Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Do I like knocking on doors?"

Not all door-to-door teaching is easy or smooth. Some share that their initial experience may indeed be disappointing. But this account from a believer in Tarrant County, TX (A) shows the value of perseverance. She shares a clear explanation of what teaching is: “Somehow we have to meet people and come to the point where we can explain our Faith succinctly.” She also candidly expresses her feelings about her door-to-door experience.

At the beginning of the last expansion period here in Tarrant County, Texas, we trudged out in the hot sun and hid under the shade of a tiny little tree for a few prayers before we tried to teach. Texas can be hot, even in spring. We didn't pray long. A wide street ran right next to us and the apartment building rose up just the other side of the little tree where we huddled. It's scary, knocking on doors. But most of my friends already know I'm a Baha'i, and I want to teach, so I showed up for the event.

The first two people we talked to were not interested, and the second rejection was particularly cold. We were both shaken and saddened, but headed up the stairs to other apartments.

My friend always made the introductions, in her marvelous, sweet, humble manner. Then we saw an open door. Inside stood a lovely lady who looked at us quizzically. I finally tumbled out some words about religion and we had a presentation, etc. She said no thank you and we fumbled away, still trembling.

More stairs, more no thank yous, a lot of no answers. At the bottom of the last staircase I said, "I want to go back and see that one apartment." My angel teammate said, "All right, but only that one apartment. Then come right down."

The door was still open. I said, "Look, I'm sorry, I don't usually run around knocking on peoples' doors telling them about a new religion, but I really believe in this. It's the most important thing in my life and I want to share it."

The woman looked at me with that same quizzical look. But this time she said, "All right, come in." We sat there and I went through the first part of Anna's presentation, with the flip book that has great photographs. I went through it pretty fast, in my own words. When we finished the part about Baha'u'llah I said "How do you feel about this?"

Then she told me how she felt. She said after we left she'd gone outside looking for us twice. She said she had sat on that same couch where we were many times for many hours begging God to show her the truth. She said she had once worked for a couple in Dallas who were Baha'is and always remembered the things she had heard about the Faith. When I showed her a declaration card, she filled it out and said she was deeply interested to learn more.

A few days later my mom and I and had tea with our new contact at my teaching partner's home, who only lives a few blocks away. It wasn't long before my teaching partner's consistent attention and deepening attracted our seeker all the way to the point of commitment. Now she is a Baha'i.

Do I like knocking on doors? Not much. Was it worth it? Yes. Somehow, we have to meet people and come to the point where we can explain our Faith succinctly. I don't know how I will meet the next person, but I do know one thing: There are different ways of teaching, but every way needs to eventually include a brief and to-the-point explanation of the Baha'i Faith or we are not really giving the person the full picture. I like Anna's presentation for that. A close friend and I are going to try to give it to people who have been coming to their firesides for a long time. The Faith is so huge, so vast, so intricate in its facets. Seekers may think they have to understand and completely accept a million things they aren't even sure they fully understand. With Anna’s presentation, so simple and clear, to me it seems to show them that what they need to understand and believe in order to be a Baha'i is not so vast after all, and that they have entered a door and can begin to find their new lives inside this marvelous tabernacle.


1 comment:

Jeremy said...


Thank you so much for your great post and the wonderful initiative of your blog in as a whole.

Distribution and discussion of teaching strategies is essential to any kind of systematic growth and it's a boon to finally be able to not only hear success stories, but more importantly learn how those successes were gained and engage in an open evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the methods used to gain those successes.

Great work,