The act of teaching is challenging. It is challenging to those who teach the Faith, and challenging to those who hear the Message. Bahá’ís do not impose the teachings on those who do not wish to hear them; nor do we timidly keep the Faith hidden to ourselves. Rather, we joyfully share the Faith in a spirit of openness and fellowship with people of all religions.
Numerous times I see stories of Bahá’ís who offer to share the Faith with someone whose initial reaction is to say, “I already have my own religion/my own church.” The friends have found that generally, this statement does not indicate the person has no interest whatsoever in hearing about the Faith (and it also isn’t an invitation to start a debate!). The friends have learned to respond with sensitivity and love, which leads to building further connections. In the course of our teaching, we encounter those who want to join the Faith, and we also encounter those who decide not to join. Again, we respond with love and openness and welcome them into whatever activities they wish to be a part of. This brief story from Lancaster, PA (A) is a perfect example of this attitude of openness.
Yesterday, we visited a neighborhood to share the Message. We met one man, and began introducing the Faith with “The Bahá’í Faith is a world religion whose aim and purpose is to unity all the people of the world in one common faith.” He replied politely, “That would be wonderful, but I don’t believe that can happen until Christ has returned.”
I then asked him how we will know when Christ returns unless we keep our eyes, ears and hearts open. I asked if he would be willing to listen further. He said yes, so we shared all of Anna’s conversation with him. When we asked him, “How do you feel after hearing this wonderful news?”, he gave a radiant smile and said, “I feel good. I feel very happy.” He then said he is not ready to change his religion but would very much like to come to a devotional gathering to share the sacred. I told him about several gatherings this week; he will attend the one in my home this weekend.