Monday, December 28, 2009

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.

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