Friday, June 6, 2014

Ella with stage 4 cancer joined the Faith: "I have tears in my eyes"

Ella was born and raised in Chicago and visited the Bahai House of Worship many times.  Here she shares her thoughts during the affirmation process with a Bahai. 

“About 2 years ago I was dealing with Cancer, I am in stage 4 at the moment. When I go into the Bahai House of Worship, it gives me inner peace. The all-encompassing concept of Baha'i is what attracted me. A friend of mine from college called me.   I mentioned that I was looking at Baha'i as a religion that I was interested in. She said she didn't know anything about Baha'i but started talking to me about how Christ was the only way to God. I didn't say anything to her but that is what made me go to the website and push the button that says 'I want to be a Baha'i'. Cancer has been a growth experience. It can change your life for the better. It makes you appreciate things around you. Who am I to judge others? I love the concept of accepting all people, religions, cultures, nationalities. Last year I took a philosophy course on World religion and I did a PowerPoint presentation on Baha'i Faith for the class. Having visted the Bahai House of Worship for 4 or 5 years now, I am slowly becoming deeper and closer [to the Faith] after every visit. My whole Baha'i experience has been enriching. There is no other way to exist except with unity. I appreciate the fact that we cannot understand God. People make up what God is in their minds. And these ideas of what they think God is cause divisions.”  

Further she shares how she feels now about joining the Bahai Faith. 

“What I love about the Baha'i Faith is you have to put in effort to grow, enrich and explore to be a Baha'I; not just sit around and do nothing. I found myself in a discussion with a friend of mine who was in a bad mood and the Baha'i principles helped me to make things positive for my friend. I am happy to be here in this moment in time. I have not taken this lightly. This is was I want in my life. I have a big smile on my face while we were talking. I have tears in my eyes during our talk.”

"I was mesmerized by the values and beliefs . . . "

Alysa from Arkansas shared how she first heard about the Bahai Faith . . .  

I saw Oprah and Rainn Wilson on TV and I was mesmerized by the values and beliefs of Baha'i and I was in an AHHHAAAA moment and life's questions became more fluid through me and I GOT IT. I have a 17 year son that has struggled with some big churches in town and wants to worship without judgments. . . I believe he could understand Love and creativity as one through the Baha'i beliefs.  I hate to see him struggle with his feelings in life.  Thank you Oprah and Rainn !

"I am 'too American' and not 'Muslim' enough . . I am drawn to the Bahai Faith"

Amelia, contacted the Bahais to learn more about the Faith. She brought along some friends with her when she met over tea. 

I have been searching for a long time now for a place to belong.  I am an American Lebanese woman who was brought up in the Muslim faith.  My parents were very moderate and progressive.  I married a man who was Presbyterian but I converted for the joint effort of raising our children.  However, as the years went on, having tried a few mosques, I feel like I just don't belong.  I am "too American" and not "Muslim" enough.  I have felt very judged and the more I have read find it hard to be comforted by all of the "fear" concepts of the Koran.  I have a deep belief in God and feel that we are all one people which is why I was drawn to learn more of the Baha'i faith.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One family's journey began with mom's study of a world religion for class

A local Bahai shared this story about Jack, and his discovery of the Bahai Faith . . .  

Jack heard about the Faith a year ago.  He was not raised in a religious home.  His wife was in school and had to do a project about a world religion.  She chose the Baha'i Faith. His wife realized that she had driven past one of the Bahai schools often but didn't know what “Bahai” stood for.  After seeing the Rainn Wilson interview on Oprah, she began investigating the Faith for herself and has since become a Baha'i.  Now, her husband has also accepted the Faith.  Their two children are actively involved with children’s classes for 10 to 12 year olds.   

Jack, his wife and children are actively involved in the Bahai community.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Today I discovered there is a faith that believes as I do"

Jennifer inquired today about the Bahai Faith . . . . and she registered her declaration online. 

"I have always felt that the only religion god expects me to follow is one of kindness and compassion toward all living creatures.  I had abandoned my Jewish upbringing and felt Judaism and all religions ask for your blind devotion or faith without question. Today I discovered there is a faith that believes as I do."

SED: The co-founder of RISE shares "My father always told me that you should burn with passion and love for the rest of the world."

At 24 years of age, Shivani has accomplished a great deal in establishing her future as a student of global health and economic development at University College London, health policy at Cambridge University, and infectious disease control at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  While attending a university in Georgia, her love of cooking inspired her to organize a culinary club that served the homeless and supported organic farmers. Her interest in theater inspired her to direct, produce and act in a play aimed at women's issues and preventing sexual violence. Her involvement on a debate team moved her to teach debating skills to youth in the inner-city of Atlanta.  Her international travels and field work motivated her to create a non-profit organization, RISE Glocal.  

The mission of RISE Glocal is:

The empowerment of communities with a focus on women and children, through education, community recreation, water sanitation and hygiene activities, nutrition, and health-based programs, based on complete community involvement and participation. RISE's vision is a world where communities are enabled to determine their futures. 

RISE provides, for example, libraries for needly schools, organizes sustainable health clubs in primary schools, and spreads health education through soccer.  It also uses creative arts to bypass culture and language barriers and connect people to health and environmental education through indigenous music, poetry, and drama.  Though based in the United States, many endeavors of RISE Glocal now operate in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Jordan, and Mexico.  Learn more about RISE at 

Shivani shared what inspired her on the path of social and economic development. 

"My father always told me that you should burn with passion and love for the rest of the world. You should take what you learn outside of yourself and apply it.”
As an enrolled member of the Bahai Faith, Shivani is currently pioneering internationally.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Josh, age 24: "I couldn't stop [reading about the Bahai Faith]"

Josh, who is only 24, shares his excitement in discovering the Bahai Faith . . . .

“Before tonight I never knew anything the Baha'i faith only of it. I began reading about its beliefs, structure, and history and I couldn't stop and now here I am trying to get into contact with the local community of Baha'is. I want to learn everything about it because there is something that has grabbed at me in every way I can describe because it seems that all the things I have come to believe in my heart are central to Baha'i teachings. I have many questions and I am eager for answers.”

Janice: Please call me as soon as possible . . . . my son is . . .

Janice called 800-22UNITE and is now enrolled . . . Here is what she asked . . . .

“Please have someone call me as soon as possible.  I also wonder if someone can send me a copy of the Most Holy Book so I can read it.  My son went to war and came back a practicing Baha'i.”

Sandy shares why she, at 25 years old, joined the Bahai Faith

Sandy, a 25 year old youth who recently declared her belief and is now an enrolled member shared this about herself, when asked “what changed for you [to want to become a Bahai]?” 

Oh man! That is a talk we will have in person. Lots of things. Mainly the fact that I was never a "devout" Christian to begin with. After a lot of research and reading about the foundations of the Baha'i faith, I really agree with a lot of them. I think one of the ones that stood out for me is that we are all one. Not necessarily segregated due to religious beliefs. I remember at Christmas, my uncle was asking why I didn't bring [my Bahai boyfriend home] with me. He was out of town visiting family, but also he does not celebrate Christmas. Then of course the whole family surrounded me, and asked me what his beliefs were. When I said he was a Baha'i, they were really confused and made some jokes about it. My mom and I have also talked about it, and she seemed to be really put off at first, and she said, "Well, I don't really know what that is . . . But if he doesn't believe in God, then . . . ." I interrupted her, and corrected her. I think it just scared her a bit because she was afraid I would end up with someone who does not believe in God! LOL. But I really like the fact that it unifies all social classes, nationality, culture, and religious beliefs.  

I feel like [the Bahai Faith] focuses a lot on peace and kindness. Practicing patience, and serving your community, which are all things that I am very passionate about, as opposed to condemning people for their wrong doings. [Some in] my family are extreme "Bible thumpers," (that's what I call extremists, LOL) who see any kind of sin as the worst thing in the world! I hate it. It's caused a divide in our family, and I don't think any type of religion should do this to anyone, ESPECIALLY your own family.”

"Bahai is the way I'm supposed to go.”

Jake, age 23,  heard about the Faith from a Bahai in line at the grocery store.  He shared this message by text about his spiritual journey. 

“About two years ago I spoke with a man. We talked about many things, somehow the conversation drifted into religion. Risking discrimination I was open and honest about how I believe all religions are just different interpretations of the same thing. Kinda like just different languages. He told me about Bahai.  I've looked into it a little, and I'm more than compelled to know more. The basic principles of Bahai, that I know of, are spot on to how I believe. I grew up in a Christian family but I never felt that God would have wanted all this . . . religious persecution and segregation. I also believe that there was more to God and worship than what King James had dictated. I feel that most don’t know anything other than what they're taught and this saddened me because in us all, a voice of righteousness has been overlooked. I believe people are being misled. So here I am, and from what I've learned and what I feel, Bahai is the way I'm supposed to go.”

A Muslim: "I am . . . interested in learning more about the Bahai Faith"

From California a young man inquired today about the Bahai Faith . . . .
"I am a muslim. Interested in learning more about the Bahai faith. What are the practices?"

What is the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program?

The junior youth spiritual empowerment program is open to young people aged between approximately 12 and 14 and assists them to navigate through a crucial stage in their lives. 

Those in their early adolescent years possess altruism, a sense of justice, eagerness to learn about the universe, and a desire to contribute to the construction of a better world.

The program helps them form a strong moral identity and empowers them to contribute to the well-being of their communities and the world at large. 

By developing their spiritual qualities (virtues), their intellectual capabilities and their capacities for service to society, the participants come to see that they can become agents of positive change in the world. 

The program adopts a participatory mode of learning where the facilitator and participants learn from each other. 

Groups of participants engage in activities such as artistic expression, discussion, drama, cooperative games, study of literature, storytelling, and acts of community service. 

The junior youth program explores themes from a Bahá'í perspective, but is not a formal religious education program. It is open to all, subject to parental approval. Junior youth groups meet on a regular basis and there is no written homework. 

There will be regular parent meetings and parent involvement is welcome.

Since its inception, the Ruhi Institute* has attached special importance to its work with youth aged 12 to 15; specifically, it has sought to understand the dynamics of maintaining small groups in local communities that offer a setting in which young people can discuss ideas and form a strong moral identity. The Institute has found the titles noted below, some of which are developed by other organizations, useful for this purpose. They are divided into two categories and are listed in order of difficulty. Several other titles will eventually be added to the Institute’s program for the spiritual empowerment of junior youth. 

All of the titles are concerned with developing language skills and the power of expression. Some in the first category also address mathematical concepts and social issues, while others seek to prepare young people to approach the investigation of physical, social and spiritual reality in a scientific manner. Though the moral concepts in the materials in the first category are drawn from the Bahá’í teachings, they are not religious in nature, nor do they treat subjects that are specifically Bahá’í. Many kinds of organizations, including academic institutions, will therefore find them useful for their educational programs with junior youth. The current titles in this category are:

·         Glimmerings of Hope
·         Thinking About Numbers
·         Walking the Straight Path
·         Learning About Excellence
·         Observation and Insight (not yet available)
·         The Human Temple
·         Drawing on the Power of the Word 

In its own work with young people, the Ruhi Institute includes the items in the second category, which address Bahá’í-related subjects. Among these subjects are those with which adolescents most often struggle, such as, free will and predestination and the complex relationship between will and knowledge. Currently, the following titles are in this category: 

·         Spirit of Faith
·         Power of the Holy Spirit

* The Ruhi Institute carries out active research in the educational field, in order to develop programs and materials that enhance the capacity of individuals and communities to serve humanity worldwide.