Saturday, August 2, 2008

Experience inviting to a study circle

This happened just last week. Since then, two more newfound seekers, another Chinese girl and a Polish man, expressed their wish to join the study circle to learn more about the Faith! We will be having our first meeting this Sunday.

We were a mixed gender team who had invited a (Chinese) friend of ours to a devotional/fireside last December which she said she had enjoyed. Since then, she had been busy until June finishing her thesis. On Friday we invited her in a message through Facebook to know what the Baha’i Faith is about, since we hadn't had the opportunity to really tell her about it. We said that, in brief, the Baha’is are engaged in building a new world civilization, and ultimately transforming the present one. We are learning to apply the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in our personal lives and social relations in order to build a peaceful and just society. We then invited her to learn about the Faith on Sunday at a team member's place.

When she came, we gave her most of Anna's presentation. She said that she was generally not religious, but she turned out to be very open and commented positively on what we said. Then we had dinner, and afterwards brought out Ruhi book 1 to give her a taster. We briefly told her its purpose, opened the book to the first exercises of unit one, and did three of the questions. Then we skipped to the part on prayer and answered the first couple of questions together. We asked if she would be willing to participate in a study circle starting next weekend, to which she agreed, and even suggested we have it at her place!

Musical fireside using 'Anna's presentation'

This is from an inspiring post (slightly edited) on Chantelle's blog:
Note the discerning use of arts and media as a means for attracting hearts when presenting the sacred Message of Bahá'u'lláh:

[I] had an incredible experience back home, we had a musical fireside the second Saturday I was back at my house, and [my father] who's not a Baha'i brought along his new tenant who had shown an interest in the Faith when she saw the newspaper article in his office with my massive face on it saying "Baha'i baby."
- "Are you a Baha'i?"
- "No, my daughter is, she just got back from Israel, she can tell you all about it."
So we organised this event, with her in mind, going through 'Anna's presentation' with songs dispersed throughout and two videos, and slide show with quotes on....
It was AMAZING, we had three interested people come, and [after the presentation] we all naturally paired off and went through in more detail what we had covered using the flipcharts....for about 45 minutes we did that one-on-one type deepening and the room was alive... [My mother] handed out dessert and we continued, then the lady [my father had] brought came to me and said "I just told Chelsea and I would like to tell you that I would like to formally become a Baha'i" - Stunned look on Chantelle's face....
"Wow...yes oh my gosh...thats great"
Of course we have no declaration cards...but yeah...she just instantly recognised Baha'u'llah in those two hours...
She is from India, had been living in NZ for two years, and told me, at the age of 13 she [had encountered a man in New Dehli who informed her about] the building of the 'new Baha'i Temple'. From that moment on she was intrigued by this Faith...and then as a 32 year old living in NZ....she finally finds out more deeply about it and declares...
What a gift.
I sat and talked with her at her place quite a few times..., it was like meeting my sister in a way...we just got each other!!

Chantelle adds in an email to me about what they did after the media presentation, studying together one-on-one:

[Basically, the initial, general] presentation took highlights of [Anna's presentation], such as relationship to God, Manifestation, Baha'u'llah, the Covenant, Oneness of humanity, and then we went through step-by-step in more detail of Anna's presentation in flipchart form so they [could] internalise what they just saw and dig [deeper] into concepts.

Thank you, Miss Brader!

(Emphasis added. Used with permission of the author. - A.)
(This post is mirrored here: )

Friday, August 1, 2008

Invite the hearer to join a core activity or fireside

It occurred to me that while presenting the Faith through "Anna's presentation" I could focus my intention on involving the listener in one of the core activities (be it a devotional meeting, study circle, or children's-/junior youth class) or a fireside--perhaps, instead of inviting the person to declare his faith directly. Here in Norway especially, given the high level of skepticism to and negative (historically motivated) perceptions about organized religion. this may be a wise approach. Besides, by participating in these activities the person is actually doing the Baha'i work of building a new civilization, and is thus, in a sense, a "Baha'i" believer!

Whosoever works for unity and fellowship is a servant of Bahá'u'lláh, and Bahá'u'lláh is his assistant and helper.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP p. 324

Whosoever is lacking in love for humanity or manifests hatred and bigotry toward any part of it violates the foundation and source of his own belief and is holding to forms and imitations. Jesus Christ declares that the sun rises upon the evil and the good, and the rain descends upon the just and the unjust--upon all humanity alike. Christ was a divine mercy which shone upon all mankind, the medium for the descent of the bounty of God, and the bounty of God is transcendent, unrestricted, universal.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP p. 41

If men followed the Holy Counsels and the Teachings of the Prophets, if Divine Light shone in all hearts and men were really religious, we should soon see peace on earth and the Kingdom of God among men. The laws of God may be likened unto the soul and material progress unto the body. If the body was not animated by the soul, it would cease to exist. It is my earnest prayer that spirituality may ever grow and increase in the world, so that customs may become enlightened and peace and concord may be established.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PT p. 108

The children of men are all brothers, and the prerequisites of brotherhood are manifold. Among them is that one should wish for one’s brother that which one wisheth for oneself. Therefore, it behoveth him who is the recipient of an inward or outward gift or who partaketh of the bread of heaven to inform and invite his friends with the utmost love and kindness. If they respond favourably, his object is attained; otherwise he should leave them to themselves without contending with them or uttering a word that would cause the least sadness. This is the undoubted truth, and aught else is unworthy and unbecoming.

Bahá’u’lláh, ToU 41

A place to share experiences with teaching the Faith

In carrying out the act of teaching the Baha'i Faith, a natural concomitant is reflecting on experiences gained.

This blog intends to document some thoughts, ideas and experiences related to this activity.
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