Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Connecting seekers with local communities

Increasingly, people who are interested in learning about the Bahá’í Faith are initiating contact with the friends by calling the 1-800-22UNITE number or sending a message to the national Web site. From all over the country, there are many inspiring stories. Here are a few recent stories, reported by the various Regional Specialists.

A seeker contacted 1-800-22UNITE and was directed to us. We met at a nearby coffee house. I came with a prayer partner and offered Anna’s presentation. The seeker declared at the end. She is interested in learning how to teach children’s classes, and will be participating in a Book 1 study circle with another new believer.

Another story:

We emailed back and forth, and then I met with her at a coffee house. She brought a friend who had children. I gave Anna’s presentation, and both women declared. They have also registered their children, and would like them to participate in children’s classes. They will also attend an upcoming fireside. . . .

In another report, an individual who is residing temporarily in the U.S. contacted the Bahá’ís with these words: “I have been wanting to join the Bahá’í Faith and attend Bahá’í functions.” A local contact person met with him and shares his experience:

I just spent 3 or 4 hours at his place. Very cool guy. He was absolutely ready to join our community. I gave him a prayer book and the declaration card and he signed it immediately. He can’t wait to attend Bahá’í meetings in his community.

Another story involves collaboration among the friends in two different parts of the country. A person investigating the Faith asked for a Bahá’í contact for a family member in another city who has young children, with the intent of finding a children’s class they could participate in. The Bahá’ís arranged for local believer to meet with this family. The local contact person reports:

In follow-up to your request, my husband and I are planning to have lunch with them next week. I am a tutor and we hold a regular children’s class. If they are interested, we can start a new class or introduce them to an existing class.

Four months later, the father of the family declared. The local contact shares her thoughts:

What an amazing story. You have contact with the mother in one state, through the flow of the institute process your message makes it across the country to her son and he declares. Now he is teaching everyone he knows. This Faith has no limits and no boundaries!

In another instance, an individual who had declared her Faith years ago but then lost contact with the Bahá’ís contacted 1-800-22UNITE to reconnect. A local believer met with her and her daughter and gave Anna’s presentation. At the end of the presentation, the daughter declared her belief as well.

Another couple contacted 1-800-22UNITE and were connected with a local believer who invited them to her home, where she gave Anna’s presentation. They listened intently, stating that they had known another Bahá’í in the past and had also visited the House of Worship in Wilmette, stating it was a moving experience for them. The local believer then shares the rest of the story:

After the presentation, I asked them if they believed Bahá’u’lláh was the Manifestation of God for today? She said yes I believe that He is! I told her she was already a Bahá’í. I said if she would like to join us she is most welcome. Her husband also then said, “Yes I do believe, this has touched my heart.”

The last story highlights the importance of perseverance:

Mr. ___ contacted the 1-800-22UNITE. After calling numerous times, emailing and even visiting his home trying to catch him there, we were finally able to get in touch. He had been away for several months. He was very happy that we reached out to him. We agreed to meet the following day at his home to share Anna’s presentation. It was a very moving experience, and he declared his Faith. He has since joined a Book 1 study circle and has established friendships with a number of other Bahá’ís who he now calls his “family”. He has stated repeatedly that he is very thankful that the Bahá’ís persevered and did not give up on him and that we went to his home for a heart-to-heart. To him this shows that we genuinely cared about him.

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