Thursday, November 12, 2009

On for Posterity: Teaching Stories from the Hilltop Campaign, Tacoma, Washington

These are some stories as recorded for posterity from our recent Baha'i Intensive Program of Growth in our cluster.
Teaching Stories from the Hilltop Campaign

1st Weekend – October 17 & 18, 2009

One team connected on a deep spiritual level. Before going out they said prayers for the departed ones they were calling on for assistance, and prayed that they would be led to a waiting soul. They saw a man at a house with handicap access (number 919) and thought that looked like a good house for Bahá’í gatherings! The man was receptive and said he looks out for the neighborhood. He wanted to come to something, so they invited him to the devotional the next day, and he did attend. He said he was happy to be somewhere positive. They went to find a young lady who had declared in a previous cycle. The person at the door said the family had moved, but that he knew the new address. They immediately went to the new address and found the new Bahá’í brother there who also expressed an interest in the Faith.
Another team met a man and his children as they approached their door.The man was very skeptical about religion, but the more he heard about the Faith the more he said it resonated with him and he was interested in learning more. His children, ages 8 & 11, had been expressing a desire to get involved in a church, but he was reluctant because of the indoctrination of churches. He was a very nice and genuine person who was very straightforward, and he welcomed us to come back to share more about activities that his children could attend. He was also going to talk with his wife about it and have her look on the internet.
A team member had made a strong personal connect with one of their neighbors, so the team went there to visit. The team felt a closeness in prayer and were able to bring this into the neighbor’s home and make a heart connection with him. They talked about children’s classes. They also spoke about the death of the neighbor’s brother five years ago that was still impacting their extended family, and a prayer for the departed was offered. He said to come back anytime.
A new Bahá’í who used to live in the neighborhood went with a team to visit several old neighbors. They visited a minister who coincidentally had been visited by another team in a previous cycle. They talked about children and junior youth, the difficulties of being involved in the churches (especially money issues), and how happy the new Bahá’í is. The new Bahá’í feels his friend is receptive.
A team came to a home of a mother and daughter. The mother was an older woman, part of the “liberal faction”, raised in the 20’s and not religious. Both said they were not interested in religion, but the team was surprised when they were invited in. The emphasis on the core activities with the goal of creating a better community was well received by these women. They had two separate conversations going. As one team member spoke with the daughter, she was able to share how the groundwork must be done to establish these communities and the lady was able to see how religion relates to that. Had the team emphasized the religious aspect first, they would have rejected it. They felt that this new approach awakens people to the vision of the Faith that is positive and uplifting. When they left, these women felt hopeful and wished the team much success.
One team came upon some neighbors who were outside visiting so it was easy to approach them. One of the ladies was Mormon with an 11 year old and was very interested in hearing about junior youth activities in the neighborhood. Her husband came down to join the discussion and then the conversation turned. He was very negative and thought it sounded like a cult, so that sort of cut off the wife’s interest. Another lady in the group was just moving into a new place after being homeless for five years and was interested in working with youth. They got her number. They went to a house where there was loud music playing. When there was a pause in the music, they knocked loudly. A young man answered and said he was very interested but was getting ready to leave and that someone should come back another time. He was raised Catholic and Baptist. The team really liked the new approach, and said it feels much more natural and they got good feedback. If they mentioned “Bahá’í Faith” at the beginning, people said “no thanks” but if they said “Bahá’í community” they were more likely to listen.
Another team met two ladies who were not interested at first when they perceived we weren’t Christian, but as one team member explained our love of Christ it changed the focus and they were able to continue the dialogue. When the importance of prayer was brought up, one of the ladies invited the team in to pray together and gathered the family for prayer. She wanted to hear more about the Faith first, so they started the presentation. They sat at the dining room table and proceeded while one of the ladies made dinner. They were in the bosom of the family withteenagers coming and going, eating, etc. There was an interest in life after death. They finally got around to praying and one lady said the “Refresh and gladden” prayer. She said that was a good prayer for her as she has anxiety. They said to come again as they need this, and want to start a devotional and junior youth group. They discussed joining the Faith, and she said she is going to pray about it.
A team visited a young woman who said she was Mormon for over 6 years and was ‘burnt’ with religion. The core activities were shared and she expressed more interest. Her son is 18 months. Her husband joined the conversation on the porch and his interest further ignited his wife’s. They wanted to know more about Bahá’u’lláh, so a short rendition of the concept “manifestations” using the presentation quotes was offered. Both werevery interested in learning more a meeting was set up for the following Thursday afternoon. Leaving the home the team expressed that they wish they could have stayed longer because their hearts were connected but they were honoring their new friends’ planned activities for the day. Suddenly the door behind them reopened and they were invited to come back for a drink of water. The young woman returned with plates filled with dinner for everyone! The cook, an uncle who lives 2 blocks over, joined the conversation and shared that he also wanted to hear the presentation on Thursday with his nephew. As they left he said, “You are doing very good work, don’t stop!” Part of this team later met a neighbor of this family who was very cynical about religion and when opening the door said, “Jesus right?” “No,” we replied, “Bahá’í!” He said he never heard of the Faith and began asking questions. He shared that growing up he was never allowed to ask questions and was enthralled with the principal of individuals investigating truth. He invited himself to the neighbors’ on Thursday to hear more. The next day the team ran into the lady they had met the previous day who had invited them back for a visit. The team member told her a neighbor had invited himself to come on Thursday and asked if this was okay. She said fine, she knows that neighbor and he had been to their home before.
Pictures from this Baha'i Views /Flitzie Phoebie flickr photo set:

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