What is my role in the process?
What is my role in the process?
This was the title of the fourth session given by Dr Vahid Saberi, and the focus of this session was the role of the individual. We know that the three protagonists of the Plans are the institution, the community, and the individual. As individuals, assisted by the power of the Word of God through prayer and reading the Writings, we strive to develop our capacity to love God and love others. Naturally, this love means one wants to serve God and to serve others. Bahá’u’lláh says ‘let deeds not words be your adorning’. Everyone can play a role, young and old, and carry out acts of service. This year at the summer schools, pledge forms were provided to the friends, which outlined a range of 12 service items including: starting (and maintaining) a devotional gathering, increasing one’s regular contributions to the Fund, taking part in a training institute study circle, involving oneself in the spiritual education of children and junior youth, and pioneering, to name a few. At the end of the summer school, 128 pledges had been obtained from friends attending the South Island Summer School.
The energy and the determination of junior youth
A 14 year old girl, who has been involved in the Oamaru junior youth programme since the age of 12 and has been helping with children’s classes for the past year, attended the South Island Summer School with a Bahá’í family. She was very inspired during her time at summer school. When she heard about pledges, “a solemn promise or undertaking” for acts of service, she ticked five boxes including: starting a devotional gathering, joining the prayer campaign, having a meaningful conversation about the person of Bahá’u’lláh, and preparing for the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb.
When this young girl returned home, she wasted no time in sharing her thoughts and pledges with her mother, who supported her. The young girl then messaged the Bahá’í who is accompanying her about plans to start fortnightly devotional meetings from Tuesday 15 January at 6 pm. The girl’s mother has relayed that she has never seen her daughter like this before, full of energy and determination. On the day of the devotional meeting, the junior youth woke up early to clean the house, went shopping with her mother using her own money saved from the holidays, cooked dinner and invited a family of five to attend.
“Walking into their house, you can feel the spirit of happiness and welcome”. The devotional programme was prepared by this junior youth, who introduced everyone. Eight friends of the Faith and six Bahá’ís attended. The girl’s mother was then asked to say a prayer (the first “proper” prayer her mother had said). Two songs in Tongan were sung, with one of the guests saying “… it's not just a song, it's more than that ... I feel different listening to it”. After the devotions, those present chatted and had dinner.
Pioneers inspiring others to pioneer
One of the sessions at the South Island Summer School was a focus on pioneering. A panel of South Island friends, both home-front and international pioneers, spoke to the friends about their experiences. Time and again, stories were shared of the confirmations and blessings experienced by these friends. The session was so inspirational that two friends have pledged to pioneer!
The pioneer panel at South Island Summer School was Ramu and Sula Sannyasi, who are pioneering on the West Coast; Sue and Tony Whitley, who were pioneers in Vanuatu for over 25 years, and who are now serving in Christchurch; Faola de Montgomery, a pioneer in Milton; and Yana Liauw and Jeff Jain, who are pioneers in Queenstown.