Saturday, January 24, 2009

Outreach focusing on Junior Youth and Children's Classes

Here is a refreshing and informative report from Northern Ireland:


A service project in Northern Lights cluster over 15—16 November aimed to set up one children’s class and one junior youth group. It resulted in the establishment of one junior youth group, initially with 10 junior youth, and two children’s classes, one for 5 – 7 year olds initially with three children and one for 8 – 10 year olds initially with seven children.

“The plan was to have teams of two people go out in their respective assigned streets and offer a children’s class and a junior youth group. We would offer that same day a ‘’taster session’’ of about 45 minutes long to give people the chance to see what we would do in a children’s class or a junior youth group. On the first day eight of us met at 7.30 am for a spiritual mix of individual and collective prayers, deepening and consultation. After this four teams of two went out to their assigned streets and/or parks that were within walking distance of the local Community Centre. We knocked on doors as well as meeting people on the streets to inform them of the opportunity to join either a children's class or a junior youth group by inviting them to the taster session that was going to happen that day. Nine children and 10 junior youth attended the taster session.

Given the excellent turn out on Saturday the team after much reflection and consultation decided to forego outreach on Sunday and instead decided to visit the parents of the children and junior youth that came on Saturday. The main purpose of the visit was to inform the parents of the content of the course and child protection procedures. Also we knew there was a possibility that those whom we made contact with on Saturday who didn't come to the taster session may turn up at the taster session on Sunday.

There were seven of us on Sunday. We met at 8.00 am for a spiritual mix of individual and collective prayers, deepening and consultation. Following this, three teams revisited the homes of children and junior youth that had attended on Saturday. All but two homes were contacted with positive responses. The other two homes were followed up soon after. For the Sunday taster session we had five junior youth attended, of which three were newcomers. One child attended, but had also attended on Saturday. And on Sunday evening we reflected on a great weekend of learning through experience.”


CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland
Issue 141 - 2 Sharaf 165 BE - 1 January 2009 CE

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Small teams easy to organize - report from teaching project in N. Ireland

Here is a report of a few interesting teaching encounters under a project in Northern Ireland recently. It concludes:
Because our team is small and organization is comparatively easy the Auxiliary Board Member encouraged us to engage in collective teaching at regular intervals.


The first outreach weekend in Newry took place on 22-23 November and proved an interesting and rewarding experience. After prayer, reflection and study on the Friday evening and Saturday morning the teaching began. A participant reports:

“It was bitterly cold, but we were amazed at how some people stood in their doorways and connected with us. There were of course those who did not wish to know what we had to say, but over the course of the two days there were a number of souls who showed some degree of receptivity, and three whom we felt were our priority in follow up. We found young people from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia to show receptivity, although language was often a barrier. We experimented the second day with trying not to use the word religion early in the presentation as we had found that this created an unfavourable reaction. During consultation we realized that two of the teams were expressing feelings around needing somehow to integrate the invitation to the study circle taster into Anna’s Presentation, so we decided to experiment in this area. We made some presentations beginning with the fact that we were inviting people to participate in a course about spiritual subjects such as the purpose of life.

We had a number of confirming experiences.

In one we met a Polish man whose English was not good but who seemed interested in the faith from the little he understood. We arranged to visit again the next day, this time bring Anna's Presentation in Polish. When we arrived at the arranged time, the man was still in bed following a party the previous night, but we told his friend why we had come and asked if he would be interested in hearing the presentation, and he said he would, brought us in and engaged with great interest in the presentation. We stayed for an hour. Then he had to leave for work but invited us back, saying he could talk to us for an entire week because he had so many questions and thoughts! All through the project we had met several Polish people but though many of them were receptive, we had difficulty teaching them because of the language barrier; but now we have found a Polish man with good English who we pray may be the key to teaching his fellow countrymen.

In the bitter cold a young girl (clad in her pyjamas) came to the door, and listened intently to what we had to say, the introduction was prefaced with a few words about the fact that we were offering a course about spiritual subjects and the purpose of life. Notable about this girl was her radiance and friendly demeanour. A few pages into the presentation it was apparent that she was very cold we paused and remarked on this, she agreed but asked us to continue. We told her about the taster that evening, she looked very interested and said that she was a catholic but was very open-minded and would like to attend.

As we walked together to the estate in which we were teaching, we saw two youths coming towards us and decided to speak to them. We had a lively discussion with them about religion, amazed at their insights and perception and touched by how deeply they thought about and understood things. We really came to understand the extent to which that generation is lost and angry; and the extent to which they despise religion as it has been taught to them. Then one of the young men who had been silent for much of the time angrily expressed his inner torment. We spoke to him about his choices, about how he could use his passion to fuel self-harm and destruction, or use it as fuel to rescue his generation and those coming behind him; and we invited him and his friend to train to work with junior youth.

They offered us the advice that they both felt from their own experience that we needed to be working with eleven and twelve year olds, that it's already too late by the time youth reach 13 and 14! They took flyers from us advertising the taster session and giving a phone number, address and web address. We did not really expect them to show up at the taster, and sure enough they did not show up; but we both felt that one of the young men was in crisis that day, and that our meeting with them was fortuitous, gave him hope, and will bear undoubted fruit in the future.

The teaching team was very happy with the project and we look forward to following up with those receptive souls, whom we feel were sent to us by Baha’u’llah. Because our team is small and organization is comparatively easy the Auxiliary Board Member encouraged us to engage in collective teaching at regular intervals. We are planning another outreach at the end of January.”


CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland
Issue 141 - 2 Sharaf 165 BE - 1 January 2009 CE