system (the institute process) as a whole.
One may note the degree of focus and coordination achieved among the participants in the expansion phase through the formulation of a clear and realistic strategy for the group’s efforts, as stated in line two. A valuable learning on how to introduce Ruhi book 1 (giving a taster) to potential participants is also to be found. Any better?!
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Cycle 6: Expansion Phase
A mighty spiritual army of 3 teams joined in the expansion phase of the Chiang Mai cluster. The strategy was to teach and invite the parents of children’s class children to join study circles.
One team went to visit one parent and invited her for Book 1. A team member said: “We have totally changed our method of inviting people to study circles. We actually go ahead and do the first chapter with them on the first visit. We discuss 4-5 quotations with them but don’t do the writing part. Its just to get them in touch with the Writings. We have had a 90% success rate! Almost everyone wants to continue the courses without hesitation. Then we go back and do it completely on the next visit once the study circle has formally started. We now also explain the purpose of the institute courses that its not only for deepening and spiritual empowerment but also a training to increase our capacities to serve others in the neighborhood.”
Teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand
The CIC [Cluster Institute Coordinator] said: “Now our challenge is to commit the tutor for this new group with a potential of 4 participants including the tutor. Many tutors already have a study circle and some are also children’s class teachers or junior youth animators. But we will manage with additional sacrifice!”
One CGC [Cluster Growth Committee] member said: “Chiang Mai is launching its IPG [Intensive Program of Growth] in Ridvan of 2011. Therefore we need more human recourses to be able to launch our IPG with full force as we want the IPG to keep on going strongly. Our focus is on teaching and inviting people to arise and serve with us. The Training Institute will play a major role, so that’s why we are teaching and inviting parents of the children’s class children to join study circles”.
Another team went to share prayers and discuss the children’s class courses with another parent that had never been visited before. The parent said he had actually gone to enquire about the children’s class from other parents at the Mooban center. He said: “They told me it was good and I believe them. We support our child to join in good things”.
Earlier on, another parent had acknowledged that her son was more peaceful, more hardworking with his homework, and helped his parents. She said: “We have seen positive developments in him and support his continuation in the class”.
The next challenge for the cluster is getting the parents involved in the community building process through the institute courses and their service components.
After the teaching day was over, a member in one of the teams said: “People are so receptive to the principles of the Faith, I can’t believe it! You just have to go out and open your mouth. Is there anything easier than that??”
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A programme of growth
Invariably, opportunities afforded by the personal circumstances of the believers initially involved—or perhaps a single homefront pioneer—to enter into meaningful and distinctive conversation with local residents dictate how the process of growth begins in a cluster. A study circle made up of a few friends or colleagues, a class offered for several neighbourhood children, a group formed for junior youth during after-school hours, a devotional gathering hosted for family and friends—any one of these can serve as a stimulus to growth. What happens next follows no predetermined course…. But…the outcome must be the same. Within every cluster, the level of cohesion achieved among the core activities must be such that, in their totality, a nascent programme for the sustained expansion and consolidation of the Faith can be perceived. That is to say, in whatever combination and however small in number, devotional gatherings, children’s classes and junior youth groups are being maintained by those progressing through the sequence of institute courses and committed to the vision of individual and collective transformation they foster. This initial flow of human resources into the field of systematic action marks the first of several milestones in a process of sustainable growth.
(The Universal House of Justice, 28 December 2010, par. 4)
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(Emphasis added. – The editor) (Report and photo used with permission of the author.)
Reflection into action in a “B” stage cluster
(US, SC, 6 June)
Here is a report of a reflection gathering, which is an important element in teaching campaigns. The friends made use of this event to plan activities and prepare themselves for sharing the message of Bahá’u’lláh with their neighbors:
The first part of the meeting consisted of a review of relevant statistics related directly to the growth and activity of the Faith in the cluster. The participating friends were able to visualize the status of the cluster and carry out a healthy examination of strengths to build on and weaknesses to address. For example, it was noted that we have succeeded in firmly establishing three regular devotional gatherings, three Bahá’í children’s classes, and one junior youth group. In addition, at the time of reporting, there were a total of eight study circles in progress around the cluster. At the same time, our review of the statistics made it clear that there is significant room for advancement in the area of multiplying these activities.
The next portion of the meeting was an open discussion about where we are going. A friend shared experiences and insights from experience with another advanced cluster, and spoke to us about the dedication and commitment that is required from individuals and communities to shoulder the responsibilities of intensive growth, the need to go beyond the barriers of comfort, to step into new arenas of service. She also spoke of the joys of collective service and the bonds of love and friendship that are built as believers in a community work together to teach the Cause to the peoples of the world.
We later divided into five teams of two. We examined a map of the neighborhood and assigned routes to take. We prayed and requested the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Equipped with copies of Anna’s presentation, neighborhood visit charts, prayer cards and invitations, we hit the streets.
We knocked on approximately 60 doors, and spoke to people in 32 homes. Everyone we spoke to was courteous and friendly. Nine households were open to receiving a subsequent visit. Two individuals were happy to hear an in depth presentation of the Faith.
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Upper Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb
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By nature is meant those inherent properties and necessary relations derived from the realities of things. And these realities of things, though in the utmost diversity, are yet intimately connected one with the other. For these diverse realities an all-unifying agency is needed that shall link them all one to the other. For instance, the various organs and members, the parts and elements, that constitute the body of man, though at variance, are yet all connected one with the other by that all-unifying agency known as the human soul, that causeth them to function in perfect harmony and with absolute regularity, thus making the continuation of life possible…
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel p 13
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(Adapted from a posting at teaching.bahai.us reporting from Upstate Foothills, SC cluster: http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/06/reflection-gatherings-are-important.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)
The following is a digest of the 13 May letter of the House of Justice to the Baha’is of the World:
At midday on the second of May, the Tenth International Baha’i Convention drew to its close. Over the course of several days some one thousand delegates from over 150 countries had taken part in five consultative sessions that centred on the progress of the current global Plan. It was a source of inspiration and joy to note the wealth of experience that they brought to the discussions and the unity of thought that distinguished the comments put forward.
An historical analysis of efforts to establish intensive programmes of growth in different parts of the globe was presented to the delegates. What it demonstrates, above all, is how rapidly the process of learning that impels progress is accelerating worldwide.
At the Conference of Continental Boards of Counsellors [that immediately followed the International Baha’i Convention] observations made by these high-ranking officers of the Cause confirmed the efficacy of the strategies being put in place for the expansion and consolidation of the Faith.
The House of Justice ends their letter thus:
As we enter the third year of the Five Year Plan, we are delighted to announce that the number of intensive programmes of growth in operation has surpassed the 600 mark. However impressive this accomplishment, it pales before what remains to be achieved. We urge you, one and all,
to maintain your focus,
to strengthen your resolve and
to arise with even greater determination to carry forward the teaching work.
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As to the words—“Immediately after the oppression of those days”—they refer to the time when men shall become oppressed and afflicted, the time when the lingering traces of the Sun of Truth and the fruit of the Tree of knowledge and wisdom will have vanished from the midst of men, when the reins of mankind will have fallen into the grasp of the foolish and ignorant, when the portals of divine unity and understanding—the essential and highest purpose in creation—will have been closed, when certain knowledge will have given way to idle fancy, and corruption will have usurped the station of righteousness…
What “oppression” is greater than that which hath been recounted? What “oppression” is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it?
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán p. 29,31
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(Excerpted from letter of Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the World, 13 May 2008.)
(Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)