Adversity—and our response to it—helps teach the Faith. A few weeks ago, the Orlando Bahá’í Center burned down in a fire that the police ultimately discovered to be caused by arson. This tragedy was covered by the local news, and the calm and loving response of the friends there (and their steadfastness in continuing to gather and carry out their community activities) stimulated a lot of interest in the Faith. Here is an account of two of those inquiries:
Just received a call from a seeker in Florida who was responding to the news about the fire at the Bahá’í Center in Orlando. She was ". . . so impressed by how the Bahá'í responded in the news about this terrible event—she seemed so calm and graceful!" [The secretary of the Orlando Local Spiritual Assembly was quoted in the news as saying, “We promote the harmony and unity of all faiths and races, and the equality of women and men. For us we don’t see anybody that could’ve possibly wanted to do this.”] She further went on to say that both she and her husband went online to learn more about the Bahá'í Faith and then she immediately identified with our teachings. She said, "I have believed these things all my life, and I had no idea there were others who believed like I do. I want to attend some activities in my area." I gave her the phone number of the regional specialist who works closely with Florida. . . .
The regional specialist then reports:
I have been on he phone for about 25 minutes with this lovely lady who told me the story of her husband coming into her room to tell her of the newscast about the Orlando fire. He said to her, "You won't believe how compassionate this speaker was." And then he said to her, "I think this may be the faith you have been looking for."
I listened to her story of her years of search into every nook and cranny. She has been studying religion for a long time and asked wonderful, intelligent questions. She possesses a great respect for Islam and attended the Unitarian Church this past year. She wanted more detail about the origin of the Faith so I was able to share much about the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. I shared some of the sacred scriptures, including the Hidden Word that says, "My calamity is My Providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy." She said, “Wow . . . that fits the fire at the center."
I just love this seeker. She has a wonderfully, investigative spirit.
The second inquiry because of the fire came in yesterday on line. The seeker’s note indicates a very sincere interest in the Faith and the Orlando fire is what directed her attention to us. I wrote her a warm letter of welcome last night and left a phone message for her also. I will keep you posted.