Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Persistence leads to learning

Persistent efforts have lead to learning in Evanston and Skokie, IL (A), which have just completed the expansion phase of the second cycle of their intensive program of growth. The friends are learning how to identify receptive populations, how to open a conversation about the Faith, how to connect with people, how to follow-up with an individual or family after an initial visit. Below is a summary of some of the friends’ experiences; one can feel their increasing confidence!

Even in places where people said they were not interested in learning about the Faith, they were happy to pray with the Bahá’ís, and some individuals specifically requested prayers for friends and family members. One person was surprised and happy when the Bahá’ís offered to organize a devotional gathering in her home. In another case, an individual stated that they were happy in their present church but noted that some of their neighbors would need the Bahá’í Faith. The teachers then asked, “Well, would you pray for us, since we are working shoulder to shoulder to help connect people with God?” This individual agreed to do so. The friends have seen the benefits of leaving people with the understanding that we are all co-workers.

Another way in which the friends demonstrated openness was to make it clear that the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are for everyone, not just the members of the Bahá’í community. Thus, they are saying, “Bahá’u’lláh teaches this” rather than saying “We Bahá’ís do this and this.”

Several individuals who were visited expressed an interest in the forthcoming choir concert at the House of Worship and requested a flier to distribute at their church.

One of the friends who was serving as the “prayer partner” for the teaching team noted, “Next time I can take turns with someone and speak. Some of the people my teaching partner talked to, I thought, I could have talked to them also!” Another believer noted that opening by saying, “Hi, my name is ___ and we are in your neighborhood,” that it would create a personal connection.

Consolidation takes focused effort. In the case of one new declarant, there were several different encounters—both planned and unplanned—via a number of different teaching teams, as well as a large amount of follow-up knocking on doors. All of these efforts eventually bore fruit as this individual was connected with the Bahá’ís, and the other members of his family also had a chance to meet the friends; their impressions of the Faith were warm and positive.

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