Friday, March 27, 2009

A small united group works wonders in Miami Beach-Coral Gables

The effects of the Regional Bahá’í Conferences continue to resonate. You can totally feel the joy in this report shared by one of the friends in the Miami-Dade, FL (A) cluster. This story involves two localities in the cluster, each with a handful of dedicated believers. Inspired by the Atlanta conference, the friends focused their efforts on two main areas: establishing a junior youth group, and reaching out to their community of interest. The rest is as the report says, “Very Cool News”.

Very Cool News. . .

Dear Friends,

At the Atlanta Conference, a small cadre of Miami Beach and Coral Gables Baha’is got together. The members of these two sister communities vowed to make increased efforts to accelerate the processes of the 5-year plan in the coming months.

The first step taken was the holding of a joint Feast within 48 hours of the friends’ return from Atlanta. That was quickly followed by the establishment of an intensive Book 5 study circle populated with a dozen friends from both communities including one seeker who herself has an 11-year old son and who wanted to understand the process before involving him in a junior youth group. In addition, an exceptional young man of fifteen who, together with his mother, have been investigating the Faith avidly, was invited to attend an entire day of the Book 5 course. As a result, he committed to inviting his friends to join a junior youth group. By the end of the course, a large set of animators will have been raised up for the cluster! . . .

Last week, several of the attendees of the Book 5 course reached out to their friends and neighbors, who were anxious for their children to begin the junior youth process. Thus began Miami Beach’s FIRST EVER JUNIOR YOUTH GROUP! Seven junior youth committed to join the group. The most exciting aspect is that they are all children of seekers encountered via the Book 5 intensive, as well as the friends’ own recent teaching activities!

In Coral Gables, last week, a core of believers vowed to begin nightly activities for the duration of the expansion phase of the cluster’s current IPG cycle. Activities were planned to rotate nightly between devotionals, study circles and firesides. Neighbors were invited to attend any of the nightly activities; the friends have also been teaching on one of the local college campuses. One professor was so interested in what he heard that he passed along a list of teaching services offered by the Bahá’ís to several other faculty members by email. One of these has already called the Bahá’ís and expressed an interest in sharing information about the Faith with his students.

While the friends who participated in the initial direct teaching endeavor Coral Gables felt the receptivity to the Faith was not very warm, they were astounded to discover that two of the contacts made during that effort quickly appeared at one of the firesides. One of those seekers was so inspired that he returned to the very next fireside, and then expressed how “inspired and motivated” he felt and vowed to continue his investigation in a study circle. The friends have been galvanized by those nightly meetings which will continue over the next week and which have gained momentum and energy night after night! In addition, a new Book 1 was started in the Coral Gables community with a number of new seekers and the energy coming from that process is described as formidable!

At the Feast one of the new believers shared a teaching story. This friend, inspired by his attendance at the Atlanta conference, had recently made an inventory list of, get this, one hundred and twenty contacts! He vowed to systematically call on each of these contacts to offer them an opportunity to learn about the Faith in either a fireside or by individual visit. This new believer was quite disheartened at first since he had made some thirteen contacts from the list only to be rejected in every case. He did not give up, however. Having completed the animator training, the new believer studied his list and identified a small number of contacts who had junior youth aged children. His first two calls to those identified yielded great receptivity and both contacts agreed to have their junior youth join his group. One of them was anxious to hear more about the Faith and the new believer made an appointment to visit her this very morning! Needless to say, that new believer is on fire and the feelings of doubt generated by the initial rash of rejections are only now a vague memory.

Please pray for the continued success of the Coral Gables and Miami Beach friends who have been ignited by the Atlanta conference and the results already generated by their collective resolve to arise with new focus and commitment.

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