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.

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