Ohio Bahá’ís sent entreaties to the Concourse on High for special assistance during the coming personal prayer and teaching campaign January 2-17, 2021.
During this state-wide special expansion event, believers concentrated prayers on specific individuals of their choosing. These individuals may be Bahá’ís or friends of the faith, living anywhere. Participants also attempted to find new acquaintances who may become attracted to the Faith, and with whom they may have elevated spiritual conversations. Interested people were to be invited to devotionals, firesides and study circles. We all called on the ready resources of the next world.
“The invisible hosts of the Kingdom are ready to extend to you all the assistance you need, and through them you will no doubt succeed in removing every obstacle in your way, and in fulfilling this most cherished desire of your heart. Bahá’u’lláh has given us a promise that should we persevere in our efforts and repose all our confidences in Him the doors of success will widely open before us.”
— Shoghi Effendi, The Power of Divine Assistance, p. 14
Helen Elise Austin, who became a Bahá’í in Ohio, is one of the departed souls for whom prayers for intersession were offered at the Ohio Teaching Conference. She served as member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, pioneer and Knight of Baha’u’llah, member of the Auxiliary Board for Africa, and a member of the regional national assembly for north-west Africa. Professionally, she worked as a university teacher, cultural attaché for the United States Information Agency, and assistant attorney general for the State of Ohio.
On Dec. 19 and 20, Continental Counsellor William “Billy” Silva and Jason Combs and Louis Ma’ani, both Auxiliary Board members for Protection, along with Area Teaching Committee members, shared inspiring guidance from the Universal House of Justice, highlighting the importance of this period in Bahá’í history and, indeed, the history of mankind as it continues to advance along the path of its spiritual evolution.
Counsellor Silva addressed “the Army of God in Ohio” and the “stalwart soldiers who were giants and came before us and cleared a path for us,” and the fact that their intercession and aid is an undisputed fact of our faith. He discussed the “arc of progress” occurring during these cycles of our Plans, marked by intensive programs of growth (IPGs) around the world. He said, “We know that we have been given the tools to succeed” and “we have this last cycle to advance as much as we can and to enter the next plan with a firm footing.” He encouraged all to have “fortitude and an outward-looking orientation.” He quoted the Universal House of Justice:
The vision that unfolds before our eyes is of a grassroots stirring, an organic flowering, a resistless movement that has grown imperceptibly at times and at others in great surges to eventually embrace the entire world: God-intoxicated lovers exceeding their personal capacities, embryonic institutions learning to exercise their powers for the well-being of humanity, communities emerging as shelters and schools in which human potential is nourished. …
Before you, beloved friends, lies stretched out the blank scroll of the future on which you and your spiritual descendants will inscribe fresh and lasting deeds of renunciation and heroism for the betterment of the world.
— Universal House of Justice, 26 March 2016
To the Bahá’ís of the World acting under the Mandate of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá
The Bahá’í world is near the conclusion of the Five Year Plan given to us by the Universal House of Justice. At Ridván, it launches into a One Year Plan, during which believers around the world will garner forces and observe the centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. A Nine Year Plan will follow.
114 individuals — including members of institutions, cluster agencies and tutors — attended the Zoom gathering over the two days for Plenary and break-out sessions. Local cluster dates for a pre- and post-event reflection meeting were made.
Over the two days, a list of local Bahá’ís who have passed on to the Abhá Kingdom was compiled, and all participants were asked to keep these souls in mind and request their assistance during this campaign. Inspiring stories of Ohio Bahá’ís Elsie Austin and Dorothy Baker, Hand of the Cause of God (1951) and member of the American national spiritual assembly (1937), were shared.
A prayer list activity was part of the weekend events:
We will begin thinking about an expansion effort by considering the possibilities for teaching and community-building in our personal lives. In the upcoming expansion effort, we can pray for the spiritual and material progress of those we already know and think about conversations we might have with them.
To access the prayer list activity, download the worksheet. You will list the names of the individuals, specific needs or requests for prayer for those individuals, a theme or concept you might explore in your next conversation with them, and a target date for your next conversation.
Friends from OH-24 Crawford and OH-03 Franklin County (Columbus) shared their experiences in working to advance their clusters from Milestone 1 to 2 and from Milestone 2 to 3 respectively. The current campaign to have devotions in every home has been a major factor in advancing the Cause.
Believers are asked to look to the example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
“For insight into this work let every believer look to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá… Tirelessly, He expounded the teachings in every social space … Uncompromising in defense of the truth, yet infinitely gentle in manner, He brought the universal divine principles to bear on the exigencies of the age. To all without distinction – officials, scientists, workers, children, parents, exiles, activists, clerics, skeptics – He imparted love, wisdom, comfort, whatever the particular need. While elevating their souls, He challenged their assumptions, reoriented their perspectives, expanded their consciousness, and focused their energies. He demonstrated by word and deed such compassion and generosity that hearts were utterly transformed.”
— Universal House of Justice, Letter to the Bahá’ís of the World, Ridván 2011
Counsellor Silva concluded by stressing “… remember all that has been done, all that can be done, and what the Universal House of Justice has called upon us to do … The empty scroll that has been laid out before us and the opportunities to inscribe it with fresh victories.”