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.

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