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(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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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)
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
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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)
(US, NYC, 16 April)
Reported from the first weekend of New York City cluster’s expansion phase:
…perhaps the greatest “success” was the incredible spirit of unity and love that was cultivated among the friends who participated in the teaching efforts… Over 500 doors were knocked on, and, over the course of only three days, 20 souls entered the Cause of God. And this is only the beginning!
Before going out to teach, the teams prayed fervently that Bahá’u’lláh would guide them to souls who were ready to receive the message.
Of a certainty, guidance was given: While sharing the Faith with a young man in a Washington Heights park, the teacher discovered that she had taught the faith to the man’s father in Ecuador several decades ago! Another teaching team approached a security guard of a high-rise building, requesting permission to enter.
It turned out that the security guard had been a Bahá’í in the Dominican Republic in the 1980’s, but after migrating to the States, had lost touch with the community, and had no idea that there were Bahá’ís in New York City, let alone in his very neighborhood.
On Saturday a team visited a Jamaican family in Brooklyn. The mother was interested but asked if they’d come back Sunday. On Sunday the mother wasn’t home but the team gave the presentation to the father and his 8 year old son. Both enrolled. Last night, the team returned and the mother and two daughters enrolled. Now we have a whole family that has stepped into the Cause. They are so happy and excited. The two older children sat and listened to the entire presentation and asked if they could be Baha’is. The son had a friend visiting who kept asking if he was ready to play a video game but the son said “Not right now. I’m learning about God.”
(From a report shared by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States after NYC’s launch of Cycle 12 of their Intensive Program of Growth. Used with the Council’s permission.)
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O Lord! Grant Thine infinite bestowals, and let the light of Thy guidance shine.
—‘Abdu’l-Bahá, BP 100
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One delegate to the Bahá’í International Convention, Daniel Woodard (25), an engineering student from Caracas, noted that not only is the Bahá’í community diverse, but it truly encompasses the whole world. He was even more heartened by the unified spirit, as Bahá’ís and others work together to create a better world:
“Despite the fact that there are now many of us, and we are so diverse, nobody is being left behind,” he said of the people he saw. “We are so intertwined that as we move forward, if someone falters or has difficulties, they will be sustained and helped by the others.”
MAY IT BE SHOWN TO THE WORLD!:)
Among the thousand delegates from 150 countries at the International Bahá’í Convention were (first photo) Nuriyeh McLaren and Daniel Woodard, delegates from Venezuela, and (second photo) Keyhan Ighanian and Thor Henning Lerstad, both from Norway.
The faces of the Bahá’í world: http://news.bahai.org/multimedia/slideshow.php?storyid=631 News story: http://news.bahai.org/story/631
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Disunity is a danger that the nations and peoples of the earth can no longer endure; the consequences are too terrible to contemplate, too obvious to require any demonstration… In observing that “mankind is groaning, is dying to be led to unity, and to terminate its age-long martyrdom”, Shoghi Effendi further commented that: “Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.”
Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, Section IV
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(Photographs are copyright of the Bahá’í World News Service)