Read: Promoting Entry by Troops


PROMOTING ENTRY BY TROOPS
A Compilation of Extracts from Letters Written by or on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice

Prepared by the Research Department
October 1993



<p1>

>From Letters Written by or on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times,
in every land, and of every shade of thought and character, voluntarily and
joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centres
of activity, upholding and promoting their interests with complete unanimity
and contentment, with perfect understanding, genuine enthusiasm, and sustained
vigour. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the
fountain-head from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation
upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must ultimately rest. May we not
hope that now at last the dawn of a brighter day is breaking upon our beloved
Cause?

(24 September 1924, written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of
America, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages
1922-1932" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 67) [1]

The work that the members of your small family are doing in spreading the Cause
and infusing its divine spirit among the people you meet, is a fact that no one
familiar with your life can deny.... In time you will see how abundant the
fruit of your services will be. It is not sufficient to number the souls that
embrace the Cause to know the progress that it is making. The more important
consequences of your activities are the spirit that is diffused into the life
of the community, and the extent to which the teachings we proclaim become part
of the consciousness and belief of the people that hear them. For it is only
when the spirit has thoroughly permeated the world that the people will begin
to enter the Faith in large numbers. At the beginning of spring only the few,
exceptionally favoured seeds will sprout, but when the season gets in its full
sway, and the atmosphere gets permeated with the warmth of true springtime,
then masses of flowers will begin to appear, and a whole hillside suddenly
blooms. We are still in the state when only isolated souls are awakened, but
-soon we shall have the full swing of-the season and the quickening of whole
groups and nations into the spiritual life breathed by Baha'u'llah.

(18 February 1932, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an
individual believer) [2]

...with God's help, he trusts, you will succeed. He will surely reinforce your
efforts and assist you in the completion of that task that lies before you.
God will, however, assist us if we do our share and sacrifice in the path of
the progress of His Faith. We have to feel the responsibility laid upon our
shoulders, arise to carry it out, and then expect divine grace to be showered
upon us.

(20 December 1932, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National
Spiritual Assembly) [3] <p2>

Must humanity, tormented as she now is, be afflicted with still severer
tribulations ere their purifying influence can prepare her to enter the
heavenly Kingdom destined to be established upon earth? Must the inauguration
of so vast, so unique, so illumined an era in human history be ushered in by so
great a catastrophe in human affairs as to recall, nay surpass, the appalling
collapse of Roman civilization in the first centuries of the Christian Era?
Must a series of profound convulsions stir and rock the human race ere
Baha'u'llah can be enthroned in the hearts and consciences of the masses, ere
His undisputed ascendancy is universally recognized, and the noble edifice of
His World Order is reared and established?

(11 March 1936, written by Shoghi Effendi, published in "The World
Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters" (Wilmette: Baha'i
Publishing Trust, 1991), pp. 201-2) [4]

Action inspired by confidence in the ultimate triumph of the Faith is, indeed,
essential to the gradual and complete materialization of your hopes for the
extension and consolidation of the Movement in your country. May the Almighty
inspire each and every one of you with the zeal, determination, and faith to
carry out His Will, and to proclaim His Message to those living in your land
and beyond its confines.

(11 May 1934, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer)

From the record of its tumultuous history, almost every page of which
portrays a fresh crisis, is laden with the description of a new calamity,
recounts the tale of a base betrayal, and is stained with the account of
unspeakable atrocities, there emerges, clear and incontrovertible, the supreme
truth that with every fresh outbreak of hostility to the Faith, whether
from within or from without, a corresponding measure of outpouring grace,
sustaining its defenders and confounding its adversaries, has been providentially
released, communicating a fresh impulse to the onward march of the
Faith, while this impetus, in its turn, would, through its manifestations,
provoke fresh hostility in quarters heretofore unaware of its challenging
implications -- this increased hostility being accompanied by a still more
arresting revelation of Divine Power and a more abundant effusion of celestial
grace, which, by enabling the upholders of that Faith to register still more
brilliant victories, would thereby generate issues of still more vital import
and raise up still more formidable enemies against a Cause that cannot but in
the end resolve those issues and crush the resistance of those enemies, through
a still more glorious unfoldment of its inherent power.

The resistless march of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, viewed in this light,
and propelled by the stimulating influences which the unwisdom of its enemies
and the force latent within itself both engender, resolves itself into a series
of rhythmic pulsations, precipitated, on the one hand, through the explosive
outbursts of its foes, and the vibrations of Divine Power, on the other, which
speed it, with ever-increasing momentum, along that predestined course traced
for it by the Hand of the Almighty.

(12 August 1941, postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi
appended to a letter written on his behalf, cf. "Messages to America:
Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North
America, 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee,
1947, p. 51) <p3>

If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any
particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But
the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the
blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.

(4 May 1942, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer) [7]

Too great emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of the unity of the
friends, for only by manifesting the greatness of their love for and patience
with each other can they hope to attract large numbers to their ranks.

(2 August 1942, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer) [8]

He longs to see a greater degree of unity and love among the believers, for
these are the spirit which must animate their Community life. Until the people
of the world see a shining example set by us they will not embrace the Cause in
masses, because they require to see the teachings demonstrated in a pattern of
action.

(13 March 1944, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Baha'i
winter school session) [9]

Until the public sees in the Baha'i Community a true pattern, in action, of
something better than it already has, it will not respond to the Faith in large
numbers.

(13 March 1944, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer) [10]

Dear Mr. and Mrs. ... have a great ability for kindling in the hearts
the love of God. It is for this wholesome, warming, spiritualizing love that
the world is thirsting today. The Baha'is will never succeed in attracting
large numbers to the Faith until they see in our individual and community life
acts, and the atmosphere, that bespeak the love of God.

(17 February 1945, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an
individual believer) [11]

Above all, the healing Message of Baha'u'llah must, during the opening years
of the second Baha'i century, and through the instrumentality of an already
properly functioning Administrative Order, whose ramifications have been
extended to the four corners of the Western Hemisphere, be vividly,
systematically brought to the attention of the masses, in their hour of grief,
misery and confusion. A more audacious assertion of the challenging verities
of the Faith; a more convincing presentation of its distinguishing truths; a
fuller exposition of the character, the aims, and the achievements of its
rising Administrative system, as the nucleus and pattern of its future world
embracing order; a more direct and intimate contact and association with the
leaders of public thought whose activities and aims are akin to the teachings
of Baha'u'llah, for the purpose of demonstrating the universality, the <p4>

comprehensiveness, the liberality and the dynamic power of His Divine Message;
a closer scrutiny of the ways and means whereby its claims can be vindicated,
its defamers and detractors silenced, and its institutions safeguarded; a more
determined effort to exploit, to the fullest extent possible, the talents and
abilities of the rank and file of the believers for the purpose of achieving
these ends -- these stand out as the paramount tasks summoning to a challenge,
during these years of transition and turmoil, the entire body of the American
believers. The facilities which the Radio and Press furnish must be utilized
to a degree unprecedented in American Baha'i history. The combined resources
of the much-envied, exemplary American Baha'i community must be harnessed for
the effectual promotion of these meritorious purposes. Blessings, undreamt of
in their scope and plenteousness, are bound to be vouchsafed to those who will,
in these dark yet pregnant times, arise, to further these noble ends, and to
hasten through their acts the hour at which a still more momentous stage in the
evolution of a Divine and world-wide Plan can be launched.

(29 March 1945, postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi
appended to a letter written on his behalf to a National Spiritual
Assembly) [12]

There are two things which will contribute greatly to bringing more people
into the Cause more swiftly: one is the maturity of the Baha'is within their
Communities, functioning according to Baha'i laws and in the proper spirit of
unity, and the other is the disintegration of society and the suffering it will
bring in its wake. When the old forms are seen to be hopelessly useless, the
people will stir from their materialism and spiritual lethargy, and embrace the
Faith.

(3 July 1948, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer) [13]

There is nothing in the passage from the Master's Tablet on page 681,
Volume III of His Tablets to lead us to believe the instant the Temple is
entirely completed masses of people will embrace the Cause. They will; such a
time will come; we hope it may be soon, but we cannot set a date for it. And
such a statement certainly does not justify the friends to rest on their oars!
On the contrary, they must pave the way, particularly within their ranks, for
the reception of large numbers of believers. Let them put more effort into
perfecting their purely Baha'i relationships, become more united, more
spiritually educated, more skilled in fulfilling their administrative tasks,
as a preparation to teaching and welcoming larger numbers of new believers.

(25 March 1949, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer) [14]

Without the spirit of real love for Baha'u'llah, for His Faith and its
Institutions, and the believers for each other, the Cause can never really
bring in large numbers of people. For it is not preaching and rules the world
wants, but love and action.

(25 October 1949, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an
individual

believer) [15] <p5>

Although tremendous progress has been made in the United States during the
last quarter of a century, he feels that the believers must ever-increasingly
become aware of the fact that only to the degree that they mirror forth in
their joint lives the exalted standards of the Faith will they attract the
masses to the Cause of God.

(15 September 1951, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Baha'i
school session) [16]

The Latin American communities are still on the threshold of their
international Baha'i life; he feels sure that they will rapidly grow into it.
Compared with the length of time it took the North American, the British, and
the French communities to grow up and spread, their growth is like lightning.
As the Cause spreads all over the world its rate of acceleration increases,
too, and new centres in Africa, in some mysterious way, have spiritual
repercussions which aid in forming new centres everywhere.

(30 June 1952, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National
Spiritual Assembly) [17]

Such a steady flow of reinforcements is absolutely vital and is of
extreme urgency, for nothing short of the vitalizing influx of new blood that
will reanimate the world Baha'i Community can safeguard the prizes which, at
so great a sacrifice, involving the expenditure of so much time, effort and
treasure, are now being won in virgin territories by Baha'u'llah's valiant
Knights, whose privilege is to constitute the spearhead of the onrushing
battalions which, in divers theatres and in circumstances often adverse and
extremely challenging, are vying with each other for the spiritual conquest
of the unsurrendered territories and islands on the surface of the globe.

This flow, moreover, will presage and hasten the advent of the day which,
as prophesied by 'Abdu'l-Baha, will witness the entry by troops of peoples of
divers nations and races into the Baha'i world -- a day which, viewed in its
proper perspective, will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour when a mass
conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a direct result
of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in nature and which
cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly revolutionize the
fortunes of the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and reinforce
a thousandfold the numerical strength as well as the material power and the
spiritual authority of the Faith of Baha'u'llah.

(25 June 1953, written by Shoghi Effendi, published in "Citadel of
Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i
Publishing

Trust, 1980), p. 117)[1] [18]

This is the ebb of the tide. The Baha'is know that the tide will
turn and come in, after mankind has suffered, with mighty waves of faith and
devotion. Then people will enter the Cause of God in troops, and the whole
condition will change. The Baha'is see this new condition which will take
place, as one on a mountaintop sees the first glimpses of the dawn, before
others are aware of it; and it is toward this that the Baha'is must work.

(5 October 1953, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an
individual believer) [19] <p6>

When the true spirit of teaching, which calls for complete dedication,
consecration to the noble mission, and living the life, is fulfilled, not only
by the individuals, but by the Assemblies also, then the Faith will grow by
leaps and bounds.

(19 March 1954, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Local
Spiritual Assembly) [20]

The Crusade, on which the army of the Lord of Hosts has so joyously and
confidently embarked, now stands at a major turning point in the history of
its marvellous unfoldment. Three years of magnificent exploits, achieved for
the propagation of the light of an immortal and infinitely precious Faith and
for the strengthening of the fabric of its Administrative Order, now lie behind
it. A spirit of abnegation and self-sacrifice, so rare that only the spirit
of the Dawn-breakers of a former age can be said to have surpassed it, has
consistently animated, singly as well as collectively, its participants in
every clime, of all classes, of either sex, and of every age. A treasure,
immense in its range, has been willingly and lovingly expended to ensure its
systematic and successful prosecution. Already a few heroic souls have either
quaffed the cup of martyrdom, or laid down their lives, or been subjected to
divers ordeals while combatting for its Cause. Its repercussions have spread
so far as to alarm a not inconsiderable element among the traditional and
redoubtable adversaries of its courageous and consecrated prosecutors. Indeed
as it has forged ahead, it has raised up new enemies intent on obstructing its
forward march and on defeating its purpose. Premonitory signs can already be
discerned in far-off regions heralding the approach of the day when troops will
flock to its standard, fulfilling the predictions uttered long ago by the
Supreme Captain of its forces.

(April 1956, written by Shoghi Effendi to all National Spiritual
Assemblies) [21]

The steady progress achieved in recent years by both the Swiss and Italian
Baha'i communities, unitedly labouring with exemplary fidelity and devotion
for the propagation of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, has greatly encouraged me
and brought much happiness to my heart, and has, no doubt, heightened the
admiration of their sister communities for the manner in which they are
acquitting themselves of their arduous and sacred tasks....

Less substantial, however, has been the progress achieved in the all-
important teaching field, and far inferior the acceleration in the vital
process of individual conversion for which the entire machinery of the
Administrative Order has been primarily and so laboriously erected.

(12 August 1957, postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi
appended to a letter written on his behalf to a National Spiritual
Assembly) [22] <p7>

>From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice

When the masses of mankind are awakened and enter the Faith of God, a new
process is set in motion and the growth of a new civilization begins. Witness
the emergence of Christianity and of Islam. These masses are the rank and
file, steeped in traditions of their own, but receptive to the new Word of God,
by which, when they truly respond to it, they become so influenced as to
transform those who come in contact with them.

...In countries where teaching the masses has succeeded, the Baha'is
have poured out their time and effort in village areas to the same extent as
they had formerly done in cities and towns. The results indicate how unwise
it is to solely concentrate on one section of the population. Each National
Assembly therefore should so balance its resources and harmonize its efforts
that the Faith of God is taught not only to those who are readily accessible
but to all sections of society, however remote they may be....

When teaching among the masses, the friends should be careful not to
emphasize the charitable and humanitarian aspects of the Faith as a means
to win recruits. Experience has shown that when facilities such as schools,
dispensaries, hospitals, or even clothes and food are offered to the people
being taught, many complications arise. The prime motive should always be
the response of man to God's message, and the recognition of His Messenger....

Expansion and consolidation are twin processes that must go hand in hand.
The friends must not stop expansion in the name of consolidation. Deepening
the newly enrolled believers generates tremendous stimulus which results in
further expansion. The enrolment of new believers, on the other hand, creates
a new spirit in the community and provides additional potential man-power that
will reinforce the consolidation work.

(13 July 1964, written by the Universal house of Justice to a
National Spiritual Assemblies, cf. "Wellspring of Guidance:
Messages 1963-1968" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976),
pp. 31-33) [23]

The second challenge facing us is to raise the intensity of teaching to a
pitch never before attained, in order to realize that "vast increase" called
for in the Plan. Universal participation and constant action will win this
goal. Every believer has a part to play, and is capable of playing it, for
every soul meets others, and, as promised by Baha'u'llah, "Whosoever ariseth
to aid Our Cause God will render him victorious...." The confusion of the
world is not diminishing, rather does it increase with each passing day,
and men and women are losing faith in human remedies. Realization is at
last dawning that "There is no place to flee to" save God. Now is the
golden opportunity; people are willing, in many places eager, to listen
to the divine remedy.

(Ridvan 1965 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [24] <p8>

It has been due to the splendid victories in large-scale conversion
that the Faith of Baha'u'llah has entered a new phase in its development and
establishment throughout the world. It is imperative, therefore, that the
process of teaching the masses be not only maintained but accelerated. The
teaching committee structure that each National Assembly may adopt to ensure
best results in the extension of its teaching work is a matter left entirely to
its discretion, but an efficient teaching structure there must be, so that the
tasks are carried out with dispatch and in accordance with the administrative
principles of our Faith. From among the believers native to each country,
competent travelling teachers must be selected and teaching projects worked
out....

While this vital teaching work is progressing each National Assembly
must ever bear in mind that expansion and consolidation are inseparable
processes that must go hand in hand.... To ensure that the spiritual life
of the individual believer is continuously enriched, that local communities
are becoming increasingly conscious of their collective duties, and that the
institutions of an evolving administration are operating efficiently, is,
therefore, as important as expanding into new fields and bringing in the
multitudes under the shadow of the Cause.

(2 February 1966, written by the Universal House of Justice to all
National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in mass teaching work) [25]

The paramount goal of the teaching work at the present time is to carry
the message of Baha'u'llah to every stratum of human society and every walk
of life. An eager response to the teachings will often be found in the most
unexpected quarters, and any such response should be quickly followed up, for
success in a fertile area awakens a response in those who were at first
uninterested.

The same presentation of the teachings will not appeal to everybody; the
method of expression and the approach must be varied in accordance with the
outlook and interests Or the hearer. An approach which is designed to appeal
to everybody will usually result in attracting the middle section, leaving both
extremes untouched. No effort must be spared to ensure that the healing Word
of God reaches the rich and the poor, the learned and the illiterate, the old
and the young, the devout and the atheist, the dweller in the remote hills and
islands, the inhabitant of the teeming cities, the suburban businessman, the
labourer in the slums, the nomadic tribesman, the farmer, the university
student; all must be brought consciously within the teaching plans of the
Baha'i Community.

Whereas plans must be carefully made, and every useful means adopted in
the furtherance of this work, your Assemblies must never let such plans eclipse
the shining truth expounded in the enclosed quotations: that it is the purity
of heart, detachment, uprightness, devotion and love of the teacher that
attracts the divine confirmations and enables him, however ignorant he be in
this world's learning, to win the hearts of his fellowmen to the Cause of God.

(31 October 1967, written by the Universal House of Justice to
all National Spiritual Assemblies, cf. "Wellspring of Guidance",
pp. 124-25) [26] <p9>

We are told by Shoghi Effendi that two great processes are at work in
the world: the great Plan of God, tumultuous in its progress, working through
mankind as a whole, tearing down barriers to world unity and forging humankind
into a unified body in the fires of suffering and experience. This process
will produce, in God s due time, the Lesser Peace, the political unification of
the world. Mankind at that time can be likened to a body that is unified but
without life. The second process, the task of breathing life into this unified
body -- of creating true unity and spirituality culminating in the Most Great
Peace -- is that of the Baha'is, who are labouring consciously, with detailed
instructions and continuing divine guidance, to erect the fabric of the Kingdom
of God on earth, into which they call their fellow-men, thus conferring upon
them eternal life.

The working out of God's Major Plan proceeds mysteriously in ways directed
by Him alone, but the Minor Plan that He has given us to execute, as our part
in His grand design for the redemption of mankind, is clearly delineated. It
is to this work that we must devote all our energies, for there is no one else
to do it.

(8 December 1967, written by the Universal House of Justice to
an individual believer, cf. "Wellspring of Guidance", pp. 133-34)
[27]

Wherever a Baha'i community exists, whether large or small, let it be
distinguished for its abiding sense of security and faith, its high standard
of rectitude, its complete freedom from all forms of prejudice, the spirit of
love among its members and for the closely knit fabric of its social life. The
acute distinction between this and present-day society will inevitably arouse
the interest of the more enlightened, and as the world s gloom deepens the
light of Baha'i life will shine brighter and brighter until its brilliance
must eventually attract the disillusioned masses and cause them to enter the
haven of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, Who alone can bring them peace and
justice and an ordered life.

(August 1968, message written by the Universal House of Justice
to the Palermo Conference, cf. "Messages from the Universal House
of Justice, 1968-1973" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976),
p. 12) [28]

We note that the new teaching methods you have developed, in reaching the
waiting masses, have substantially influenced the winning of your goals, and we
urge the American Baha'is, one and all, newly enrolled and believers of long
standing, to arise, put their reliance in Baha'u'llah and armed with that
supreme power, continue unabated their efforts to reach the waiting souls,
while simultaneously consolidating the hard-won victories. New methods
inevitably bring with them criticism and challenges no matter how successful
they may ultimately prove to be. The influx of so many new believers is, in
itself, a call to the veteran believers to join the ranks of those in this
field of service and to give wholeheartedly of their knowledge and experience.
Far from standing aloof, the American believers are called upon now, as never
before, to grasp this golden opportunity which has been presented to them, to
consult together prayerfully and widen the scope of their endeavours. <p10>

Efforts to reach the minorities should be increased and broadened to
include all minority groups such as the Indians, Spanish-speaking people,
Japanese and Chinese. Indeed, every stratum of American society must be
reached and can be reached with the healing Message, if the believers will
but arise and go forth with the spirit which is conquering the citadels of
the southern states. Such a programme, coupled as it must be with continuous
consolidation, can be effectively carried out by universal participation on the
part of every lover of Baha'u'llah.

(14 February 1972, written by the Universal House of Justice to
the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published
in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973",
pp. 85-86)

Strengthening and development of Local Spiritual Assemblies is a vital
objective of the Five Year Plan. Success in this one goal will greatly enrich
the quality of Baha'i life, will heighten the capacity of the Faith to deal
with entry by troops which is even now taking place and, above all, will
demonstrate the solidarity and ever-growing distinctiveness of the Baha'i
community, thereby attracting more and more thoughtful souls to the Faith and
offering a refuge to the leaderless and hapless millions of the spiritually
bankrupt, moribund present order.

(Naw-Ruz 1974 message written by the Universal House of Justice
to the Baha'is of the world) [30]

Teaching the Faith embraces many diverse activities, all of which are
vital to success, and each of which reinforces the other....

The aim, therefore, of all Baha'i institutions and Baha'i teachers
is to advance continually to new areas and strata of society, with such
thoroughness that, as the spark of faith kindles the hearts of the hearers,
the teaching of the believers continues until, and even after, they shoulder
their responsibilities as Baha'is and participate in both the teaching and
administrative work of the Faith.

There are now many areas in the world where thousands of people have
accepted the Faith so quickly that it has been beyond the capacity of the
existing Baha'i communities to consolidate adequately these advances. The
people in these areas must be progressively deepened in their understanding of
the Faith, in accordance with well-laid plans, so that their communities may,
as soon as possible, become sources of great strength to the work of the Faith
and begin to manifest the pattern of Baha'i life.

(25 May 1975, written by the Universal House of Justice to all
National Spiritual Assemblies) [31]

In many lands, however, there is an eager receptivity for the teachings
of the Faith. The challenge for the Baha'is is to provide these thousands of
seeking souls, as swiftly as possible, with the spiritual food that they crave,
to enlist them under the banner of Baha'u'llah, to nurture them in the way
of life He has revealed, and to guide them to elect Local Spiritual Assemblies
which, as they begin to function strongly, will unite the friends in firmly
consolidated Baha'i communities and become beacons of guidance and havens
of refuge to mankind... <p11>

Throughout the world the Seven Year Plan must witness the attainment of
the following objectives:...

The teaching work, both that organized by institutions of the Faith
and that which is the fruit of individual initiative, must be actively
carried forward so that there will be growing numbers of believers,
leading more countries to the stage of entry by troops and ultimately
to mass conversion.

This teaching work must include prompt, thorough and continuing
consolidation so that all victories will be safeguarded, the number
of Local Spiritual Assemblies will be increased and the foundations
of the Cause reinforced.

(Naw-Ruz 1979 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [32]

The Faith of God does not advance at one uniform pace. Sometimes it is
like the advance of the sea when the tide is rising. Meeting a sandbank the
water seems to be held back, but, with a new wave, it surges forward, flooding
past the barrier which checked it for a little while. If the friends will but
persist in their efforts, the cumulative effect of years of work will suddenly
appear.

(27 July 1980, written by the Universal House of Justice to a
National Spiritual Assembly) [33]

The ... problem occurs most frequently in countries such as those in
Africa, where there is entry by troops. In such countries it is comparatively
easy to bring large numbers of new believers into the Faith, and this is such
a thrilling experience that visiting teachers often tend to prefer to do this
rather than help with the consolidation work.... It should be pointed out
that, especially if they [the travelling teachers] are assigned to expansion
work, they must remember that consolidation is an essential and inseparable
element of teaching, and if they go-to a remote area and enrol believers whom
no one is going to be able to visit again in the near future, they may well
be doing a disservice to those people and to the Faith. To give people this
glorious Message and then leave them in the lurch, produces disappointment and
disillusionment, so that, when it does become possible to carry out properly
planned teaching in that area, the teachers may well find the people resistant
to the Message. The first teacher who was careless of consolidation, instead
of planting and nourishing the seeds of faith has, in fact, "inoculated" the
people against the Divine Message and made subsequent teaching very much
harder.

(16 April 1981, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
to all Continental Pioneer Committees) [34]

Consolidation is as vital a part of the teaching work as expansion. It is
that aspect of teaching which assists the believers to deepen their knowledge
and understanding of the Teachings, and fans the flame of their devotion to
Baha'u'llah and His Cause, so that they will, of their own volition, continue
the process of their spiritual development, promote the teaching work, and
strengthen the functioning of their administrative institutions. Proper <p12>

consolidation is essential to the preservation of the spiritual health of the
community, to the protection of its interests, to the upholding of its good
name, and ultimately to the continuation of the work of expansion itself.

(17 April 1981, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
to all National Spiritual Assemblies) [35]

Who can doubt that we are now entering a period of unprecedented and
unimaginable developments in the onward march of the Faith?... We know that
the present victories will lead to active opposition, for which the Baha'i
world community must be prepared. We know the prime needs of the Cause at the
moment: a vast expansion of its numbers and financial resources; a greater
consolidation of its community life and the authority of its institutions;
an observable increase in those characteristics of loving unity, stability
of family life, freedom from prejudice and rectitude of conduct which must
distinguish the Baha'is from the spiritually lost and wayward multitudes around
them. Surely the time cannot be long delayed when we must deal universally
with that entry by troops foretold by the Master as a prelude to mass
conversion.

(27 December 1985, message written by the Universal House of Justice
to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors) [36]

The House of Justice read with much interest the circumstances which
inspired the new impetus being experienced in your teaching activities and
was happy to learn that the ... believers are themselves taking a more active
part in the teaching work. This trend should by all means be encouraged by
your Assembly, which should do everything in its power to ensure that
increasing numbers of native believers are deepened in the verities of the
Faith and encouraged to teach not only through the means recently opened to
them, but through the variety of approaches which are possible in different
parts of the country and among different strata of ... society. While taking
the fullest advantage of a workable method in one area, the friends should
be open to other methods and not blindly insist upon doing the same thing
everywhere. If such flexibility is understood, your community will surely
grow in numbers and strength.

(13 November 1986, written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly) [37]

The stage is set for universal, rapid and massive growth of the Cause of
God.... The all-important teaching work must be imaginatively, persistently
and sacrificially continued, ensuring the enrolment of ever larger numbers
who will provide the energy, the resources and spiritual force to enable
the beloved Cause to worthily play its part in the redemption of mankind.

(Ridvan 1987 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [38] <p13>

The Faith advances, not at a uniform rate of growth, but in vast surges,
precipitated by the alternation of crisis and victory. In a passage written
on 18 July 1953, in the early months of the Ten Year Crusade, Shoghi Effendi,
referring to the vital need to ensure through the teaching work a "steady
flow" of "fresh recruits to the slowly yet steadily advancing army of the Lord
of Hosts", stated that this flow would "presage and hasten the advent of the
day which, as prophesied by 'Abdu'l-Baha, will witness the entry by troops
of peoples of divers nations and races into the Baha'i world". This day the
Baha'i world has already seen in Africa, the Pacific, in Asia and in Latin
America, and this process of entry by troops must, in the present plan, be
augmented and spread to other countries for, as the Guardian stated in this
same letter, it "will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour when a mass
conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a direct result
of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in nature, and
which cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly revolutionize the
fortunes of the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and reinforce
a thousandfold the numerical strength as well as the material power and the
spiritual authority of the Faith of Baha'u'llah". This is the time for which
we must now prepare ourselves; this is the hour whose coming it is our task
to hasten.

(31 August 1987, written by the Universal House of Justice to the
Baha'is of the world) [39]

A silver lining to the dark picture which has overshadowed most of this
century now brightens the horizon. It is discernible in the new tendencies
impelling the social processes at work throughout the world, in the evidences
of an accelerated trend towards peace. In the Faith of God, it is the growing
strength of the Order of Baha'u'llah as its banner rises to more stately
heights. It is a strength that attracts. The media are giving increasing
attention to the Baha'i world community; authors are acknowledging its existence
in a growing number of articles, books and reference works, one of the most
highly respected of which recently listed the Faith as the most widely spread
religion after Christianity. A remarkable display of interest in this community
by governments, civil authorities, prominent personalities and humanitarian
organizations is increasingly apparent. Not only are the community's laws and
principles, organization and way of life being investigated, but its advice and
active help are also being sought for the alleviation of social problems and
the carrying out of humanitarian activities.

A thrilling consequence of these favourably conjoined developments is the
emergence of a new paradigm of opportunity for further growth and consolidation
of our world-wide community. New prospects for teaching the Cause at all levels
of society have unfolded. These are confirmed in the early results flowing from
the new teaching initiatives being fostered in a number of places as more and
more national communities witness the beginnings of that entry by troops
promised by the beloved Master and which Shoghi Effendi said would lead on to
mass conversion. The immediate possibilities presented by this providential
situation compel us to expect that an expansion of the Community of the Most
Great Name, such as has not yet been experienced, is, indeed, at hand. <p14>

The spark which ignited the mounting interest in the Cause of Baha'u'llah
was the heroic fortitude and patience of the beloved friends in Iran, which
moved the Baha'i world community to conduct a persistent, carefully orchestrated
programme of appeal to the conscience of the world. This vast undertaking,
involving the entire community acting unitedly through its Administrative Order,
was accompanied by equally vigorous and visible activities of that community
in other spheres which have been detailed separately. Nonetheless, we are
impelled to mention that an important outcome of this extensive exertion is our
recognition of a new stage in the external affairs of the Cause, characterized
by a marked maturation of National Spiritual Assemblies in their growing
relations with governmental and non-governmental organizations and with the
public in general....

But the paramount purpose of all Baha'i activity is teaching. All that
has been done or will be done revolves around this central activity, the "head
corner-stone of the foundation itself", to which all progress in the Cause is
due. The present challenge calls for teaching on a scale and of a quality, a
variety, and intensity outstripping all current efforts. The time is now, lest
opportunity be lost in the swiftly changing moods of a frenetic world. Let it
not be imagined that expedience is the essential motive arousing this sense of
urgency. There is an overarching reason: it is the pitiful plight of masses
of humanity, suffering and in turmoil, hungering after righteousness, but
"bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with
their own ears". They must be fed. Vision must be restored where hope is
lost, confidence built where doubt and confusion are rife. In these and other
respects, "The Promise of World Peace" is designed to open the way. Its
delivery to national governmental leaders having been virtually completed, its
contents must now be conveyed, by all possible means, to peoples everywhere from
all walks of life. This is a necessary part of the teaching work in our time
and must be pursued with unabated vigour.

Teaching is the food of the spirit; it brings life to unawakened souls and
raises the new heaven and the new earth; it uplifts the banner of a unified
world; it ensures the victory of the Covenant and brings those who give their
lives to it the supernal happiness of attainment to the good pleasure of their
Lord.

Every individual believer -- man, woman, youth and child -- is summoned
to this field of action; for it is on the initiative, the resolute will of
the individual to teach and to serve, that the success of the entire community
depends. Well-grounded in the mighty Covenant of Baha'u'llah, sustained by
daily prayer and reading of the Holy Word, strengthened by a continual striving
to obtain a deeper understanding of the divine Teachings, illumined by a
constant endeavour to relate these Teachings to current issues, nourished
by observance of the laws and principles of His wondrous World Order, every
individual can attain increasing measures of success in teaching. In sum, the
ultimate triumph of the Cause is assured by that "one thing and only one thing"
so poignantly emphasized by Shoghi Effendi, namely, "the extent to which our
own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects
the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Baha'u'llah".

(Ridvan 1988 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [40] <p15>

Your concern about consolidation and "mass teaching" is noted. The
concept of mass teaching may be better understood if put in the context of
"teaching the masses". This implies reaching every level of society in every
continent and island in the world. In developing countries large segments of
the population have become Baha'is, usually among the less educated. More
recently, particularly in Asia, we see that the youth in high schools and
colleges have been attracted to the Faith in large numbers. This does not
mean, however, that there is any particular system of teaching which individual
Baha'is should pursue. Different cultures and types of people require
different methods of approach. While taking the fullest advantage of a
workable method in one area, the friends should be open to other methods and
not blindly insist upon doing the same thing everywhere. If such flexibility
is understood, the ... community will surely grow in numbers and strength.

(11 August 1988, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
to an individual believer) [41]

What is required is a sense of urgency in teaching and this means to ignite
the spark of faith and devotion in the hearts of the people and fan it so that
those who accept the Faith become its firm and ardent supporters. Inevitably
some of those who are attracted to the Message and declare their acceptance of
it will later drift away from the Cause -- this is in the nature of the human
response to all teachings -- but the effort of the Baha'is should be to teach
not only as intensively as possible but also as well as possible.

(1 November 1988, written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly) [42]

The International Teaching Centre has concluded that the Baha'i
institutions in ... seem to have been placing too much reliance on large,
expensive projects, involving a great deal of successful public relations
and proclamation. These are, in their own way, very useful activities, but
it must be realized that they cannot be expected to produce large numbers of
new believers. The key to the conversion of people to the Faith is the action
of the individual Baha'i conveying the spark of faith to individual seekers,
answering their questions and deepening their understanding of the teachings.

(9 February 1989, written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly) [43]

The spiritual current which exerted such galvanic effects at the
International Baha'i Convention last Ridvan has swept through the entire world
community, arousing its members in both the East and the West to feats of
activity and achievement in teaching never before experienced in any one year.
The high level of enrolments alone bears this out, as nearly half a million
new believers have already been reported. The names of such far-flung places
as India and Liberia, Bolivia and Bangladesh, Taiwan and Peru, the Philippines
and Haiti leap to the fore as we contemplate the accumulating evidences of the
entry by troops called for in our message of a year ago. These evidences are
hopeful signs of the greater acceleration yet to come and in which all national
communities, whatever the current status of their teaching effort, will
ultimately be involved.... <p16>

All these requirements must and will surely be met through reconsecrated
service on the part of every conscientious member of the Community of Baha, and
particularly through personal commitment to the teaching work. So fundamentally
important is this work to ensuring the foundation for success in all
Baha'i undertakings and to furthering the process of entry by troops that we
are moved to add a word of emphasis for your consideration. It is not enough
to proclaim the Baha'i message, essential as that is. It is not enough to
expand the rolls of Baha'i membership, vital as that is. Souls must be
transformed,
communities thereby consolidated, new models of life thus attained.
Transformation is the essential purpose of the Cause of Baha'u'llah, but it
lies in the will and effort of the individual to achieve it in obedience to the
Covenant. Necessary to the progress of this life-fulfilling transformation is
knowledge of the will and purpose of God through regular reading and study of
the Holy Word.

Beloved Friends: The momentum generated by this past year s achievements
is reflected not only in the opportunities for marked expansion of the Cause
but also in a broad range of challenges -- momentous, insistent and varied -which
have combined in ways that place demands beyond any previous measure upon
our spiritual and material resources. We must be prepared to meet them. At
this mid-point of the Six Year Plan, we have reached a historic moment pregnant
with hopes and possibilities -- a moment at which significant trends in the
world are becoming more closely aligned with principles and objectives of the
Cause of God. The urgency upon our community to press onward in fulfilment of
its world-embracing mission is therefore tremendous.

Our primary response must be to teach -- to teach ourselves and to teach
others -- at all levels of society, by all possible means, and without further
delay.

(Ridvan 1989 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [44]

Over the last two years, almost one million souls entered the Cause. The
increasing instances of entry by troops in different places contributed to that
growth, drawing attention to Shoghi Effendi's vision which shapes our perception
of glorious future possibilities in the teaching field. For he has
asserted that the process of "entry by troops of peoples of divers nations and
races into the Baha'i world ... will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour
when a mass conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a
direct result of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in
nature, and which cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly
revolutionize
the fortunes Or the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and
reinforce a thousandfold the numerical strength as well as the material power
and the spiritual authority of the Faith of Baha'u'llah". We have every
encouragement to believe that large-scale enrolments will expand, involving
village after village, town after town, from one country to another. However,
it is not for us to wait passively for the ultimate fulfilment of Shoghi
Effendi's vision We few, placing our whole trust in the providence of God and
regarding as a divine privilege the challenges which face us, must proceed to
victory with the plans in hand. <p17>

An expansion of thought and action in certain aspects of our work would
enhance our possibilities for success in meeting our aforementioned commitments.
Since change, ever more rapid change, is a constant characteristic of
life at this time, and since our growth, size and external relations demand
much of us, our community must be ready to adapt. In a sense this means that
the community must become more adept at accommodating a wide range of actions
without losing concentration on the primary objectives of teaching, namely,
expansion and consolidation. A unity in diversity of actions is called for,
a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different
activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth
and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and
all persons cannot do the same thing. This understanding is important to the
maturity which, by the many demands being made upon it, the community is being
forced to attain.

The Order brought by Baha'u'llah is intended to guide the progress and
resolve the problems of society. Our numbers are as yet too small to effect
an adequate demonstration of the potentialities inherent in the administrative
system we are building, and the efficacy of this system will not be fully
appreciated without a vast expansion of our membership. With the prevailing
situation in the world the necessity to effect such a demonstration becomes
more compelling. It is all too obvious that even those who rail against the
defects of the old order, and would even tear it down, are themselves bereft of
any viable alternative to put in its place. Since the Administrative Order is
designed to be a pattern for future society, the visibility of such a pattern
will be a signal of hope to those who despair.

Thus far, we have achieved a marvellous diversity in the large numbers of
ethnic groups represented in the Faith, and everything should be done to fortify
it through larger enrolments from among groups already represented and the
attraction of members from groups not yet reached. However, there is another
category of diversity which must be built up and without which the Cause will
not be able adequately to meet the challenges being thrust upon it. Its
membership,
regardless of ethnic variety, needs now to embrace increasing numbers
of people of capacity, including persons of accomplishment and prominence in
the various fields of human endeavour. Enrolling significant numbers of such
persons is an indispensable aspect of teaching the masses, an aspect which
cannot any longer be neglected and which must be consciously and deliberately
incorporated into our teaching work, so as to broaden its base and accelerate
the process of entry by troops. So important and timely is the need for action
on this matter that we are impelled to call upon Continental Counsellors and
National Spiritual Assemblies to devote serious attention to it in their
consultations
and plans.

The affairs of mankind have reached a stage at which increasing calls will
be made upon our community to assist, through advice and practical measures, in
solving critical social problems. It is a service that we will gladly render,
but this means that our Local and National Spiritual Assemblies must adhere
more scrupulously to principle. With increasing public attention being focused
on the Cause of God, it becomes imperative for Baha'i institutions to improve
their performance through a closer identification with the fundamental verities
of the Faith, through greater conformity to the spirit and form of Baha'i
administration and through a keener reliance on the beneficial effects of
proper consultation, so that the communities they guide will reflect a pattern
of life that will offer hope to the disillusioned members of society. <p18>

That there are indications that the Lesser Peace cannot be too far
distant, that the local and national institutions of the Administrative
Order are growing steadily in experience and influence, that the plans for
the construction of the remaining administrative edifices on the Arc are in
an advanced stage -- that these hopeful conditions make more discernible the
shaping of the dynamic synchronization envisaged by Shoghi Effendi, no honest
observer can deny.

As a community clearly in the vanguard of the constructive forces at work
on the planet, and as one which has access to proven knowledge, let us be about
our Father's business. He will, from His glorious retreats on high, release
liberal effusions of His grace upon our humble efforts, astonishing us with
the incalculable victories of His conquering power. It is for the unceasing
blessings of such a Father that we shall continue to supplicate on behalf of
each and every one of you at the Sacred Threshold.

(Ridvan 1990 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [45]

Above all, it is essential for the friends to have the confidence that a
new receptivity is dawning in the hearts of Europeans, and to have faith that
the seeds they sow will germinate. They must know that the time is coming
when the number of their fellow-countrymen who accept the Faith will suddenly
increase, and they must be ready and eager to welcome these new believers.

(12 September 1991, written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly) [46]

All these developments have made it evident that the accumulated potential
for further progress of the Baha'i community is incalculable. The changed
situation within and among nations and the many problems afflicting society
amplify this potential. The impression produced by such change is of the near
approach of the Lesser Peace. But there has been a simultaneous recrudescence
of countervailing forces. With the fresh tide of political freedom resulting
from the collapse of the strongholds of communism has come an explosion of
nationalism. The concomitant rise of racism in many regions has become a
matter of serious global concern. These are compounded by an upsurge in
religious
fundamentalism which is poisoning the wells of tolerance. Terrorism is
rife. Widespread uncertainty about the condition of the economy indicates
a deep disorder in the management of the material affairs of the planet, a
condition which can only exacerbate the sense of frustration and futility
affecting the political realm. The worsening state of the environment and
of the health of huge populations is a source of alarm. And yet an element
of this change is the amazing advances in communications technology making
possible the rapid transmission of information and ideas from one part of the
world to the other. It is against such "simultaneous processes of rise and
fall, of integration and of disintegration, of order and chaos, with their
continuous and reciprocal reactions on each other", that a myriad new
opportunities for the next stage in the unfoldment of the beloved Master's
Divine Plan present themselves.

The burgeoning influence of Baha'u'llah's Revelation seemed, with the
imminence of the Holy Year, to have assumed the character of an onrushing wind
blowing through the archaic structures of the old order, felling mighty pillars <p19>

and clearing the ground for new conceptions of social organization. The call
for unity, for a new world order, is audible from many directions. The change
in world society is characterized by a phenomenal speed. A feature of this
change is a suddenness, or precipitateness, which appears to be the consequence
of some mysterious, rampant force. The positive aspects of this change reveal
an unaccustomed openness to global concepts, movement towards international and
regional collaboration, an inclination of warring parties to opt for peaceful
solutions, a search for spiritual values. Even the Community of the Most Great
Name itself is experiencing the rigorous effects of this quickening wind as it
ventilates the modes of thought of us all, renewing, clarifying and amplifying
our perspectives as to the purpose of the Order of Baha'u'llah in the wake of
humanity's suffering and turmoil.

The situation in the world, while presenting us with an acute challenge
of the utmost urgency, calls to mind the encouraging global vision of Shoghi
Effendi for the prospects of the Administrative Order during the second century
of the Baha'i Era, whose midpoint we are rapidly approaching. In 1946, he
wrote: "The second century is destined to witness a tremendous deployment and
a notable consolidation of the forces working towards the world-wide development
of that Order, as well as the first stirrings of that World Order, of which the
present Administrative System is at once the precursor, the nucleus and pattern
-- an Order which, as it slowly crystallizes and radiates its benign influence
over the entire planet, will proclaim at once the coming of age of the whole
human race, as well as the maturity of the Faith itself, the progenitor of that
Order.

(Ridvan 1992 message written by the Universal House of Justice to
the Baha'is of the world) [47]

The centennial year was also a period in which the situation in the world
at large became more confused and paradoxical: there were simultaneous signs
of order and chaos, promise and frustration. Amid the convolutions of the
current global state of affairs, but with such feelings of wonder and joy,
courage and faith as the Holy Year has induced in our hearts, we, at this
Ridvan, in the one hundred and fiftieth year of our Faith, are embarked upon
a Three Year Plan. Its brevity is compelled by the swiftly changing tides of
the times. But the Plan's primary purpose is indispensable to the future of
the Cause and of humankind. It is the next stage in the unfoldment of the
divine charter of teaching penned by the Centre of the Covenant. The Plan will
be a measure of our determination to respond to the immense opportunities at
this critical moment in the social evolution of the planet. Through resolute
pursuit of its stated objectives and full realization of its goals, as suited
to the circumstances of each national community, the way will be made clear
for a fit projection of the role of the Faith in relation to the inevitable
challenges facing all humanity towards the end of the fast-fleeting, fate-laden
twentieth century.

A massive expansion of the Baha'i community must be achieved far beyond
all past records. The task of spreading the Message to the generality of
mankind in villages, towns and cities must be rapidly extended. The need
for this is critical, for without it the laboriously erected agencies of the
Administrative Order will not be provided the scope to be able to develop and
adequately demonstrate their inherent capacity to minister to the crying needs <p20>

of humanity in its hour of deepening despair. In this regard the mutuality of
teaching and administration must be fully understood and widely emphasized, for
each reinforces the other. The problems of society which affect our community
and those problems which naturally arise from within the community itself,
whether social, spiritual, economic or administrative, will be solved as our
numbers and resources multiply, and as at all levels of the community the
friends develop the ability, willingness, courage and determination to obey
the laws, apply the principles and administer the affairs of the Faith in
accordance with divine precepts.

The new Plan revolves around a triple theme: enhancing the vitality of
the faith of individual believers, greatly developing the human resources of
the Cause, and fostering the proper functioning of local and national Baha'i
institutions. This is to lend focus to requisites of success as the Plan's
manifold goals are pursued in these turbulent times....

Training of the friends and their striving, through serious individual
study, to acquire knowledge of the Faith, to apply its principles and administer
its affairs, are indispensable to developing the human resources necessary to
the progress of the Cause. But knowledge alone is not adequate; it is vital
that training be given in a manner that inspires love and devotion, fosters
firmness in the Covenant, prompts the individual to active participation in
the work of the Cause and to taking sound initiatives in the promotion of its
interests. Special efforts to attract people of capacity to the Faith will
also go far towards providing the human resources so greatly needed at this
time. Moreover, these endeavours will stimulate and strengthen the ability
of Spiritual Assemblies to meet their weighty responsibilities.

The proper functioning of these institutions depends largely on the
efforts of their members to familiarize themselves with their duties and
to adhere scrupulously to principle in their personal behaviour and in the
conduct of their official responsibilities. Of relevant importance, too, are
their resolve to remove all traces of estrangement and sectarian tendencies
from their midst, their ability to win the affection and support of the friends
under their care and to involve as many individuals as possible in the work
of the Cause. By their constantly aiming at improving their performance,
the communities they guide will reflect a pattern of life that will be a
credit to the Faith and will, as a welcome consequence, rekindle hope among
the increasingly disillusioned members of society.

(Ridvan 1993 message written by the Universal House of Justice
to the Baha'is of the world) [48]

It is understandable that you feel concern about methods of teaching
which apply pressure to people to declare their Faith in Baha'u'llah, or which
register as believers those who apparently have no real knowledge of the Faith
or its Message....

The teaching of the Cause has always called for wisdom, devotion,
enthusiasm, purity of intention and eloquence of speech. Like other human
beings, Baha'is tend to go to extremes, and too few people bring the proper
balance to the way they act. This is particularly true in the teaching of the
Faith. At one extreme are those who are so on fire with love for the Faith and
with awareness of the desperate need of the people for its healing Message,
that they overstep the bounds of wisdom and discretion and stray into the area <p21>

of proselytizing. At the other extreme are those who are so gentle in their
approach and so concerned never to arouse an adverse reaction that they fail to
convey the enormous importance of the Cause or to convince their hearers; for
if the messenger is not enthusiastic, how can he convey enthusiasm to others?
The first extreme leads to misrepresentation of the Teachings and causes
disillusionment; the second results in the stagnation of the community and its
failure to fulfil its fundamental duty of conveying this life-giving Message to
the world.

In this, as in all aspects of the work of the Cause, the solution lies
in the friends' being patient and forbearing towards those whose shortcomings
distress them, and in endeavouring, through the Assemblies' consultation, to
draw closer to a proper balance while maintaining the momentum of the work and
canalizing the enthusiasm of the believers.

In one of its messages, published on page 32 of "Wellspring of Guidance",
the Universal House of Justice gave the following advice:

Those who declare themselves as Baha'is should become enchanted with the
beauty of the teachings, and touched by the love of Baha'u'llah. The
declarants need not know all the proofs, history, laws, and principles
of the Faith, but in the process of declaring themselves they must, in
addition to catching the spark of faith, become basically informed about
the Central Figures of the Faith, as well as the existence of laws they
must follow and an administration they must obey.

In the western world in recent decades, Baha'is have grown used to
thinking that the process by which a person accepts the Faith takes a long
time, and that it is unthinkable for someone to intelligently accept
Baha'u'llah within minutes of hearing of Him. This may be the pattern to
which they have become accustomed, but it is far from being a universal one.
When people accepted the Faith quickly in Africa and other parts of the Third
World, western Baha'is sometimes explained it away by saying that such people
were less educated and had fewer ideas to work their way through. Now the same
process is happening in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, and highly
educated people are accepting the Faith as soon as they hear of it, embracing
it enthusiastically, and rapidly deepening their understanding of its Teachings
by reading every Baha'i book they can lay their hands on. So it is clear that
receptivity to spiritual truth is, as Baha'u'llah indicated, a matter of purity
of heart, not of education or lack of it.

In the west of Europe, too, there are signs of greater receptivity towards
the Faith among the people, and some are ready to join the community of the
Most Great Name if approached in the proper manner. In such cases when an
individual hears the Message of Baha'u'llah and is moved to declare his faith,
there should be no obstacle placed in his way. Great care must be taken that
when the heart of the individual is touched by the power of Baha'u'llah's
Message and the declarant has expressed his desire to embrace the Faith, the
process of deepening be followed almost immediately. Deepening the knowledge
of the new believer in the verities of the Faith is the most vital part of
teaching; but deepening is not merely the imparting of knowledge -- it requires
also to imbue the soul of the person with the love of Baha'u'llah so that his
faith may grow day by day and he becomes a steadfast believer. <p22>

In the following statement, Shoghi Effendi advises the Baha'i teacher to
advance the process of deepening for a person who is attracted to the Faith:

"Let him [the Baha'i teacher] consider the degree of his hearer's receptivity, and decide for himself the suitability of either the direct or indirect method of teaching, whereby he can impress upon the seeker the vital importance of the Divine Message, and persuade him to throw in his lot with those who have already embraced it. Let him remember the example set by 'Abdu'l-Baha, and His constant admonition to shower such kindness upon the seeker, and exemplify to such a degree the spirit of the teachings he hopes to instil into him, that the recipient will be spontaneously impelled to identify himself with the Cause embodying such teachings. Let him refrain, at the outset, from insisting on such laws and observances as might impose too severe a strain on the seeker's newly awakened faith, and endeavour to nurse him, patiently, tactfully, and yet determinedly, into full maturity, and aid him to proclaim his unqualified acceptance of whatever has been ordained by Baha'u'llah. Let him, as soon as that stage has been attained, introduce him to the body of his fellow-believers, and seek, through constant fellowship and active participation in the local activities of his community, to enable him to contribute his share to the enrichment of its life, the furtherance of its tasks, the consolidations of its interests, and the coordination of its activities with those of its sister communities. Let him not be content until he has infused into his spiritual child so deep a longing as to impel him to arise independently, in his turn, and devote his energies to the quickening of other souls, and the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly adopted Faith."
("The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing

Trust, 1990), pp. 51-52)

From these words of the Guardian we can see that wisdom, encouragement, persuasion, and patience, are all called for, and that these must be attuned to the response shown by the hearer. We also see that the process of deepening continues long after the new believer has enrolled in the Baha'i community.
(30 June 1993, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer) [49]

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