Monday, July 29, 2013

Seeker unsettled by verdict of George Zimmerman trial finds comfort with Bahá’ís

When a terrible event happens in the world, one that saddens many hearts and brings tears to many eyes, we seek solace and comfort. One woman in Alabama contacted the Baha’is and shared about the impact of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and the death of Travon Martin.
“Still unsure how to deal with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, I sort of zoned out. Afterward, two movies caught my attention: one filled with injustice, immorality and bloodshed; the other [filled me with] despair, desperation and self-awareness. An actress in the latter movie was unfamiliar to me, so I researched her. Everything about her seemed at peace. Something I need right now! [The actress, a Bahai, wanted] to spread Bahá’í [teachings] to everyone. I then looked up the fundamentals of this lifestyle . . . ”
Upon receiving news of this inquiry, the local Baha’is contacted her and shared this about their visit together.
“I met with [her] yesterday morning for breakfast and we had a really good visit. I gave her a [book of] Bahá’í Prayers for Women, and a Who Are the Bahá’ís brochure, and a [few other materials that I thought would conform her]. We [talked about] Bahá’u’lláh, who He is, progressive revelation, ways to learn about the Faith, and [I did my best to ] answer questions she had. I [invited her to a local event] and told her I would be happy to go with her . . . She was surprised and happy to know there are Bahá’ís near her.”
A few days later, she attended a devotional gathering and met some Baha’is. She asked several more questions and said she would see us again soon.


He prayed he would meet Bahais and he did!

Stephen has been researching religions for some time.  At one point, he considered joining the Mormon community, but decided to keep searching.  He had heard about the Bahai Faith many years ago, and in his travels actually visited the gardens in Haifa.  Recently, he prayed that he would meet a Bahá’í and would learn more about it.  His prayers were answered because soon he met a Bahai woman who invited him to informal talks about the Bahai Faith.  Stephen is an engineer by trade and was particularly fascinated by the teachings about the world government--so much so, he has since joined the Bahai community as a member!

Stephen has also shown interest in connecting his son with the junior youth group in his community—a program that empowers the young through exploring their interests in creating a better world.   

Friday, July 26, 2013

"I am a Bahai! . . . My spirit is elevated"

David has been searching for spirituality and he has visited different churches and mosques. When visiting different religious groups, sometimes he felt sad when he noticed that some groups excluded others.  David felt that there shouldn't be divisions because humankind "is one." David was specially inspired by the beauty of Baha'u'llah's writings, he also expressed that the principles of the Faith were in accordance with his own beliefs.  He believes that we are one human family.  He understands and believes in the concept of Progressive Revelation. After hearing a presentation of the Faith and being asked if he believed in Baha'u'llah, the principles and laws of the Baha'i Faith, he said "yes, I'm a Baha'i."  We didn't have a registration card with us, instead we had him register his declaration using the online form.  David was very happy and later on he shared some of his feelings in this way:

"Baha'u'lah is the true successor in the line of Prophets, the new Manifestation of God. I feel like my heart found peace since I became a member of the Baha'i community. To be able to reconcile my morals with my spirituality is wonderful. Thank you for praying over me and helping with my journey. I feel like the traveler who finally catches sight of his destination. Sure, there is a journey still ahead, but my spirit is elevated and my steps are longer already."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

From Presbyterian to Bahai - "I'm ready!"

Ann first heard about the Baha'i Faith from a friend, who is a Baha'i. Since then, she has attended several local activities which she found "interesting and fulfilling" and is currently in Ruhi Book 1. She knows many of the Baha'is in the area. Here is the story about her journey, as shared by those who met her.
Ann was raised in the Presbyterian Church and her husband is an Orthodox Jew. She took up Judaism for a while but had a hard time "giving up bacon and lobster"! She [noted that though she knows] a lot of ministers [she] always felt that they could not answer her questions and did not appreciate when she asks such as "is Christ truly the Son of God?" or "Why do we celebrate Christmas when it is a pagan holiday?" She shared that the ministers always asked her "Why are you asking so many questions?!" Ann feels she has been searching for a long time and when she discovered the Baha'i Faith, she felt "this is it!" When asked what attracted her the most, she mentioned the "peacefulness" which she says she immediately felt in her own life; that the Baha'is are sincere, have no discord and are happy. When asked how she came to recognize Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for this day, she shared it has been a "growing feeling" and that the concept of the oneness of the Manifestations makes perfect sense. . . .We talked a bit about the vastness of the Revelation, agreeing that she would have many questions along her path, and to feel free to ask them. One question she had during Ruhi: "How do you pray? - do you kneel, stand, and raise your hands...?"
Ann let the Bahais know: "I'm ready!" when she decided to register her declaration!

She "is like a heavenly fragrant breeze" - A new youth enrolls in the Faith!

Yet another vibrant youth has become attracted to the Faith, recently enrolled and attended one of the near-by youth conferences underway!

The friends who met her in the community share this bit of excitement about this new friend.

Angela is extraordinarily sincere and of high capacity, a real asset to the faith. Her person is like a heavenly fragrant breeze. She went to the Boston Bahai conference as well. Thanks for reaching out."


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Grin Within - A personal story about becoming a Bahai

A woman in central Texas registered her declaration recently, and this is the story she shared.

Always I have been aware of the presence of the Spirit deep within me. Try as I may, my searching of religions and faiths would leave me wanting. This long seeking was worth the journey . . . I have found the source of the Grin Within...The Pure Spirit of Our Creator.

Recently a friend in Houston wrote the word Baha'i on a piece of paper given it to me. When I read it, I felt a quickening within. I asked my other Houston friend I was staying with what was Baha'i. She told me she was Baha'i for 40 years. She also had grown up around this note giver and his family who all were raised and practice the Baha'i faith for over 30 years. I was excited. It had quickly become evident this was not all coincidence. I could feel and was being shown how God's Plan was evident. That Sunday service [I had attended] was sooo unlike any I had ever attended . . . it just all made so much sense. Intuitively I felt all the Baha'i s I met that day were kindred spirits. Later over lunch with my two Baha'i friends I heard spoken and tried to repeat Ya Bahá'u'l-Abhá. My friend laughed at my expression when I spoke this . . . I felt a spark from within ignite and was left in a state of awe. I did not wait to [register my declaration to become a member of the Bahai Faith]. I wrote and signed my own declaration card!

Prayers I had only in my heart were and are being answered in perfect ways. One blessing after another are being given and shown to me. That next Sunday as I was preparing to attend the Austin's Baha'i Center meeting, I marveled how my world . . . my whole life had been rocked . . . not just rocked, but it had undergone a Tectonic Upheaval . . .

Years before when faced with very real desperation, I was given a prayer for healing.

God's Plan for our life is for:

Peace of Mind
Joyous Activity
True Peace and
Unbroken Progress

and ask to not let your will interfere with God's plan.

The Baha'i faith IS Baha'u'llah’s Plan for my Life!

Ya Bahá'u'l-Abhá!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Over dinner: I was profoundly affected by the youth!

One family shared this story about how they were touched by youth visiting them for dinner and sharing the spirit of fellowship and love!

A group of 12 youth arrived Friday and just left last night. They deepened on letters from the House of Justice,prayed and made plans for their three-week campaign. The booklet that was compiled must have been done by the Counselors. Two of the youth who are orchestrating the group had travelled to Montreal and received deepening there. Three of the youth were Native Americans. One Native American chanted prayers. It was out of this world! Before the youth left he chanted a gratitude song with his drum, and each youth came up to us and hugged us and thanked us for the weekend. I am still on cloud nine! It touched me most profoundly.

The impact of this visit continues to resonate . . .

I can't tell you strongly enough how profoundly I was affected by the Native American chanting. He would cry out from his heart and the while house would reverberate! Another youth plays for [a] youth Symphony. She played her violin for us. It was like being at a professional concert! I was eating dinner when she started to play her violin. I couldn't pick up my fork! Her music reverberated throughout the house and everyone became silent.  . . .  They are now out in the neighborhoods [inviting] preyouth to the animators classes, praying together 3 times a day and [studying together in] book 5. Things are changing nation-wide.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Youth declares at conference - "I thought I was already a Bahai!"

As the 13 Youth Conferences are underway across the United States, stories about the youth who want to become members of the community are being shared.

What follows is a story about Ryan, an 18 year old who attended a recent Youth Conference, and on the last day, discovered that he hadn't yet registered his declaration to be a 'member' of the Bahai Faith. This was news to him because he had already been actively involved with the Bahais for more than 5 years and considered himself a Bahai! This story is told from the perspective of the volunteer at the regional level who follows up with those who register their declarations online for that region . . .

I wanted to share exciting news of a youth who registered as a Baha'i on his cell phone! The information came through the database and I just happened to be at the computer. I called his number and heard loud cheering in the background . . . .Five years ago when Ryan was 13, a neighbor [invited him] to the [local] Baha'i Center to help set up decorations for the Ayyam-i-Ha party. [Because] Ryan has had connection with the Baha'i community for the past 5 years [he] always thought he was a Baha'i. [N]o one told him he needed to register!

Ryan has completed Ruhi books 1, 2 and 3 and will be continuing the series after the Youth Conference. Ryan asked about the essence of God being Unknowable. He was encouraged to learn more about Baha'u'llah's life and stay connected to [his local] Baha'i Community.

This story highlights so many different attributes, from nurturing and love of the local community to technology access online.