Monday, September 27, 2010

"Share this precious gift with others"

A Bahá’í in Pennsylvania describes meeting with a new believer:

I am so happy to report that I was able to visit ________ at his home and have a spiritually thrilling conversation with him.  He is most certainly a committed Bahá’í, having (as he describes it) spent much of his life seeking, investigating all religions and philosophies....  Upon finding the Bahá’í web site and reading the Writings, he was almost immediately convinced of the truth of the Cause.  On his own, he began reading the Iqan, the Aqdas, and Gleanings, receiving strong confirmation that this was the Word of God. Learning that he should pray the obligatory prayers daily, he purchased a Bahá’í prayer book.  He shows every sign of a true Bahá’í, including conviction that he must share this precious gift with others....

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Desire for Something Better

This new Bahá’í in Tennessee shares his early impressions of the community, as well as some personal reflections about faith:

I have met with the other Bahá’ís at a reflection gathering Saturday night, it was neat . . .  It's beautiful to see Persians, Indians, whites, and blacks all getting together in such unity!  The Bahá’ís could very well be a wonderful example for everyone else, as there are a lot of communities which are very divided.

I've been thinking that my main goal as a Bahá’í should be to live a virtuous life.  To embody certain things like chastity, temperance, prudence, charity, and all of the fruits of the Holy Spirit which were outlined by Paul in several epistles . . . I had always heard that in order to surrender something to God, you must have love for something more -- a desire for something better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

“I felt the need to investigate the Bahá’í religion”

A new believer from Florida shares his journey to the Faith:

"To begin with, I was a practicing alcoholic during my younger days.  My date of sobriety is July 21st of 1980, and I owe this to my shadowy concept of a God, and the most blessed program that has allowed me to recover from that disease.  Even in the days of my addictions and despair, I often felt a need for, and belief in, God -- although the world or the bottle blocked it out.

"I was a non-practicing Christian when I met and fell in love with a wonderful, culturally Jewish woman named ____, and it became evident that we might like to share our lives together -- but we were not willing to get married in either a church or a synagogue.  We were living in Chicago, visited the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, and were intrigued with the absence of malice to all people, the equality of the sexes, that all the religions are directed to the One God of All, that all men are brothers and sisters, and the lack of clergy.  We discussed the requirements for marriage, got the consent of our parents, fulfilled the Bahá’í requirements, and we were married at the House of Worship on August 8, 1988.  As my bride to be and myself rested alone but together before the ceremony in the auditorium, I felt a peace and hope for my life ahead, and an attraction to the religion of Bahá’u’lláh.

"At various times throughout my years in Chicago, I was reminded of the Bahá’í Faith.  While not interested in organized religion, I was so attracted to the ideas I had read in the visitor’s area of the House of Worship.

"We have moved several times since our marriage ceremony in Wilmette, and are now living in Central Florida.  We returned to Chicago in July for a week or so.  During our stay, we visited the House of Worship, and there, while reading more about the Faith, I felt a stirring and a calling that I was to become a Bahá’í.  As I read about the concepts of equality and justice, I got very emotional, and tears flowed as I felt the need to investigate the Bahá’í religion.  I felt that I was being called to the Faith.  I believed then that my journey to find a God of my understanding is the God of Baha’u’llah."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The Most Wise And Rational Ideology Of All”

Stories coming in from all over the country show that the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith make sense to a lot of people who were raised in other traditions.

A Bahá’í reports on a seeker from North Carolina:

“____ was raised southern Baptist, and at a young age started questioning what he was learning.  He spent time trying to figure out what he believed.  During this process he met Bahá’ís in his area and started attending activities, reading and learning more about the Faith and Bahá’u’lláh.  He felt that the Faith was exactly what he had been looking for.”

A new believer in Texas says:

“Since I was born, I was always interested in religion and spirituality.  I would always ask questions about God, and often had religious experiences, but after a while I lost touch with my spiritual side.

“When I was about 12 years old, I started reading the Bible and became interested in religion again.  As I learned more and more, it was obvious to me that I didn’t agree with mainstream Christianity.  So I investigated a number of religions like Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, but I didn’t completely agree with any.  During this time, I learned of the Bahá’í Faith and agreed with everything I read or heard about it.

“After doing a lot more research into the Faith, I made it official right after my 15th birthday.”

A seeker in Florida writes to a Bahá’í who has been teaching him:

“I have many questions regarding the Bahá’í Faith.  Only recently have I discovered this faith.  Being raised as a Christian, I have always questioned the dogma.  I am a free thinker, but always have been a strong believer in the God of Abraham.  I recently have returned from India on a University study abroad program and have seen the peaceful ways of the eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hindusim….  What I admire most about the Bahá’í Faith is that it gives credence to various messengers of God from many Religions.  At the core, I have always maintained the belief that most religions have a message of peace and for the advancement of civilization and mankind.  However, I am not a pacifist and I believe in self defense, security, law, liberty, peace, and justice for everyone regardless of race, gender or creed.  I would like to learn more about the evolution of the Abrahamic religions from Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb and the teachings of the Bahá’u’lláh.  I find it to be the most wise and rational ideology of all.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Community Building Initiatives

"Project Ruhullah" participants, upstate New York.

In localities all over the world, Bahá’ís are striving in very specific ways to contribute to a process of community building that seeks to involve all interested members of a given neighborhood.

Among other activities, they are implementing moral education classes for children, and spiritual empowerment programs for junior youth.  They freely offer these activities to friends, neighbors, and anyone else that would like to participate.  They seek to train others to conduct the activities and to multiply their number, so that ever-increasing populations can benefit from them.

The goal is to improve oneself, and to help create a better society.

During the summer months when many school-aged children and college students were on vacation, various Bahá’í communities hosted seminars (like Project Ruhullah, photo above) designed to train youth to carry out such programs.

This video link will take you to an 11-minute clip highlighting relevant experiences of some Bahá’ís in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"They Had Me At Progressive Revelation"

A new believer from the South Central region shares her story of coming to the Faith:

This time last August, I was settling in at my parents’ house.  I was pretty distraught about going from College Graduate to Boomerang Kid so swiftly, but I was trying to stay optimistic.  I held on to the hope that it was a temporary arrangement.  There was a job waiting for me in January.  All I had to do was wait it out, contemplating the kind of future I was (one day soon) going to shape for myself.  It was only a few weeks later that a possible future I never considered became a very daunting reality.  My mother, at the bright age of fifty-two, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.  Since I was living at home, I was able to be there for her from the moment she was diagnosed until her last night with us in this world.

It’s still quite difficult to put into words how those last two months with her affected me.  Every time I try to distill the experience, the words seem…inadequate. Suffice it to say my life was permanently changed.

It didn’t take very long for me to lose patience with fear.  There was no sense in not living the way I wanted to live.  I want to live my life in a way that I can do some good in the world.  And I wanted a faith that will help me achieve that because of everything it stands for, because of the community it creates.  Not despite it.

Idea turned into action when one night I sat down at my computer and sought information from the only Bahá’í I had ever known.

Quickly I met the most wonderful, welcoming people I could have hoped to encounter.  No one ever pressured me into anything, and everyone was open to questions and discussions.  I’ve met plenty of people who put on their faith like a Sunday hat, but I didn’t see that with any of the Bahá’ís that I met.  I felt like I could ask anyone about some aspect of the Faith, and the conversation would flow just as easily as if I had asked what they had done over the weekend.

I jokingly told a friend, “They had me at progressive revelation.”  Which is partly true.  I love progressive revelation.  And unity.  And equality.  I love that the answers I found validated beliefs I was used to keeping as a secret.  I love that I was encouraged to keep asking questions.  After three months of exploration, I decided to declare.  Why wait?  I knew deep down I had already made my decision.

Recently I was introduced to someone as “a new Bahá’í.”  The man I was meeting shook my hand and said to me, “You’ll never graduate from this school.”  I smiled and thought, thank goodness.  I know the search isn’t over.  But I finally feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Establishing Neighborhood Connections

The East San Diego County cluster reports that a number of individuals and teaching teams have gained experience forging connections between neighbors:

Informal gatherings in the home to foster friendship and community building have been effective.  The themes are many and varied.  Members of one teaching team invited neighbors to a neighborhood dessert, a Race Unity Day barbecue, a World Cup Final potluck, and a financial workshop.  One Bahá’í couple hosts neighborhood potluck evenings that take place four times a year; 25 to 30 neighbors participate, and one or two Bahá’í couples are invited to each potluck.  Another team has begun gatherings that are spiritual conversations about mental health.  At each meeting, readings from scriptures or a book are discussed.  Service to others, such as prayers and visits to the sick, was mentioned as an important element of community building.  The ______ teaching team has initiated seasonal (spring, summer, autumn, winter) neighborhood gatherings that have proved successful.

A neighbor of a Baha'i family in the ______ area sends a thank you card after attending a dinner at the home of the Baha'is and says, “I admire how you've moved into the neighborhood and met us all and have gotten us all talking.”

After a successful gathering in a ______ neighborhood with about 14 neighbors, the Bahá’ís of the neighborhood have already started planning follow-up visits to reinforce new relationships, dinners with families in smaller groups to get to know them better, and look for new ways of rendering service to their neighborhood.

Another ______ neighborhood just had their first gathering.  Over 16 neighbors attended and got to know each other.  One couple asked the host family about the Greatest Name above their door.  The first step as planned by the host family was to get to know their neighbors, then comes building friendships and finding paths of service to enrich their lives.

After a successful first gathering last cycle in a ______ neighborhood, a Health and Healing devotional was held this cycle.  At least one person from every household on the street attended the devotional with a total of nine neighbors and friends, and three Baha'is including the host family.  Each person read a prayer or writing on the topic of Health and Healing.  One of the neighbors commented later that perhaps we should have some discussion after each reading next time and said “...the energy was invigorating and joyous... brought the whole neighborhood together into a cohesive loving group”.  The Baha'i hosts are planning to continue this devotional for their neighborhood and their next step is to have a mini Ruhi-style question and answer format for discussion to see if there is interest in starting a study circle.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Online Registration System

Many people who do not have Bahá’í friends or associates come across the teachings of the Faith via the internet.  The online registration system at enables them to join the community and get connected:

J. (from an “A” cluster in the Northeastern region) registered her declaration online.  She received a follow-up call from a Bahá’í, who reported that J. was crying with joy.  The local Assembly was informed, as well as the cluster core team who identified someone to accompany J. on her new path of learning and service.

B. (from a “C” stage cluster) had been a fan of Rainn Wilson for many years.  He started following Rainn on Twitter, and discovered Rainn is a Bahá’í.  From there, B. investigated the Faith online, making stops at in addition to Wikipedia and various Bahá’í websites.  B. registered his declaration online, and soon a Bahá’í met with him to present the fundamental verities of the Faith.  His wife is open to his newly found Faith, and they are parents of an infant.

In registering online, Z. said: “I am excited to finally declare myself a member of the Bahá’í Faith.”  Before making this decision, he had read Bahá’í literature on the internet, and gained a good understanding of the Central Figures of the Faith.  Z. attends _____ university where he plans to join the Bahá’í club (or form one, if none currently exists).

F. (age 17, from the Southeastern region) was raised by a Presbyterian mother and an atheist father, has a Jewish grandmother, and attended Catholic school.  He is very interested in religion.  Through learning about the Bahá’í Faith online, F. has understood the importance of studying the sacred Writings, and saying the Obligatory Prayers.  He registered to join the community via the link at, and is sharing all about his newly found Faith at his school.  With the enrolment of F., his cluster has been shifted from the “D” stage (no Bahá’ís) to “C” stage -- he is the first Bahá’í in his cluster!