Thursday, August 14, 2008

Connecting with neighbors

Here is an account of young people out in the neighborhood in Franklin/Hampshire, MA (B), under the blazing sun. Nothing complicated: the youth simply reached out to their neighbors and fellow youth, offering children’s classes and asking people if they were interested in learning about the Bahá’í Faith. With practice, and the power of prayer, they became more confident in interacting with people and introducing the Faith in a natural way. The cluster institute coordinator reports:

Dear friends,

I had the great honor this weekend, of accompanying 3 youth in their first attempts at sharing the Message in the Franklin/Hampshire cluster. We gathered on Saturday at 2:00 to say prayers. Three of us had attended a session the previous evening to practice Anna’s presentation. The nervousness in the room was palpable, but began to soften as we read from the Writings. We consulted and discussed different approaches we could use when talking to people.

At 3:00, we set out (in the 90 degree heat) and began visiting homes. We had agreed to teach for an hour and meet back at the apartment at 4:00 to reflect on our efforts.

The first time was the hardest, but it got easier as the afternoon went on. One of the friends introduced himself as a neighbor and explained that they were starting a Baha’i children's class. Then he invited people to listen to a brief presentation about the Baha’i Faith and its message of unity and the nobility of every human being.

Everyone we met was polite and most were quite friendly. They seemed happy to meet a neighbor, and quite at ease to say: No thanks, I'm not interested if they weren’t interested. When we met other young people, we engaged them in conversation in a very natural way, asking about their lives and their studies. At some homes we were invited to come back at another time.

We returned to the apartment at 4:00, to wait for the others. By 4:15, we realized that they must still be engaged in teaching. So we started saying prayers for them. Finally, at about 5 pm, they bounced in with beaming smiles. They had 2 opportunities to share the message, both with other young people, including giving Anna’s presentation outdoors under the blazing sun. They said they felt the effect of our prayers for them.

Please join me in showering our precious youth with encouragement for their courageous efforts.

In a humble posture of learning,

Your cluster institute coordinator

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