Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Study and Service Are Carried Out Concurrently

That the Bahá’í world has succeeded in developing a culture which promotes a way of thinking, studying, and acting, in which all consider themselves as treading a common path of service -- supporting one another and advancing together, respectful of the knowledge that each one possesses at any given moment and avoiding the tendency to divide the believers into categories such as deepened and uninformed -- is an accomplishment of enormous proportions.  And therein lie the dynamics of an irrepressible movement. (Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2010)

The Area Teaching Committee of California’s Monterey County cluster (A-stage) reports this story about a recent on-line declarant.

“J.” is in the US Navy and is currently stationed at _____. Following news of his on-line declaration and confirmation, the institute process was initiated with some twists due to local conditions. Since the [military base] is closed to civilians, home visits were not possible, so “J.” had home visits at the home of some nearby Bahá’ís. Bonds of friendship quickly developed through these home visits. “J.” showed great interest in advancing his knowledge of the Bahá’í Faith, so within a couple of weeks, he was enrolled in a Ruhi Book 1 course. Layers of accompaniment occurred throughout the course of study. The woman serving as tutor had recently completed Book 7, and this was her first experience as a tutor. She was accompanied by [another student] who had completed the sequence of courses and initially served as co-tutor. So not only was “J.” developing his capacities, but the capacity of a new tutor was also strengthened. Prior to completing his study of Book 1, we started talking with “J.” about hosting a devotional gathering for [his colleagues on the military base]. By the end of Book 1, “J.” hosted his first devotional gathering, and invited twenty of his colleagues! The devotional was hosted at the home of the nearby Bahá’ís, and all of a sudden the [military base], which formerly seemed to be closed, was now perceived as part of the neighborhood.  Since then, “J.” has participated in home visits in the target neighborhood for the cluster's Intensive Program of Growth, and he is planning his second devotional gathering.

“J.” will be leaving in December for his new assignment. While we will miss him dearly, he will be prepared to serve no matter where he goes. Thanks to him, we have seen what can happen "when study and service are joined and carried out concurrently."

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