Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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.

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