Monday, November 24, 2008

Faith and Assurance

Photo of Baha'is in the Democratic Republic of Congo during one of 41 historic conferences to be held over the new few months around the world.

The Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith, has called for 41 conferences around the globe to celebrate the current efforts of Baha'is to unite the world and to deliberate on the work that is still to be done. The conferences that have already taken place have been extraordinary. You can read about them here! The second weekend in December one of these conferences will be held in Stamford, Connecticut and draw Baha'is from throughout the Northeastern U.S. Baha'i Thought will be in the house providing cutting edge commentary on this historic convocation of souls from a region regarded as "favored in faith and assurance", by Baha'i scripture:

"Praise be to God, that the Northeastern States are in the utmost capacity. Because the ground is rich, the rain of the divine outpouring is descending. Now you must become heavenly farmers and scatter pure seeds in the prepared soil. The harvest of every other seed is limited, but the bounty and the blessing of the seed of the divine teachings is unlimited. Throughout the coming centuries and cycles many harvests will be gathered. Consider the work of former generations. During the lifetime of Jesus Christ the believing, firm souls were few and numbered, but the heavenly blessings descended so plentifully that in a number of years countless souls entered beneath the shadow of the Gospel. God has said in the Qur'án: "One grain will bring forth seven sheaves, and every sheaf shall contain one hundred grains." In other words, one grain will become seven hundred; and if God so wills He will double these also. It has often happened that one blessed soul has become the cause of the guidance of a nation. Now we must not consider our ability and capacity, nay, rather, we must fix our gaze upon the favors and bounties of God, in these days, Who has made of the drop a sea, and of the atom a sun."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan)

"Likewise, the continent of America is, in the eyes of the one true God, the land wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide and the free assemble. Therefore, every section thereof is blessed: but because these nine states have been favored in faith and assurance, hence through this precedence they have obtained spiritual privilege. They must realize the value of this bounty; because they have obtained such a favor and in order to render thanksgiving for this most great bestowal, they must arise in the diffusion of divine fragrances so that the blessed verse of the Qur'án, "God is the light of heaven and earth: the similitude of His light is a niche in a wall, wherein a lamp is placed, and the lamp enclosed in a case of glass; the glass appears as if it were a shining star. It is lighted with the oil of a Blessed Tree, an olive neither of the East, nor of the West; it wanteth little but that the oil thereof would give light, although no fire touched it. This is the light added unto light. God will direct unto His light whom He pleaseth" -- may be realized."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 58)

1 comment:

  1. a friend wrote to me after attending the conference. thought you might enjoy what she experienced:

    I arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, on Thursday 13th, and just the day after, mum and I had a friend drop us to the airport so that we could catch the plain to Burundi. The flight was very comfortable and we arrived there just after 40 minutes. We had a Baha’i friend pick us up from there and he drove us to the border between Burundi and DRC.
    It has been nine years since I have visited DRC. The memories I have of that place are amazing and I was really exited to be able to go back.
    Burundi is really a beautiful country. Roads are paved and the place looks very green and clean! When we arrived to the border, and got our visas done, suddenly the other side was a complete change. Roads were made of mainly dust and rocks and the place looked drier.
    When the car finally stopped, we were facing two very big cloths attached to different trees that were welcoming the Baha’is to this Regional Conference. As we were coming out of the car, people started coming to us and hugging us with lots of joy and love, saying “Allah’u’Abha!”. We followed them between houses made of mud and the huge mango trees, walking on dust, underneath a burning sun and they took us inside this sort of tent made of wood and orange plastic sheets. The venue was a school belonging to the Baha’i community. The tent was built in the “outside” of the school, while some of the classes were used by the friends as dorms for those few nights during the conference. The venue was also decorated mainly with pink toilet papers! On the last day, they also added some balloons!
    While both my parents were in a meeting with the different institutions and the ITC member, I started walking around and looking at the place. There was a continuous flow of people arriving with their luggage and their mats on which they would be sleeping. While there was so much enthusiasm among the new comers, a few youth from Uvira were trying to sort out registrations and find out how many people were coming in. Suddenly, the women in one of the dorms started singing. They were all coming from different places and they did not know each others songs, but this did not stop them from clapping their hands and dancing with their sisters. As a song would finish, an other mama would start singing a new song, the other women would listen for some time, and after they would get the main words of the song, they would join her and stand up to dance. After just few seconds, the dorm was full of people!
    The rest of the night went through like this. People kept on arriving, greeting and singing, although some of them had not eaten anything all day long!

    Saturday morning started with songs and dancing as well… Some of the people had slept outside as there was no space in the classes for all of them and because it was so hot! The program started on time. Prayers were recited and Counselor Ndegwa was presented to the community. She gave a beautiful talk on how amazing this community has been doing in the advancement of the Five Year Plan. She encouraged friends to continue their work as people of this country are desperate and need a solution, answers and hope. She made the community understand that if more people are introduced to the Faith, if more children and junior youth are given spiritual education, this long lasting war would come to an end, as people won’t accept any more to fight!
    Every time there was a break between the talks, a person or a group of people would stand up, come in the middle of the venue and start singing, and as they would start, all the friends would stand up and sing and dance with them. Different instruments would always be there to accompany the songs.
    As the conference would go on, the youth of the area would walk between people with big jags of water and 4 to 5 cups and would poor water for them.
    The songs were the way people from the different clusters would express their understanding of the objectives of the Five Year Plan. Each cluster had prepared different songs that they could perform during the conference. A group of mamas was explaining in their song the role of the institutions, of the community and of the individual in the Plan while an enthusiastic group of children was singing “The time has come to rise and serve!”
    As the talks would go on, some individuals would come to the front and put some money in a basket covered by a cloth. It was their contribution to the conference. At one point, there were so many of them coming up, that they had to make an announcement and ask the friends to make the contributions during the breaks and the songs.

    They were expecting around 500 participants for this conference. On the second day, there were almost 800 friends coming from the different regions.
    Some of them had traveled by foot for days, others had been stopped on the way and got all their possessions looted by the militaries, and others again had been beaten and maltreated. But from the moment they were in this conference, it seemed like all of that didn’t matter anymore. People had come even from Goma and Walikale, where most of the troubles were happening.
    They were proud to be attending this conference and couldn’t wait to go back and encourage each other to increase the number of human resources and help their neighboring clusters to become A clusters.