Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New patterns of growth are now second nature for Nevada South

Nevada South (A) has just finished another intensive teaching effort, and by all accounts it was wonderful in so many ways.  It was truly a time of learning, service and creating new bonds of unity and community.  You can also see that for an increasing number of the friends, the act of teaching has become something completely natural and internalized.  What follows are some of the key highlights from the fortnight-long effort as provided by the cluster’s area teaching committee and individual believers.  Enjoy!

The area teaching committee summarizes what were the main areas of focus during this effort:

Directly sharing the message with:

Friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers of new believers

Individuals who during the last teaching effort expressed an interest in learning more about the Faith

People we meet through visiting additional homes in two neighborhoods

Developing additional children’s classes and junior youth groups—Bahá’í youth are leading this initiative.

Developing strong teams to carry out follow-up activities. . . .

There were numerous inspiring stories of encounters with people visited in the neighborhoods.  Here is one:

We visited a home where a woman answered the door.  She stated that she would like to hear the presentation.  I started Anna’s presentation while standing just outside her doorway.  She seemed to be very interested and read every quote in the presentation.  As I continued, she seemed to be more and more engaged.

At the end I asked her how she felt about what she had just heard.  She started to say that it all made a lot of sense, that everything she heard sounded great.  I then asked her not to think about what she had just heard as an intellectual process and directly stated that the conversation we just had was a spiritual one and if she believed Bahá’u’lláh was the Promised One for this Day and Age.  She then looked in my eyes and stated she did.  This was met with a large hug, and she then invited us into her home.

Here is another:

We came to an apartment and a lady opened the door.  She explained she was not feeling well, and immediately we offered to say a healing prayer with her.  She was happy for that and invited us in.  She then explained that she is of Christian background.  After some conversation and prayers we offered to give Anna’s presentation.  She gladly agreed.  After the entire presentation was given, she was asked specifically if she believed that Bahá’u’lláh is the return of Christ, to which her response was affirmative.  We were all ecstatic!  One of the members of our teaching team was in tears.  We spent two more hours visiting, talking and saying prayers.

A third story shows how new believers are arising to teach:

We arrived at an apartment and were greeted by a lady who asked us to return at a later time to go through Anna’s presentation.  Just as we were leaving, a newly declared believer also walked by the apartment.  She told us that she will visit this woman since she knows her and tell her more about the Faith.  We were delighted to see how quickly our brothers and sisters are arising to teach!

In this next account, one sees the natural, seamless connection between children’s classes and teaching.

We approached a home and realized that some of the kids who are attending the weekly children’s class in that neighborhood lived there.  A man opened the door and we inquired about the whereabouts of the mother of the children.  He kindly responded that she wasn’t home.  He then waited to see what we had to say so we asked if he would like to listen to a presentation about the Bahá’í Faith.  He agreed.  As we were going through the presentation, his interest noticeably increased.  He was confirming everything he heard and absorbing every concept.  In the end, he declared his belief and embraced the Message of the Blessed Beauty.

All of the core activities—devotional meetings, study circles, children’s classes and junior youth groups—were a key foundation for the teaching effort.  Numerous study circles were started with new believers.  In addition, one of the believers in the cluster had moved into a neighborhood where teaching activities had taken place.  During this effort she opened up her home for devotional meetings, which were attended by new believers in that neighborhood.  One of the friends reports:

Although we’ve held regular devotional gatherings in the past, this is the first time that our cluster has been able to hold the gatherings almost nightly.  This level of activity has allowed many individuals to attend the devotionals who normally would not have been able to do so owing to their work schedules.

Another believer shares their insights about the structured and organic nature of this process:

Organic can also refer to the body and its organs.  Each organ has a specific purpose and task and contributes to the proper functioning of the body.  Life cannot be sustained if one of the organs fails to function.  In the same way, each of the core activities is an organ and our contribution to its growth and development is essential for the functioning of the body as a whole.

Another believer shares this insight:

Our cluster has learned that accompaniment, perseverance, systematic follow-up, and reliance on the power of divine assistance are all key elements of success.

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