Stories from across Canada: Summer Campaigns

Posted: 2018/12/31

From the second campaign that took place in Toronto, Ont. this past summer. Photo: Carmen Ighani Kianfar

Friends from across Canada share their stories and some of what was learned during the summer intensive campaigns, lending inspiration to future endeavours to teach the Cause.

A summer of intensive campaigns has led to an outpouring of learning and growth across the country, characterized by friendship, enthusiasm and patience.

For up to two-week periods at a time, Bahá’ís from the West Coast to the Atlantic came together to study the Ruhi materials in response to the National Spiritual Assembly’s 6 April letter calling all believers to intensify their efforts in the teaching work.

Depending on the needs of the area and what would propel it to its next stage of development, every campaign had its own focus. Some areas, for example, studied Ruhi Book 2: Arising to Serve, while others focused on developing children’s class teachers or junior youth animators. Regardless of the goal, every campaign was filled with those eager to sacrifice a large portion of their time to teaching the Cause.

The following are stories from different areas of the country about what was learned in the summer months.

In Ontario, which hosted several campaigns in different cities in the province, one of the common remarks made by the participants was the level of friendship that was nurtured through these campaigns.

One participant from London said: “I came to realize that strong junior youth groups with truly meaningful relationships – the ones where you are invited to birthdays, graduations, or just to come over and spend time together, where you feel like family – those are the ones who will come out to reflection gatherings and really become the catalysts for community growth.”

A Toronto participant commented on how quickly those friendships developed through the intensity of the campaign.

“I worked in one neighbourhood where it took a long time for the friendships to grow. I had to practice a lot of patience as we slowly nurtured these relationships. [In another neighbourhood], all we had to do was be there, be their friends, and things were just growing and opening. The next thing I know I’m bringing my family to theirs and within a week we’re all best friends and we call each other to see each other and have been to each other’s homes many times. I’ve learned to be patient with the process but also to just be ready to have meaningful conversations and open to new friendships.”

Montreal’s campaign brings together a large group of friends to study and serve intensively for two weeks.

At a campaign in Montreal, Que., confirmations were found in a neighbourhood where activities had fallen but now teams are striving to revive them.

“During this project we learned that the seeds we plant in a neighborhood and the efforts we make are never lost,” said one participant. “Spending two weeks in one neighborhood in an attitude of prayer and creating friendships brought many confirmations and released spiritual forces, which allowed us to meet and engage large amounts of junior youth and families.

“One experience that was quite moving was an interaction with a group of junior youth in a park. One junior youth was particularly engaged and, when asked if he liked the neighborhood, shared that he liked living in his old place on a different street, but his house had burned down a few years ago. I knew some other junior youth on that street and asked him if he knew them too. His face lit up and he said they used to be his closest friends before he moved.

“He then asked me, to my surprise, if I knew about the children’s classes in the neighborhood. He told me he used to be in the children’s class of one of the graduates of the program. I had been connected to that class and as soon as this junior youth told me this I was able to remember where I knew him from. His house had burned down and they had had to move without being able to tell anyone and so he had not been able to continue in the class. I told him about the junior youth program and his face lit up, it was as if he had found something he had lost. He said that me approaching them and inviting them was “a gift from the Gods.”

This was just one example from this teaching project of the many instances of finding people we felt we had ‘lost.’ We felt the spiritual forces from our prayers and daily efforts attracting us to old friends and many new ones as well.”

Those studying Ruhi Book 6: Teaching the Cause  take time to go for a nature walk during their intensive campaign in Vancouver, B.C. Photo: Taban Behin

Meanwhile, in British Columbia at a campaign in Vancouver, the friends were learning the benefits of the intensity shared between the institutions, community and individuals.

“We made efforts over ten days to invite a continuum of youth from the neighborhood, the cluster and adjoining clusters to participate, and involved Assemblies in this invitation process. The cluster agencies have been as one entity working together towards this end.”

As the spirit of invitation became more palpable among the friends, youth from the neighbourhood agreed to come and join the training, which further increased the enthusiasm and spirit of everyone participating.

“Six youth from the neighbourhood came on different days of the training and joined us for outreach” said one participant. “We recognize how much the campaign has helped them grow in their commitment. They are removing themselves from the social forces around them and connecting with their younger friends to help them do the same. It’s incredible to witness.”

Moving forward

With summer over and the winter months marching onward, the school year is well underway and new patterns of life for children, youth and families have emerged. Those working in the neighbourhoods nurtured in the summer have had to find flexibility in their activities to react to this changing environment. One group in Toronto has been meeting weekly to help each other manage the growth of their community and find ways to continue its development in this new stage.

“Our nucleus meets weekly in order to plan and reflect together,” explained one of the tutors. “And it’s not just the children’s class teachers meeting with the children’s class teachers, or the animators with the animators, but it’s all of us serving each core activity talking and planning as a group. This has really changed things and has allowed us to see the continuum we are working on and to help each other as we move forward.”