Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learning to work together

The South Middlesex County, MA (A) cluster has recently completed another period of intense teaching. What is particularly exciting about this community is their growing confidence and capacity to work together, which they report stems from achieving higher levels of unity and gaining experience from their on-the-ground efforts. Here is an excerpt from a message from the core team to the friends in that cluster:

Beloved Friends of the Blessed Beauty,

On behalf of the core team, I would like to thank each and every one of you who has perfumed the air of this cluster with the sweet fragrances of the teaching work during the last two weeks. The joy that has permeated our community is truly extraordinary. We are a community now with a sense of purpose and movement. Every day that we partake of this task of teaching the Faith, in perfect unity, we seem to come closer together and confirmations are raining down upon us. In every neighborhood in our cluster in which people have arisen to do this work, we have found those souls who are yearning to find the Blessed Beauty. One of these individuals, who turned 89 years old yesterday, said she had believed this her whole life and just didn't know its name.

A few stories that highlight some of what we have learned: . . .

1) This past Saturday, we were joined by two ten-year old children and a junior youth on our teaching day. These children learned Anna's presentation in the morning, and delivered it with utmost joy and radiance during the afternoon. They touched the hearts of all who heard their message. One mother who heard their presentation readily signed her children up for children's classes and junior youth groups, attracted by the radiance of these young members of our cluster. Another new Bahá’í was struck by the wisdom of one of these children, and this experience further confirmed his own Faith. Two other younger children who have participated in many of the teaching activities touched the hearts of everyone they encountered by their sharing and joyfulness. Truly, we could see the future of our cluster mirrored in the faces of these children and all those who take part in the children's classes formed during the previous teaching effort. These classes are not only going strong, but are also creating deep bonds of trust with the community.

2) One group of friends was met at the door by a grandparent of a child in one of the children’s classes. He invited them to come inside his home. Over the course of the next two hours, they conversed over a wide range of topics, including all of Anna's presentation and the importance of the spiritual education of children and junior youth. He expressed a strong desire to have a junior youth group for his grandchildren and to have his daughter involved in the process. He also wanted to join a study circle if that were feasible. The following day we returned and presented Anna's presentation to his daughter, who expressed her belief in the teachings. She wanted her whole family to hear the message and asked everyone to come together this coming Saturday.

3) Two groups of friends found a number of Portuguese speaking seekers in one neighborhood. They returned the following day with a couple of teachers who spoke Portuguese. Many of these residents, who had initially been attracted by their brief introduction to the Faith, became more intensely interested. We are going to have our first Portuguese study circle forming soon, as many of these individuals have an expressed a desire to study further, often committing themselves despite a number of obstacles in their path. This kind of systematic effort and allocation of human resources to catalyze a deeply spiritual process is one we are just learning how to do effectively, and the power of this is only now beginning to show!

4) One seeker listened to Anna's presentation with great interest some days back. He was invited to and joined a study circle. This past Saturday at the study circle, he mentioned in passing that he considered himself a Bahá’í. He will be coming to his first Feast tonight. Three other new believers will also attend. What a joyous occasion it will be! This approach of intertwining the study circle process with the teaching work is one we have been learning about and finding to be incredibly effective. We have begun four new study circles already.

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