This is a breathtaking report from Rio Grande Valley, TX (B). A small group of friends had studied Ruhi Book 6, Teaching the Cause. They wanted to put into practice the skills and knowledge they had learned, and decided to do so by organizing a collective, direct teaching effort! And what an effort this was. It wasn’t just a discrete, one-time, “Let’s get the practice component out of the way” thing. Instead, it was a full-out, systematically planned endeavor with all the ingredients for success—reliance on prayer, local believers on teaching teams accompanied by visiting resource persons, adequate number of Spanish speakers, direct sharing of the Faith with interested individuals and families, immediate follow-up with new believers, strong involvement of a Local Spiritual Assembly, loving mobilization of the local community. It became a “perfect storm” of growth. (“Preparation and experience led to the desire for more preparation and experience.”) And what radiant new friends were made, new believers eager and enthusiastic to immediately start serving the Faith and participate in core activities.
Dear Valley Collaborators: Allah'u'Abha!
A joyful group of Bahá’u’lláh's loved ones participated in this weekend's unprecedented Book 6 practice intensive project. The Concourse on High joined these friends in the services they offered up for the good pleasure of Bahá’u’lláh, for how could we have succeeded unless assisted with the Breath of the Holy Spirit, and showered with His confirmations which alone could change gnats into eagles, drops of water into rivers and seas, and atoms into lights and suns? So it is with gratitude, awe, and joy that we share the following results, asking for your continued prayers and support in embracing these new members of the Rio Grande Valley Bahá’í Family: . . .
A local Bahá’í, accompanied by a visiting resource person, visited R and shared a conversation in Spanish about the Faith. R told them that she had prayed to God that morning for help. She received Bahá’u’lláh’s message with tears.
P had his first contact Saturday with a visiting resource person accompanied by a local Bahá’í. He declared the next day when another teaching team visited again and shared Anna's conversation with him. He had travelled out of town for work but returned to the Valley when he found it too lonely. We visited him at his place of work on Monday.
J had her first contact on Saturday with a team of two local Bahá’ís who spoke with her in Spanish. She asked them to return on Sunday when her husband could participate as well. A slightly different team returned the next day to share Anna's conversation in Spanish. J and her husband listened to intently and declared, registering their 3 children as well.
L was taught by two local Bahá’ís who, accompanied by a visiting resource person, were trying out for the very first time sharing a direct presentation of the Faith. She declared upon its conclusion. She expressed her desire to "volunteer for the Bahá’í Faith." She asked us to visit a few days later to be ready to receive the Baha'is and start to serve.
V, his fiancé and daughter had been visited a couple of months ago by a team of local Bahá’ís who shared Anna’s conversation with them in Spanish. They then became hard to reach consistently until a couple of days ago. They explained that V had had a trip out of town, which had interrupted the flow of communications with the Bahá’ís. They were glad to see us, glad to enroll, and anxious to start attending Bahá’í functions.
Success of the project was due to the following:
Valuable input and support from the Local Spiritual Assembly of McAllen, which shaped much of the program.
Back-to-back teaching days with 2 teaching shifts each day allowed for a total of 8 hours of teaching effort with an average of 4 teams at any given time.
2 visiting resource people were mixed and matched with the rest of us to maximize our learning from their experience. This learning was reflected in the comments in the debriefing sessions. One person said he had learned more about his religion in these two days than in the ten or so years he has been a Bahá’í.
Food hospitality generously provided by 6 households allowed us keep on task with spirits up.
Preparation and experience led to the desire for more preparation and experience
Above all, prayers ardently offered by those present as well as many not present, were answered.
Take all new believers through the series of deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2 as quickly as maintaining a spiritual and friendly atmosphere permits.
In the process learn their availability for and interest in Reflections of the Life of the Spirit study circles.
Form these study circles as soon as possible.
Coordinate further consolidation with the Local Spiritual Assembly.
We have at this point 5 households with newly declared Bahá’ís, plus 12 additional households who have responded positively and given us phone numbers. Please stay tuned for updates in the steps and directions we will be taking.
Many thanks and much love,
After this exhilarating and successful teaching effort, the friends immediately began mobilizing the local community for follow-up:
Allah'u'Abha Friends in McAllen, Mission, and Edinburg!
Our new Bahá’ís will be getting to know us as we share and explore the Book 2 deepening themes with them in their homes. This will soon lead to study circles and children's classes for them.
We invite each of you to join in accompanying them as they start to walk from the spark of faith they declared with to the undying fire at the heart of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. The best way to do this will be to match one of their original teachers with other members of the community and have them meet as many people as their time schedule permits.
I will be calling many of you to see if you will be able to join us in this joyous effort, and if you call or email me first, so much the easier for me. One way or another please let me know if you would like to serve in this process, and your time availability, etc.
Many thanks and much love,
And then they shared the initial and promising results of the consolidation efforts so far.
Allah'u'Abha Valley Collaborators!
We wish to share the joy that our initial baby steps in consolidation are bringing. Tonight was the first night we actually met with some of our new declarants.
Both new believers that we visited volunteered without being asked that they had started saying the Short Obligatory Prayer each day, as well as others from their prayer books.
Both showed radiant happiness during our visit. Heart to heart friendships were clearly in the making.
Both look forward to next steps. J asked us to call Saturday so we can make plans for a children's class and deepening theme. We also shared the first deepening theme with R, who found it very engaging.
These meetings so much exceeded our expectations. We have so much to look forward to learning in this new stage.
Many thanks and much love,