“Plant something in the right environment, and watch it grow,” says Kaveh Shahidi, talking about a Baha’i children’s class in Phoenix that experienced phenomenal growth. In just six months, attendance blossomed from 20 to 120 students as participants told their friends about the class and Baha’is publicized its existence in the neighborhood.
The most impressive aspect of the class’ growth is that the majority of the students are not Baha’is, says Mr. Shahidi, one of about 100 grassroots community advisers serving the U.S. Baha’i community.
The Baha’i message of the oneness of humanity resonates with the parents of these children, who are learning about the divine origin of all the world religions in addition to the Baha’i Faith.
Two of the students in the children’s class became Baha’is, which encouraged their parents to do the same after learning about the Faith’s message of hope for humanity.
Add these new Baha’is to the number of those who joined the Faith as a result of Baha’i classes, study circles and prayer gatherings in nearby neighborhoods, and you have 66 new members of the Faith in Phoenix in the past six months.
“Our classes, some of which are held in Spanish, are efforts at community building,” says Marilyn Sanchez, another grassroots community adviser. “Most of our participants are Mexican and Cuban, but some of them had never spoken to each other before, and now they do. And they share prayers in their own language.”
The next step, Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Shahidi say, is to “deepen” the new members of the Faith through study circles, which the public is encouraged to attend. The two advisers say the new members are so eager that it shouldn’t be long before they start organizing these events themselves.