Thursday, September 24, 2009

Feel the fear and teach anyway!

There’s a saying that the definition of courage is not the absence of fear; courage is feeling the fear and doing the right thing anyway. And that truth is perfectly illustrated by some of the amazing stories in this report from Sequim, WA (B), where the friends (6 teaching teams in all) have just finished a collective, direct teaching effort in a diversity of neighborhoods. As you will see, the organized approach fully involving the local friends set in place a firm foundation for multiplying core activities (see how the teaching team reports explicitly note potential core activities among their results). This first installment of stories highlights the high receptivity that the teams encountered. (Pop quiz: What’s the proper way to pronounce “Sequim”? Residents of “Warshington state” are of course disqualified from responding.)


OVERVIEW


Six teaching teams carried out direct teaching by visiting both apartment complexes and homes. The result was 8 solid contacts and opportunities to either establish core activities or to add souls to the ones already existing. Overall, it was an exhilarating day where all who participated learned that receptivity is beyond our assumptions! . . .


METHOD


We met at 9:30AM at home of a home-front pioneer and started with prayers, which were followed by a story of one of the martyrs to inspire everyone. Then we studied the first paragraph of the Ridvan 2008 message of the Universal House of Justice to remind ourselves of the reason behind our core activities. Lastly we broke into pairs and practiced with each other how to introduce each of the core activities as well as our opening statement when greeting someone.


“My name is ___ and this is my friend ___, we are Bahá’ís and would like to share with you some of the activities Bahá’ís engage in to build more spiritual communities. Bahá’u’lláh tells us to “Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in” and “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”


In the afternoon we went to our assigned neighborhoods for a couple of hours and then returned to our host’s home to share and reflect.


(Most teams consisted of two members, one male and one female. At least one team member was a local Bahá’í, who could make follow-up visits to receptive contacts.)


TEAM 1 SUMMARY


Focus: A large, older apartment complex.


Results: Two solid contacts: one complete presentation, one invite back.


Core Activities: Opening for devotionals in contact’s home; opening for contact to attend Book 1 study circle; possibility for Children’s Classes.


This team went to many apartments with initially discouraging results. Many people were not home; others, although courteous, were not interested. However, after visiting perhaps 50 units they came to a receptive soul!


A woman invited the team right in to her home. The Bahá’ís gave a brief general statement on the Faith and then shared an overview presentation. As it progressed, the lady kept saying, “Yes, yes!” and “I’ve always believed that!” The presentation got to the point about how human diversity makes humanity beautiful, just like multi-colored flowers in a garden. She interrupted to inform them that she had even given a talk at her church on the very same subject! The full presentation was shared.


The seeker asked the Bahá’ís to explain how Bahá’u’lláh’s claim to be the Promised One could be valid when Jesus had said that there was no way to the Father except through Him. The teacher explained that this could be understood as similar to a student in school: For a student in the 5th grade, the 5th grade teacher’s way is the only way, and that’s how things have to be done. However, when the student advances to the 6th grade, the student is ready for more knowledge and then the 6th grade teacher’s way becomes the only way. She was very pleased with this explanation and said that it made perfect sense and cleared that up for her. Then the prayer, “O God refresh and gladden my spirit” was read and she started crying. A prayer book was left with her. She took a declaration card and agreed to a regular prayer session in her home. She was told about study circles and “Reflections on the Life of the Spirit”; she said she would like to attend a study circle. She was told that a local Bahá’í would return and visit her.


This team also encountered another woman who said that she was interested. Children’s classes were mentioned and she seemed even more interested. She asked them to come again another time. She would invite her mother to be present.


REFLECTIONS of one team member: She was initially uncomfortable about direct teaching in neighborhoods and just went along to observe. She realized that she needs to practice giving the presentation on the Faith, but she also saw that she could have answered all of the questions that were asked and so she felt good about that. Her conclusion was that you just have to be brave enough to go and have someone you have confidence in to go with you. This Bahá'í said that as the team was speaking with the very receptive lady they met, she was so happy that she begin to share answers herself, overcoming her shyness.


TEAM 2 SUMMARY


Focus: A new apartment complex.


Results: One solid contact: one complete presentation, one follow-up visit to be made.


Core Activities: Opening for contact to attend Book 1 study circle


A woman in answered the door at the very first home the team visited. The woman identified herself and listened intently to the entire presentation. She asked questions about Christ being the only “way”. The presenter was careful to draw parallels between the Faith and Christianity and she responded extremely well to this, often pointing them out herself. She had her Bible handy and looked up many pertinent passages. All the core activities were discussed and she seemed very interested in each of them. The team obtained her phone and email information to arrange a return visit. She said that she had talked to other religions, but that their explanations had never made any sense to her, and then pointed to one of the Baha’i teachers and said: “what you say makes perfect sense”.

1 comment:

ruthannewing said...

In our cluster we, too, are discovering how prayer and patience win the day. We have not yet found a very receptive neighborhood, but we keep finding souls who are hungry for Baha'u'llah's teachings. Yesterday, I was in the neighborhood to do a study circle and I passed a woman I hadn't seen for a while. I had never thought she was particularly receptive, but today I went to visit her after the Study Circle, told her about how we were looking for those who wanted to serve God with us teaching children, studying, and holding interfaith prayer meetings. She lacked confidence, but was intrigued and volunteered to come to the next study circle.