Monday, July 20, 2009

"We respect your leadership and protection"

Seekers and new believers come to the Bahá’í Faith from all kinds of backgrounds and in all kinds of situations. It is important for the friends to be sensitive to the particular situation of any seeker or new believer that they meet. Each encounter will have its own special requirements. In the following story, a youth reached out to the Bahá’í community via the internet. The Seeker Response “regional specialist” who followed up took great care in her approach, making sure to involve from the very beginning this youth’s parents, and to be completely open and respectful to them. Here is the regional specialist’s report:

Dear S and B,

With exceeding joy and happiness, I’m writing to inform you about my conversation with __ tonight.

I had previously talked with her mother, who had indicated that I needed to talk to her father as well before doing anything else.

I was finally able to reach her father. This is how the conversation went: “Who is this?” I gave my name. “Who are you?” “I’m a Bahá’í in __.” “What is Bahá’í?” When I gave an explanation, my focus was on unity and our shared belief in Christ. . . .

I then told him, “Sir, my understanding is that your daughter is interested in the Bahá’í Faith. Since she is a minor and living in your home, neither I nor any other Bahá’ís will speak to her or invite her to anything without you and your wife’s permission. We respect your leadership and protection. We have no clergy, but there is an administration. So if I don’t sound like a preacher, that’s why.” I then offered to help arrange for a few Bahá’ís in their town to meet with him, his wife and their daughter. We chatted a bit more.

Then he said, “I’ll put my daughter on the phone. You can speak with her. It was nice talking with you.”

So now I have spoken with both of __’s parents. I am so thankful to Bahá’u’lláh for guiding me on what to say. No credit goes to me, only to the Blessed Beauty and for everyone’s prayers.

When __ got on the phone, we rejoiced in finally reaching each other! It was a happy moment. Since it was already late evening, I suggested that we talk a little now and speak again another time soon. Before talking about the Faith, I explained to her how important it is that she be transparent and open with her parents, and that the Bahá’ís in her town, and I, would be too. Her parents must give permission. I also asked her to think about the idea of local Bahá’ís coming to visit, since I am in another part of the region.

Please continue to pray for this youth, her parents and me.

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