From the National Spiritual Assembly to the Bahá’ís of Aotearoa
22 August 2018
3 Asmá’ 175
To the Bahá’ís of Aotearoa
Dearly loved Friends,
The National Spiritual Assembly has many things it wants to convey to you and although a letter is not always the easiest way to fully communicate, we hope you will find the contents helpful. This letter is the first of two, the second of which will be sent next week. Although there is a range of thoughts and information, plans and opportunities, of which we wish to inform you via these letters, it is important for you to know that all of these are connected with ensuring that the community of the Greatest Name is in the best possible position to befittingly celebrate the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb in October 2019 and to win the goals of the Five Year Plan.
Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb
As you may already know, some 10,000 participants engaged with the activities of the last bicentenary in this country. The Universal House of Justice has urged each believer: “In the period leading up to the second bicentenary, let every seed so lovingly sown at the first be nurtured patiently towards fruition.”i The National Assembly has set a goal to double the number to 20,000 participating in the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb next year. This figure is reasonably conservative and we believe there is potential for the number to be much higher. We have a good opportunity to do this if we follow the guidance of the House of Justice, and reach out to and nurture those “seeds” that we each planted at the last bicentenary. Think about each person who was contacted for the last bicentenary and consider what might be the next step to lead them further along the pathway towards Bahá’u’lláh.
Twin Holy Days 9-10 November this year provide valuable opportunity
The anniversaries of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh and the Birth of the Báb this year provide “a valuable opportunity to draw on the rich experience...gained last year by bringing people together in local celebrations that uplift hearts and kindle spirits.”ii The birthdays of the two divine Manifestations are “accounted as one in the sight of God”. These two consecutive days are rich with possibilities for plans by believers, families, teaching teams, sectors and neighbourhoods.
“As plans for the next bicentenary take shape, there will doubtless begin to emerge many examples of artistic expression arising from a profound reflection on the appearance above the horizon of the world, in quick succession, of two Manifestations of God, and the implications for the life of humanity.”iii The National Assembly encourages all believers to make room in their lives for profound reflection on the greatness of this Day, this “matchless Day” as extolled by Bahá’u’lláh. Let those who have an inclination towards artistic endeavours use the coming weeks to explore ways they may express this in celebration of the forthcoming Twin Birthdays, which in turn may lead on to even more significant artistic expressions for next year’s bicentenary.
Te Reo Māori resources create opportunities
We are happy to advise that the beautiful, informative and moving film that was commissioned by the Universal House of Justice about Bahá’u’lláh’s life, teachings and suffering, Light to the World, has been fully rendered into the Māori language, narrated by Tainui Stephens, and is freely available to all for viewing from the following link youtu.be/4D_BqWUIAUI
This is a most valuable resource for use in your efforts to reach out to Māori friends, colleagues, neighbours and other contacts.
As you will know from the last national newsletter, the first publication of a substantial, hard back prayer book in te reo Māori is now available for ordering from the Bahá’í Distribution Service at $7 per copy. The National Assembly is eager for the friends to not only utilise this precious taonga themselves, but to also ensure that by making it available to others and presenting it with dignity and aroha, the penetrating power of the Word of God contained within its covers will touch many hearts.
Local Assemblies, communities or clusters may wish to make plans to “launch” the prayer book in a befitting manner in your cities and districts, so as to gain the widest possible exposure by as many Māori as possible, using your existing relationships with local marae as a springboard. We have no doubt that with creativity, devotion, eagerness and collaboration, there will be a variety of approaches to this matter that harmoniously blend with the growth plans of your cluster agencies. It is important that the friends arrive at a unified vision about such a matter, based on a realistic assessment of possibilities and resources; that any such plans are devised and implemented according to capacity, and that they are designed to complement and enhance, rather than conflict with, the detailed plans of action being undertaken at the level of the cluster.
This is a “season of intensive activity”iv as the House of Justice has indicated that this time “between the two anniversaries [is] the period during which the greatest share of the effort needed to fulfil the objectives of the Five Year Plan would be required.”v We are all part of a global enterprise aimed at drawing more and more of the world’s inhabitants closer towards Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.
We are aware that in preparation for the bicentenary the friends are calling to mind “the lives of the Báb’s intrepid followers – heroes and heroines whose faith was expressed in matchless, sacrificial acts that will forever adorn the annals of the Cause.”vi
Mulla Husayn, the first disciple of the Báb, is one such hero of the Cause, whose unshakeable faith transformed him from someone who lacked physical vigour and endurance, who was not physically strong or powerful, whose hand trembled when he wrote, to being that champion defender of the Cause. An eye-witness account is written in The Dawn-Breakers: “We were stunned by the display of his stupendous force, his indomitable will and complete intrepidity. We were all convinced that he had ceased to be the Mulla Husayn whom we had known, and that in him resided a spirit which God alone could bestow."
Let us all be filled with such spirit from the Invisible Source, and arise with the fire of the love of God in our hearts. Sacrifice will be needed, sparing no time, no effort and no resources. Such sacrifice ultimately becomes no sacrifice, because the rewards are incalculable.
The National Spiritual Assembly sends its deepest love and greetings to each and every one of you, and expresses heartfelt appreciation for the efforts being made in service to the Cause of God.
Loving Bahá’í greetings,
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of New Zealand