Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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!

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