April 8, 2010

Serving the Cause through the art of storytelling -- by Mr. Kiser Barnes, A talk given at the Bahá’í World Centre

29 January 2003
Haifa, Israel

Good evening Friends. I’m delighted to be among so many lovers of stories and storytellers. In this presentation of a few stories, I’ll make some remarks about serving the Cause of God through the art of storytelling.

The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, like the Manifestations of God before Them, told educative stories. The Manifestations are Divine Educators who often couched the most valuable lessons for humanity in penetrating stories. The use of parables by Jesus is greatly appreciated. In The Dawn-Breakers, Nabíl has recorded narratives Bahá’u’lláh related to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a superb storyteller. It would be an excellent contribution to learning if the Master’s use of stories was examined. What were His methods? What languages did He use? How did He promote the art of storytelling? What subjects did He stress? Of course, God Passes By is Shoghi Effendi’s unique account of the outstanding events that occurred in the first century of the Faith’s history. A treasure of stories for the world is found in the Guardian’s expositions and commentaries. For example, in The Promised Day is Come, he relates what happened to some eastern rulers who opposed Bahá’u’lláh. In short, storytelling has been, and remains, a powerful instrument for the Faith’s advancement.

Teaching the Oneness of Mankind

The young lady who introduced me, Jacqueline Ambe, is from Cameroon. The first Cameroonian woman who accepted the Faith was Mrs. Esther Tanyi. She told me how she became a believer. In her own way, she related how a believer taught her to believe in the oneness of mankind through his consumption of food.

After Mr. Enoch Olinga, the late Hand of the Cause of God, settled in Cameroon in 1953, the Guardian sent Mr. Alí Nakhjavání there with his request that five of the new and only Cameroonian Bahá’ís at that time should arise to establish the Faith in other parts of West Africa. The only question these new believers had was this: Who among them would gain this special honour? They had recently elected the first Local Spiritual Assembly in the city of Victoria. Therefore, they decided that the five who would become international pioneers would be selected by secret ballot. Ballots were cast. Those chosen left their homes for other lands. Thus, five Cameroonians became Knights of Bahá’u’lláh during the Ten Year Crusade. Mr. David Tanyi, Esther’s husband, established the Faith in Togo.

April 1, 2010

A talk given by Mr. Ali Nakhjavani to Local Spiritual Assembly Members of Southern Ontario, Canada

5 September 1986

Beloved friends, the fall I had was unexpected, but these meetings I have had with the friends, although unexpected, have been extremely inspiring to me -- but not this (referring to broken wrist) -- particularly when I went to Quebec. I found the friends there on fire with the teaching work and I must have met over that weekend something like 15 to 16 friends who are close to the Faith, and some of them came to me personally to express their love and appreciation for Baha'u'llah. They don't have too may proclamation activities there. They are not rich on the whole. They have far distances to traverse. But there is something which I cannot describe. Jalal is my brother. He visited Quebec and he used to write me letters about the Quebecois. He used to tell me, 'You should come here and see them and talk to them. They are a different people. They seem to understand the Faith and appreciate it. They respond to the truth enshrined in the Faith.' And one reason why I went to Quebec was to undertake this travel on behalf and in the name of my brother who loved the Quebecois so much. And the Quebecois told me that they loved him very much. In fact some of their children have been named Jalal because of him. It is really my wish that the spirit which is in Quebec will permeate the entire community in Canada. And if this is done, if you make an analysis of what has happened in Quebec, what is it that these friends are doing that, for example, we in this part of Canada are not doing -- why is that they are successful -- if you make a study of this, maybe we can get some excellent results and methods.