Friday, February 29, 2008

“After hearing Anna’s presentation, she declared her Faith”

Accounts of two touching teaching stories are shared below by the Area Teaching Committee of the Las Vegas, NV (A) cluster. These touching accounts reflect the power of prayer and the effectiveness of direct teaching using Anna’s Presentation, as described in Ruhi Book 6 – Teaching the Cause. Send in your stories about teaching efforts you have experienced. Teaching blog visitors would love to hear from you!

"Heed not your weaknesses and frailty; fix your gaze upon the invincible power of the Lord, your God, the Almighty." --The Báb

Dearest Friends,

Today was a joyous day when we received word from an individual Baha'i teacher, who happens to work at the Las Vegas Baha'i Center, about two declarations during the past two days! Here are his stories:

"Yesterday, 02/27/08: Mrs._______ came to the Bahá’í Center. She has come here before and at that time took with her Gleanings, The Baha’is Magazine, and a list of devotionals that she could attend. She had initially heard about the Faith from a co-worker and had read An Introduction to the Bahá’í Faith before coming to the Center for the first time. When she came yesterday she mentioned that she had attended devotionals at a Baha'i family's home and enjoyed them very much. I asked her what she thought so far based on what she has read and experienced, if she believes that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day. She seemed to think so, but to me it appeared that she still might have some doubts. I asked if she would like to hear a presentation on the Bahá’í Faith. She said yes. After hearing Anna's presentation, she declared her faith and signed her card. She then mentioned that the Baha'i family whose devotions she has attended said that they will start an English Ruhi class soon, which she plans to attend. She said that she has given her son The Baha’is Magazine and yesterday she bought two more!

"Today 02/28/08: A couple of weeks ago I received a call at the Bahá’í Center from a Mr. ________. He said that he would like to come to the Bahá’í Center and learn about the Faith. After a few days, having not heard from him, I called him back. He said that he does not have a car and it is difficult to get here. I asked if he would like someone to go to his home and present the Faith to him there. To this he said yes. Another Bahá’í and I went today and presented Anna’s presentation. Halfway through, he was asked if he believes that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day. The man said he believes that He is. We went on with the presentation, and at its completion he readily declared his faith and signed his card. We mentioned the Ruhi classes, and he said he will let us know when he can take the class.

"I am so thankful to Baha’u’llah that I have the bounty of being here at the Center. During this time I have had the privilege of witnessing people discover for themselves, this precious Faith and the truths therein."

Dear Friends, these stories are just the beginning of what we can look forward to in the Las Vegas area during the coming days, weeks, months, and beyond. Surely the recent surge in teaching activity during our cluster's IPG is drawing confirmations from the Divine concourse. As the collective teaching continues during the next two weekends, we anticipate more inspiring stories from many of the friends.

Teaching teams will once again be going into two receptive neighborhoods this weekend. Please join your fellow Baha'is at the Las Vegas Baha'i Center:

Prayers are always needed. You are welcome to come to the center to pray, or do so at home or wherever you happen to be.

"Arise in His name, put your trust wholly in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory." --The Báb

With warmest Baha'i love and gratitude,

Las Vegas NV Area Teaching Committee

“ . . . fix your gaze . . .”

Dearest Friends,

Today was a joyous day when we received word from an individual Baha'i teacher, who happens to work at the Las Vegas (A) cluster at the Baha'i Center,about two declarations during the past two days! Here are his stories:

"Yesterday, 02/27/08: Mrs. _______ came to the Bahá’í Center. She has come here before and at that time took with her Gleanings, the Baha’is Magazine, and a list of devotionals that she could attend. She had initially heard about the Faith from a co-worker and had read An Introduction to the Bahá’í Faith before coming to the Center for the first time. When she came yesterday she mentioned that she had attended devotionals at a Baha'i family's home and enjoyed them very much. I asked her what she thought so far based on what she has read and experienced, if she believes that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day. She seemed to think so, but to me it appeared that she still might have some doubts. I asked if she would like to hear a presentation on the Bahá’í Faith. She said yes. After hearing Anna's presentation, she declared her faith and signed her card. She then mentioned that the Baha'i family whose devotions she has attended said that they will start an English Ruhi class soon, which she plans to attend. She said that she has given her son the Baha’is Magazine and yesterday she bought two more!

"Today 02/28/08: A couple of weeks ago I received a call at the Bahá’í Center from a Mr. ________. He said that he would like to come to the Bahá’í Center and learn about the Faith. After a few days, having not heard from him, I called him back. He said that he does not have a car and it is difficult to get here. I asked if he would like someone to go to his home and present the Faith to him there. To this he said yes. Another Baha'I and I went today and presented Anna’s presentation. Halfway through, he was asked if he believes that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day. The man said he believes that He is. We went on with the presentation, and at its completion he readily declared his faith and signed his card. We mentioned the Ruhi classes, and he said he will let us know when he can take the class.

"I am so thankful to Baha’u’llah that I have the bounty of being here at the Center. During this time I have had the privilege of witnessing people discover for themselves, this precious Faith and the truths therein."

Dear Friends, these stories are just the beginning of what we can look forward to in the Las Vegas area during the coming days, weeks, months, and beyond. Surely the recent surge in teaching activity during our cluster's IPG is drawing confirmations from the Divine concourse.

~Area Teaching Committee

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Metro Atlanta: "a major breakthrough in growth" - 96 new believer

Only half-way through their 10th cycle of intensive growth, the Metro Atlanta GA cluster is on fire! 96 new believers have now been reported. How? As noted by the Regional Bahá'í Council, shares that “a systematic outlook can be seen throughout the planning stages allowing those involved in the direct teaching efforts to experience the vision of the Five Year Plan by bringing awaiting souls under the banner of the Greatest Name.” Joined by experienced friends from other parts of the country, the teaching teams were supported and fortified. The following are excerpts from the Area Teaching Committee diary report submitted earlier today.

Dear friends, Allah’u’abha! This is a brief summary of our tenth cycle of growth so far. After receiving the exciting news that the Metro Atlanta cluster was selected to be one of the three “learning laboratories” for growth, we began consulting on neighborhoods, receptive populations, and goals.

Warm up Phase – January 25 – February 15

· The weekend of January 25 we were fortunate to have the visit of a Auxiliary Board Member from Arizona. On Friday morning, he and one other friend went out to the neighborhoods did some ‘test’ teaching. They went to a Spanish neighborhood and one man declared. They visited a few believers to encourage them to become full time teachers.

· On Friday evening he met with the core team met and talked about the issues involved in growth. During the meeting we visited the junior youth groups to give him a flavor of that project. Saturday morning we went through a training of Anna’s Presentation and then we broke into groups and went out to three neighborhoods.

· That Saturday 45 believers were trained, and were grouped into large neighborhood teams. Then the larger teams were divided up into small teams of diverse participants. We went out to practice for about an hours. When we reassembled, teams reported three adult declarations and three children. During the same afternoon a children’s class was held in one of the complexes with fourteen children from six nations.

· On Saturday evening Kaveh met with the Book 3 graduates and explained how children’s classes multiply organically through home visits and feed into the expansion phase.

· Sunday morning a few believers continued follow up of the teaching in the neighborhood of the Unity center.

· Then ABMs Kaveh and Riaz met with the Core Team for a couple of hours before Kaveh left for the airport.

February 2 -14

· The following weekend, Riaz gave a similar training on Anna’s presentation to twelve participants. Several were from other clusters in the area.

· During the next week we reviewed the many forms and sheets of information that were emailed to us from Phoenix.

· We went and made ourselves familiar with the neighborhoods and talked with the believers (Persian) who live in those neighborhoods, to ascertain their suitability for the teaching project.

· We made arrangements to have Anna’s Presentation printed, and organized the teaching team packets.

· We found a person to enter the data, ordered prayer books, printed prayer cards, sent out invitations to the Reflection Gathering and ordered declaration cards.

· We visited the Feasts in as many communities as possible to explain about the program of growth. We met with several of the LSAs to ask them to clear their calendars for the IPG.

February 14-18

· Kaveh arrived back in Atlanta on Thursday night, February 14. He spent several hours with the Area Teaching Committee secretary and went over the plans, neighborhoods, procedure, materials, and data collection methods.

· Friday morning, another training was held at the Unity Center. This time we were blessed with the presence of Continental Counsellor Gene Andrews as well as eight ABMs from the Southern, Central and Northeastern states as well as our Georgia ABM, Michael O’Neal.

· After the training we all went together to Willow Ridge to try out the complex. We divided up by apartment buildings. That day we were able to witness 7 adults and four children declarations. Everyone came back and shared their learning with a feeling of joy and new-found confidence. Friday evening Kaveh held a training for the “anchor” teachers. Teachers from four of the chosen neighborhoods were able to attend.

o On Saturday morning we held the Reflection Gathering from 9 am to noon. Approximately 70 people were in attendance. We shared from the slide presentation prepared by the Core Team. The program included the study of the Guidance, consultation about direct teaching, and introduction of the anchor teachers for each neighborhood.

· Each anchor teacher invited people to come and volunteer to join them. It ended up being a self-selection of 4 neighborhoods.

· We all went out into our neighborhoods and followed the division set out by our anchor teachers. At around 5:00 pm we returned to the Center and had wonderful sharing. Sunday morning we met again and spent 2 hours reviewing our progress and our learning. Then we broke up into teams again and headed back out to the neighborhoods. By this time the Reynoldstown team had grown to over 15 youth, augmented by some of the Mona youth.

· Sunday night we returned and had a wonderful sharing and prayer session.

February 18- February 22

· Monday Riaz and Khaveh went out from neighborhood to neighborhood and met with the anchor teachers.

· During this week the anchor teachers have been directing teaching teams to follow up, revisit, and continue teaching.

· During this week we have had 3 adult declarations and six children.

· We are working on putting together the data and getting ready for the upcoming weekend.

Summary of Results

· Our original goal was 50 adult believers and 25 children. By Saturday night this upcoming weekend, we may need to revisit our goal and see how far along we are.

· As of today we have approximately 40 adults and 25 children. We are working on getting the listing more accurate and exact.

· Approximately fifty believers participated in the direct teaching at various stages.

· We have the following nationalities among our new believers: Mexican, Burundian, Thai, Kenyan, Russian, Burmese, Eritrean, and African American.

· We have learned that the newly arrived people from other countries are very pure, receptive and open to the redemptive power of Baha’u’llah’s Divine message.

We are extremely grateful to the Continental Counsellors for choosing Atlanta and to Kaveh and the Area Teaching Committee of Phoenix for so generously sharing their learning and expertise with us.

With warm regards,

Area Teaching Committee
Metro Atlanta Cluster

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Joyous news from Knoxville

Excitement abounds in Knoxville, TN (A) with the word of new declarations there. Knoxville started out as a C-stage cluster with approximately 80 Bahais and moved quickly to become an A-stage cluster because of their focus on the framework of the Plan and growth. Today, they have just over 100 Bahais, and growing. Go Knoxville!

Hello Folks,

Joyous news from Knoxville, 6 enrollments in the last few months, nearly all, if not all with Anna’s presentation. Anna’s presentation has been used at firesides also, I understand. The community is energized and coming together. More encouragement towards unity in joy.

Love to all of you.


Day 3: Las Vegas reports 17 new declarations after only 2 days

With each early day of the new cycle of growth, Core Teams send out fabulous emails to the friends to share the excitement and progress of serving together and reaching so many who await His message. The friends in Las Vegas NV (A) share their plans for their next days of expansion.

"Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth. We are truly almighty. Whoso hath recognized Me, will arise and serve Me with such determination that the powers of earth and heaven shall be unable to defeat his purpose." ~Bahá'u'lláh

Dear Friends,

Here we are at the end of Day 3 of the expansion phase of our first Intensive Program of Growth (IPG) in the Southern Nevada cluster! We have been amazed at the results achieved in a short period of time: 17 declarations after only two days of teaching, many more people who have expressed interest in learning more about the Faith, and many follow-up visits planned for the current week and next weekend.

For many of us, today has been a day to catch our breaths and reflect for a moment after such an eventful and exciting weekend of teaching in two receptive neighborhoods. For those of you who may not have received our first daily report, a copy is provided at the end of this email.

Your help is needed! Please join us at the Baha'i Center on Saturday, March 1, at 10 a.m. The teaching teams will pray, sing together, receive guidance, go out to the two neighborhoods to teach, and return to the center around 4:30 p.m. to share experiences and reflect. We also plan to teach on Sunday, March 2 (yes, we know the Fast starts that day), as well as the weekend of March 8-9. Times will be announced. Lunch will be provided, including during the Fast for those who are not fasting and especially for the children under 15.

We need Baha'is of all ages to join teaching teams, both as presenters of Anna's Presentation and as silent prayer partners. (It is a good idea to dress casually and wear comfortable shoes.) The children, junior youth, and youth who joined the teams last weekend are all to be commended for their dedication and courage. They were wonderful, and we all hope they will return and bring some of their family members! Those of you who speak Spanish are particularly needed.

If you'd like to be close to the action without actually going into the field, you can remain at the center and pray while the teaching teams are out. In any case, please pray for the teaching efforts and for the new believers and seekers--it really makes all the difference.

With warm Baha'i greetings,
Area Teaching Committee, NV-S01

Teaching stores there "when we needed to learn"

The intention of the teaching blog is to quickly share the lessons learned so that others in the field can benefit from what the friends have learned. We hear from one friend in South Hamton Roads, VA that your stories are helping! Keep the stories (and pictures) coming!

Dear friends,

I just want to say how wonderful it is to have the teaching blog. Right when our cluster started direct teaching, when we needed to learn from the grassroots around the country, the teaching blog appeared with wonderful experiences, knowledge and stories that inspire my heart. I am so happy and grateful that the teaching blog exists and I hope it continues to thrive and bring us the glorious results of the expansion of the Kingdom of Abha.

Michael Haslip
Cluster Development Facilitator - South Hampton Roads, Virginia

Monday, February 25, 2008

Los Angeles: 88 new believers during expansion phase

This just in from the Southwestern Regional Council about Los Angeles cluster . . .

The count of new believers in LA cluster is moving up. Today 11 new believers have joined the rank of followers of Baha’u’llah. This brings the total to 49 declarations and 39 registrations. Tomorrow is the last day of the intensive expansion phase.

Las Vagas Valley: "I can't believe it! It is so easy!"

We haven't heard the last from Las Vegas Valley, NV. A 32-strong teaching team was in full force this past weekend and is reporting total enrollments 16 total for their first expansion phase, many after hearing Anna's Presentation. Go Las Vegas!

Dearest Friends,

Great joy abounds in Las Vegas! As we end day 2 of our first intensive program of growth (IPG), 11 new believers have declared their belief in Baha'u'llah! This brings our total up to 16, bringing us close to our goal of 24. Today we had four more friends (total of 32), from around the cluster join us, and 12 teams went out into the two neighborhoods in which we taught yesterday.

Late in the afternoon, teams shared heart-warming teaching stories. After one teaching experience, a Baha'i who went out for the first time and carried a newly signed declaration card in his pocket kept saying, "I can't believe it, I can't believe it! It's so easy!"

Tonight our joy knew no end when we received word that a beautiful family had come into the Faith. Several Baha'is had been teaching and nurturing a warm friendship with this Hispanic family of 6 for several months. They all declared their faith in Baha'u'llah tonight after hearing Anna's Presentation during a visit to their home.

Much love and gratitude,

Area Teaching Committee
For the Baha'is of NV-S01

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Day One: 6 new souls in Las Vegas Valley proclaim their belief!

During the month of February, the Las Vegas, NV (A) cluster was one of 15 clusters to advance to an A-stage level of growth in the United States! Growth is momentous now and the stories are being shared to report the excitement and progress being made. In this wonderful story below, we learn that 6 new declarations were made in a single day of teaching.

Dear Friends,

"O Thou our Provider! Send down Thine aid, that each one gathered here may become a lighted candle, each one a centre of attraction, each one a summoner to Thy heavenly realms, till at last we make this nether world the mirror image of Thy Paradise." – 'Abdu'l-Bahá

67 excited and dedicated friends attended the cluster reflection meeting pledging their efforts in teaching, praying and supporting the first cycle of Intensive Growth in our cluster! With our teaching efforts dedicated to the honor of the 3 Bahá'í youth, who are in Iran for teaching the Faith. (Please visit for more information.) By early afternoon 9 teaching teams spread out in two neighborhoods, armed with prayer, teaching materials, and a vision of directly teaching receptive souls.

As the teams gathered at the end of the afternoon, we discovered that at least 6 souls have proclaimed their belief that Bahá'u'lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day. One of these new believers has requested the teachers to return soon to share the message of Bahá'u'lláh with her teenage daughter and children.

In one home, as the Bahá'í teacher unfolded the presentation, her hostess exclaimed, "God must have sent you to me!" Within minutes she had signed her card after confirming that she recognized Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this day. Her joy was palpable.

In this single day of teaching, our cluster has had more declarations than in the entire last cycle of growth! We can only imagine what wonders will unfold as the rest of the cycle progresses. We are discovering the truth that "multitudes hunger for the Bread of Life!"

"That which He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men's hearts; and of these the loved ones of Him Who is the Sovereign Truth are, in this Day, as the keys. Please God they may, one and all, be enabled to unlock, through the power of the Most Great Name, the gates of these cities." Bahá'u'lláh

Much Baha'i Love,

Area Teaching Committee
For the Baha'is of Las Vegas Valley

Study Circles heat up in Turtle Mountain, ND

Updates from the field of action come in from all across the country every day. Some from A-stage clusters, some from B and C-stage clusters, as progress everywhere is about learning about individual and collective initiative. Turtle Mountain, ND cluster shares their recent successes.

Hello everyone in the listening area, I would just like to report on the happenings in the Turtle Mountain area. February 16th the Dunseith community had a study circle Ruhi Book 7, their was 6 participants including the instructor, The class for ruhi finished up to section 7. We finished the day with a Traditional Chippewa Thirst Dance singing ceremony in the foot hills of the Turtle Mountains near Dunseith. On Sunday February 17th The Dunseith community had a pancake sausage / Devotional Gathering/Children Class gathering at Max and Pam Defender's house. The devotional gathering started with prayers from the sacred Bahai prayer books, their were many young and older that picked and said a prayer, The Devotional part was a teaching from one of the old stories from the Chippewa people. The children's class was a story about Abdul Baha , and we had a craft that was identifying the feast and holly days of the calander. There was 6 adults, 7 youth and jr.youth and 6 childern that participated in these gatherings.

On February 23 , 2008 The Dunseith Community started a new study circle ruhi book 1, from 6pm to 9pm every Saturday. We have a goal to finish book 1 by the end of March , We had 8 new participants enrolled in this class. Future events will be announced at a later date.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Thought you might enjoy this series...

Stories about what works are everywhere. Look what our friends in Canada have to share with us! Enjoy!

I thought you might enjoy this series of excellent short videos on the core activities that my Canadian brothers and sisters recently put out. Check it out at:

On another note, what's up with the growth in the USA clusters? Are they taking Cluster Growth Hormones or something?



Amazing growth in numbers and capacity!

We have read about it happening. We have dreamed about it happening. Now, it is happening in cluster after cluster across the country. Served by extraordinary individuals, teamed together by their passion and commitment to teach, each are reaching out to neighbors with prayer, love and fellowship to new neighborhoods and hundreds of newly declared Bahá'ís.

In just a few short months, significant numbers of new believers have joined the Bahá'í community, due to new and more intense approaches in direct teaching, emphasizing systematic, supported, and collective teaching practices. Phoenix, Tucson, East Valley, Atlanta and Los Angeles are reporting staggering growth in only the first few days of their newly-launched expansion cycles. Phoenix reported 70 new believers. Tucson noted just over 40. East Valley reported over 100 in just 9 days; so many that the core team stopped the expansion campaign after their second weekend to focus effectively on consolidation. Los Angeles reached over 70 at the end of its second weekend. Atlanta brought in over 60 at the end of its first weekend and “warm-up” phase! News does not stop there. More enrollments are being reported with each new day of the cycles from these and other clusters.

What is the secret? It is truly not a secret, but experience. . . here are some tips from those who were there . . . . .


Pre IPG:

q Select neighborhood(s)

q Pray in the neighborhood(s)

q Knock on doors to test the receptivity

q Assign anchor person per neighborhood

q Assign and allocate teams based on capacity of the neighborhood (how many teams can operate and teach in an area before they run of out of units to go to).

q Anchor person “walks” the neighborhood many times in preparation to become familiar with the neighborhood addresses. This familiarity is crucial for both expansion and consolidation phases. In a collective teaching day the anchor person should know exactly where to guide or even accompany the newly formed teams to.

q Get Google (satellite) map of the neighborhood(s)

q “Train” the anchor person how to form, divide and guide the teams once in the neighborhoods (very important)

q Train and practice Anna’s Presentation several times

q Many of the friends need to see how to present and how to invite people to embrace the Cause

q Model and practice invitation to embrace the Cause

q Go in the field to get practice and experience

q Prepare teaching folders (Color coded or numbered per each team, area, apt etc.)
Include: declaration and child registration cards (English, Spanish) , small prayer books (English, Spanish), prayer cards (English, Spanish), Short Obligatory (English, Spanish) prayer cards for those who declare, Map of the neighborhood, phone # of the anchor person, Home Visit data capture and registration sheets.

Launch – Collective teaching day

q Go over the collective teaching concept

q Remind the friends of the spiritual nature of the process

q Make sure that every one knows that they have a role to play whether in the field or at home praying.

The following is done while in at the meeting:

q Divide the anchor people in separate locations in the room. Explain to the friends about each area of focus then ask them to go and join the anchor person in each section of the room. This process will allow the friends to join based on the individual initiative. The anchor person then explains in some details about the neighborhood and asks/guides the friends to form organic teams (2-3 never two males) right there. Teams should be formed based on: diversity, commitment to that neighborhood (at least throughout the expansion phase), language skills (Spanish, etc.).

q The anchor person then goes through the contents of the folder explaining in details about everything, in particular about the maps and how to capture the data and its significance to the success of the teaching campaign.

q Very important -- the anchor person makes it clear that upon return the teams need to keep a copy of the data for themselves and write/copy another one for the anchor person for the follow-up purposes.

q Due to the size of the groups and the collective teaching it is a good idea for the anchor person to designate a spot for the teams to meet together at the neighborhood once more before going out to teach. (not too much time should be spend there this is only to make sure about everything and do one final check before dispersing).

Final reminder—“Above all, the friends need to remain ever conscious of the magnitude of the spiritual forces that are at their disposition.” We are not out there alone.

q A return time for reflection is set (very important) usually the 2-2.5 hours in the field is the average

q The entire room prays together

q The Army of light leaves to conquer the countries through the love of God

q The teams meet at the designated spot and pray once more and then divide and go on to teach.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reaching seekers in rural areas is systematic in the NE

Finding Baha'is who can provide accompaniment in clusters where there are few or no Bahá'ís is a challenge to say the least. Here is a follow up story about a Syracuse Area NY (*C) cluster seeker who preferred to study alone while staying in touch by email and phone with the Regional Seeker Response Specialists, because the seeker lives in a remote area. Seekers will call 1-800-22UNITE from those areas and need support too.

She remained in weekly (sometimes daily) email and phone contact with the Regional Specialist and recently declared her Faith in Baha'u'llah. Since then she has continued her personal study, but because the nearest Baha'i community is 30 miles away through the mountains she has not yet attended any events. An Auxiliary Board member remains in touch with her providing encouragement and tutoring as we work together to mobilize Baha'is who will make home visits when she is ready to receive them. This reminds us that new Baha'is who are shy and are isolated need very special accompaniment to sustain them as they learn and grow in their new Faith.

~NE Regional Seeker Response Specialist

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Friendship and the Plan inspires a re-declaration

This story was sent to us from a believer in a *C-stage cluster. It is a touching story about friendship, patience and love. Many of us may relate to this story—friends who walk with us on our spiritual journey and in the path of service.

About seven years ago, my friend withdrew from the Faith. She was experiencing difficulties in her life; I had only met her a few years before then. She was active in the Faith and often brought friends to the Bahá’í Center.

For most of the years that she was apart from the Faith, my friend attended a church with another friend, but did not feel fulfilled in this path. Two years ago, my friend and I started saying prayers together over the phone several times a week, and I invited her to attend a Book 1 study circle that was starting in our home. Another of the attendees was coming from my friend’s town and was willing to give her a ride. This support worked for her until she was two-thirds through the book, when the person giving her a ride stopped coming. This didn’t stop us. We are finishing the course, one-on-one. My friend re-declared this summer!

Being a Bahá’í again seems to make a huge difference in my friend’s life. She is participating in Feasts and Holy Days; she recently joined a Book 2. She loves to teach the Faith too. When she feels herself beginning to experience difficulties, she phones me and we read the Writings and consult together about how to face the challenges in life.

I think one of the important things I've learned more deeply, is that ALL people long to reconnect with their Lord, and having smaller groups in which to study and pray can really help, especially those who are experiencing difficulties in the larger community. Building community on the smaller scale can strengthen our connection to our Lord and help us to deal better with the challenges.

Story shared by Patty

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ann Arbor MI grow their children’s classes with outward-looking orientation

In this story, Ann Arbor, MI a new A, shares how neighborhood classes spread gradually in their cluster. Beginning with children of Bahá'ís, classes now have grown to include neighborhood children not from Bahá'í families, and then eventually to into classes formed within their own neighborhoods. The cluster also shares their experiences related to classes held at the Bahá'í Center.

Classes, classes, everywhere there are classes.

The parents in our cluster have embraced hosting neighborhood children’s classes. The first neighborhood children’s classes started a little less than two years ago. One Bahá'í couple, whose children are grown and out of the house, asked some relatives of theirs, who have children, if they could start a virtues class at their home on Thursday evenings. The host family, of whom the husband is a Bahá'í, and his wife is not, agreed. Initially, a few Bahá'í parents brought their children to join the class. The class began to grow, and neighborhood children were invited. Eventually, the class grew so large that a few of the Bahá'ís from other parts of the cluster, and whose children were also attending the class, decided to host their own neighborhood classes. These families decided to host classes on different days of the week, and regularly invite their children’s non-Bahá'í friends to attend them.

Another factor in the spread of our cluster’s classes is the new Bahá'í Center in Ypsilanti Township. Although the Sunday children’s classes at the center, with few attendees from the community of interest, vary weekly from robust size to only a few participants, the continuity of these activities helps the community to maintain a focus on the importance of Bahá'í identity and fellowship. These classes are regularly attended by Bahá'í families from both within the cluster and surrounding municipalities outside the cluster. Occasionally, there are friends from the community of interest who will visit the Center. The Bahá'í Center classes, however, present challenges in the allocation of cluster members’ resources and time, and make the transition towards an outward orientation more of a struggle. Those Bahá'ís who have begun to focus on community classes, rather than attending those at the Bahá'í Center, are conflicted, because as much as they love what the Center represents, obedience to the Five Year Plan suggests that outward orientation in one’s neighborhood is the key to having ones actions more closely in alignment with the guidance of the Universal House of Justice. In short, Bahá'í families in our cluster are sacrificing familiarity and comfort for the fulfillment of the Five Year Plan.

Michigan 17’s neighborhood children’s class

Sunday, February 10, 2008

FOUR more declare in Seattle Cluster!

The excitement is high as updates come from the friends in the Seattle Area Cluster (A) about their success in the teaching work! Just a few lines from 2 believers say it all . . .

E: FOUR more declarations in Seattle this morning!!
me: fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
E: :) a whole family!Mom, and three kids (14, 15 &18)
me: Awesome!
E: Already they are eager to start Ruhi 1 (they declared at the morning devotions at the Ethiopian restaurant in South Seattle owned by a Bahá’í family). And an animator has already agreed to start a junior youth group for the 14 year
me. Ok, gotta run. They will be at tonight's musical devotions, too! Yay!!!

DAY 2: Braving 0 degree temperature, the Open Door Campaign advances!

Brrrrr. Can you believe that on a frigid day with a zero-degree temperature (and even below zero wind chill!) that the newly-formed Evanston (IL-17) A-stage teaching team, in its 2nd day of its intensive program of growth, braved the cold and went door-to-door to share the message of Bahaullah? Read on about this amazing story and the countless victories . . . where’s my coat?!!!!

Barely twelve hours after the cluster reflection gathering ended, a group of ten friends, including a young child and a couple of junior youth, committed to teaching in the Open Doors Campaign (door-to-door) reconvened in NW Evanston, dressed to take on the Illinois winter. We were blessed with the Charepoos and visiting friends from Wilmette, including an NSA member, all of whom were truly loving and encouraging! The morning began with a discussion on how direct teaching could happen at the door step, and the Charepoos shared some of the learnings and experiences they have had from Colorado Springs and Seattle. Quotations on the power of divine assistance, finding and teaching receptive souls, and the importance of being systematic in the project were provided, and read aloud in the gathering. We were assured that "whensoever holy souls, drawing on the powers of heaven, shall arise with such qualities of the spirit and march in unison, rank on rank, every one of those souls will be even as one thousand, and the surging waves of that mighty ocean will be even as the battalions of the Concourse on High". That we only had three teaching teams, drawn from ten friends, mattered little that day - in the streets, we would be ten thousand in spirit, assisted by the Concourse on High!


Around 11am, the group paused mid-meeting to assess their comfort levels with going out to teach. We discovered that every single person in the room, child, youth, adult, were just raring to go. We had enough of the warm and hospitable living room - it was time to make new friends out in that freezing arena of teaching. In fifteen minutes, the map of the target neighborhood was divided into sectors and teams were formed to reflect the diversity of age, ethnicity and gender in the room. Just to give you an idea of the beautiful team formations . . .

  • Team ORANGE was a Persian man, a white American woman,
    a Malaysian father and his 3 year old child.

  • Team PURPLE was an
    African-American man and a Japanese-American woman, and

  • Team PINK
    consisted of two junior youth, a father of one of the junior youth, and a
    Malaysian woman

  • Each team had at least one person from the IL-17 cluster, to ensure ease and convenience to schedule follow-up visits later, and to nurture the new friends we would make.


Equipped with a plastic box with a handle, to weather the elements (we realized in December that paper bags disintegrate in snow storms!), filled with teaching materials such as prayer books, several pamphlets on the Baha'i Faith, event fliers for devotions and children's classes in the cluster, prayer cards, tracking cards, and a flipchart of a direct presentation on the Faith (based on Book 6's Anna's presentation). Both pens and pencils were provided, as earlier learnings found that below a certain temperature, ballpoint pens were rendered ineffective out in the field! The tracking cards were narrow pieces of card stock which fit neatly in the palm, for the team member to record the date/time, team name, address, level of receptivity (1 to 5) of resident, name and contact info, what their specific interests were (core activities), which materials were given and miscellaneous notes. A card was also provided to record homes at which no one was home, or no soliciting/trespassing preferences were indicated.


By noon, the teams were out the door, driving to their target sectors, which were but a few minutes away by car. The streets were icy, the pavement often treacherous. We were if not walking, then sliding purposefully down the driveways to offer the message of Baha'u'llah! The junior youth showed remarkable courage as they braved the freezing winds to record data, to knock on doors, introducing themselves and asking in a beautiful dignified manner if the residents would want to hear about the Baha'i Faith. The little three year old out in the field was a fearless example to the team she was in, as she hastened forward towards each door, eager to meet who lay behind it! One of the junior youth even had an opportunity to offer the Faith in Spanish. There were quite a number of homes whose doors remained unanswered, but oh, the ones that did get opened!


The teams had a number of people ask them to come back later in the day or week to share about the Faith. Those that were not interested were polite and courteous to the Baha'is and even asked us to stay warm as they closed the doors. Part of the nature of this receptive neighborhood was quite obviously their sense of community and love for others. When one team encountered a sick woman, a healing prayer was shared with her when she invited them in although she was not yet ready to hear more about the Faith.

Another team encountered a man from Belize who was visiting his sister in the neighborhood. He invited the team in, as the little child in the team needed to use a restroom. The man then told the team that anyone willing to be out in this weather was definitely worth listening to, and so the friends launched into the direct presentation of the Faith. The more the shared about Baha'u'llah, the man became more interested. A prayer was shared and the friends left information on children's classes in the area (as the home was also a daycare center). The man told the team before they left that his sister should hear about the Faith, and that she became Baha'i, he would too. Bolstered by the hope of this self-widening circle of interest, the team left happily, promising to visit again soon.

The same team encountered a number of Hispanic friends and realized they would need to return with a Spanish speaking Baha'i, as the level of hospitality and receptivity was definitely high. At one home, the cleaning lady who answered the door assured the team the lady who lived there would be interested and invited them in to meet her. The lady who was the resident knew the Baha'is and wished to hear Anna's presentation but had to leave for work. She was assured that the Baha'is would revisit and share the Faith with her. When one of the teaching team members left their eyeglasses in her home by accident, the wonderful soul who had wanted to hear more came running down the street, even in the ice, to return them to her!

After returning to the base in mid afternoon, to restock their materials, grab some lunch and share their stories, the teams went back out. Some were re-formed, as another Baha'i had joined and others had had to leave. The newly formed team had incredible success within their first hour out. One door they knocked at turned out to be a man that had been long searching for the truth, he had heard about the Baha'i Faith and even pronounced Baha'u'llah's name on his own accord. He had questions about resolving the concept of the Trinity, wondered why innocents suffered in this world and did God really _need_ us to worship Him? Although he had at first told the team he was busy cleaning house, he prolonged the spiritual conversation they had and the team offered a prayer book and a pamphlet on the Baha'is before leaving. The resident asked them to return the following Saturday as he was interested in continuing their conversation.

The team had no inkling of what Baha'u'llah had planned next for them, they had been beseeching Him for her receptive soul as they knocked on each door and rang each bell. They repeated the prayer for God to "open the door, to prepare the means, to make safe the path" - a path that evening that was so treacherously icy!

The final home this team went to was initially one they thought was empty as it was not lit in the sunset hour. But they noticed a man in the shadowy inner porch and knocked on the door. As they introduced themselves, the man seemed especially welcoming and invited to come on in, into a hallway that was filled with construction material and furniture. There in that smoky hallway, the team told this man, from the Bahamas, about Baha'u'llah and His Message. They asked if it was possible to present a 20 minute presentation using the flipchart. The man acquiesced, and the team members took turns to talk about God, the Unknowable Essence, the Manifestations, the Covenant, Baha'u'llah's life and the Báb, even the laws of the Faith. The man seemed deeply intuitive about spiritual matters. When told about the Báb, he instantly mentioned how similar this was to the role of John the Baptist in Christ's Revelation. He was a plasterer who often came to Evanston for work, and drove by the House of Worship a number of times admiring the intricate concrete architecture. Imagine then the surprise of the team, when they discovered he didn't even live in that house, but was doing a job there, but lived elsewhere. The man felt that it was divine inspiration that led the team to him, and he wanted to participate in Baha'i gatherings and know more about the Faith. The team gave him an event flier, exchanged contact information and gave him a declaration card explaining that he could sign it when he was ready to declare his Faith. This beautiful receptive soul thanked the team, and said he would give due thought to the matter and wanted to investigate the Faith further.

By 5:30 in the evening, the teams had converged upon the base, each one, radiant with love, wreathed in smiles, excitedly sharing their positive experiences. After debriefing, they decided to attend a community feast at the National Baha'i Center to share with others their news. At the Feast, it was discovered that there was a Baha'i family living in the target neighborhood, who offered their home as a base as the teaching work continued there! Timely indeed, as the campaign was in need of exactly that - such providence was definitely of the divine nature! As Feast was going on, a group of young adults had held a musical devotional in the Baha'i Home at Wilmette. As the week unfolds, similar devotions will continue being held every evening throughout the cluster, to "attract the hearts of all men"! All those who participated in the Open Doors Campaign couldn't wait to be back on Sunday, to continue to partake of that "sweetness of the teaching experience" which as our beloved International Teaching Center promised us, had sustained their enthusiasm.

Story shared by the IL-17 Cluster Institute Coordinator

Saturday, February 9, 2008

DAY 1: Bearing our hopes (and fears), we launched! And what a launch!

The excitement is raising in Zikrullah Khadem Cluster (Evanston IL) the newest A-stage cluster in the Central Region. The reflection meeting was packed full of friends eager to hear the news, and to jump into action. The following story was shared by the Cluster Institute Coordinator. Enjoy!

This is our first daily narrative from the IPG!

It was less than six months ago, when the Zikrullah Khadem cluster, galvanized by visits from Counsellor Walker and Counsellor Birkland, and loving assurances from their Auxiliary Board Members started laying the groundwork for their FIRST Intensive Program of Growth. The cluster core team held a number of active refreshers - one day teaching projects that gave the friends opportunities to participate in collective teaching efforts in the neighbourhood, the Northwestern campus, the library, even at the mall! The focus of these refreshers was to learn how direct teaching could be practiced in any situation, that the presentation of the Faith from Book 6 (Anna's presentation) could be utilized in any interaction.

The fruits of these one-day endeavors aided the Cluster Core Team to outline the plans for the IPG. An IPG, ambitious even in its first attempt, to provide a teaching avenue for each and every believer in the cluster. Campaigns of various flavours were conceived and shared with the friends in the week leading up to the launch of the IPG. A Cluster Reflection Meeting was to be held on DAY 1 of the IPG, where the friends would pledge their plans and make commitments to each of these campaigns.

On the evening of February 8th, friends from all across the cluster converged upon the reflection gathering, bearing not only their hopes (and fears) for the next 9 days of the IPG, but also dishes, sweet and savoury for their potluck dinner. A dinner that tasted all the more delicious for the teaching stories that the friends shared over their meals! Devotions were then led off with the beautiful voices of several handmaids of His Cause, inspiring the friends to join in song and spirit.

The theme of the Cluster Reflection Gathering was "Soaring Higher"; and we found out just how high we could soar when one of our beloved Auxiliary Board Members announced that IL-17 had, that very week, been designated an A-Cluster by the Regional Council of the Central States! Just as we were recovering from the joy and the realisation of how we really had to step it up a notch to maintain a level of activity consistent with the nature of the A-Cluster, the plans of the IPG were presented. The response and enthusiasm to the plans of the teaching campaign was amazing. The five lines of action designated for IL-17's first IPG cycle are:

  • FAMILY CAMPAIGN: Families with children would share the Faith in child-friendly locations such as the library or play areas, inviting their friends to the Evanston/Skokie children's classes.

  • NORTHWESTERN CAMPUS CAMPAIGN: Sharing the Faith with Northwestern University students, with the support of the Northwestern Baha'i Campus Club! A series of activities are being planned on campus including an open mic in the vein of Crimson Spot, Cafe Ruhi (a casual coffee-house atmosphere for spiritual conversation based on Ruhi Book 1 themes, inspired by a similar event in Atlanta GA) and firesides.

  • PRAYER CAMPAIGN: Offering ardent daily prayers for receptive souls in the cluster and for Baha'i teachers to arise courageously to directly teach the Faith, holding devotionals every other day of the IPG.

  • OUTREACH CAMPAIGN: Reaching out to our friends, families, co-workers and neighbours and offering the healing message of Baha'u'llah to them, inviting them to core activities in our home or in the neighborhood.

  • OPEN-DOORS CAMPAIGN: Sharing the Faith in a receptive neighborhood in Evanston, teaching door-to-door.

The friends got together in groups to discuss, finalize and make commitments to each of these campaigns. The Open-Doors campaign had the bounty and benefit of the Charepoos from Colorado, who had participated in the very successful expansion phases of the IPGs in Seattle and Colorado Springs and witnessed the recent Phoenix AZ IPG phenomenon. Their loving encouragement to the friends of this campaign, their invaluable experience and sharing of key learnings from similar campaigns, particular as related to direct teaching and its effectiveness were shared.

At the end of the evening, there was a raffle giving away three "flipcharts" of Anna's Presentation in Book 6, used to great success in Malaysia. Each friend also received a beautiful card bearing the Central States prayer for teaching, and a folder full of resources to help them along in the next 9 days of the Intensive Program of Growth. Some of the fruits of the reflection gathering included:

  1. Commitment to devotionals held throughout the cluster for every day in the expansion phase!

  2. Family firesides, a family bowling night (to teach at the Bowling Alley!) and a Baha'i-inspired children's book event at the library

  3. Plans to invite neighbours to the believers' homes and share prayers together, in Park Ridge, Skokie, Morton Grove and Evanston!

  4. Commitment of students and young adults in Evanston to hold portal events to invite their friends and widen their community of interest, midterms notwithstanding!

The reflection gathering came to a close with beautiful and inspiring devotional music, prepared by a Northwestern Baha'i student.

The delicious food, stirring music, the anticipated joy of teaching, the celebration of our shiny A-cluster status, the wonderful fellowship and love amongst the friends - it was truly a gathering of the beloved of Baha'u'llah, and what better way to consecrate the cluster's plans of this first intensive program of growth, the first of many, which will aid us to fulfill the dear wish of our beloved Universal House of Justice, for "the day when teaching is the dominating passion in the life of every believer".

Story shared by the IL-17 Cluster Institute Coordinator

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Intensive teaching targeted on . . . an entire town?!

What happens when an A-cluster focuses its expansion phase on an entire town? The Baha’is in Benton County, OR (A) found out. Over the past 9 days, about 40 dedicated souls (30 of whom reside in the cluster) knocked on just about every door in Philomath (population 4530), offering to share the message of the Faith. Teams were well-prepared in every way – trained to offer Anna’s Presentation, unified in their goal of finding receptive souls and teaching them, carrying bilingual prayer books, and wearing Gore-Tex. Yes, we had rain, snow, sleet, and hail (as well as a few sunny moments) but just like those who deliver the mail, we forged ahead to deliver the Word. And when our last day rolled around, we knew to stop a little early on account of the Super Bowl -- though we know the Faith is “So Much Better than TV” (our unofficial slogan). So we spent that afternoon talking about consolidation.

A few stories from the week…

One team met a woman with 2 school age children who was immediately receptive and invited the team in to her warm and dry home, offering them tea. For the next hour and a half the team shared the entirety of Anna’s presentation and she was invited to join the community. That evening she brought her children to the devotional gathering and said that it was the most spiritual gathering she had ever attended. She plans to attend more devotional gatherings.

A follow up visit was made to a Spanish-speaking man, his wife and daughter. Over the course of an hour, one team member taught him the Faith using the first few sections of Anna’s Presentation, while the other member spoke with his family. The man came to the evening devotional – a bilingual meeting, filled with spirit and beauty, as well as a direct presentation of the Faith with an invitation to join the community. He came with the prayer book the team gave him, and recited a prayer from it. His five year old daughter has 2 friends in the same apartments who attend one of our neighborhood children’s classes, and who also both came to that evening program. We will invite the daughter to the children’s class.

And some learning from the week…

When teaching door-to-door, that moment when the door opens is crucial. What worked here was to introduce the team by name, identify ourselves as part of the Bahá’í community, and be immediately clear and direct about the purpose of the visit: to share that the Bahá’í Faith is a world religion whose aim is to unite all the peoples of the world into one universal cause and one common faith, and this is a Faith for the needs of today. This let the people know whether they really wanted to know more – or not. Giving just a little more in that first sentence avoided the overly hasty visit, gave the person time to consider the choice of hearing more, and allowed a few moments for a personal connection to be made with that soul.

Although we had no declarations, we experienced in action the words of the International Teaching Centre: “…when the believers taste the sweetness of the teaching experience, it sustains their enthusiasm.” One teacher was a relatively new Bahá’í and university freshman, who was initially able to commit the weekends and part of the weekdays – but the direct, collective door-to-door teaching was so uplifting that more than once by the time we finished our morning devotions, she changed her plans in order to stay for the whole day. And she wasn’t the only one.

Everyone can help with teaching. We had teams made up of all ages – children, junior youth, youth, and adults. The college and high school youth were at the forefront – happy, glowing, beaming, and warming everyone up like hot chocolate – ready to teach the Cause, and many unwilling to miss a single day.

In all we reached 780 people, and about 15% had some level of interest. The teams found the people very polite, and many expressed admiration at our devotion and willingness to brave the weather in order to spread such a positive message.

There will be lots to do in the next 3 months as we “consolidate interest,” by following up with over 70 people who wanted to know more. We will start a Book 1 study circle with some new seekers before the end of the month, and we expect more new friends at neighborhood devotional gatherings and children’s classes.

The Area Teaching Committee

Declaraing "just seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do"

Below is a short story related by an Auxiliary Board member from the Rockford, IL (*C) cluster about a new Baha'i who was helped to enter the Faith through loving friendship and concrete acts of service.

The new enrollment is our neighbor who my wife has been visiting weekly over the past several months. This neighbor is mostly home bound due to a chronic physical condition. She had attended a devotional in our home on one occasion and is also friends with another Baha'i who's son attends school with her son. My wife made a commitment to developing a friendship with this woman and to share prayers and discussion of spiritual topics and discussion of the basic teachings of the Faith with her.

These weekly visits eventually resulted in her increasingly identifying with the Faith to the point where she began to consider her self a Baha'i. At that point she was offered an enrollment card and told about the enrollment process. One evening when we were both visiting her and her son, she gave us her completed enrollment card and stated "This just seems like the most natural thing in the world to do". She was welcomed to our community at the last Feast and my wife continues to visit her regularly to share deepening themes and tutor her in Ruhi Book 1.

This enrollment is an example of what can happen when we arise to carry out acts of service in response to training and reach out to our friends and neighbors with an eye to sharing the Faith with them while strengthening the bonds of love. I shared these observations with those gathered at Feast and, far from being embarrassed, this new Bahá'í glowed with pride.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Junior Youth Pics from Durham!

Pictures speak a thousand words. Here are some from the Raleigh-Durham NC (A) cluster. Keep those pictures comin'!

Hey there!
I came across your all's site and I really enjoyed reading such inspirational stories! I actually found an article with pictures of myself serving in Savannah this summer and I thought the site could use some more stories about Junior Youth. We have been working with many friends in the Triangle here in NC to bolster our efforts with Junior Youth Groups, and we have taken lots of pictures. I have posted many of them on a public website to share. You are free to take whatever pictures you like...Please let me know if you would like more information about what the sets of pictures are of...that is, the story behind them.

Take care


44 New believers in 1st two days of IPG - East Valley, AZ

Let's see - another 10-12 days left in the expansion phase . . . increased excitement, enthusiasm, and confidence. . . This cluster is clearly on track for a rewarding first IPG! We look forward to sharing more details as they emerge.

Dear All,

Today, at the end of the 2nd day of the intensive expansion phase of the1st IPG cycle in East Valley Cluster, AZ07, there are 44 new believers (30 declarations and 14 children registrations!). A few of these came in while the core team was going around exploring which neighborhoods were most receptive for focus during the 2 weeks intensive expansion phase!

"Yes, we have been a little too quiet."

Below is a story shared by the Area Teaching Committee of the Howard County-Laurel, MD cluster at the close of its recent expansion phase. The sentiment expressed by the seeker in the story - Where have you Baha'is been all this time? - is one that Baha'is are hearing more and more frequently across the country.

We started the weekend off by meeting with the niece of someone we met during door to door. The woman we met had said "I am not interested in converting at this time, but I do have a niece that is searching..." Well, after a few weeks of phone tag we finally arranged for a date to meet at a coffee shop. She was there with a friend who stayed to listen to all of Anna's Presentation. They both loved the presentation and joked that we had listened to their conversation ahead of time to know just what to say. The niece expressed her desire join a community that didn't judge others or think they are the only "right way." She was very excited about investigating the Baha'i Faith and just started studying Book 1 with us this morning!

At the end of our class she said to us "How come I haven't heard of the Baha'i Faith before? I mean, if you wouldn't have come to my Aunt's door, and my aunt wouldn't have been home, invited you in, listened to your presentation and thought of me, I probably would not have heard of the Baha'i Faith!" Our response: Yes, we have been a little too quiet! Friends, seekers are out there, and if we pray to be guided to find them we will; whether it be from door to door, a coworker at work, family, or friends. . .

Friends, this was a very successful expansion phase. Now we have entered the consolidation phase, where we will focus on consolidating those contacts we have. By consolidation we mean, home visits, firesides, study circles, children's classes, and most importantly, showing them the love of Baha'u'llah in anyway possible. . .

With much love,

~ on behalf of the Area Teaching Committee