Both these stories come from the same A-stage cluster in the Southwestern region. They are both about conversations: those that a teacher has with a seeker, those between people who are rapidly becoming close friends, those among people who are yearning for a safe social space to talk about God and religion. It is this safe space that is an immensely important service that the Bahá’ís can provide to their neighbors through home visits (well, one of these was a “reverse home visit”, but that’s immaterial). The respect and sensitivity of the friends, is crucial, as is the ability to truly listen. As one of the teaching team members states, “We were able to gain a much better understanding of the thoughts and feelings our friends hold dear in their hearts.”
At a recent devotional, a young family in our study circle expressed anxiety about rejecting Christ if they were to accept Bahá’u’lláh and follow His teachings. One member of our teaching team encouraged them to pray to Christ and gave them a copy of the Kitáb-i-Íqán. Two other members of our teaching team made plans to visit the family and read Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh together. . . .
We visited the family in their home. Together we tried to recite from memory the first paragraph of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, “they that tread the path of faith . . . must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly, their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth.” Then we studied and discussed several paragraphs of the Lawh-i-Aqdas (Tablet to the Christians), where Bahá’u’lláh writes about Jesus Christ, “He hath testified of Me, and I do testify of Him” and “This ‘Ye cannot bear it now’.”
The family continues to read and deepen their understanding of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings and develop close ties of friendship with members of our teaching team.
On Sunday a teaching partner and I got together to say prayers and visit a few friends of ours to discuss the Faith. We sent one friend a text message asking how he was and could we come over for a little bit to chat. He responded saying that he was going out, but would it be okay if he and his friend came by to my house in 15 minutes. Of course I said, “Yes!”
We immediately went into cleaning mode, washing dishes, boiling water for tea, and ran around the corner to grab a few sweets from the store. It’s amazing how fast you can straighten up a house and get ready for guests when the pressure is on! A few minutes later, they arrived.
After talking for a few minutes on various topics, the conversation turned to talking about religion and faith. Our contact’s friend talked about how she feels about religion in general. Like many, she believes in God but has a negative feeling when religions try to force others to believe as they do and are not respectful of others’ beliefs.
Throughout the hour we enjoyed each other’s company tremendously, and we all agreed how wonderful it is to have a place where we can sit and talk about spiritual topics, share our heartfelt feelings and understandings without fear of being judged or made to feel like we are misinformed. We were able to gain a much better understanding of the thoughts and feelings our friends hold dear in their hearts regarding family, religion, unity, and many other things. We were also able to share many of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, as well as a few prayers.
The first prayer we shared, one of the contacts responded “Oh! That’s a good one!” Next we shared the “Remover of Difficulties” prayer, to which my friend responded, “I like that one, can you say it again?”
Before they left we agreed to get together again soon. We will see where it goes from here.