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.

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