Monday, October 6, 2008

"Are you making everyone a Baha'i?"

What do you do when an energetic boy runs up to you, pokes you in the side (more than once), and asks a lot of challenging questions? Poke him back? Not in Nashville, TN (A)! Here is a delightful report of a neighborhood in that cluster, which has been shared by the Regional Bahá’í Council for the Southern states. Walk around the neighborhood and you will see that a community is being built, by young and old, new believers and long-time believers, residents and visitors, with the help of children’s classes, sharing prayers, and friendships. You can also see that the believers are gaining experience in how to respond when children express an interest in learning about the Faith.

Dearly loved friends,

We continue to receive uplifting and insightful stories and accounts of the friends striving to share the Message of Bahá’u’lláh and learning how to involve the new believers with increasing efficacy in the core activities.

The Nashville area cluster has recently seen a sizable number of people entering the Faith. The friends have been particularly engaged in one neighborhood. It is a diverse community, with residents from Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, as well as being home to many Bahá’í refugees from Iran. In addition, other believers from the cluster visit regularly and offer their services to new believers and seekers . . . .

One friend shared her impression about the openness of this community: “The Persian Bahá’í residents walk around the neighborhood and say prayers and connect with their neighbors.”

About a week ago, one of the friends was in the neighborhood visiting a new believer. They were outside enjoying the pleasant weather. While she was reviewing Anna’s presentation with the new friend, one of the neighborhood boys, who is best friends with one of children of the Persian families living there, ran up to her, poked her in her side and asked, “Are you making everyone a Bahá’í?” The teacher responded to his question by saying, "I am sharing the message of the Bahá’í Faith with those who are interested in learning about this new Divine Message”.

The boy then asked, "What is the Bahá’í Faith?" He told the teacher that he too was interested in the Faith and wanted to know more. But since she was already going over Anna’s presentation with the other friend, she was not able to respond to him at that time.

Later in the week, this teacher and another friend met the sister of one of the new Bahá’ís as they were walking in the neighborhood. They took the opportunity to share Anna's presentation with her, and she felt moved to declare her Faith. Her four children were already attending the children’s classes being held in that neighborhood, and she registered them as well.

By now it was getting dark and the teachers were walking to their cars to go home. The same boy from the previous week ran up to them, poking the teacher in her side again and asked, "What is the Bahá’í Faith?" It was dark and she could not see who he was and asked, “Who are you?” He responded that he was the same one who asked about the Faith last week.

The Bahá’ís decided they would like to meet his parents first. So they asked him when would be a good time to speak with his parents, and he said, “How about now?”

So the boy ran ahead towards his home with the Bahá’ís close behind. Standing outside were his mother, father, and five siblings. The teachers shared how much their son wanted to learn about the Bahá’í Faith and so everyone went inside the lighted hallway of the apartment building to hear the presentation. There seemed to be a heightened sense of spirit in that hallway as the Message was shared. The boy helped by reading the quotes. After sharing the life and suffering of Bahá’u’lláh the presenter turned to the father and said, “It appears as though your son is attracted to this Message”. The father nodded in agreement.

After the entire presentation was given, the whole family recognized Bahá’u’lláh’s Station and embraced the Faith.

The teachers then explained the importance of education of children. “That is why we come here—not to educate just our children but all the children and we need a lot of help to do this.” The mother of the family carefully went through all the registration cards to maker sure that each of her children was registered.

The teachers went and revisited this family within the next couple of days, and then visited them another couple of times over the next week.

We feel very blessed to learn from the friends who are consecrating their efforts in sharing the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, and are striving to create a community of devotion and service.

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