Sep 30, 2011

Arising to serve -- a letter from the Hand of the Cause Bill Sears

[The following is a slightly abbreviated version of a letter sent to the Counsellors, the National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa, and through them to every individual Baha’i in that continent.]

January 19, 1982
To: Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies

Beloved Friends, Colleagues and fellow Baha'is:

We have written in some detail about our Supreme Universal House of Justice, the Continental Boards of Counsellors, the National Spiritual Assemblies, and their attendant Institutions, and the tremendous power they can release into the world for the benefit of all mankind when functioning harmoniously in love and unity. It is a Power and a Force that staggers and overwhelms the imagination.

This letter will review the importance and significance of the instrument by which that Force and Power of love and justice can be released into the world. You and me! "It is upon the individual believer", our beloved Guardian assures us, that "the revitalization, the expansion, and the enrichment" of every homefront "must ultimately depend." Upon us, the individual Baha'is.

There has never been in all religious history a story more thrilling than our story.

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Who are we, really? We, the Baha'is of the world? The beloved Guardian made it clear to the pilgrims that if we truly knew Who Baha’u’llah is and who we are because we are His followers, our heads would be bowed to the ground, and we would be weeping tears of joy just to be alive and breathing for one moment in this precious and unequalled Day! My words of his thought, during my own pilgrimage.

Like Ezekiel and Daniel, we would be overwhelmed and transformed by being in the Presence of The Glory of God, unable to gaze upon His transcendent glory and beauty.

Baha’u’llah's own Words about us, His true followers, are so tremendous that they dissolve us in tears. And melt our hearts in wonder and awe. Baha’u’llah’s Words should, as well, inspire us to in a spirit unequalled by anything we have done in the past. Our hearts should be so fired up and ignited with enthusiasm that the entire world would be unable to resist our teaching. In fact, that very thing is promised to us in our Writings. That is the story of this letter. So, let us remember for a moment the blessings conferred on those of us who are living in this Day which Baha’u’llah Himself says "stands unparalleled in the annals of the past, nor will future ages witness its like.” (The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 103-104)

Obviously we, His followers, must be something very special. What does Baha’u’llah Himself say about us? About you? And about me? And what we have the potential to become? Baha’u’llah’s Words now:

• “Such is the station ordained for the true believer that if to an extent smaller than a needle’s eye the glory of that station were to be unveiled to mankind, every beholder would be consumed away in his longing to attain it."

• "If the veil be lifted, and the full glory of the station of those who have turned wholly towards God, and in their love for Him renounced the world, be made manifest, the entire creation would be dumbfounded." (The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 108)

Further amplifying this exalted rank of the true believer, 'Abdul-Baha declares:

“The station which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained far such prophets of the house of Israel as are not regarded as Manifestations 'endowed with constancy'."

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Beloved friends, it would require a full-sized book to recount the wonder and greatness which Baha’u’llah and the beloved Master attribute to us, the Baha'is living in this very Day, if we are faithful and steadfast.There is no way to over-emphasize or exaggerate the glory of the station of such believers. And there is no reason why these wondrous Words should not apply to us.

Consider again these incredible Words of Baha’u’llah about you, wherever you live and serve the Faith. Listen!

Baha’u’llah tells us that through the mere revelation of the word "Fashioner" issuing forth from His lips such power is released as can generate '"through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce" Baha’u’llah writes: "lf such be the blessings conferred on all created things, how superior must be the destiny of the true believer, whose existence and life are to be regarded as the originating purpose of all creation." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 140-141)

Read that over several times.

In such a letter as this, we can do nothing more than barely touch upon such an exalted theme. But these Words alone should be more than sufficient to recreate and transform our lives. They should launch us into the greatest teaching effort ever made on this planet.

The beloved Master, 'Abdul-Baha said that the Power which Baha’u’llah has bestowed upon us, you and me, is so great that it would have "overwhelmed the saints of bygone ages." They longed, He said, to "partake for one moment of its great glory." ,Those wonderful holy figures of the past “yearned", He said, "with tearful eyes, to live, though for one moment” in the Day of Baha’u’llah. "Their longings unsatisfied,"' the Master says, "they repaired to the Great Beyond." Then ‘Abdu'l-Baha tells us that we have been blessed above all those past spiritual giants. "Notwithstanding our utter unworthiness," He says, the Blessed Beauty "has chosen to confer upon us a bounty for which the mighty ones of bygone ages had craved for in vain."

That is just a tiny glimpse of who we are, we, the instruments of God who have been chosen in this day to raise up “The Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth." There is no one, past or present, more blessed than we. No goal in life can compare to this goal: being an "instrument" of the Promised 'one of All Ages.

"Centuries, nay ages must pass away”, ' Abdul-Baha has written, before such opportunities as we now hold in the palm of our hands, will occur again. How precious is every hour of these days. Every moment of this phase of the Seven Year Plan is a golden moment, to us, and to the world. Do we understand and appreciate our greatness?

"How thankful must we be", 'Abdul-Baha reminds us, "for having been made in this Day the recipients of so overwhelming a favour! Would that we had ten thousand lives that we might lay them down in thanksgiving for so rare a privilege, so high an attainment, so precious a bounty!"

That, beloved friends, is yet another brief glimpse into the wonder of who we are, and what we can become. May these Words of the beloved Master inspire us to become numbered among those mighty instruments of the Supreme Redeemer of men, the King of Kings, the Lord of Hosts. It is He Who stands behind us in all that we do.

And may these Words of the beloved Master guide each step we Lake:

"O my friend! The undying Fire which the Lord of the Kingdom hath kindled in the midst of the holy Tree is burning fiercely in the midmost heart of the world. The conflagration it will provoke will envelop the whale earth. Its blazing flames will illuminate its peoples and kindreds. All the signs have been revealed; every prophetic allusion hath been manifested. Whatever hath been enshrined in all the Scriptures of the past hath been made evident. To doubt or hesitate is no mare possible . . . Time is pressing. The Divine Charger is impatient, and can tarry no longer. Ours is the duty to rush forward and, ere it is too late, win the victory. What more shall I say? What else can my pen recount? So loud is the call that reverberates from the Abha Kingdom that mortal ears are well-nigh deafened with its vibrations. The whole creation, methinks, is being disrupted and is bursting asunder through the shattering influence of the Divine summons issued from the throne of glory. More than this I cannot write." (The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 111-112)

One would think that; this would be the end of the story and the letter, so wonderful, so fantastic, so thrilling have been the Words from the One, the Only Supreme Redeemer of mankind for this Day, and the Words of His Herald and the Interpreters of His Revelation. The truth is, the story has barely begun. The best, the most wondrous part is yet to come! Are you listening?

It is time now for us to consider our part in this great drama. What we can do to take advantage of all these bounties. How best we can arise and seize our opportunities, these golden, priceless opportunities that may never come to us again. Our beloved Guardian has said that some opportunities come once in a lifetime, some come every hundred years, some come once and never return again! Let us, from now on, seize each one that comes our way, never knowing which of the three it may be.

In case we should ever make the grave mistake of thinking that these great teaching victories are destined for someone else, someone more educated, more famous, more well-to-do than ourselves, let us never forget these words written on behalf of our beloved Guardian:

"They [the Baha'is] must remember the glorious history of the Cause which . . . was established by dedicated souls who, for the most part, were neither rich, famous, nor well educated, but whose devotion, zeal, and self-sacrifice overcame every obstacle and won miraculous victories for the Faith of God." (Wellspring of Guidance, p. 128)

No one is left out. Every single one of us qualifies as one of these miraculous teachers of Baha’u’llah.

'Abdu’l-Baha made sure that the humblest, the most lowly and uneducated understood this unquestioned truth. He and the beloved Guardian reminded us that if Christ, Who was the Son, could raise up Peter, who was "incapable of keeping count of the days of the week . . .to become His successor and the founder of His Church, how much more can the Father, Who is Baha’u’llah, empower the most puny and insignificant among His followers to achieve … such wonders as would dwarf the mightiest achievements of even the first apostle of Jesus Christ!" (The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 38)

Wouldn't you like to be such a conqueror? Every one of us can be. Beginning right now. How? In this very moment, vow to yourself that whatever your circumstances, whatever your background, you will give your heart to Baha’u’llah. You will become one of these immortal heroes and heroines of God. You will let Baha’u’llah recreate and transform you by His All-Conquering Spirit.

It was to us that the beloved Guardian directed those soul-stirring wards: "Where are the spiritual souls who will now seize their opportunity, and achieve immortal glory in the service of the Faith?” (Written on behalf of Shoghi Elfendi, The Individual and Teaching, p. 33)

And again: "Let those who wish to achieve immortality, step forth and raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual victories they will gain!”

Don't wait for anyone else! Seize your share. You can do it alone, if necessary. The Master says: "It has often happened that one blessed soul has become the cause of the guidance of a nation." (The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 48)

If you would like to win an even greater victory than conquering a nation, hear this promise of our beloved Guardian:

"One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent."

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It is impossible to exhaust this thrilling theme which assures each one of us of the opportunity to reach such infinitely glorious heights. These Divine Promises offer to each one of us, man, woman, youth and child, the potential of becoming one among this "new race of men".

To us is given the bounty of changing the spiritual face of this planet.

Before leaving these tremendous, unforgettable, and completely unique promises made to us, the followers of this transcendental Faith, I share with you the Following four. One is from the Bab, one from Baha’u’llah, one from 'Abdu'l-Baha, and one from the beloved Guardian:

The Bab: He is speaking of the last, and most illustrious of all the Letters of the Living, Quddus, who made the pilgrimage to Mecca with Him. All of these favours which God bestowed upon such a great soul, He, the Bab, tells us, are within the reach of all of us, if we arise and become a true believer.

The Bab describes Quddus as “whom God hath glorified before the Concourse on high by virtue of his absolute detachment and for his being wholly devoted to the Will of God." Then the Blessed Bab makes us, you and me, this wondrous promise:

"This doth not mean that he [Quddus] was made the object of a special favour, nay, this is a favour which God hath vouchsafed unto all men, yet they have suffered themselves to be veiled from it." (Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 90)

Imagine our station, and our teaching victories, if we can cast aside the veils that blind us to our true potential! Our destiny is so great that it seems almost inconceivable.

Baha’u’llah Himself conferred upon Quddus "a station second to none except the Bab Himself." (Dawn-Brenhers, p. 415)

By our "detachment" and "devotion to the Will of God", we, no matter who we are, will be remembered in the history of the world when all the famous worldly names of this day are forgotten, and are "as unremembered as the dust".

No one can ever imagine or measure the "power" Baha’u’llah has conferred upon each one of us if we arise to teach. Let us hear His Words now:

Baha’u’llah: “He that summoneth men in My Name is, verily, of Me, and he will show forth that which is beyond the power of all that are on earth." (The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p . 94)

'Abdu’l-Baha: "In this century of the 'latter times', Baha’u’llah has appeared and so resuscitated spirits that they have manifested powers more than human." (Star of the West. Vol. IV, p. 118)

Shoghi Effendi: "We can truly say that this Cause is a Cause that enables people to achieve the impossible!'" (Written on behalf al Shoghi Effendi, Letters to Australia and New Zealand, p. 70)
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Surely that is the end of this wondrous story about you and me, the individual Baha’i believer. It is hard to believe that there could possibly be more to this fantastic story, and the part you and I have been destined to play in raising up the Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth. Yet the theme is not ended, for now we begin to see how it is indeed possible for us to accomplish such a world-redeeming, world-healing task.

We can at last catch a fleeting and soul-shaking glimpse into the wonder of the Master's radiance and rapture when He said to us:

"O My beloved! if thou didst know what God had ordained for thee, thou wouldst fly with delight and happiness, gladness and joy would increase every hour." (Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Vol. II, p. 260)

What more could Baha’u’llah possibly do for us? The sweetest, kindest, most beautiful and generous gift of all has been bestowed upon each one of us who will ARISE in His service.

He has already given us the Powers of Heaven to help us. He has given us the chance to become unique and unconquerable instruments of that Holy Spirit. And now, finally, He has bestowed upon us a spiritual GOLD MINE of humanity, a world-wide Mother-Lode. There we shall find waiting for us those "prepared souls” who are eager to embrace the Faith. They are out there now, waiting for us to come and find them. It is a promise from God. Sacred, divine, and infallible!

Just think of what would happen if all of us were to unite in our teachings efforts, showering the love and unity of Baha’u’llah upon the peoples of the world. The Bab has told us what would happen. It is an infallible Promise: "I swear by the holy Essence of God, were all in the Bayan to unite in helping Him Whom God shall manifest [Baha’u’llah] in the days of His Revelation, not a single soul, nay, not a created thing would remain on earth that would not gain admittance into Paradise." (Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 85)

How great, how staggering are the Promises of the Cause of God! Words are powerless to describe them. Yet every word is true.

Now we come to our hour of harvest: The Victory. The beloved Guardian said, while I was on pilgrimage, that there are thousands (literally thousands!) of people who are hungering for the Word of Gad in every materialistic city. We can be sure that in every city, town, and village there ate "prepared souls" longing for something better than what they have. They are waiting for us to arise and attract them to the Cause of Gad. Not just casual seekers. These are "prepared souls”! Prepared for us by God Himself. Waiting just for us. Could anything be more exciting than this?

Shoghi Effendi, the Sign of God on earth, has assured us of the incredible power of prayer which surrounds all our triumphant teaching work. He urges us to: ". . .make a special point of praying ardently not only for success in general, but that God may send to you the souls that are ready.'' (Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Individual and Teaching, p. 30) The souls that are “ready”! Hungry! Waiting! This is not a Pilgrim’s Note. This is a written statement. Shoghi Effendi promises us: "There are such souls in every city." (ibid, p. 30) What a miracle! Thousands of "ready" seekers, "prepared souls". Thousands!! God has prepared them! Did you hear that? They are waiting for us. The Master said so.

They are everywhere throughout the world. Our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, has said so. This is an unquestioned promise of victory from two separate Sources of Divine Infallibility. All it takes is us to arise and make that promise come true.

" . . . the very act of striving to serve," Shoghi Effendi assures us, "however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.” (lbid, p. 25)

"In fact", he says, '"the mere act of arising will win for you God's help and blessings," (Ibid, p. 21)

In seeking this great victory, beloved friends, we should never forget that we are under the day-today, hour-by-how, minute-to-minute infallible protection of our Supreme Universal House of Justice, the House of the Lord of Hosts. Wherever we may labour, no matter how difficult the task may appear, we are comforted by the words of this precious Institution:

“. . .however hopeless the prospect may seem . . . Baha’u’llah will reinforce them with His Hosts and will open the doors of victory before them."

". . . dependence upon Him [Baha’u’llah] enables the Baha’is to formulate audacious plans and confidently carry them through to completion in the face of seemingly insuperable obstacles.” (From a letter dated 11 January 1971 of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany)

“. . . we must seize the opportunities of the hour'", the House of Justice urges us, ""and go forward confident that all things are within His mighty grasp and that, if we but play our part, total and unconditional victory will inevitably be ours.'"(Wellspring of Guidance, p. 27)
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These Words of the beloved Master will close this part of our letter:

‘Abdu’l-Baha:

"O ye born whom God hath chosen from among those who are called! -know that ‘many are are called but few are chosen'”!-- upon whom He caused the evident tight to descend; whom He guided into the right Path, and to whom He gave the Glad-tidings of the Great Success!"

"O ye beloved of Gad, know that steadfastness and Firmness in this new and wonderful Covenant is indeed the spirit that quickeneth the hearts whish are overflowing with the love of the Glorious Lord; verily, it is the power which penetrates into the hearts of the people or the world! Your Lord hath assuredly promised His servants who are firm and steadfast to render them victorious at all times, to exalt their word, propagate their power, diffuse their lights, strengthen their hearts, elevate their banners, assist their hosts, brighten their stars, increase the abundance of the showers of mercy upon them, and enable the brave lions (or teachers) to conquer." (Tablets cf ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Vol. II, pp. 442-443)

Hopefully, this outpouring of Spirit from on High, through these precious, powerful Promises, will set your hearts ablaze, and enable you to make a far greater and more consecrated teaching effort than ever before. And I am sure that reports will begin to pour in with news of unique, unprecedented victories – victories which I shall energetically endeavour to be a part of myself in the days that lie ahead.

With warmest, tenderest, grateful love to each one of you,

(Signed) William Sears
Hand of the Cause of God