Friday, January 30, 2009

Flexibility and trust lead to success and learning

The friends in Omaha, NE (B) recently finished a collective teaching effort, and learned a lot from their experiences. It is very interesting to see that they decided to try different approaches and see what happened. The friends were also flexible enough to make adjustments based on their initial experiences. They have seen the high interest in children’s classes among the people they have met. Their successes have been supported by a foundation of trust that has been built from existing connections between a local believer and his neighbors.

Hello all,

I thought some folks would like to hear about the teaching initiative our humble group implemented this past Friday.

Nine of us gathered at the Bahá’í Center for prayers and songs. In addition to the friends there, several others called us that day and assured us of their prayers. We called upon the Concourse on High, asking for assistance from various friends whom have passed on, and of course ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. (We thought it was especially wonderful that we were doing this on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Ascension.) . . .

We began to consult on a plan and divided into 3 teaching teams, each that would take a different approach. The first team went to a health food store that had been previously identified as a possible focus for teaching efforts. They noticed that most of the patrons were busy with grocery shopping and it was not easy to make connections with anyone. So the team quickly adapted their plans and hit the street, moving down to a used book store. Immediately after they entered, they were greeted with warm hellos by the store owner. The conversation easily and naturally turned to spiritual topics. The shop owner had heard about the Faith before. The team began sharing Anna’s presentation, which evolved into a deep conversation.

Meanwhile the second team decided to visit a neighborhood where a believer lives and visit homes there. The members of this team did not live in this city, but they made several connections and received requests to return again to share more information about the Faith. So they gave people business cards with the contact information of a local Bahá’í, and also noted who they had visited so that the requests for further visits could be followed up with by the local believers.

The third team went to the same neighborhood as the second team. They planned to visit their existing contacts and extend an invitation for their children to participate in children’s classes. At four homes there were positive responses without hesitation to this invitation. At one home they shared a healing prayer for an ailing family member. Appreciation was expressed for the invitation to the children’s classes.

The teams all joined together to reflect on their experiences. The first team decided to offer to visit the church of the bookstore owner to give a presentation, as well as invite her to attend devotions at the Bahá’í Center. Plans were made to follow up with requests for return visits. We also reflected on the overwhelmingly positive responses to the children’s classes. It was noted that the people we had met had a lot of trust in their neighbor who was a Bahá’í, which made it very easy and natural to accept invitations to the children’s classes.

We look forward to the next steps in this endeavor. We are excited to start the children’s classes and need community support as we have about 10 children ready to begin.

As a follow up to the above report:

Since the teaching effort, 2 neighborhood classes on opposite sides of town have started, each with 3 to 5 children participating.

In Loving Service,


Putting the Plan in joyful action

Throughout the country, regardless of the current stages of their particular clusters, the friends are seeing the value—and experiencing the joy—of systematic action in regular cycles and of sharing the message directly. Here is a brief report from Salisbury, MD (*C). Brief, but all the key elements of the Plan are in action!

Dear friends,

The Salisbury cluster had 3 more enrolments this morning—a grandmother and her two grandchildren who have been attending children’s classes at one of the friend’s homes. Anna’s presentation was shared with them by one of the believers who had participated in the direct teaching effort last weekend. So there are now 9 new believers during this first cycle of growth.

With love,


Friday, January 16, 2009

The power of children's classes

Children’s classes have shown themselves to be a very effective way of reaching out to our friends and neighbors. Many parents are interested in opportunities for their children to engage in a spiritual activity. This interest grows when the parents see the positive effect of the classes on their children. Below is a note from a parent to one of the believers that helped connect her to a neighborhood children’s class; it is one of countless examples of this influence.


I don't know what your friend was teaching the kids, but whatever it was, it was AMAZING!

My daughter was so impressed, she could not stop talking about it. She retold the story to us. She asked me to bring her the slip of paper with the prayer on it when she went to bed, and said she wanted to read it before bed and put it under her pillow.

I know she is searching for something spiritual. I think this group you guys are doing is just what she needed.

Please pass on my gratitude to the teacher.

Thank you!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Building friendship and unity with Carne Asada

This story from the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, CA (A) is not about a core activity or teaching project or consolidation effort. No, this is about something greater, the ultimate purpose of all these endeavors: Unity. A simple picnic was the means to strengthen ties of friendship and love and build a united community. True joy! And lots of carne asada. Oh, and though it quietly slipped in there, you can also again see the power of accompaniment and the important role of the tutor.

It was on a beautiful Sunday in November when some friends were gathered at City Heights to have some awesome Carne Asada and a great time! The picnic was in the courtyard of two of the new believers, and was held to celebrate our friendship and cement bonds of love. One of their beautiful neighbors from upstairs joined us and one of the friends immediately engaged her in Anna’s presentation. Talk about teaching opportunities. . . .

It was very festive with laughter, music, great food and great people—young and old. We were grilling and having fun together! You could see boundaries disappearing and strong bonds of friendship forming. We wrapped up the beautiful day with a round of devotionals; prayers were recited in Spanish, English and Persian. It was truly wonderful. We can’t wait to plan more of these fiestas.

The two hosts have both completed Book 1 and are on the way with the next book in the sequence of courses. They have had a couple of devotional gatherings at their home with their families and friends and are working with their tutor to make it a regular event.

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says: “When love is realized and the ideal spiritual bonds unite the hearts of men, the whole human race will be uplifted, the world will continually grow more spiritual and radiant and the happiness and tranquility of mankind be immeasurably increased.”

Conference result: a devotional gathering is born

Here is a brief report from a B-stage cluster in California which gives yet another example of how the enthusiasm generated at the Regional Bahá’í Conferences is leading to action! In this case, the friends have stepped forward to establish a regular devotional gathering.

Dear Friends,

Following the conference in LA and the devotional gathering workshop last week, two dear friends were inspired to start a regular devotional gathering with their neighbors in their home and are starting this week! In the spirit of the new year they are opening their home to devotions and welcoming people to come get to know one another in an uplifting atmosphere of prayer for the betterment of the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The value of openness

This delightful trio of stories of recent declarations in Scottsdale, AZ (A) gives an indication of the receptivity to the Message, and it shows the importance of the core activities. But above all, these stories illustrate the value of openness. In these examples, the friends were open and forthright and clear, simply conveying to their neighbors: This is who we are, this is what we believe, this is what we are trying to do, and this is what we are trying to teach your children. As you will see, the response to this has been very positive.

1. After a children’s class in an apartment complex, some of the mothers who had shown interest were approached. We explained we would like to tell them who we are, what we stand for, and what we are teaching their children. All of the mothers responded to this offer positively, and a few appointments were set up so that Anna’s presentation could be shared with the mothers and fathers. . . .

After listening to Anna’s presentation, one of the mothers declared and also registered her 3 children. On a follow-up visit the next day, she commented on how she appreciated the Bahá’í teachings and how she understood the importance of the Covenant and succession to leadership in protecting the Faith. She will be starting a Ruhi Book 1 study circle next week.

2. Another mother in the same complex was also invited to listen to Anna’s presentation so that she would know more about who the Bahá’ís are and specifically what we are teaching her daughter. When the time came to meet with her, she explained that she had only 20 minutes and would then have to leave. The friends proceeded to share Anna’s presentation without rushing through it, knowing that if they ran out of time they could come back to finish it another day. They wanted to be fully respectful of the time limitation. Many of the quotations, the concepts of service and unity, and the laws of the Faith resonated with her on a deep level. She requested that the friends continue the presentation beyond the initial 20 minutes. So they went through to the end.

At the end of the presentation, she was asked if she believed Bahá’u’lláh is who He claimed to be, and she said, “Yes.” This surprised the teachers so they again asked her if she wanted to be a Bahá’í, to which she responded again with a “Yes,” and quickly added that she really liked the teachings and that she wanted her son to join her daughter in the children’s class. She insisted on this repeatedly

We have found that Anna’s presentation really resonates with people because it covers the Founders of the Faith, the history, laws, administration, and has many quotations. Those who listen to the presentation see and feel that commitment to the Bahá’í principles and applying them to our lives can make a major change in their family’s life and in the world.

3. At another apartment complex, a teaching team went to visit a youth who had recently declared in order to invite him to a study circle. He was not at home, but his cousin was there. The friends explained the reason they had come; they also offered to tell him what the Bahá’í Faith is about if he had some time. He said yes and welcomed them into the apartment. They began to share Anna’s presentation with him, and he was deeply engaged in it, and very moved by Bahá’u’lláh’s sufferings. A few minutes later, the youth who had declared came home, and the friends continued with the presentation. Both of the young men were completely drawn into Bahá’u’lláh’s words. At the end, they read the last prayer of the presentation together; everyone was very moved by the experience.

Then one of the teachers asked the cousin, “Do you believer that Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God for today?” and “Do you want to become part of the Bahá’í community?”, and he said yes to both; he also asked to join a study circle to learn more about the Faith. He expressed his desire to serve and build the unity that this world needs.

Oceanside moves from strength to strength

This report from Oceanside, CA (A) is a great example of how the friends can move from strength to strength. They are finding receptive souls who are entering the Bahá’í community, they are reflecting on what they have learned from their experiences on the ground, and they are developing focused plans for their subsequent efforts.

These two stories of recent declarations illustrate the value of core activities and the institute process both in teaching the Faith and empowering new believers:

One new believer worked with a Bahá’í, and was very impressed by the spiritual qualities of his co-worker. He stopped by a few times by the Bahá’í Center when it was not open. Once he was introduced to other Baha’is, he started attending devotional gatherings and Ruhi Book 1. At a devotional about one year later, when he was invited to join the Faith, he gladly welcomed the invitation. He has continued to attend devotionals and study circles. . . .

Another new believer was introduced to the Faith during a neighborhood teaching project. He was very receptive and listened to the entirety of Anna’s presentation. A few days later he attended the devotional gathering and expressed his enjoyment and appreciation for what he was experiencing. And within the next couple of months, He attended two firesides and declared after about three months. Later, he started Ruhi Book 1; took his wife to a fireside and attended a couple of Feasts. He announced at the last Feast that he wants to introduce his neighbors to the Faith. He has also expressed interest in studying Ruhi Book 3 as soon as he completes Book 1.

Here are some of the key insights the friends have gained from their recent experiences:

We learned that one of the seekers was more ready to become a Bahá’í than we assumed. Once he was invited to declare, he readily joined the Faith.

We learned that when the friends volunteer to serve, the core team should follow up on their enthusiasm as soon as possible and assist them along their chosen path of service.

It is important to coordinate and plan teaching and follow-up activities well in advance.

And here are some of the next steps they have accordingly planned:

Focus on two specific neighborhoods. The members of the core team will be divided up to work with each neighborhood intimately, continuing contacts with the community of interest, deepening bonds of friendship with the new believers and their families, and starting core activities based on available human resources.

Start a series of devotional gatherings and firesides. At the upcoming reflection meeting we will review with the friends the definition of a fireside, and distinguish between those large-scale meetings that are basically just proclamation events and those small-scale gatherings where we can teach the Faith directly using an approach such as Anna’s presentation.

Working at the neighborhood level

Over the last few months, many exciting developments have been taking place in Phoenix, AZ (A). The friends there have learned a lot about how to effectively use firesides. In addition, they are increasingly starting to orient their efforts to the neighborhood level—in planning, in data collection, in core activities and other gatherings such as Nineteen Day Feasts. All of these are helping them nurture and empower new believers.

During the last intensive program of growth, there were 3 declarations at firesides. Each of these 3 firesides was organized by a believer working closely with a member of the core team.

Each of the new believers is studying Ruhi Book 1. Also, 2 of the new believers carried out the practice component of Book 1 and organized a devotional meeting at the home of their tutor, who is a new believer herself. When they were asked about the program besides the prayers, one of them shared the last page of Unit 2 about what prayer is, how we have to meditate on the words of the prayers. “I think this is so important. Before, I would just read one prayer after another. Now I know I have to reflect on each one of these words.” . . .

A neighborhood-level Feast was also recently held, with 25 people attending. During the consultative portion of the Feast, a children’s class was conducted.

Some of the more recent insights gained are as follows:

We are learning about firesides. The experience is that firesides are most effective in an intimate setting (ideally, a one-on-one meeting) where Anna’s presentation is shared. We also learned to confirm tutors before holding firesides.

We need different strategies for each individual neighborhood, as growth is organic. Holding teacher reflection meetings twice quarterly helps the teachers learn from each other’s experiences.

Neighborhood-level Feasts and devotional gatherings create a sense of community and Bahá’í identity. New Bahá’ís need to be accompanied in the planning of these activities.

Accompaniment and empowerment of new believers is an ongoing process and most be a continual priority.

The core team must continually define, strengthen and accompany the teaching teams to ensure success. When not accompanied, teams can become discouraged and may not follow through.

Collecting data at the neighborhood level makes the task much more manageable, but we are still learning how to be efficient. New believers need to be involved in reporting and collecting data.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An encounter with a receptive soul

This story from East San Diego County, CA (A) is about an encounter with a receptive soul. The eagerness of the seeker to learn about the Faith is itself delightful to read about. But also noteworthy is how the friends are internalizing the concepts discussed at the recent Regional Bahá’í Conferences and acting on their understanding.

We visited a new neighborhood to see if we could find anyone who would be interested in learning about the Faith. We soon encountered a very receptive soul. He invited us into his home to listen to Anna’s presentation. By his warm reception, we knew right away that he was very open, and we felt a closeness with him. . . .

He had never heard of the Bahá’í Faith before and was enthusiastic to learn more. During Anna’s presentation, he listened with intent and asked questions with interest. This is exactly what Counsellor Juan Mora had explained at the Regional Bahá’í Conference: a receptive soul is someone who listens and asks questions with interest.

The teachers invited the seeker to join a neighborhood study circle. Not only did he want to participate, he also asked for books about the Faith so he could investigate on his own in the meantime. These were provided two days later, and a week later, we revisited him and had a wonderful discussion. He will start studying Ruhi Book 1 with the teaching team members soon.

More than just numbers

This summary of achievements from Santa Clara County West, CA (A), taken from their cluster newsletter, is more than just a list of numbers. It is a reflection of how the friends have increasingly arisen to serve, and this growing base of human resources has expanded their capacity to reach out to their friends and neighbors.

23 people from our cluster made pledges at the Regional Bahá’í Conference to offer their services in a variety of ways, including to support a nearby B-stage cluster that is scheduled to advance to A-stage by Ridvan 2009. . . .

There are now 7 devotional meetings in our cluster.

Activities at the university have blossomed, including Book 1 study circles, regular devotional meetings, junior youth groups, attended by dozens of individuals from the community of interest.

The number of people who have completed the sequence of training institute courses has increased to 43. There are now 13 study circles in the cluster, with a collective attendance of 44.

3 people have recently declared their faith in Bahá’u’lláh.

Planning strengthens collective teaching efforts

The friends in Chicago, IL (A) have gained some interesting insights about planning teaching activities. These insights are taken from the Chicago Bahá’í newsletter:

The core team held a teachers’ meeting one week prior to the beginning of the latest teaching effort. This provided the opportunity to deepen on the Writings related to teaching, as well as to form teaching teams based on similar interests, teaching approaches, etc.

It has been realized that it is important to make plans well in advance of a teaching effort. The scheduling should give enough time for the overall coordinator of the teaching effort to meet with all the teaching team coordinators so that everyone has a clear sense of what will be the focus of that particular teaching effort.

Hitting the ground running in Tucson

The friends in Tucson, AZ (A) are hitting the ground running from the Regional Bahá’í Conference. This cluster’s area teaching committee reports on the effects of the conference on the believers and their efforts to carry out the pledges they made. As you will see, they are having success with devotional gatherings:

Dear Friends,

We are so excited to share that the excitement is building in our cluster. Since the conference, we have had numerous reports of the bold efforts of the friends giving Anna's presentation. 3 declarations have resulted. In addition, many are opening their homes for devotional gatherings including a friend who declared in November. She is now hosting weekly devotionals and children's classes in her home!

We have received many stories, but want to hear all of them. Please share your stories! Feel free to email or call me.

In closing, we will share an experience from a couple youth in our cluster:

We decided to invite some friends to a devotional because we were so inspired by the talks given at the Regional Bahá’í Conference. We set a date when we got back home and immediately started inviting our friends from school. We told them to bring poems, prayers, passages, music, anything that really meant something to them to share. The night of the devotional we had about nine seekers attend. First we went around and introduced ourselves and then went around sharing what we brought. About halfway through, someone started asking what the Bahá’ís believed about Christianity and other subjects. We also talked about the views of other religions. Our devotional had turned into a fireside. It was GREAT! As soon as we had finished, everyone was picking the theme for our next devotional. I don't think the gathering could have been any more amazing. One person also wants to be a part of a junior youth group. Hopefully we will have a wonderful second devotional! Everyone said we should "Have one of these every day".

With warmest regards,

The Area Teaching Committee

Working together to respond to the search

This story of a declaration in a *C-stage cluster in the Southwestern region is interesting for a number of reasons. It shows that many people are searching and want to learn more about the Faith. It also shows how the friends and different institutions—in this particular case, the seeker response system regional specialist, cluster institute coordinator, Local Spiritual Assembly—all worked together to respond to the seeker’s interest. And so it was easy to instantly and naturally set in place follow-up activities such as a study circle after the seeker declared.

____ recently declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh. She contacted the national Web site and expressed interest in learning more about the Faith. The cluster institute coordinator shares the rest of the story: . . .

E and I met with __ briefly a couple of times over the past 18 months. We again met at a social gathering a few weeks ago. She expressed that the corruption in the world today is a spiritual problem which must be addressed. I then told her that we are Bahá’ís, and that the teachings of our Faith tell us that the economic problems of today must be solved with spiritual solutions. She then exclaimed: “You are Bahá’ís! My son was a Baha’i and studied the faith diligently. I now want to know more about this Faith.” We discussed some of the teachings and I told her I would call her and invite her to a fireside at our home Friday or Saturday evening.

On Wednesday, I received a call from one of the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly who explained that she had received an email from our cluster institute coordinator that a seeker had contacted the National Center for information about the Faith. She asked me to follow up with this since she was leaving town the next day. We later learned that this seeker was the same person we had spoken to at the gathering!

We held a fireside for her on Friday evening and invited two Bahá’í friends to attend. That evening, __ declared her belief in Baha’u’llah as the Manifestation of God for today after hearing Anna's presentation. S and I agreed to co-tutor a Ruhi course for her beginning next week, which she agreed to attend, and E and I would take her to the next Feast.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Arising to carry out homefront pioneering pledges

At the series of Regional Bahá’í Conferences in the United States, hundreds of individuals have pledged to homefront pioneer to a goal cluster or to another community within their cluster. A Regional Bahá’í Council has recently noted two of the friends in its region have already arisen to serve in this way. One is moving to a receptive neighborhood in his cluster. Another, who lives in an A-stage cluster, has arisen to move to a nearby B-stage cluster that is scheduled to advance by Ridvan 2009. The joy and excitement continue!

True Accompaniment

This beautiful story from Washington, DC (A) is not only a great example of the effectiveness of using Anna’s presentation in a fireside setting, it also shows how the core activities help empower new believers to become human resources in their communities. The description of what accompaniment is in the last paragraph is PRICELESS and speaks for itself.

Beloved friends,

This past weekend a fireside was held in the Washington DC cluster using Anna’s presentation. Two Baha’is gave the presentation, one with experience using it, and one who had recently declared her Faith during one of the neighborhood teaching projects.

This detailed and illuminating account helps to illustrate the importance of accompaniment and raising up new resources to undertake services within the Faith.

On Sunday night, there was a fireside. Many people participated in building this event – one person offered the location, another cooked and brought food, dishes were done by yet another, different people invited seekers. There were 11 people present, including 4 seekers. . . .

The fireside program was the full content of Anna’s presentation, given by two people, one with experience with this material and the other who had recently become a believer during a neighborhood teaching project. The two are now close friends and co-workers, studying and teaching together. After this new believer completed Book 1 she began a weekly study with her teacher of the content of Anna’s presentation so that she could teach others who were asking her all the time about the Faith. This fireside was her first opportunity to use this tool in its entirety. She had so far taught her friends about the Faith more informally, but with her study of Anna’s presentation she was ready to enthusiastically accept the invitation to co-present at a fireside.

At this fireside she shared the part of the presentation about the law of prayer, during which she also spoke about how she became a Baha’i through “some people coming to my home and telling me all these beautiful things about unity, about love, and telling me they come from Baha’u’llah. This is what I believed all my life, and if they had not come to my home, I would never have known the Source.” She also spoke about the power of prayer and the power of Baha’u’llah in her life.

At the end, when the friends present were all invited to consider how much higher and how much farther we can go to share this Message, and the seekers were invited to embrace the Faith, she talked about how much she loved this experience, that was “soul reviving” and “just exactly what I needed, and what everyone needs.”

The seekers shared the effect this had on them, how they felt, what their questions were. Plans were made to follow up with each of them.

This event was a good example of the importance of working to nurture new people and trusting their abilities. The “new” believer saw that she can fearlessly put into practice what she has been studying, and working together with another Bahá’í added richness and vigor to the presentation. Accompaniment is something we are still learning about. It is not simply calling a person, inviting them to do things, or going with them to one activity or another. It instead means truly seeking out opportunities for this person to participate, trusting that he or she can carry out increasingly complex acts of service and will bring insights and capacities to these activities that contribute to building new patterns of community life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 starts off with a bang

Well friends, one year has come to an end and another one opened. And what a year! By the conclusion of 2008, among other things, 100 clusters in the United States had reached the A-stage of growth. 94 of these have already launched intensive programs of growth, and the other 6 will soon follow. A list of the clusters and map showing their stages of growth are both posted at

Before the above news could be posted, look what happened in the first few days of 2009 alone: Another 3 clusters reached A-stage! So now there are 103, and more on the way. Things are picking up greater and greater speed. All these advances have behind them a rich body of learning, experience and teaching stories. You are most welcome to share your experiences here on this blog.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fanning the flame of Faith with Ruhi 1

Across the country, the friends are learning the value of involving new believers in the study of the training institute courses. And further, they are learning more about how to engage new Bahá’ís in study circles. What makes this report about Knoxville, TN (A) so exciting is not just the results they have achieved, but the practical insights they have gained about how to start study of Ruhi Book 1 in a way that fans the new flame of Faith and removes barriers. And the fruit of such learning is effective follow-up to teaching efforts.

Beloved friends,

More and more we are learning from the dedicated friends who serve at the cluster level about ways to lovingly and effectively share the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, and to follow up with the wonderful new believers that declare.

The Knoxville Area cluster experienced a breakthrough in enrollments and in learning about consolidation, especially as it relates to involving the new believers immediately in Book 1.

In their last (eleventh) cycle, they experienced the enrollments of 21 adults and youth. Of these new believers, 17 are involved in Book 1 or have completed it and gone onto Book 2 . . . .

We wanted to share with you what the friends there have learned about how to involve new believers in Book 1. We are ever grateful to the cluster agencies serving the Knoxville cluster for their tremendous dedication and humble attitude towards learning.

With loving regards,


Basically, we learned that the best way to introduce study of Ruhi Book 1 is uncomplicated and informally. Instead of trying to make it into a formal commitment and schedule one particular day per week to work with a new believer on it, we just start Ruhi Book 1 with them as soon as they declare—i.e., when their spark of Faith is lit. For example, when someone has declared after or during Anna's Presentation, we continue the discussion as follows:

After welcoming them into the Bahá’í family, the teacher can say something like, “If you liked reading the Bahá’í quotes and the Words of God in the presentation we just finished, I really think you will enjoy this book!"

They then show them Ruhi Book 1, and continue: "It is called Reflections on the life of the Spirit, and it is a collection of Bahá’í scriptures and the Word of God for this Day. Here, let's take a look at this passage together."

They then read out loud the first quotation in the first section (“The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.”).

Then they can explain, "So, these are all short yet powerful quotes about deepening our understanding of the Bahá’í Faith and helping us live a good life and build unity, just as we talked about before. They all have a question after them, which usually comes from the quote."

They can then answer the first one or two questions together.

When the teacher asks, "Do you like that? Isn't that beautiful?", the friends’ experience has been that the answer is always a resounding “YES!”

And when the teacher asks, "Would you like to finish up the page together?", again the friends’ experience has been that the answer is always a resounding “YES!”

After finishing the first section together, most of the time the new believers will start commenting on how much they like the quotations and the book, and that they want to continue studying it soon. In fact, they often ask us to come back and study more of it with them before we even have a chance to offer to do so. They are so moved by the Words of God on that first page that they really want to know more and keep learning about it!

Our understanding is that the reason the new believers declared in the first place is because their hearts and souls were moved by the excerpts from the Word of God used in Anna’s presentation. So to continue to read with them additional Bahá’í quotations from Ruhi Book 1 is like pouring fuel on the fire of Faith they have just ignited! Not to mention, the idea of building world unity that is introduced in Anna's presentation goes right along with the main ideas of Ruhi Book 1, especially the first section.

We also think this approach works well, because asking people when they have time to commit to a study group or study session can often be intimidating. Also, many people usually have very busy lives and often don't know when they are free next week.

So at that point, we let them know we would like to come back sometime in the next 2 days (we have learned it is very important to follow up within 2 days) and find a time that works for them on that day. Then the original teacher returns with a community member who has completed the relevant institute courses, and who wants to help out by studying Book 1 with new believers. At this follow up visit, we read the "To the Collaborators" section and then continue on with Book 1 at whatever point we left off on the day they declared.

If the community member and the new believer establish a good connection, then the community member can make a commitment to visiting them whenever they request. And the original teacher can still go visit them too: In fact, one important key to success with involving new Bahá’ís in Book 1 is to not assign just one person to be the sole tutor of the Book 1 study with the new believer. Instead, anyone who visits their apartment complex or neighborhood can just visit as many homes as possible on that day (of course working with the neighborhood coordinator so that no one is left behind) The new believers have stated that they like this approach, because then they get to meet different Bahá’ís, rather than the same person all the time. Also, this enables them to finish Book 1 faster, because they can be visited several times a week, rather than just once a week (which would be the case if they had only a single tutor).

P.S. We would like to add that some of these newly-declared friends are now arising to serve the cluster. Three of the Bahá’ís who are now in Book 2 have also hosted devotionals. A few have helped with neighborhood children’s classes and have assisted in giving Anna’s presentation to interested seekers in the neighborhood!

Twas the night before Christmas, and all over the house, lots of youth were stirring and teaching

Christmas Eve sure brought a surprise to one of the friends in Savannah, GA (A)! We will say little more, except to share his report. Note again of course how the friends’ experience at the recent Regional Bahá’í Conferences have inspired them into action, in this case, a few of the youth in the cluster . . .

Hello loved ones,

I have written recently saying that we are working hard to follow up with all the new enrollments we've seen in the past few cycles. Like other clusters we have found this to be a formidable task. Home visits and study circle activity have been two of our big foci over the last couple of months. Then we have been finding other ways to engage our more recently enrolled friends in the teaching work. One way has been to take them to places where they can experience teaching activities directly, both inside and outside of the cluster. This travel includes the Regional Bahá’í Conference in Atlanta. All of this has been to help the friends get the training that is absolutely needed for all of us to continue to grow in a sustainable manner. . . .

To that end, we are working with our regional training institute directly to do an intensive training program and wound up with three consecutive days of training with some of our youth. They were here until 8:00 PM on Christmas Eve: Think about that. But that's not all of the story. Some of you may know that as of today one more person had enrolled in the Faith. What a great guy this young man is going to be as a Bahá’í. However, as a result of the teaching and prayer sharing our youth did today in the course of their training, two more people declared their belief in Bahá’u’lláh. Two youth went out as a team by themselves and taught the Faith to two other youth. WOW!!!!! Fantastic is all I can say. Just fantastic. What a present given us on this day which is so special to so many people.

Run out and tell everyone that anything can be done if we just move our feet. What is God showing us. :-)

Please keep our new youth and their families and the rest of us in your prayers.

God is Most Glorious!



Wait, wait, wait a minute!!!!!!!

Just as I was sending the last email about today's recent enrollments my doorbell rang. It was one of the young men that I consider to be like a son of mine. He and I got to talking about the recent conference in Atlanta that he wanted to come to, and one thing led to another and now he has declared his Faith. We have another Bahá’í. He has been to numerous Bahá’í and Bahá’í-inspired events for many years. Among other things he has been a Ruhi Book 1 participant and has been to several Blackmen's Gatherings in Savannah. What a wonderful night we are having. What a spirit we are experiencing. I don't think I have ever been so happy on Christmas Eve.

What is God showing us. :-)

Please keep this dear new Bahá’í and his family and the rest of us in your prayers.

Wait a minute, there is someone at the door... Standby—the night’s not over. . .




30 seconds is all it takes in Nevada South

Here is a burst of sunshine from Nevada South (A), which has recently started a new cycle of its intensive program of growth. What is interesting about the timing of this particular teaching effort is that the Regional Bahá’í Conference for the Southwestern region fell right at their teaching phase’s midpoint. The conference bolstered everyone’s enthusiasm and a flurry of new friends rushed in to join in the teaching work during the week following the conference. The friends are proceeding with joy, inspiration, dedication and enhanced understanding. As one conference participant explained: “The intensive program of growth is not an event; it is a process.”

In addition to the surge of friends rising to serve, also noteworthy in the excerpts below from the area teaching committee’s report are: the youth who began teaching after having a 30-SECOND training in Anna’s presentation, a youth who began teaching after being a Bahá’í for only 30 seconds (well actually he had started earlier than that), and the wonderful fireside training that helped the friends use the skills and practices in the training institute courses in a fireside setting. Enjoy!

A letter from the Auxiliary Board member to the friends in the cluster explained the variety of ways they could support the teaching efforts: “. . . through daily teaching prayers for efforts in the cluster, teaching children’s classes, preparing food for teaching teams, starting a study circle with a receptive soul, visiting neighbors’ homes to share the Word of God, providing transportation for teachers, serving as an animator of a junior youth group, helping organize the data and forms for the area teaching committee, contributing teaching stories to the newsletter, giving an intimate fireside using Anna’s presentation to our friends, neighbors or coworkers, and so much more.” The area teaching committee also suggested that the friends could assist with home visits to share the deepening themes from Book 2, help with a neighborhood children’s class, or tutor a study circle in a home of a new believer. . . .

The Regional Bahá’í Conference fell at the midpoint of the teaching effort, and it intensified everyone’s enthusiasm. 22 additional people arose to teach after this conference. 8 new neighborhood children’s classes were formed (in addition to the existing 5 neighborhood children’s classes in the cluster). One youth, transformed and inspired by the conference, came to the Bahá’í center yesterday and joined one of the teaching teams that was about to visit a neighborhood. Although he had not been recently involved in any cluster activity and had not seen Anna’s presentation yet, he expressed his willingness to try. So he got the 30-second summary (literally) and went off with the friends. During his teaching efforts that afternoon, he encountered 9 people who embraced the Cause!

One focus of this teaching effort was the fireside. During the teaching phase a training was held at the Bahá’í center to help the friends learn how to give a fireside using Anna’s presentation, the deepening themes from Book 2, and the history of the Faith from Book 4. Over 40 people attended this training.

A flood of inspirational stories from the field have taught us the key elements of success: perseverance, systematic follow-up, and reliance on the power of Divine Assistance. Here are a few:

We went to an apartment complex to do follow-up visits with new Bahá’ís as well as to meet other people. We came upon a home and were welcomed by a radiant young woman. As we went through the presentation, she became more and more attracted to the Word. After reading a prayer she joyfully embraced Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this day! She also registered her children, who will be attending the children’s classes in the neighborhood.

I had been studying the Faith for the last 7 months. I attended a junior youth group and had many Bahá’í friends. I didn’t consider myself a Bahá’í yet because I hadn’t signed a registration card. I came to the Bahá’í Center this morning to help with the teaching effort. When we were in a neighborhood I asked one of my fellow teachers what someone had to do to become a Bahá’í. He told me that if I believed in Bahá’u’lláh then I already was a Bahá’í. I said I thought you had to sign a card to become a Bahá’í! So they gave me a registration card which I happily signed. All of this happened while we were walking down a flight of stairs. When we got to the bottom, I started laughing because if the next person who we talked to asked me how long I had been a Bahá’í, my answer would have been “30 seconds”.

It was an amazing experience being a prayer partner as __ taught the Faith. Each time you could see the profound joy and love that radiated from her.

A sweetly receptive and warm soul invited us into her home. My teaching partner shared all of Anna’s presentation while I prayed for assistance. At the end of the presentation she got out some prayer books and we began praying together. When our new friend read the words of Bahá’u’lláh I could see the effect the prayers were having on her. She was especially moved by one of the Hidden Words she read. She declared her belief in Bahá’u’lláh, and we embraced and said more prayers. We invited her to the neighborhood devotions and made plans to start a Book 1 in Spanish next week as she is most eager to begin studying and reading more.

A woman invited us into her apartment so she could learn more about the Faith. We shared Anna’s presentation. She was reading all of the quotes out loud to herself. At the end of the presentation we asked if she believed in Bahá’u’lláh. She said “YES!” She was so delighted of our coming. We could see how different she looked after the presentation. Her face was illumined, she was happy. She wants the friends to visit her again and start Ruhi Book 1. She is very excited.

By end of the teaching effort, there were 31 new believers in the cluster. The follow-up phase will focus on the core activities, which are crucial to fanning the flame of Faith in new believers and nurturing the relationships that have been formed with the Bahá’í teachers. It’s truly a bounty to be a part of this systematic teaching plan. Our Bahá’í family in Southern Nevada is growing in size, diversity, and human resources!