Monday, April 28, 2008

The power of prayer

Here is a moving story from one of the friends in an A cluster in the southern region, during a collective teaching project. This account of a couple’s declaration is a testament to the power of prayer, patience and confidence:

As my teaching team partner and I were walking around the complex we kept running into a man who was very friendly. Then we saw him in his house and my heart guided me to say “Hi” since his door was wide open. So we then introduced ourselves and very enthusiastically, but respectfully, said to the man and his wife: “We are here to share a beautiful message with you on unity and love and I would be most happy to give you this wonderful presentation.”

They welcomed us into their home. The couple sat in their living room while I started the presentation. While I spoke, my teaching partner silently recited the Tablet of Ahmad. This is an important learning for me. Prayer is the essential component because it helps one find receptive souls and be in tune with them when teaching.

During the presentation, the husband said, “I love this because Bahá’u’lláh championed the cause of justice, helped the poor, and the goal is unity.” With the help of the Concourse on High and my teaching partner’s prayers, I gave the rest of the presentation. I then invited both of them into the Faith—and then invited them again. I showed them the enrolment card and explained that joining the Faith is a simple process. “If you feel that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God, you are a Bahá’í.”

We welcomed them into the Faith as they both signed their enrolment cards. We presented them with a copy of a prayer and invited them to join a Ruhi 1 study circle. Before we left, at the couple’s suggestion, we shared a prayer together.

Action in the neighborhood

Here is a report from the Area Teaching Committee in the San Diego, CA (A) cluster at the conclusion of the last expansion phase of its intensive program of growth. The fruits of working at the neighborhood level are readily apparent:

Cherished fellow spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers:

At sunset last night on the final day of our expansion phase we have 57 new lovers of Bahá’u’lláh, approximately half of which are youth and adult declarations.

We also had one of our new believers come door-to-door teaching with the person who had introduced the Faith to them; this individual then gave Anna’s presentation to their neighbors!

We had so many new believers thank us for coming to their door to visit them, and who told us, "God sent you to me". Many others were moved to tears when reading the words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.

These are our precious new Bahá’í family members. On one street alone—in only one block—there are five new Bahá’í homes. In the next street over, there are an additional four homes. This will make it easier to systematically set up children's classes, junior youth groups and study circles, to which the neighbors will only need to walk a few doors down to attend.

We also want to acknowledge the powerful effect of the prayer chain, which brought a level of unity and intensity to the sacredness of these last 16 days.



Your Area Teaching Committee

"Not a single angry response"

The friends in the Emerald Coast (Pensacola), FL (B) cluster were hard at work in their collective teaching project last month. The numbers are exciting: 81 homes visited, 19 children signed up to participate in children’s classes, 5 junior youth to join a junior youth group, and 2 enrolments. This effort also generated much valuable learning. Here are the notes from the friends’ report:

People generally showed more interest to learn about the Faith after first hearing about children’s classes.

Discussions with the residents, and their reactions were always pleasant—not a single angry or rude response from anyone, including those who expressed no interest in learning about the Faith.

Notes of each home were carefully recorded to ensure well-coordinated follow-ups.

Prayers were vital for the success of the program.

Training in Anna’s presentation helped prepare the friends to be more effective and assertive teachers.

The teaching teams need to meet early enough in the mornings to provide sufficient time to pray and then reach the neighborhoods by 10 am.

Afternoons can be used for devotional and consolidation gatherings.

"Many heart to heart connections" in Virginia

Even in a Bahá’í community with not very many believers, never underestimate what a small, committed group of the friends can do when they come together for focused action based on the guidance. Here is a report of a teaching campaign from one of the friends in the Southside (C) cluster in Virginia:

Alláh'u'Abhá all!

The Southside has just finished a three-week expansion phase and are beginning a consolidation phase in the Southside cluster's teaching campaign. The friends were guided to focus on a single, receptive neighborhood these past three weekends. They were able to make many new contacts, and found many receptive souls who were interested in hearing a presentation on the Faith. Anna’s presentation was given at least a dozen times, twice to groups of eight or more neighbors who were approached while they were socializing on their front porches.

Many heart to heart connections were made with these neighbors and those who listened were touched that the Bahá’ís came to their community to share the message. The most exciting news is that two people declared just this weekend! The results are even more amazing because for these six days, there were between only two and six of the friends teaching in the neighborhood at any one time. Important lessons were learned such as trusting in God to guide us to receptive individuals and groups, and in following up with souls who have shown interest. The Southside will be focusing on following up with the new contacts and holding home visits, Ruhi study circles and children’s classes during the consolidation phase. Please pray for their continued success and for the nurturing of the faith of the new community members.


Lessons from Palm Beach

It has been a few months since Palm Beach, FL (A) launched its intensive program of growth. As of April 5, 2008, there were 41 new enrolments following a collective door-to-door teaching project. What is particularly exciting are the insights that have been gained as the friends have reflected on their experiences so far. These include:

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.

Diversity key in Miami-Dade

Here is a report from the Miami-Dade, FL (A) cluster, where among the insights they have gained are the value of being able to match human resources with the communities being visited.

Teaching efforts since December 2007 have generated 24 new declarations, 11 of which were the result of a two-weekend door-to-door, direct, collective teaching project, using Anna’s presentation from Ruhi Book 6. Some of the teachers spoke Spanish, French and Creole, a vital asset for teaching in the ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. The results are as follows:

36 teachers participated.

950 doors were knocked upon.

170 people were presented with the message.

79 people expressed an interest in follow-up visits.

11 people declared (5 adults and 6 children).

Lessons learned:

Training for the use of Anna’s presentation in direct teaching activities helps participants teach more effectively and confidently.

Teaching teams should include individuals who speak the language(s) of the people in the communities visited.

Diversity in teaching teams provides an optimum mix of skills and insights.

It is good to have available copies of Anna’s presentation in Spanish and other languages.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"The Word has such transformative effect!"

Received April 26, 3:01 pm

Teaching is a joy. It is about lovingly and humbly offering the Message. It is about connecting hearts to their Beloved. And one of the main motivations is our love for humanity. In this account from Northern Nevada (A), you can feel the love and joy permeating that cluster’s intensive teaching effort.

Dearest Friends,

Happy Ridvan!

May our hearts be turned to the Blessed Beauty on this Holy Day.

Instead of the teaching ending on Sunday, the core team has extended the teaching of the expansion phase into the coming week and weekend of April 26 and 27. The teachers who have visited neighborhoods are feeling more and more empowered and confident to give Anna's presentation. Today a team met a family who welcomed them into their home:

We offered them the presentation which they wanted to hear. Our presenter began using the flipchart at the door, but soon the team of two was welcomed into the home by the family. The children in the home were quick to respond with a warm smile which revealed the kindnesses of the parents. The mother read the quotes and the teacher saw tears begin to well up in the reader's eyes. The Word has such a transformative effect! The entire presentation was given with positive response and a promise to return was given.

"We have never heard of this before," is what the teachers often hear from the people they visit. "Where is your church?" is another question people sometimes ask. "Ah,” we say with happiness, "We are having church right here with you now, sharing heart-to-heart the Word of God with you!"

As we went to meet a new Bahá’í family, we met neighbors along the way and some called out a friendly, "Buenos tardes!" It is hard not to beam knowing that we will be meeting more and more of these friends and having the bounty of telling them about Bahá’u’lláh.

Your daily prayers for the teaching in the cluster are so appreciated and help us greatly. Please do keep the prayers coming, dear Friends!

Junior youth a portal in Whatcom-Skagit

Received April 26, 10:54 am

Another update from the intensive program of growth in Whatcom-Skagit Counties, WA (A). One exciting item relates to junior youth groups, which are the “fourth core activity”. Junior youth groups are still a relatively new concept in many parts of the country, but the friends are learning more about their formation and nurturing—and experiencing that these are an effective portal to growth.

Day 5 saw a wonderful success with the formation of a new junior youth group! A Bahá'í family had moved into a small town as pioneers. They had never been the only Bahá’ís in a town before and were not sure how best to start activities. Since they have a junior youth-aged daughter, they thought that a junior youth group would be easiest to start. This first intensive program of growth seemed to be a great time to begin. The family made plans for how the group would best function in their home and then started inviting friends of their daughter to come. Three friends attended the first meeting. Everyone had a good time and plans were made to meet again the following week, at which more friends would be able to attend. Everything is off to a great start.

It seems the farther into the campaign we get, the more we feel the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh guiding us. Here are some incredible experiences that took place on Day 7:

One team of three went to 22 homes during a door-to-door teaching effort. Though many people weren't home, they were not only able to find some willing listeners, but those receptive souls that we are told are waiting. Several families who did not have time to meet when the team came to their home requested return visits when they would be available.

At one home, fervent prayers were shared, and the family expressed particular interest in learning more about one of the teachings (consultation); the Bahá’ís offered to come back and share more extensively about this topic.


Friday, April 25, 2008

The power of youth

More stories from the intensive program of growth occurring in Whatcom-Skagit Counties, WA (A). As before, these reports show the power of the younger generation in teaching the Cause, and the openness of the responses they are receiving.

One team of junior youth set a goal of establishing a junior youth group based on character development, service and fun. With the support of adults to drive and accompany them, three teams were formed and set out to find at least five members for the club. Twenty homes were visited, with people at fourteen of them interested in talking with the teams. The response was quite positive, with most parents thinking that the group is a good idea and planning to discuss with their children about participating. When the time arrived for the junior youth meeting, four young people came with the Bahá’ís. There are a few more junior youth who plan to come to the next meetings.

The guiding lights in our young people continued to shine as one of the team members contacted a family that had previously been introduced to the Faith, to see if they would like to participate in a Book 1 study circle. They were eager to do so, inviting the team member to come over right away. The whole family, including the parents and two teenagers, are all set to start the book, with two young people as the tutors.

And further news: A team of two carried out a home visit, sharing what they felt was a very awkward Anna's Presentation. Their friend, however, thought it was a wonderful message and declared her belief in Bahá'u'lláh on the spot! She went even further, calling the team later to ask for a Book 1 study circle to start next week. She also arranged for her husband and two friends to join her.

Meet me at the pool

What a delight! In Thousand Oaks, CA (A), which has just completed the expansion phase of the first cycle of its intensive program of growth, witness the power of the younger generation. Here are two inspiring stories from a teaching team consisting of a junior youth, a youth and an adult. Anyone can teach, and teaching can occur anywhere . . . so see you at the pool!

A 14-year old boy opened the door and showed interest in the presentation. He listened attentively. N and A were excited! A short while later, this wonderful boy declared! The new believer wanted to be visited again when his parents would be home to sign his enrollment card. This second visit will provide an opportunity for the team to introduce the Faith to the boy’s parents.

An American gentleman opened his door. Surprised to see the team, he asked what they wanted. Hearing the explanation, he said, “I am leaving now. Could you meet me in ten minutes at the pool?” The team happily accepted to do so. Before ten minutes had passed, the team met another wonderful gentleman who listened for 45 minutes to the entire presentation, given mostly by the youth and junior youth. He kept the declaration card and agreed to be visited again. His wife, who had apparently been watching the team from upstairs, kindly sent four glasses of juice to the team and her husband, a wonderful sign of receptivity and generosity. After they left the home, the team went to the pool to meet the first man, but they were worried they would not find him because of the delay. But he was still there; they apologized for the delay and explained the reason. He warmly received the team, listened to the introduction, and then personally read each page of Anna’s presentation. He asked questions, gave some favorable comments, read the final prayer and then signed his declaration card at that blessed pool site!

It is so delightful to see how our Baha’i junior youth and youth can touch the hearts of their listeners simply by their sincerity, audacity and, above all, by this marvelous Anna’s presentation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Carefully planning, then . . . action!

Hartford-Tolland, CT (A) has recently launched its first cycle of intensive growth. In this story, note how the the friends are carefully reflecting, thoughtfully planning, making commitments, and then rolling up their sleeves and plunging into service.

Dearest Friends in the Hartford-Tolland cluster!

If you weren’t able to attend this historic meeting, please know that it was a great success! We had 44 attendants, including children, junior youth, youth, adults and one seeker. We also had two new Bahá’ís present. There was an atmosphere of celebration and excitement. Everyone was engaged and committed to teaching.

The teaching stories shared gave everyone a deeper understanding of the “sweetness of teaching” that comes from sharing the Message, either individually or as part of a collective teaching projects. Several people shared that their participation in a door-to-door teaching campaign and their very positive experiences with it—including one declaration—transformed their perceptions of this approach.

During the meeting, over 30 people committed to sharing the Faith with more than 80 of their contacts. Teams were formed to carry out direct teaching in neighborhoods and in parks. Several specific neighborhoods were identified in which to conduct door-to-door teaching. Each team is going out on their own and will report to the ATC secretary.

Thirteen people participated in an active refresher session to practice giving Anna’s presentation. This brings the number of adults, youth and junior youth who have participated in such refreshers over the last few months to more than 30; and these individuals been actively sharing this direct teaching presentation.

A couple days later, one adult and two youths visited a home. When the door opened, the person saw the name “The Bahá’í Faith” on the front page of the booklet and said, “Bahá’u’lláh.” This individual also recognized the photo of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The teaching team was surprised and asked how they knew of the Faith. This individual explained that they knew Bahá’ís in their home country over 20 years ago. She invited the team to come back on Friday.

Loving greetings,

Your Area Teaching Committee

"You really need to get this message out!"

Much joy from the Northwest! Here is a report from Whatcom and Skagit Counties, WA (A), which is nearing the end of the expansion phase of the first cycle of its intensive program of growth. The confidence of the believers, the enthusiasm of the children and youth to teach, and the receptivity of their neighbors are all reasons for rejoicing.

The launch of our first intensive program of growth took place on Saturday, the 19th of April, starting with a wonderful cluster meeting where we broke up into teaching teams that will span the length of the cluster. The teams devised their plans and by lunch time everyone was ready to get teaching.

We are now at the half-way point of the campaign and reports have come in showing the dedication and enthusiasm spreading up and down the length of the cluster. The first day saw a very positive start of the teaching campaign, with two teams reporting visits to homes on an Indian reservation. One of the team members had long-time associations there and connections were rekindled. While presenting the Faith to a two members of a family, another member, who was listening nearby, was visibly moved and enrolled right then in the Faith! Follow-up visits later in the evening reinforced the growing warmth and love with the family!

At the same time, a group of children and youth began a two-day service project visiting a neighborhood. At two homes, although they were not able to share Anna's Presentation, they were able to have long conversations about the Faith, and at another home offered healing prayers. An appointment was made to share the presentation with another couple later in the week. In all, the children's class team introduced the Faith to people in 35 homes, having shared prayers and information with some, made appointments to return to give presentations to others who so requested, and with the children and youth coming away with a strong sense of empowerment to tell who they were and what they believe.

The idea that this is an intensive teaching period is apparent throughout the cluster. Reports have come in sharing that the friends have brought family and friends to the children's classes on Sunday; individuals are breaking through their fears and concerns and contacting those family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to finally share with them in a loving and direct manner the healing Message of Bahá'u'lláh; communities are coming together for prayers (some on a daily basis). The spirit and energy are growing stronger and stronger every day! Though we may not yet be seeing large numbers of immediate enrolments, the responses to the presentations are positive (one man's response was "You really need to get this message out!"). The experience of teaching in this way has been described by one participant as an "exhilarating and lovely" experience.

No doubt more reports and stories will be coming in as the week progresses!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Something indeed is in the air!"

Here is a short report from a friend in Broward County, FL (A), who is describing some of his teaching efforts. Two messages are coming through loud and clear: first, the receptivity is there, and second, direct teaching using the skills gained in the institute process is proving effective. That something in the air is learning!

In our cluster, we have been using events such as firesides and other gatherings to support seeker interests and new believers as part of the community. I am hosting study circles and the choir. It seems that one or two people are declaring at every event. What is most remarkable is the level of interest and receptivity we are seeing when talking about the Faith. Something indeed is in the air!

Anna's presentation is great for direct teaching. Another Bahá’í and I visited the home of a seeker recently, and we went through the Anna's presentation with him. At the end we asked him if he wanted to be a Bahá’í. He immediately said yes. We were so surprised we asked him again, "What did you say?" And again he said, "Of course." Since then he has been through the deepening themes in Book 2 and he attends Feasts and firesides, and wants to bring friends to the study circle.

There is nothing like experiencing in person the power of direct teaching using the resources from Book 6 and Anna's Presentation!


Thousand Oaks: 38 - Scottsdale 32

A joyous update of two intensive programs of growth in the Southwest region. Both Thousand Oaks, CA (A) and Scottsdale, AZ (A) have finished the expansion phase of the first cycles of their intensive programs of growth. New believers have included both adults and children.

Thousand Oaks: 38 new believers
(31 adults and youth, 7 children and junior youth)

Scottsdale: 32 new believers
(24 adults and youth, 8 children and junior youth)

83 new enrollments in Phoenix--teaching stopped to consolidate

Immensely exciting news from Phoenix, AZ (A), which last week completed the expansion phase of their second intensive growth cycle. The response to the message was so overwhelming that the friends stopped the expansion phase early to begin consolidation work. The numbers are as follows:

Days of the expansion phase: 8

Declarations (adult and youth): 33

Registrations (children and junior youth): 50

Total new believers: 83

The bonds of friendship

A Bahai in a *C-stage cluster in the Southwestern Region shares some thoughts about how the bonds of friendship can assist in teaching the Faith. Two families, originally connected through their children, became friends. This eventually led to conversations about the Faith, and then to three declarations.

My most successful teaching experiences have been by making friends with the person first.

My sons kept bringing home a friend of theirs from school. The friend began spending the night with us and became like a part of our family. One day when two of his older brothers came to visit, he saw the Greatest Name and asked why we had “The Glory of God” on our wall. I looked at him and said, “You can read Arabic?” He said yes, that he spoke several languages. My husband and I explained the Faith to him until 3 o’clock in the morning. They went home and came back the next morning asking if we had declaration cards they could sign. They had stayed up all night discussing the Faith. Both brothers, and the wife of one of them, declared.

I might mention that both my husband and I are white and our son’s friend and his family are African-American. They were surprised at first that he had become close friends with a white family. This experience reinforces the importance of becoming friends. People become very curious about your philosophy and values and are more open to hearing about the Faith.

In His Service,


Sharing the learning in New York City

New York City’s (A) intensive program of growth has been moving from success to success. As of April 21, there have been 50 declarations in the latest expansion phase, up from 24 as shared in the story below! Just as exciting is the learning that has been generated from the experiences there. Here are some reflections from a Bahai there about some elements needed for a successful teaching campaign, including identifying receptive populations, teaching, consolidation, the role of the Area Teaching Committee, and what to do when your teaching partner says, "Yes, Baha'u'llah is from Bangladesh"!

How's everyone? You've all been in my thoughts lately as the teaching work has exploded here. You may have heard that we have had 24 enrollments in New York City over the first few days of our expansion phase.

Thrilling! I wrote up a few notes on the teaching work for an Area Teaching Committee based on my experiences here and in Dallas and thought I would share it in the hope that some of it may be useful. I've also attached some of our photos.

The stories have been unbelievably amazing. One team visited a home, and during the next follow-up visits the entire family declared. In another instance, a seeker recognized the Writings as the Word of God and declared—this individual wants to go on a teaching team with the person who introduced them to the Faith and share the message of Bahá’u’lláh with people in the neighborhood.

Receptive populations

Identifying a receptive population and neighborhood is essential to large-scale growth. Two factors have emerged from experience in the field that seem particularly helpful when identifying receptive populations and neighborhoods:

  • A sense of community. Does the neighborhood have common spaces and elements that promote community, such as sidewalks, playgrounds, shared courtyards, gardens, short driveways, trees, etc? Are people friendly? Are people out and about?
  • Suffering. Those that are in touch with the difficulties of life tend to be more open to new spiritual ideas.

You can help identify receptive neighborhoods by visiting a neighborhood and knocking on a few doors to share Anna's presentation. How did it go? Were people friendly? Did the people listen? Did they want to become Bahai?


Make an expansion goal based on your human resources, but be bold!

Every soul has the innate capacity to recognize the Manifestation of God. Trust and expect this.

Rely on prayer. Trust in Bahá’u’lláh.

Anna's Presentation appeals to the soul before the mind. It is the result of years of experience and we need to trust that it is effective and that it doesn't need a lot of additions. The two core concepts of the presentation are the Covenant and Bahá’u’lláh.

There are at least four venues for using Anna’s Presentation: door to door, firesides, with community of interest, and with friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers.

In a teaching team of two, one person prays, the other presents. The praying partner is incredibly important and should do all they can to allow the heart connection between the presenter and listener to develop, i.e. remain silent even if the presenter says, “Yes, Bahá’u’lláh is from Bangladesh!” (This actually happened.) Bahá’u’lláh will fix things and the important thing is the connection between souls.

Try not to leave literature behind. Instead, schedule a follow up visit. This may seem counter-intuitive but we are making real connections between hearts and pamphlets and booklets can become barriers. Leave prayer cards or small prayer books with new believers.

When you approach a person or home have your presentation in hand and open to the first page of the presentation. Simply ask if they have heard of the Faith. Whatever they answer you can just go right into the first page of the flip book.

Let the seeker read the quotes. The Creative Word works miracles.

Lower your threshold of what is required for an declaration. It only takes a moment for a soul to recognize Bahá’u’lláh. They have a lifetime to draw closer to Him.

Invite people to declare. For example: “It seems like you agree with these ideas and I’d like to invite you to join the Bahá’í community and work with us in creating unity and peace.” Have declarations cards, pens, paryer book.

Keep track of every door knocked on using the teaching team forms.

Note relevant details in the comment section: Did they have children? What interested them most? What was covered? Did they speak a language other than English?

In addition to knocking on doors of people who have not yet met the Bahá’ís, don’t forget to also visit seekers who are already participating in the core activities.

A typical day in the expansion phase

Morning: Pray, sing and be joyful!! Review Anna’s presentation, answer questions. Form teaching teams of two (ideally mix gender, ethnicity, age), plan where each team is going.

Afternoon: The teams go out and teach. People can be involved in many ways—they can pray, cook dinner, drive cars, etc.

Late afternoon/evening: Teams return to share learning and tell stories. Teams return forms and declaration cards to the Area Teaching Committee, which keeps track of everything.

Evening: Area Teaching Committee reviews data, organizes lists, and adjusts for the next day.


When a person declares they are given a small prayer book with the obligatory prayer so that they can begin saying it. They are not left with additional books or pamphlets at that time. Instead, we need to nurture the new believer through personal return home visits.

The teacher visits the new believer within 48 hours and begins sharing the deepening themes from Book 2 or the stories of Bahá’u’lláh or the Báb from Book 4. They pray together and study the prayer.

The teacher invites the person to begin serving the community by, for example, having a devotional in their home so that their friends and family can hear about the Faith, or to host or attend a children’s class. Many are also open to participating in study of Book 1.

Some new believers are particularly on fire and are eager to begin being involved in the teaching work right away.

In short: take the core activities to them and when they are ready take them to the community.

A plan of consolidation is based on the results of the expansion phase. Sort your declaration cards by children, youth and adults and plan your follow-ups according to needs.

Partner with your Institute Coordinator. Work with them when you need children’s classes, junior youth activities and study circles. Ask them when you need to take refresher courses for Books 2, 4 and 6.

The institute process comes to life with new believers. We see what the practices are for. New believers love it, and they want to be involved.

Area Teaching Committee roles

An organized and united ATC is essential.

Walk with people. Take them teaching. Help them experience success.

Stay in an open and learning mode.

Have enough forms for each team as well as prayer books and pens and supplies.

Collect all forms at the end of each day and start your lists. Lists are important. Keep lists of neighborhoods, buildings visited, return visits needed, seekers, new believers, etc.

Pray and be happy!

Lots of love,


Monday, April 21, 2008

Youth and junior youth ask: "Have you heard of Bahaullah?"

Youth are taking initiative in sharing the Message of Bahá’u’lláh with their neighbors. Here is a description of a teaching project in Minnesota that has been organized and will be carried out by youth and junior youth. You can feel the excitement in every word, as well as the effort exerted by the friends who are striving to arise and serve.

Alláh-u-Abhá dear friends!!! I hope everyone is very well!

As many of you might've already heard, this Sunday our cluster is holding its first youth and junior youth-led intensive teaching campaign. Everything begins at 2:00 pm, where we will gather for prayers, last minute planning, and breaking up into teaching teams.

The plan is as follows: in pairs or small groups, the youth and junior youth will go out into a neighborhood. We will go from house to house, knocking on each door. We will conduct a survey consisting of a single, yes/no question: "Have you ever heard of Bahá’u’lláh or the Bahá’í Faith?" This question will be followed by "Would you be interested in learning more about the Bahá’í Faith?" (if they said yes to first question) or "Would you be interested in learning about the Bahá’í Faith?" (if they said no to the first question). Based on their answers, the youth will either give Anna’s presentation, give them a pamphlet, or thank the individual for their time, wish them a great day, and move on to the next house. In all cases, the youth will record on their notepads the number of "yes" and "no' answers to the first question, in addition to recording the house address, receptivity level, and subjects covered while speaking with them about the Faith. All groups will also be equipped with either cards or informational pamphlets to give to those who are interested in learning more.

The task force responsible for planning this day-long teaching event (which was comprised of two youth, two junior youth, and one adult) felt that this format of teaching was most conducive to individuals' varying comfort levels with direct teaching. For those who are more comfortable with teaching directly, they have the opportunity to do so when they find receptive souls. For those who are less comfortable with teaching directly on the spot, they have the option of providing the interested individuals with an informational card or pamphlet.

After a couple of hours of in the field teaching, the youth will re-gather for reflection and prayers, after which they will put the results of their reflections into action and return to the field, now going door to door in another part of the neighborhood.

For those who do not feel comfortable with going door to door at all but would still like to be involved, the youth will be in need of all the prayers they can get. We ask that all members of the community say prayers for the success of the youths' teaching efforts, that they pray for receptive souls, and to make the youth become as hollow reeds through which Bahá’u’lláh's love may flow to the neighborhood. Members of the community are welcome to come together and pray, or remain at their own homes and keep the youth in their prayers.

This is an exciting time for our cluster, and I know that many of us are both excited and nervous about this direct teaching experience. Remember, that "the source of courage and power is promotion of the Word of God," and that the National Spiritual Assembly of America will be praying for the success of our cluster's efforts. If we rely on their support and on the support of Bahá’u’lláh and the Concourse on High, there is no limit to what we can achieve. I'd also like to remind the friends that while this is initiative is being spear-headed by the youth and junior youth, we welcome the involvement and participation of the older members of the community as well.

We look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday at 2:00pm for the start of this exciting teaching event.

Much love to you all,


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Giving people a chance to say, "Yes, I believe"

The friends in St. Paul, MN (A), which has just launched its intensive program of growth, are seeing for themselves the openness to the Message among their neighbors and contacts. When the uncommon rejection occurs, they are finding it is not traumatic. The Bahá’ís there are exerting a truly united effort. The cluster development facilitator for St. Paul reports:

Dear friends,

After a wonderful reflection meeting last night, the second day of the first expansion phase of our cluster’s intensive program of growth met with tremendous confirmations and successes.

Community members are participating in many ways. More than 35 people have said that they will be praying for the teaching efforts during this period. A number of people have already started making an extra effort to present the Faith to friends and family in a systematic way that really gives people a chance to say, "Yes, I believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for this day". Today, 12 teams of two or three teachers visited a couple of neighborhoods in St. Paul. Some folks are helping to prepare food for the teaching teams, and others will be helping to make follow-up visits with new believers and others who requested a return visit to hear more about the Faith. All these ways of participating are blessed and needed.

In total we have 28 different people who either declared or requested a follow-up visit to learn more. This represents at least 10% of the people who answered the doors. Naturally there were some who were not interested; indeed many of us had a fear of doors being slammed and worse. But there was not a single unpleasant rejection from those we visited.

And the stories we heard! When the teaching teams came back together late in the afternoon, you can’t imagine the excitement when we heard that several people had declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh and others who were interested in learning more about the Faith. Teachers saw faces filled with light and warmth, and encountered several people who specifically wanted them to come back when more members of their families would be home to hear this message.

Truly we saw today the meaning of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words: "Whosoever arises for such a work, divine confirmations shall assist him and the power of the Kingdom shall be made manifest."

With warm Baha'i love,

Cluster Development Facilitator

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Enrolments continue in Southwest region

Here is a brief report of enrolments from two clusters in the Southwest region: Phoenix, AZ (A) and Thousand Oaks, CA (A):

Dear Friends,

On the 8th day of the second intensive program of growth cycle, Phoenix cluster stopped its expansion phase. There were 33 declarations and 50 registrations! They are now busy following up with these new believers.

Thousand Oaks started its first expansion cycle last Saturday April 5. So far they have had 12 declarations and 1 registration.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

23 in 3 days declare in Scottsdale's first IPG

Breaking news from Scottsdale, AZ (A), which launched its first intensive program of growth this last Saturday. The results reported by the core team are exciting!

Dearest Baha'i friends,

We have had even greater victories today! Only three days into the expansion phase 23 have declared their faith. What a blessing to be a part of this VIBRANT community!

Saturday: 9 adults & 3 children
Sunday: 8 adults & 3 children
Monday: 6 a
dult & 2 children

Total: 23 adults & 8 children

With prayers, eagerness, excitement, love, and joy a few Baha'i mothers went to south Scottsdale today. They began their journey by revisiting those who asked the Bahais to come back to tell them more about the Bahá’í Faith. The mothers taught the wives and as soon as the husbands got home from work, they taught them as well.

Much love,

Your Core Team

Monday, April 14, 2008

The sweetness of teaching

New York City (A) has entered the 11th cycle of its intensive program of growth, and the spirit among the friends there is enthusiastic and joyful. Here is a brief summary of a description of those first few days from a friend in New York City:

After an incredible reflection meeting, more than 60 believers went door-to-door and experienced the sweetness of teaching. “The level of excitement is unbelievable.” There were 17 enrollments in New York City this weekend. We are collapsing into our beds with an incredible gratitude to Bahá’u’lláh.

Teaching is a joy

Joy, joy, joy in Lancaster, PA (A), which has just launched its first intensive program of growth. In this story, the power of prayer, the confidence gained from the friends directly experiencing the interest of their neighbors, and the courage of the friends to step into the field of action explain the joy.

Dearly loved friends,

Today our cluster witnessed confirmations that come from collective direct teaching that is inspired by prayer, reliance on the Concourse on High and the desire to learn through action. Following the cluster reflection gathering held to start us on our way in our first intensive program of growth, five teaching teams departed the Bahá’í Center to share Anna's presentation in a neighborhood in Lancaster.

Two hours later, we met together to share the many joyful stories of receptivity the teams enjoyed and delighted in the tidings of two new declarations of faith! Ya-Bahá'u'l-Abhá! Finally we understand that the kind of interest in the Faith that we hear of from other countries can be found right here in our own backyard!

This truly is a wonderful victory. The efforts of those who stepped out to offer the gift of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings in Lancaster today were surely buttressed by the ardent prayers of those who were unable to join them. As you hear the stories of heart-felt confirmation in the process of opening our lips to teach the fundamental verities of the Faith, consider casting aside your fears and joining in when you are able.

If we all pray fervently, surely many more hearts will be prepared to hear the Message.



19 amazing souls arose to clear their lives to teach in MA

The cluster of South Middlesex County MA (A) launched its intensive phase of growth on April 12 and the following account of the preparation and planning will touch your heart as the adults learn from the children.

"The stage is set. There is no room left for vacillation. Multitudes hunger for the bread of life." ~Shoghi Effendi

Dear Friends,

We had a truly inspiring cluster reflection meeting yesterday! We prayed together, celebrated becoming an A cluster with a photo montage put together by AL, shared teaching stories, talked about what an intensive program of growth looks like, and what ours would look like. 19 amazing souls arose to clear their lives and to commit themselves to teaching during our first intensive circle of growth!

The children and junior youth presented the inspiring fruits of their morning's work--they had practiced introducing themselves and teaching the Faith, consulted about which of their friends they would teach the Faith to and come up with a list for this, and demonstrated a role play. Several of them had even spent time starting to learn Anna's presentation! Two of the children chose to join us as teachers during the expansion phase!

After lunch, we followed the children's lead and trained together about how to introduce ourselves when we are at someone's door, practiced Anna's presentation, and role-played inviting someone to become a Baha'i. Fortunately, a seeker walked in just before this to the M___’s home, and the group got shared Anna's presentation with them.

Afterwards, 15 adults and 2 children went door to door teaching in the neighborhood. In the space of 1.5 hours, we knocked on 112 doors, and 18 people expressed an interest in learning more and asked to be visited again! We will continue today--come join us! Remember, whether you like to visit door-to-door, return to homes that have already been visited, or like to arrange the visits with the neighbors, you can still be part of the collective effort--just come for prayers!

We will learn so much together! Here is a sample of lessons learned from our day of teaching yesterday:

· The importance of the comfort and confidence of the teacher - remembering the value of what you are offering

· The importance of not being afraid to ask follow-up questions

· "It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be--in fact, it was fun!"

· "There is a great value in risking rejection--afterward, you have nothing left to fear--it's exhilarating!"

Loving regards,


3 days of success as a B-stage cluster!

The South Hampton Roads ME/NH (B) cluster celebrated becoming a B- stage with a vibrant account of how they reached out to their neighbors to share the message of Bahá'u'lláh.

Dear Friends,

The South Hampton Roads ME/NH (B) cluster celebrated becoming a B- stage cluster with fun games at our reflection meeting last Saturday! Then, we launched our expansion phase in the afternoon with A___ W____ providing updated training in presenting the Faith using Anna’s presentation.

Saturday afternoon – our most successful results to date!

We went out into an interested neighborhood with three teams of teachers (7 Bahai friends) and Baha'u'llah guided us to several souls who invited us into their home to hear the presentation. We invited the friends to share a prayer with us when they did not have time to hear the presentation, and this was very positive.

5 people invited us into their home to hear Anna's presentation - the most successful result we have had in our collective efforts to date! All of these people would like to be revisited in coming weeks.

Sunday afternoon – we go to meet everyone

One team went out teaching sharing the presentation in 3 different homes. Combined, there are 13 children. We are making appointments to revisit all of these friends. One of these families, with 5 children, offered to host a children's class in their own home :)! Pray for the success of this new class!

One experience was particularly nice: the teaching team was knocking on a door when suddenly the neighbors across the street yelled out to us asking, "Who are you looking for?" The team yelled back, "we're meeting everyone!" This led the teaching team to walk across the street, meet the people who wanted to help them out and proceed to give the entire presentation to a mother with 6 children!

Another experience was very touching. A young woman was just arriving home. The teaching team had visited her home on Saturday but no one was home. This time, we were able to make introductions saying, "We’re visiting our neighbors talking about how we are all one family and all religions come from the same God and that is the teaching of the Bahai Faith..." The woman became interested and asked the team how to spell "Bahai." She took a prayer book, saying she had never heard of this before and would look it up, "I feel enlightened" she said.

Monday – A new Bahá'í!

We welcomed our newest member into the Bahai Faith this evening following dinner and Anna's presentation. She is 21 years old and an undergraduate student. Hip Hip Hooray!

We've learned that inviting our friends to come to our home to have dinner and hear a presentation about the Faith is well received! We follow up the presentation with a clear and direct invitation to become of member of this beloved community.

After just three days of the expansion phase, we have a lot of consolidation work ahead of us! Thank you for your prayers! We are getting better every time.

We will be teaching in Norfolk again this weekend.

Warmest blessings,

~Cluster Development Facilitator
South Hampton Roads, VA

Receptivity in Scottsdale

Scottsdale, AZ (A), which has just launched its intensive program of growth, reports thrilling results in the expansion phase of its first cycle. Over half of the people who answered their doors to the Bahá’ís asked for a return visit!

New declarations: 23 in 2 days
Number of homes knocked on: 239
Answered the door: 108
Requested return visits: 64

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Learning and sharing in Portland

Further news from Portland, OR (A), which has just completed the expansion phase of its first intensive program of growth. One friend shares his/her impressions . . .

Portland finished its expansion phase this afternoon. I think this was a transformatory experience for all participants. It is too fresh an experience to summarize learnings just yet but I can share some general impressions. . . I would expect the Area Teaching Committee to share its own summation from their experience. The work was intense and at the level I think the International Teaching Centre describes as important.

The Area Teaching Committee was exceptionally well-organized and acted decisively in the day-to-day support of the process. This is a high-performing and adaptive ATC. The ATC was right on target on so many of its decisions.

Six adults were enrolled: a man plus five adult women.

There is an extensive list of individuals who seem interested. Several individuals simply walked into the Portland Center and had good conversations. There is an assumption that they will be open to begin a study circle in the neighborhood. A woman said she had always wanted to learn about the Baha'i Faith and she wants to connect with the local believers.

Everyone wants to see the believers nurtured and supported. We plan to meet each new believer and work with them with the hope of inviting them to core activities. We are pleased to have three new Spanish-speaking believers whom we will be visiting soon.

The neighbors commented how they would like to see the Bahá’í Center open more hours. The Local Spiritual Assembly will address this issue.

Savannah just keeps on moving

A quick update from Savannah, GA (A), which is completing the expansion phase of its first Intensive Program of Growth. The teaching—and the enrollments—continue at full momentum, what more is there to say?

Hello friends:

With one day to go in our first IPG the Savannah Area Cluster welcomes our 16 new enrollments. It has been awhile since I've sent out an email because things have been very busy here. As most of you know we have been working earnestly to meet with and support the 53 new enrollments in the past few months. The friends here have worked increasingly to visit the new friends. We will be ending our intensive teaching phase today but of course there is the real possibility of more enrollments during the consolidation phase.

Please welcome our newest friend and please keep us all in your prayers.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Interest in children's classes in Portland

Breaking news—Portland, OR (A) is on fire! On fire with teaching, that is. This cluster just recently launched its first Intensive Program of Growth, and the inspiring stories of the direct teaching efforts of the friends during their first expansion phase are flowing in. Here is but one of many accounts.

We shared Anna's presentation in Spanish with a woman this afternoon. She was especially touched by the reality of Baha'u'llah's suffering and signed her declaration card.

We visited another young woman with two children who invited us in and we shared the presenation. She was interested in classes for her children. There are many children in the neighborhood who may also be interested in classes.

Rather than visit more new homes, we decided to consentarate on returning to the homes that wanted us to visit again. The list is long.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reaching out to closest contacts

Sometimes it’s easy to think of sharing the message of Baha'u'llah only with perfect strangers. And yet, there are receptive souls among those who are most dearly connected to us. These stories from Seattle, WA (A) show the power of reaching out to our closest contacts, i.e., our friends, families, neighbors and coworkers, and need no other introduction . . .

I have some amazing stories of how we need to remember to share teachings with our friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers.

Last night at Feast a teaching team reported that they were getting frustrated by their lack of ability to teach in Spanish when going door-to-door, so they went back to the car and called 15 of their most receptive friends to make plans to share Anna's Presentation. One couple agreed to meet immediately at a restaurant to hear Anna's Presentation. They went through about 3/4 of it and then met the next night to finish the presentation.

These stories are but a few of the amazing things happening when we take the time and courage to teach directly those who have the most contact with us. We are told to be direct and to reach our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers, and it is clear that there is a good reason for this guidance.

Keep up the intensity (and the prayers) - they are obviously working!