From the National Spiritual Assembly to the Bahá’ís of Aotearoa
30 August 2018
11 Asmá’ 175
To the Bahá’ís of Aotearoa
Dearly loved Friends,
As conveyed in our letter of 22 August, this is the second of two letters containing information and encouragement aimed at 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.
Needs for meeting the goals of the Five Year Plan
The meeting for the friends with the National Assembly and Counsellors, Ms Tessa Scrine and Mr Taraz Nadarajah, on the evening of 25 August was live-streamed for the first time and we are aware that dozens of friends took advantage of this opportunity, from the Far North to the South Island, while the hall was also filled with those attending in person. We are grateful for the encouragement of the Counsellors for every Bahá’í home to hold regular devotional meetings and for friends to consider home-front pioneering.
During the National Institutional Meeting held over the same weekend, the need for 25 or more pioneers was identified around the country, each with very specific criteria. For example, in Nelson a Spanish-speaking believer who is also a tutor of the Ruhi courses is needed to work with a receptive population of Colombians; and in Central Otago (New Zealand’s tourism capital) a mature youth is needed for a two to five year term, and there is a paid job with training waiting for this pioneer. Some areas need a Bahá’í family who can provide their home as a hub and help to engage local people in core activities, and others need two youth to support the youth movement in the locality. Both the North and South Islands have pioneering needs. There have already been many victories won for the Faith during this Plan through the efforts of pioneers.
We also watched segments of “A Widening Embrace” film, which “ captures experiences and insights from clusters, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities in all parts of the world where peoples are taking charge of their own spiritual, social, and material development through the application of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.” The segments of the film illustrate distinct but interrelated dimensions of the work of building vibrant communities—embracing large numbers, youth summoned to the vanguard, and stirrings of social action."i You are encouraged to consider ways in which this film can be made widely available among the friends and utilised as an instrument for reflection. The film is available to download or view online with subtitles in Arabic, English, French, Persian, Russian, and Spanish. The House of Justice wrote "May this film be a source of inspiration and hope to growing numbers around the globe who are joyfully contributing to the collective effort of building the world anew."
Spiritual forces at our disposal
The efforts we make to generate a spiritual atmosphere in our communities are key to the Faith’s regenerative powers. This is because the devotional character of our lives, our families and our communities provides the inspiration, and helps us garner the desire and volition to act, and supports us to find the energy and strength to take action in service to the Faith and to humanity. We have been told by the House of Justice that “in their acts of service, especially in their regular devotional gatherings, Bahá’ís everywhere are laying the spiritual foundations of future Houses of Worship.”ii It has brought great joy to the National Spiritual Assembly to learn that more and more homes are holding devotional gatherings. This is a means by which all can contribute, and by building the devotional character of our community we will create even more uplifting celebrations for the next bicentenary.
The beloved Universal House of Justice has expressed “confidence in the capacity of the community to attain unprecedented heights of achievement in the period immediately ahead. As the believers in New Zealand assiduously labour in pursuit of their God-given mission, they are assured of our supplications at the Sacred Threshold that Bahá’u’lláh may confirm and strengthen them.”iii
Spiritual forces are at our disposal, and we know that to be the recipients of this heavenly aid, our love for God, generated through daily prayer and reading of the Word of God, must also be coupled with our detached, consecrated, fearless and sacrificial acts of service. When worship and service go hand in hand, it is light upon light. 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.
Universal Participation the goal for contributing to the Fund and to the Plan
The National Fund’s budget has been set at $1.3 million. This is the minimum required to ensure there are adequate resources for the expansion and consolidation work to continue unhindered. At present the funds being received into the National Fund are well below what is needed to reach that target. Donations this year are, in fact, significantly lower than they were at this time last year. It is our hope that all adults, youth, junior youth and children will feel a strong sense of responsibility to participate in contributing to the Fund on a regular basis so that universal participation in giving to the Fund can be achieved. In that way, all believers will be fulfilling this sacred spiritual obligation.
It is also our hope that this universal participation will occur in relation to engagement with the Five Year Plan, so that all efforts being made, however small and seemingly insignificant to the person making them, are viewed through the lens of the Plan, and are added as a thread to the tapestry of the Plan that is being woven by the efforts of all individuals, communities and institutions. Every effort to support the work of the Plan is appreciated, whether being undertaken by believers across the cluster as their circumstances permit, or whether part of “community-building efforts in small settings of heightened receptivity.” Many of one’s day-to-day interactions with the people around us can be infused with the spirit of teaching.
As mentioned in our previous letter, this is a “season of intensive activity”iv as the House of Justice has indicated that the period between the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh last October and the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb in October 2019 will require “the greatest share of the effort needed to fulfil the objectives of the Five Year Plan.”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.
As we call 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 let us be filled with that same spirit of love and sacrifice.
The beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, in Citadel of Faith calls upon believers to “seize a God-given opportunity, meet a supreme challenge, and show forth a tenacity of purpose, a solidarity in sacrifice, an austerity in everyday life, worthy of the Martyr-Prophet of their Faith as well as their heroic spiritual forebears....whose agonizing tribulations, including captivity, sieges, betrayals, spoliation and martyrdom” we are calling to mind at this time. He paid tribute to “the glorious Báb, the immortal Quddús, the lion-hearted Mullá Ḥusayn, the erudite Vahíd, the audacious Hujjat, the illustrious seven martyrs of Ṭihrán and a host of unnumbered heroes whose lifeblood flowed so copiously in the course of the opening decade of the first Bahá’í century.” Let these heroes and heroines of our Faith inspire us.
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