Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"We called her the same evening"

Communications technology is really bringing the world together. Here is a heartwarming story of a person who registered her belief in Bahá’u’lláh online. The regional specialist promptly contacted her by phone to carry out the affirmation step, so the enrollment process was efficient. The new believer shares her story of her spiritual journey, which provides many insights about the qualities we need to have as teachers, and a reminder of the receptivity that is there—we only have to share the Message as it is, and it will resonate with many souls.

By the way, technology is really taking over. All the various parts of this story came to us by being “sent from my Blackberry”, “sent from my iPhone”, etc.! And me here with just my ol’ desktop . . .

This is a new Bahá’í who declared online. We called her the same evening, and L went through Anna’s presentation with her and she was affirmed. She was crying with happiness. We asked her to tell us her story and here it is.

In the beginning . . . As a child, I didn’t grow up in a church like other kids in my neighborhood. But my Grandma took it on herself to educate me about God and Jesus Christ and prayer whenever I spent time with her. . . .

Then one morning my mother answered her door to a couple of women I had never seen before, spreading the word about their religion. My parents joined, and for the next several years we studied the “Word” faithfully, we attended every Bible study and religious service, and we also spent every Saturday morning we could manage going door-to-door sharing the message. Our lives were clearly and undeniably dedicated to bringing others into the kingdom. Our congregation was an eclectic mixture of race, social status and backgrounds. We were all a part of God’s kingdom, His chosen.

Difficulties arose as I grew older. I believed in God, I feared His coming wrath upon the Earth and upon those who refused to believe in His “Word”. We were told the world was coming to an end soon. And then, things that weren’t supposed to happen happened, and the one thing I was counting on didn’t. Disillusioned and disappointed, I left.

Some years later I went back to my grandparents’ church. My attendance was sporadic. I couldn’t shake the disillusionment I had experienced earlier.

Over the years I have searched for a faith that brought people of every ethnicity and background together. I wanted to be a part of a family of believers who loved freely and unconditionally. I wanted to belong to a faith that included every religion that believes in the One True God.

God’s Holy Temple has more than one gate. I believe that God is a God of immense grace. He loves His creation. He will provide a way to save all who believe and trust in Him, no matter who we are or where we live on this planet.

This is why I am a Bahá’í.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New youth on fire with core activities

It’s always exciting to see new believers on fire and plunging with full zeal and joy into service, and the enthusiasm of new Bahá’í youth is particularly intense. Here is a brief account of how one youth has hit the ground running:

A is college student at the University of __ and is a new believer who enrolled several months ago in his home community. He is hosting amazing devotionals in his dorm room, in which 10 or more members of the community of interest regularly attend. He has also been closely involved in a local NGO and shared with it the vision of junior youth groups, and now it wants to start junior youth groups as a service.

Monday, December 28, 2009

30? No, you now have 32 Baha'is!

Here is a trio of stories from Fort Bend-Brazoria, TX (A), all of which show the immense receptivity that is out there—in some cases the believer considers themselves a Bahá’í for some time before they announce their declaration to the friends. The teachers are sensitive and loving and take whatever time is necessary with a seeker and allow the teaching to proceed naturally. This is also a great example of the power of devotional gatherings and firesides.

As a result of direct teaching, our community has seen several new souls enter under the banner of Bahá’u’llah during this Five Year Plan.

One of our community members began sharing the Faith with her client after her Pilgrimage in Haifa. She shared photos and stories, as well as Anna’s Presentation. After a year and a half of lovingly sharing the Faith, in small increments whenever this client came to the Bahá’í’s shop for appointments, the seeker attended her first devotional gathering at the Bahá’í Center. After an hour of praying and visiting with those present, she told her friend, “You know, I’ve been a Bahá’í for about an hour now!” And she declared on the spot! . . .

During the intensive teaching effort, one man was visited. After sharing the fundamental verities of the Faith with him, the Bahá’ís asked him if he believed that Bahá’u’llah was the Manifestation for Today. He said yes and filled out a registration card. He asked, however, that the friends wait to process his enrollment, because he wanted his wife to learn about the Faith too. So the teachers and an Auxiliary Board member visited the family several times. After a month, the couple attended a fireside. At the end of the presentation the wife asked, “How many believers do you have in your community?” One of the friends responded, “Oh, about thirty.” The woman said, “No, I think you have thirty-two.” “What do you mean?” the Bahá’í asked. And then the woman replied, “You know—thirty plus my husband and me!”

Looking back to when we had just begun the intensive teaching in our cluster, many prayers were said. Several people, uninvited and unknown to the community, appeared at the devotional meetings at our Center. One of them attended a couple of firesides and then during his third or fourth devotional meeting, declared. After emotional congratulations, he said that he knew he had found the Faith the first time he attended a fireside-dinner at one of the homes. That gentleman is now serving as a member of the devotional planning committee. He comes to the Center every week to support the event. And at Ridvan last year, he was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly.

The children would have been very disappointed if the class had been cancelled

If you need a “pick me up”, just read this off-the-press story from Salisbury, MD (B). Here is a cluster where the small number of friends is clearly more than made up for by their sheer enthusiasm and joy. And they are exemplifying the exhortation of the Universal House of Justice to be completely free of prejudice: The friends went to a neighborhood that had been so stigmatized that even the police themselves told the Bahá’ís to stay away—and instead the believers reached out in humility and servitude and, together with their new friends, demonstrated the reality of the oneness of humanity by building a new spiritual community life. And note how the secret to sustaining core activities is CONSISTENCY. The friends quickly mobilized to make sure a children’s class could continue no matter what unexpected changes occurred.

The cluster of Salisbury, Maryland with approximately 45 Baha’is—including new believers—is scheduled to launch an intensive program of growth by Ridvan of 2010. Living there are a handful of committed believers serving as neighborhood teachers, tutors and children’s class teachers. There are others hosting firesides and devotionals. There is a receptive neighborhood we are working with. It is usually described by the locals as a “rough” neighborhood, and many of the friends were initially reluctant to enter it. In fact, one time while teaching in the neighborhood, some of the teachers were told by police officers that it was not safe! However, after a year of teaching in this neighborhood, welcoming new believers and visiting homes every week, it has become apparent that this neighborhood is made up of families with the same goals and aspirations for themselves and for their children that we all have.

There is no greater evidence of the dynamic and committed spirit of this cluster than the example of an 82-year-old children’s class teacher. Here is her story: . . .

When one of the new Bahá’ís in the neighborhood offered her home for a children’s class, the community accepted the offer and immediately 4 children’s class teachers arose to teach the children there. There have been 6 to 10 neighborhood children attending the class every Friday evening. One evening the hosting Bahá’í parent informed the teachers that she would be moving out of the neighborhood and so would no longer be able to host the children’s class. Immediately the teachers inquired with another family to see if they would be willing to host the children’s class in their home. The family agreed to host it.

On the evening that the teachers were to go to the new home, the lead teacher informed her 82-year “young” teaching partner that she would need to stay late at work and would not be able to join her. Without a moment’s hesitation and with total confidence, this fearless teacher of children proceeded to the neighborhood, went to the door of a home where she had never been and introduced herself to a family she had never met. The children were gathered and she enthusiastically and lovingly conducted the class. The children love the class and would have been disappointed had it been cancelled. The local friends who heard of her experience felt very humbled by her actions and example.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

She loved how this was "Faith in Action"

Home visits are a powerful means to forge friendships, to engage the community of interest, to nurture new believers—just to name a few things! The friends in the Howard County-Laurel, MD (A) recently set an ambitious goal for themselves to carry out 50 home visits during the current cycle of their intensive program of growth. This is a wonderful way to focus efforts and encourage ourselves to S T R E T C H to a new level of service. And what exciting home visits! The core activities and the institute process are all woven in with prayer and study of the Word of God—a truly coherent pair of gatherings.


Here are 2 home visits toward our goal of 50!

First, M reported to me that she did a home visit this week with her friend and her friend’s mother. I quote, "And I started talking about children's classes and how my mom teaches children's classes. __'s mom asked if it's through the Bahá’í Faith, and I said yes, but that it was a service to the community and open to children of all religious backgrounds. And then she was saying how she read about the Bahá’í Faith and how she likes how it’s all inclusive. So then I proceeded with sharing the deepening theme about the Covenant." . . .

Wow! That is my Book 2 collaborator!

Second, J and I had a home visit with __, a contact who has already attended firesides and Holy Days in the community. We had in-depth conversations about the Bible, about Bahá’u’lláh, about the Bahá’í fulfillment of Biblical scriptures. We reviewed all the 6 main Ruhi Books with her (yes ALL 6 of ‘em), she loved how this was 'Faith in action', and she wants to start Book 1 next month. We then followed this with some potent verses from the Hidden Words and the Book of Certitude and ended with a prayer where we were all holding hands. Ya Baha!

Astonishing accomplishments in just 12 months

Sometimes when we are so busy with the teaching work, we don’t ever notice the progress that is occurring. And yet, when we pause to look back on where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going, we can see that we have accomplished so, so much! The Regional Bahá’í Council for the Northeastern states just sent this message to all the Bahá’ís in that region. Wow! I have to say it again. Wow! In the space of just one year since the Regional Bahá’í Conferences, huge successes have been made on several fronts: cluster advancement, enrollments, homefront pioneering, etc. The accomplishments are stunning, and the Regional Council has used these successes as a window to encourage the friends to even more successes. This message also paints “the big picture” of how all the elements of the Five Year Plan and the various efforts of the friends fit together.

Dearly loved friends in the Northeast:

The Regional Bahá’í Council is delighted to share the wonderful accomplishments achieved in the 12 months since the December 13-14, 2008 Northeast Regional Conference held in Stamford, Connecticut. As the Universal House of Justice called on the friends gathered at the six Regional conferences in the United States, we are seeing that, “Every steadfast believer,” those who attended that conference, as well as those who were not able to do so, is showing “a faith and determination, a commitment to unity and sacrifice that will lift the Cause to a new stage in its development.” . . .

The Universal House of Justice said at Riván 2009, “A mere three years ago...” “With great vigour the friends everywhere began to pursue the goal of establishing intensive programmes of growth in no less than 1,500 clusters worldwide...” “But no one could have imagined then how profoundly the Lord of Hosts, in His inscrutable wisdom, intended to transform His community in so short a span of time.”

In 12 months our region has gone from 10 to 23 clusters engaged in an intensive program of growth. 14 more clusters are projected to reach that stage by Riván 2011. This means that by the end of the Five Year Plan, 37 out of our 48 clusters—where 94% of the believers in the Northeast reside—will be engaged in an intensive program of growth. This will be a remarkable accomplishment to put before the Universal House of Justice.

The number of adult and youth enrollments in the Northeast has grown during this Plan from 97 in year one, to 184 in year two, to 387 in year three! We are witnessing growth as a fruit of the institute process. “Experience suggests that the more closely teaching approaches and methods are aligned with the capacity acquired from the study of the institute courses the more rewarding the results.”

Most of our growth comes from “believers...entering into closer association with people of many walks of life, engaging them in earnest conversation on themes of spiritual import.” But seekers are also contacting us. In the past year there have been 77 enrollments in the Northeast from seekers who contacted us through the Seeker Response System. The number of seekers in the Seeker Response System in the Northeast has quadrupled from 200, two years ago, to over 800 today.

Another great blessing of Bahá’u’lláh is that 50 homefront pioneers have arisen in the Northeast since the Regional Conference and have been placed in 18 clusters “to help form the core of believers needed to establish the mutually reinforcing processes of teaching and training.” The Regional Council would like to place at least 50 additional homefront pioneers in the next 18 months, many of them in 19 clusters where “the settlement of homefront pioneers, even for six to twelve months, will provide stability and continuity for the teaching work and the process of community building.”

In clusters where a core group of believers are actively involved in the institute process and engaged in direct teaching we often see Bahá’í institutions and agencies collaborating more closely; Local Spiritual Assemblies actively involved in cluster and core activities; and youth engaged in the provisions of the Plan. The Regional Council is confident of winning the remaining goals of the Plan when we see the sacrificial services being offered by homefront pioneers, mobile tutors and travel teachers; capacity being built in cluster agencies; two learning sites developing in the region; resource persons serving clusters; home visits becoming the norm; formation of junior youth groups and neighborhood children’s classes accelerating; human resources being mobilized through accompaniment; and the friends increasingly opening neighborhood activities to all inhabitants of their communities.

These are our accomplishments in the last year. They portend a wonderful outcome for the Five Year Plan in the months ahead. While there will still be challenges as we strive to achieve sustainable growth in cluster after cluster, the Regional Council is certain that our focused commitment to the framework for action will overcome every obstacle.

The Regional Council prays for opportunities to walk this path of service, together with you.

With much love, appreciation and admiration.

Regional Bahá’í Council of the Northeastern States

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

They were surprised the teaching was so easy

Positive teaching experiences encourage others to also participate. This brief article from a community newsletter in the Austin, TX (A) cluster shares such an experience, a teaching effort that involved the younger members of the community, and that is integrated with the core activities.

What a marvelous weekend of collective teaching that took place at an apartment complex last month. Two new Bahá’ís declared and one child was registered! It was a great group that gathered for the effort and we really had fun. One of the junior youth that participated in the collective teaching said they were surprised that the teaching was so easy in this complex. People were so nice and friendly.

These new believers will be nurtured with home visits and are starting a study circle in their home.

"Do you also happen to have a pamphlet in . . ."

This story is an absolute delight. A Bahá’í visits a restaurant, and the waitress turns the tables on him with order after order—of Bahá’í books and pamphlets in diverse languages! It’s a wonderful example of the receptivity that is out there. Moreover, across the country, the friends have encountered a growing number of receptive populations, for many of whom English is not the primary language—and this leads to the need for teaching materials in various languages, as well as teachers who speak these languages. How wonderful in this case, that numerous materials were available for the seeker! For our part we would love to hear from all our readers about this—share your experiences in teaching and using materials in various languages!

Dear beloved friends of the Regional Baha'i Council:

I was told that I should share this with you.

I just love to share the Bahá’í teachings with whomever will listen, or in this case, read about them. I discovered another fruitful teaching site. I came across a brand new but very tiny Thai restaurant (they have only TWO tables for all their customers). . . .

The hostess seemed friendly and talkative so I asked her if I could give her some information on the Bahá’í Faith in Thai that I had with me, in my car. She said "I'd like to learn about Bahá’í, but I don't read Thai, but the cook does. Give it to him and I'd like information on Bahá’í in English." So I gave them both several items in both Thai and English.

Two weeks later, I stopped again at this restaurant, and I found out that the lady wanted more info in English (because she said that she had read everything and wanted more), but added to me that her husband is from Vietnam and he has a large family, and they'd all like Bahá’í books in Vietnamese. Well I was thrilled and gave her 7 items in Vietnamese, all of which I just happened to have with me in my car.

But that’s not all. When she asked, "What about the Laotian language?" I gave her 3 Bahá’í books in Laotian, "The New Garden", "Paris Talks" and a Bahá’í Prayer Book. She wanted Laotian books for her friends that she has been telling about the Faith. She's only known about the Faith for two weeks and is teaching others already. She is now reading "Secret of Divine Civilization", "Bahá’u’lláh's Tablet to the Christians", and "Thief in the Night", she says, so she can better answer questions from her Christian friends—and she wants more to read later after studying these 3 new books. I'll be seeing them again soon.

I can't tell you how thrilled and exciting it is to see how the power of the Bahá’í Writings transform people and give them such hope, inspiration, and a genuine sense of security. This family is totally thrilled that Bahá’í books are available in all these Asian languages, Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese, and I'm thrilled that I had them in my car when a need arose so that I could give them to folks who really desired to read and keep these precious books.

Who would have thought that such a wonderful teaching experience between an American Indian Bahá’í and a Thai immigrant would have become this evolving and ever widening pathway to more waiting souls, where they are learning about the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Every new soul who comes in contact with the Words of Bahá’u’lláh seems to me to be just one more success story directly attributable to the guidance of the Universal House of Justice and the mysterious positive forces set in motion by the many study circles, children and youth classes, devotional gatherings, and direct teaching projects in communities, large and small, throughout the globe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The next thing I knew, I was attending study circles . . .

This story of a new believer in the Chicago, IL (A) cluster is intriguing for a number of reasons. First, it shows the power of “the silent teacher”, i.e., the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette. Second, the seeker and his family had many positive experiences with Bahá’ís and saw a community truly trying to live out its beliefs and put its principles into practice (a theme that is repeatedly a focus of Anna’s conversation with Emilia). And finally, the institute process and opportunities to engage with the Word of God were indispensible.

__ became a Bahá’í in October. Here is his story:

My journey to becoming a Bahá’í began after a casual visit to the House of Worship a couple of years ago. A good friend of mine who had never been to Chicago was in town on business and I wanted to show him some of the more popular city attractions. Earlier that year the Bahá’í House of Worship had been names as one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois by the state Bureau of Tourism, so I decided to include it on our itinerary. The next thing I knew, I was handed the Hidden Words and began attending study circles, devotional gatherings, firesides and other Bahá’í events. . . .

I’ve always been intellectually curious about religion and spiritual matters. When I told a family member about my interest in the Faith, they said that they had never met a Bahá’í they didn’t like. I took that as a sign of approval, but that statement was also very telling. It couldn’t be mere coincidence. There had to be some explanation. I didn’t immediately understand what it was, but I do now.

It has everything to do with the Faith’s progressive and universal principles of justice, fairness, acceptance and respect. Those general principles are the core of any organized religion, but the difference is that being a Bahá’í is a way of life—it’s about living a virtuous life and not just having a religious identification. So it’s no wonder why Bahá’ís are so likable. Bahá’ís not only place a value on character, they practice principles that are valued by everyone and also are necessary for the important work of civilizing humankind. I’ve been a Bahá’í only a short time now, but I feel that in my heart I’ve always been a Bahá’í.

__’s tutor explained that one of the things fundamental to __’s journey was providing opportunities for him to access the Creative Word. He participated in study circles, as well as studying the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh with his tutor. After 2 years of studying, he officially became a member of the Faith. As he said though, he felt he has always been a Bahá’í in his heart.

She was so happy when she said "yes"

We have many conversations throughout the day. Some are on spiritual and lofty matters, others are on more mundane topics. When we strive to have meaningful conversations, teaching becomes something that happens naturally through our interactions, rather than as an isolated activity removed from the normal course of our day. Here is a story, shared by a regional seeker response specialist, sharing news of a conversation with someone who reached out to the Bahá’í community. The invitation to join the Bahá’í community was a natural part of the process. (And technology allows for the enrollment to be completed efficiently.)


I had the privilege of sharing Anna's Presentation with an online seeker today and at the end of the presentation, I invited her to register as a Bahá’í. She was so happy when she said 'yes'. She has been studying the Faith independently for two years after being introduced to it by a school chum that became a Bahá’í. She reached out because she wanted more information and had already realized in her heart that she was a Bahá’í. What a blessing that she is a youth! I have contacted the Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly so they can welcome her into the community and ask that the National Teaching Office electronically accept her registration and send it on to eMembership.

Lots of love,


Friday, December 18, 2009

. . . and then YOU knocked on our door!

The core activities are not just portals to growth; they are also a means to form intimate and meaningful friendships. This story from Fort Collins, CO (A) highlights this aspect of receptivity—people are yearning for positive and meaningful interactions with others. These receptive individuals connect with the Bahá’í community through a variety of pathways, but for this particular seeker, it was a team of Bahá’ís reaching out and “knocking on a door”

Dear D,

I just wanted to share with you the following email from a seeker to my wife. This seeker was originally met during a recent neighborhood outreach to invite people to core activities. __ and her husband started participating in a Book 1 study circle, and their son participates in a very diverse neighborhood children’s class. My wife is accompanying a new children’s class teacher, and I was fortunate to accompany the study circle. The activities in this neighborhood are truly a gift from Bahá’u’lláh. Here is the email from someone who already feels like a Bahá’í. . . .

Subject: A heartfelt Thank You

Hi M,

I just wanted to send you a short email this morning to express my Heartfelt Appreciation and Gratitude for you and the others in giving of yourselves so freely. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for having the opportunity to study Bahá’í. It is truly a gift!

I had been asking for guidance in helping my son come to a rounded and full idea of God, without all of the “baggage” that many religions bring into the mix—and then YOU knocked on our door! I am deeply grateful for that.

I had also been praying for new relationships to come into my life, relationships that would serve my highest soul, where I could continue to grow and evolve. Recently many of my interpersonal relationships have fallen away because they were not serving that purpose. But I had no idea how I could find these new relationships. Again, YOU knocked on the door and brought a wonderful group of like-minded individuals into my life! I am deeply grateful for that.

Blizzard, i-phone, both help college presentations

It is common for Bahá’ís to be invited to give a presentation about the Faith to college and university comparative religions classes. This report from Colorado Springs, CO (A) describes 2 such gatherings, one of which took place during a literal blizzard (but no snowstorm can hold back dedicated teachers). Particularly noteworthy is how the friends used these opportunities to practice what they had learned in the institute process to share a direct presentation about the Faith. The receptivity of the students is very inspiring to see. And technology continues to play its part in the teaching process—I loved how the seeker just automatically “pulled up” a photo of the Shrine of the Báb on their i-phone!

Four of us were scheduled last Sunday to give a presentation about the Faith to a class of Inter-Faith Ministerial candidates who were all due to be ordained in two weeks. . . .

The Saturday night before our scheduled presentation, the storm hit Colorado Springs, and all churches and other institutions cancelled their services and functions that Sunday. Since we were snowed in, we were under the impression that our class would be cancelled as well. But then we learnt that the class was still on since one of the other speakers (who was due to give a presentation right after us) lived close by the school and was planning to get there and give his presentation. So, we too braved the weather and headed out.

To our surprise, the roads were fine. We arrived and waited for our turn.

One of the friends gave a wonderful power point presentation about the Faith. We were preparing to wrap up and leave when the instructor of the class announced that the person due to speak after us was not going to make it (his car skidded on the roads so he returned home). As a result of that, we were given another 45 minutes for questions and answers!

The room was filled with energy as we were asked questions. The students who were around 15 in number, asked for contact information and links on the Web. They were not ready to let us go easily. One lady asked if she could help with our children’s classes after we shared with them information about the core activities. Another asked for a copy of the power point presentation. They were commenting fondly on Bahá’u’lláh’s quotations and the concepts introduced.

In brief, we left the class with hugs and a world of appreciation from the students as well as to Bahá’u’lláh for the gift of our Faith.

Four days later, one of us was scheduled to give a presentation on the Faith at a Comparative Religions class at the community college. It was the third time that the professor teaching this course had invited the Bahá’ís to do this. There were 22 students present. They were given an introduction to the Faith based on the presentation in Ruhi Book 6 for a whole hour. Then the floor was open to questions which lasted another 30 minutes.

The students demonstrated extreme interest in what they were hearing, and their professor even more so. He kept on remarking to the students, “You see? Didn’t I tell you it was a fascinating religion?” or “This is remarkable! Very unique!”

The subject matter aroused the students’ interest to such an extent that, when the presenter was talking about the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel, one of the students pulled up the photo of the Holy Shrine on his i-phone and passed it around so that all the students could see it.

The Bahá’í used that action to emphasize the point on how humanity has advanced so much and how it has “contracted into a single neighborhood” that there is a dire need for a global religion that can accommodate all.

At the end, the professor asked the presenter if she would visit his class every semester, and of course the answer was, “You bet!” They also decided to get together again in order to further discuss the unique inclusive character of the Bahá’í Faith, as well as other questions that could take them deeper into the study of the Faith.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A new protagonist arises to build a spiritual community

In the past few weeks we’ve shared a few stories about summer youth intensive teaching projects. Over the years these endeavors have become increasingly systematic, refining their structure and approach to 1) build the capacity of their participants to become human resources for life; 2) raise up human resources in the clusters in which they operation; 3) directly support the activities and efforts of the host clusters. It’s like a flashlight has become a laser beam! So here is a report about Project Zaynab, which was carried out in the Northwest region, and has all these elements—and more. This report is shared by Continental Counselor Navid Serrano, who introduces it (and encourages us all) with the following comments:

As the House of Justice says in its 26 April 2009 letter: “A visit to a home should be seen as one element of a coherent pattern of action that seeks to enable specific populations to contribute to the construction of the society envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh." . . .

In that context, I wanted to share a story from Portland, Oregon that was sent by the Auxiliary Board members. __ is a neighborhood in Portland where the youth from Project Zaynab started a children's class and junior youth group over the summer. What is encouraging about the story below is that while the conversation with the seeker may have begun by sharing the concept of building spiritual communities, the teachers were able to let it evolve naturally to a direct presentation of the Faith, which was then followed by an invitation to embrace the Cause and ultimately to a pledge by the new believer to help build a spiritual community by offering her home for children's classes.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could aspire to have all visits to a home look like this one?

Much love,


11 members of the teaching team met to pray and deepen this morning. Despite steady rain, small teams embarked on visiting the neighborhood. One team had made appointments for home visits with the parents of children attending children’s classes. The other three teams visited homes for direct teaching and to invite people to help build a spiritual community in the neighborhood.

The reception and welcome that these teams received was incredible. While only a few homes were visited and there were a few who politely declined, the teams were invited into several homes for further discussion and sharing of the Faith. Several parents indicated interest in having their children participate in children’s classes and junior youth groups. There were a number of people who took literature and invited the teams to come back and visit with them again when they are back in the neighborhood.

At one home, the team was invited in and the daughters were eager to share their stories and show the team members around their house. They even asked that they stay over for the night. The family shared their desire for a spiritual community.

Another team was warmly welcomed by a lady who immediately asked them to come inside and away from the rain. She shared that she had studied a number of religions but not found what she has been looking for. She agreed to listen to a presentation about the Faith. Over the next hour, the team had a wonderful and loving conversation with her and introduced the themes from the presentation. As she shared her thoughts and feedback, everything was in line with the teachings of the Faith. As such, the presentation resonated with her. This lady is excited to serve her neighborhood. At the end of the presentation, she declared! This was confirmation of the guidance that was studied by the team earlier in the morning which stated, “The House of Justice is confident that . . . there are innumerable souls who not only have the capacity to embrace this vision, but are ready, even eager, to work towards its realization.”

Plans were made to immediately engage this new believer in a Ruhi 1 study circle and she plans to invite her neighbors, family and friends to join in. She has a daughter and would like for her to participate in a neighborhood children’s class. She also offered to be a resource in the neighborhood by providing her home as a base of activities in the neighborhood, securing meeting space at the community center as needed, and providing other services needed to further develop a spiritual community in her neighborhood.

Re-charged Baha'i Campus Association plunges into action

What can a small group of Bahá’ís at a university campus do? How can a Bahá’í Campus Association (BCA) contribute to the Five Year Plan? The answer to both these questions is “A ton!” We are very excited to share these two pieces of correspondence related to a recently established BCA. The loving encouragement by the Regional Bahá’í Council to all Bahá’ís attending universities in the region, the enthusiasm of the friends at the University, the thoughtful consultation on opportunities and effective activities—these are all brilliantly reflected here. Core activities, firesides, Holy Days, interfaith efforts—they are doing it all!

First is a letter from the Bahá’í Campus Association to the Local Spiritual Assembly that is sponsoring it:

Dear Beloved Local Spiritual Assembly

The members of the University of __ Bahá’í Campus Association were excited to read the letter from the Regional Bahá’í Council to the Area Teaching Committees and Local Spiritual Assemblies in our region on the subject of college Bahá’í clubs. The letter and its enclosed documents were studied at a special club meeting called to address the issues raised by the Regional Council. . . .

As you know, our club had a brief lapse in active functioning owing to a drop in enrollment of Bahá’í students at the university last year. It is our immense pleasure to convey to you the exciting news that we have been officially reactivated as a registered student organization. Our first official order of business was to reflect and consult on the materials from the Regional Council and the National Teaching Office. The following planned line of action is based on our understanding of the guidance:

For starters, core activities sponsored by the Bahá’í Club, which have been ongoing during the Fall 2009 semester, will continue on a regular basis into the Spring 2010 semester. More details are mentioned below.

One new activity to be initiated by the Club includes participating in the campus semiannual day for student organizations, the next one of which is being held next month in the student center. This event is an opportunity for university organizations to reach out to the campus community with information about their activities and invitations to join the group and attend events. The Club’s approach to this event will be shaped by the document Some Strategies for Teaching College Populations provided by the Regional Council.

The Club agrees wholeheartedly with the statement in Regional Council’s letter that activities can be more effective when focused on a college campus. In addition to the core activities, firesides are a potent platform for meeting the often overlooked interest in the Faith on campuses. The plan is to schedule a regularly-held fireside on campus for the spring semester.

Publicizing our activities should prove fruitful on campus. The student paper is widely read and has already run an announcement for a Bahá’í Club event. Announcements written in chalk are allowed on the sidewalks and captivate students’ attention. There has also been a debate waged in both media (and the sidewalks and the newspaper) about interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance. The scene certainly seems set for the Bahá’í Club!

As you know, the Club also hosted an exciting Holy Day celebration for the commemoration of the Anniversary of the Birth of the Báb in an elegant and spacious room in the main campus library. The members will try to repeat that experience in hosting another Holy Day celebration in the spring. We are consulting with our Local Spiritual Assembly about holding our community’s Naw-Ruz celebration in the student center. Our BCA will try to attract wide attendance from the university and greater community.

As mentioned above, the Club—while pursuing the steps to achieve an active status on campus—did not wait to initiate core activities in attempting to play its part in the Five Year Plan. Some of its members and their friends and contacts have been meeting once a week to study the Reflections on the Life of the Spirit materials of the Ruhi Institute and are establishing a regular devotional meeting, possibly on campus. They will complete the final unit before the end of the semester and in the following semester will resume the regular meetings to go through the second book, Arising to Serve. A special weekend intensive course will be held soon to study the Animator materials.

So far, our Club has had 8 contacts from our community of interest attend our activities, including 2 on a regular basis.

The Club is grateful for the Assembly’s willingness to serve as its sponsoring institution, and it will make sure to communicate on a regular basis regarding its affairs and plans. Club meeting minutes will be provided to the Assembly in a timely manner.

The members of the Club beseech your prayers for their efforts to effectively serve the many communities the Club intersects on and off campus.

The Regional Bahá’í Council, which was copied on the above letter, then sent this loving response to the friends at this university.

Dear Friends,

Our hearts are overjoyed to learn that the __ Baha'i Campus Club is re-energized and actively participating in many events that will lead to teaching opportunities. The upcoming day for student organizations where you will be able to reach out to large numbers of students, as well as the Ruhi Book 1 study circle, Book 5 intensive, firesides and other activities are all very exciting!

We commend the __ Local Spiritual Assembly for sponsoring your Campus Club and look forward to hearing of more plans and success stories in the future. The Council will pray for your teaching efforts, that they will bear abundant fruits, and be acceptable to the Blessed Beauty.

Loving Baha'i greetings,

Your Regional Bahá’í Council

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seeker hosts devotional, teaches, unites religions

This is a story of a seeker organizing a devotional gathering, inviting her friends and family, and teaching the Faith. (It’s happening more and more, isn’t it?) What makes this story especially compelling is that the seeker and her guests are all Persian. A few years ago, perhaps not many people would have considered Persians to be a receptive population. Today, the friends in many clusters are sharing many inspiring stories of the immense receptivity and interest in this population. The following report is shared by a believer from an A-stage cluster in the Southwest region, and this devotional gathering occurred near the beginning of the cluster’s expansion phase. This friend was accompanied by a believer who is serving as resource person to support the Persian Bahá’ís in their efforts to reach out to their families and Persian friends and neighbors.

One day I was given the number of a seeker who is Persian. Immediately I called up the number and talked to her. She seemed extremely happy to hear my voice and after chit chatting for a while she invited me to dinner to her home. She told me that she has invited some friends who are visiting from Iran and some relatives who live here and she would love to have me over. I told her that I have a dear Persian friend, R, who is visiting, and asked if I could bring him too. It turned out that she knew his relatives and she told me that she is looking forward to seeing us. . . .

I would like to share that amazing night with you. Amazing is not even the word.

We were a little late and I was really worried that I had kept the guests waiting, but when we arrived the table was set and while we started eating more people came. In all we were 20 people. All Persians and everyone was speaking Farsi. While everyone was busy serving dinner, R asked the host what her plans for the night were and she replied, "We have a couple dear friends who are extremely ill, I hope we can all pray for them. Will you read a Bahá’í healing prayer?" R asked if it was OK with everyone, and she replied that she believes strongly in the power of prayer and it is up to them if they would like to open their hearts or not. While we were eating the phone rang and the host picked it up then she handed the phone to R. It was her husband, who was travelling at the time. He was calling to welcome us to his home and expressed his desire to meet with us on his return.

After dinner, little by little people left the table and started sitting in the living room pulling chairs from everywhere to create a circle—a circle of unity. At that point I didn't know that half of the guests were Christians and the other half were Muslims. Our host stood behind a chair smiling, and then said, “Tonight you see two new faces among us. They are __ and R. They are my Bahá’í friends and I've asked R to read a Bahá’í healing prayer for __ and __ and __. As you all know, people call me and request prayers, and since I strongly believe in the power of prayer I would like us to use this gathering and prayer for our dear friends.” She then added, “I'm always invited to sofrehs (Muslim prayer sessions), and I always take my Bahá’í prayer book with me. Prayer is prayer from any religion, and I love the Bahá’í prayers because they are very powerful and appeal to the heart.”

Everyone was silent. I was stunned. How wonderful to hear your message being shared by those who are searching. How bravely she stood, how loudly, clearly and passionately she spoke! She went into her bedroom and brought a prayer book by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I assumed R would immediately start praying, but no. He is much wiser than me.

He took his time and very politely and lovingly thanked everyone. He expressed his happiness in being among Persians and how wonderful for them to still have their language and culture even though they are so far away from home. He spoke so lovingly and kindly about Iran and how the Bahá’ís in Chicago hold an appreciation for Persian culture conference every year. Any tension that may have been there now all disappeared. He then encouraged everyone to share their prayers.

Everyone was very quite and reverent when he choose a beautiful Farsi prayer from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Ey Taleb Malakout”. Then the host got up and brought her own note book and read a prayer from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. R and the host then read other prayers. Suddenly one of the ladies attending said that she was inspired to pray in such a spiritual gathering. It was then that I learned that some of the guests were Christians and others were Muslims, each sitting on one side of the room. R and I were seated at either end in between them, as if we were linking the two religions.

A poem expressing appreciation for motherhood was shared by R in honor of the host’s mother. Slowly the conversation led to God and how we see Him. Most of the guests shared how they felt God in their hearts and in His creation and again we discussed the power of prayer. One gentleman said we should be content with what God decides to give us, because maybe what we wish for is not in our benefit. The conversation was gently led to the topic of the Covenant and that if God is one, then all the religions are one. This same gentleman said that a year ago, he would just stubbornly defend his beliefs, but now he is looking into other religions, even the Bahá’í Faith, because they all have something to teach you.

Another gentleman rose and walked over to the table with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s prayer book, picked it up and started reading it.

We all felt very good. It was a loving gathering, and the host told everyone that there was a reason why each of us should be here tonight at this specific time and place with these specific people among us. I have never, ever experienced so much love, protection and propagation from a Persian seeker.

When we were leaving she accompanied us to the door and had a long sincere conversation with us. She said she had attended the gathering held at USC for the seven prisoners in Iran, and there she realized that prejudice is not only a threat to the Bahá’í but a threat to mankind. She said we should all talk loud and support your movement. She said that wherever she is invited to pray she tells the group, I will read you prayers from the Bahá’í religion.

I just had a glimpse of how receptive the Iranians have become. Yes, it means if they are ready to hear the healing Message of Bahá’u’lláh then WE should be available to share it.

This reminds me of a beautiful song we sing in the children classes:

Teach, teach, teach, be as I am, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Let us make the most of the Expansion Phase. We still have a whole week to intensely share our love with the world.

Project Yaran: Learning in Action

What makes an intensive youth teaching project successful and effective? Training, empowerment, taking ownership, careful coordination—just to name a few. This past summer an innovative teaching effort was carried out in Southern California. Named Project Yaran in honor of the 7 Bahá’í leaders imprisoned in Iran, it is an inspiring harmony of systematic planning and on-the-ground learning. The organizers first studied and learned from the experience of an established, similar effort: Project Badi in Florida. Early on in the effort the youth participants were empowered to become the protagonists of Project Yaran. Careful coordination with the participating clusters ensured that the activities of the teaching teams would directly support the efforts and progress of those clusters, and that the local friends would carry on the teaching and consolidation work of their young visitors. This report is immensely rich in insights and practical learning.


The Regional Training Institute in southern California collaborated with the Regional Bahá’í Council and the Institution of the Learned to bring together a summer youth project based on the experience and learning obtained from Project Badi in Florida. Under the guidance of Counselor Farzin Aghdasi, a consulting and planning task force consisting of the Regional Council’s Deputy Secretary, the Southern California Regional Institute Coordinator and an Auxiliary Board member was formed. The goal of the project was to raise up a capable group of youth from clusters across Southern California to be teachers of the Cause through a 3-week intensive program that included both training and practice. . . .


Preparation involved learning from the experience of Project Badi. The materials used in the field in Project Badi were studied, and the planning task force consulted with the Project Badi coordinator. Weekly conference calls allowed the task force to launch the project in less than two months. Several key elements were identified:

It would be a 3-week summer youth initiative, comprised of a 1-week intensive training that included a hands-on teaching component, followed by 2 weeks of deployment into 8 priority clusters,, followed by a 2-day collective reflection on lessons learned.

The 8 priority clusters were identified by the Regional Teaching Office, and were all clusters scheduled to reach the A-stage of development by April 2010.

Prior weekend training of team coordinators. This ensured that all teaching team coordinators had either completed the tutor training, completed the animator training, and/or had prior direct teaching experience.

The 1-week intensive training was held at a site outside the urban area to minimize daily distractions. The training was primarily conducted by the team coordinators.

Participants were in the age range of 15 to 23 years.

The training program included emphasis on the arts, training and skill-building in the core activities, character refinement, and practice in sharing the fundamental verities of the Cause through a conversation such as that outlined in Ruhi Book 6. This was practiced in the field in a nearby A-stage cluster with ongoing direct teaching in a receptive neighborhood, which was critical to the participants’ practical learning.

The 47 participants were divided into 8 teams, each of which had at least one Spanish-speaking member. Each team coordinator contacted local core team members in the cluster where they would be working and communicated with them before and during the training week. The planning task force also communicated with the 8 clusters—and the region as a whole—through a series of progressive letters that helped maintain focus on the project’s goals and activities.

During the 2-week “deployment” phase, the team coordinator would work with local human resources to accompany and empower the local friends. The goal was to ensure the local friends could, both during this deployment phase and beyond, could follow up with the community of interest and new believers through direct teaching in receptive neighborhoods, children’s classes, junior youth groups, firesides, etc.

Host homes in the 8 clusters housed and fed the visiting youth teams.

Statistical Summary of Achievements

17 children’s classes established, with a collective total of approximately 307 students.

5 junior youth groups established, with a collective total of approximately 44 participants.

57 local believers in these clusters are following up to sustain the above 22 core activities.

197 home visits made, with an equal number of prayers shared.

72 devotional gatherings held.

56 firesides held.

139 direct presentations about the Faith made

6 enrollments

9 Book 1 study circles started.

Reflections of the participants

An essential ingredient in motivating the 47 youth to decide to participate in Project Yaran was Word-of-mouth awareness-raising carried out by a select few youth. These specific youth also become team coordinators.

Youth who were savvy with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace helped participants sign up online to participate.

Early on in the project, the team coordinators were empowered to take on responsibility for the success of the effort. Interpersonal challenges were consulted upon and resolved in a spirit of love and wisdom. These youth often met on their own after hours and gained unity of vision through these consultations, ultimately becoming a cohesive and enthusiastic set of protagonists.

Critical to the success of the 1-week training was to hold it outside the urban area. This allowed for the participants to be away from the day-to-day distractions of home concerns, friends, schoolwork, etc. This also helped develop deep friendships within and among the teams.

Another critical component of the training week was to hold multiple sessions to practice Anna’s conversation, followed by several sessions of direct teaching home visits. This helped empower participants for the deployment phase.

Most clusters responded very well to the prospect of a 2-week intensive teaching project. Detailed communication—preferably in a face-to-face meeting—with core team agencies in these clusters regarding exactly what is needed from them and what preparations should be completed before the youth teams arrive proved to be crucial.

Prior to the training week, the youth team coordinators and core teams should visit the receptive neighborhoods in the participating clusters to better understand the present needs of those neighborhoods. This also helps with coordination and relationship-building.

Prior hands-on experience in teaching children’s classes will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the youth teams.

It is important for the core team and human resources in the participating clusters to have a good understanding of the concept of a “reading circle” [an approach first used in Project Badi] that is introduced into the children’s classes in receptive neighborhoods.

The Regional Training Institute Coordinator for Southern California had the opportunity to participate in a training of Project Badi team coordinators carried out in the South Central region. This allowed the Project Yaran planning task force to adapt the elements of Project Badi to the Southern California setting.

It was good for the planning task force members to be present and available throughout the entire project for support and to respond to emergencies. Administrators were also always present to consult with team coordinators about changes to the teams to better match members’ experience, language skills, special needs, etc.

Youth needed to learn how to pace themselves to avoid fatigue and exhaustion.

During the deployment phase, it was more effective for youth to be assigned to a cluster other than their home cluster.

At the end of every day, it was crucial for team coordinators to spend the evening reflecting and consulting with all the cluster participants about the experiences of that day.

The local youth in the participating clusters should be encouraged and accompanied, ideally being a part of the teaching teams in the field, as well as the evening training and consultation.

Upon completion of the project, the youth should be introduced to their home clusters as valuable resources who could serve as teaching team members, assist other youth in the cluster to establish core activities, assist with firesides, support direct teaching and assist with the institute process. The participating youth should strive to take their skills back home to their clusters and work with the core agencies there to build capacity in other youth.


A key element of Project Yaran’s success was the quick learning and implementation by the team coordinators and participating youth. This effort will no doubt undergo further revision, such as more systematic coordination with local core teams and local youth. Project Yaran should not be seen or remembered as an event, but as a tool that can be replicated from cycle to cycle.

The reflection sessions among the team coordinators and the project task force have been ongoing to ensure continued follow-up with the participating youth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

They also want to raise their children in the Faith.

We are delighted to provide an update to the story we posted a couple of days ago about an online declaration. One important point here is the assistance of a local friend who spoke the new believer’s language, which facilitated the affirmation process, as well as the follow-up. And the core activities lead the way for consolidation. . . .

Dear friends,

I am delighted to inform you that __ (E’s wife) has been affirmed as a Bahá'í. You may now complete the enrollment through eMembership. . . .

__ speaks English, but is most comfortable with communicating in her mother tongue. A local believer who is fluent in that language helped to complete the affirmation. She says that it is clear that __ considers herself a Bahá'í. __ also mentioned that they were planning to go to the Bahá’í Center soon.

C, you mentioned the other day that E has been working with someone and will soon be starting core activities. Will you be able to inform them of his wife’s registration?

E and his wife also want to raise their children in the Faith. So there are new participants for children’s classes.

This is so exciting!

Loving Bahá'i regards,


Thursday, December 10, 2009

She just decided it was time

Sometimes when people reach out the Bahá’í community, they are eager to become involved in local activities right away. Other times, well, it takes just a little bit longer. But as this story shows, prayer and persistence eventually bring everyone together. The regional seeker response specialist writes the local friends in a small community where a declaration has just occurred. She also offers a variety of suggestions for welcoming this new believer and connecting her to the patterns of community life.

Dear Friends,


It was very nice speaking with you today. As I mentioned, yesterday I had the privilege of meeting __ over the phone and sharing Anna's Presentation. She had originally contacted the Bahá’í community over a year and a half ago. Even though she never returned emails or calls, your prayers and good intentions, and those of the Local Spiritual Assembly, had an effect. A quotation from beloved Universal House of Justice comes to mind: . . .

The divinely ordained institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá’í society . . . it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá’í flock.

(Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated Naw-Rúz 1974, to the Bahá’ís of the World)

__ has been learning about the Faith from a believer in a nearby town for several years, and has several Bahá’í books. I asked how she decided to declare now, and she just said that she decided it was time. She also said, “I want to be a better person. I want to do what I am meant to do.”

She is now affirmed and her information has been forwarded to the National Teaching Office to process the final part of her enrollment. Thank you for allowing me to assist with the computer processing part.

When __ and I spoke, she mentioned that she would like to participate in a very large community. She is thinking of visiting the Bahá’í Center in __ and attending some activities there. I encouraged her to also participate in the activities in her “hometown” Bahá’í community because they are smaller and will appreciate someone who has recently recognized the Promised One. I suggested she start by looking for at least one way to be of service.

For now, __ will likely continue to focus her time with her Bahá’í friend, but perhaps you can invite her for coffee, and offer to begin a Book 1 study circle, even if it is 1 on 1. What a Gift she has received, and what a gift she is!

Congratulations on this wonderful addition to the community of the Greatest Name!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Many facets to the "welcome package"

Here is another example of a new believer in the Central region whose path to the Faith involved both study via the internet and local Bahá’í gatherings. In this brief report you will see a variety of elements contributing to the “welcome”, including the internet, the House of Worship, affirmation, firesides, follow-up by local believers, core activities, and even traditional US Mail!

Dear Friends,

I am honored to write to you on this lovely Thanksgiving day to say that __ called me last evening a few minutes before we were ready to leave for the Day of the Covenant commemoration. His affirmation was completed and he is ready to be enrolled. . . .

__ called in response to a welcome letter sent by US mail which also included a brief overview of the Faith. When I spoke with him he said he had no further questions. He is clear on his desire to become a Baha'i.

His first contact with the Faith was an online search for places of worship. The Bahá’í House of Worship came up first on the list. He read information about it and about the Faith, then went to Wikipedia to study it further. The principles of unity in diversity and the laws were attractive. He said that he had already been living in line with the laws. Then he visited the House of Worship. He also recently attended a fireside hosted by some local believers. He said it was an amazing experience, and it confirmed his desire to be a Bahá’í.

He wants to start attending a devotional meeting and will meet with another local believer next weekend.

What a wonderful bounty we have seen in the past few weeks. Best wishes with welcoming the new Bahá'ís into your community.

Loving Bahá'i regards,


Widening the community of interest through online declaration

Here is the story of an individual in the Central region who registered his Faith online. In this case, his investigation of the Faith involved both “remote” approaches and friendships with local believers. This account, shared by the regional seeker response specialist, highlights the various aspects of the enrollment process for online registrants, including affirmation and eMembership. The discussion also shows that family members of new believers are often part of community of interest.

Dear Friends,

I am honored to inform you that __, who registered online, has been affirmed. The enrollment can now be completed through the eMembership system. His record should appear in the Pending Members folder. . . .

__ first learned about the Bahá'í Faith from a local believer about a year ago. Through reading on the website and watching a podcast, he gathered enough information to know he was attracted. Then recently he reconnected with this believer. So he decided to go online and register. He is especially attracted to the principles, the aspect of community and unity in diversity.

__ and his wife have plans to visit the Bahá'í House of Worship very soon so she may meet some Bahá'ís and decide if she wants to register as well.

In closing __ asked if his wife registers, will she be interviewed by me or someone else. I told him there were several options, including having a local believer meet with her. __ said he would like me to do it. So I will keep you posted on what happens.

I hope you all have a joyous day.

Loving Bahá'i regards,


New believers' stories get us out of our routines

All of us can slide into routines. Something you do every day, every week, so much that it becomes automatic and maybe just at the back of your mind. Sometimes we can even make the Faith itself just a routine. We do all our activities—on autopilot. One of the things that can shake us out of our routines is the sheer joy and excitement of new believers. These two stories, shared by a regional seeker response specialist, illustrate several things: First, yet another reminder that there are indeed receptive souls everywhere. Second, they help us reflect on how a local community can welcome in and support new Bahá’ís. Third, they show the immense enthusiasm and consecration of new believers. Let’s all turn off our cruise control and strive to “run out of teaching materials”!

This new believer is teaching over half a dozen seekers. She had already declared when she contacted us—she was asking for literature to teach others, since she had run out of materials! She is really on fire.

She thinks of the Faith all the time, reads all the times, and finds seekers who are interested in the Faith all the time. She is now participating in a Book 1 study circle. I’ve also sent her the PowerPoint presentation that can be used when sharing Anna’s conversation, as well as explained how to enroll folks online and with hard copy cards. (When she declared at a Bahá’í gathering, it was so unexpected that someone had to drive to their home to get a registration card.)

I invited her to write up her story. Here are some excerpts: . . .

My Journey to the Bahá’í Faith

It all started years ago when I was younger and I felt unfulfilled with religion. I always wondered which religion was the “right” religion. I went to church occasionally but I never felt that I was fulfilled. I was not okay being in a religion where I as a woman was automatically considered less than a man and was told to be submissive to men. I just felt like God loved all His creations equally and therefore that meant we were all equal.

In high school, I had many friends of many different religions and was always interested in learning what each one was all about. I came to a conclusion that religions were connected and it felt like God was the same for all religions and He just used different Messengers.

I investigated a lot of religions to see if I could find something that I felt connected to, but could not. Then I learned that one of my classmates talking about his religion, and I learned he was a Bahá’í.

I did research on my own and it clicked. Here was something telling me that I as a woman was equal and that religions are truly meant to be a uniting force and not something that divides. It took me a while to get the conviction to go for it and truly strive to become a Bahá’í. I know it is right because I now feel a fulfillment that I never did before. I feel like I now belong and fit somewhere and that I'm not crazy for thinking the things that I have felt about religion. I am excited and want to learn more about the Faith and be active in it.

I’ve always been a Bahá’í; I’ve never not been one. I was starving for it, begging for it.

Since becoming a Bahá’í my soul feels different. It has changed my life, and I’m in it for life.

With love,


Here is another:

I know I’m a Bahá’í because I believe in everyone coming together as one to solve our world’s problems.

I was at a moment in my life when I needed something to help pick me up, and that’s when I found Bahá’u’lláh. He and His teachings have opened up a new way of life, a new door for me. And all of humankind should work together as one and not fight against each other but work and help each other.

This Faith and Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and what He has done for us is going to make me appreciate life more and be happier with what I have and make the best of it. Now that He has my soul, because I believe, under Him I am safe.