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Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Suva, Fiji Islands, 1982 edition
  • Pages:
  • 104
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Pages 33-35

(24) September 1st, 1933

Dear Bahá’í Friend,
Shoghi Effendi has directed me to address you these few lines, acknowledging the receipt of your welcome letter of July 20th, 33, which he has read with deepest interest. He was gratified to learn that you have newly embraced the Cause and that you are earnestly endeavouring to spread it through every possible means. It is on young and active Bahá’ís, like you, that the Guardian centers all his hopes for the future progress and expansion of the Cause and it is on their shoulders that he lays all the responsibility for the upkeep of the spirit of selfless service among their fellow-believers. Without that spirit, no work can be successfully achieved. With it triumph, though hardly-won, is but inevitable. You should, therefore, try all your best to carry aflame within you the torch of faith, for through it you will surely find guidance, strength and eventual success. 34
The Guardian is fully conscious of the difficulties that impede the progress of the Faith in your community. Chief among these, you mention the lack of courage and of initiative on the part of the believers, and a feeling of inferiority complex which prevents them from addressing the public. It is precisely these weaknesses that he wishes the friends to overcome, for these do not only paralyze their efforts but actually serve to quench the flame of faith in their hearts. Not until all the friends come to realize that every one of them is able, in his own measure, to deliver the Message, can they ever hope to reach the goal that has been set before them by a loving and wise Master. It is no use waiting for some able and eloquent teacher to take all the responsibility for the spread of the Cause. For such a thing is not only contrary to the spirit of the Teachings but to the explicit text of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, both of whom place the obligation of teaching not on any particular class, as in former ecclesiastical organizations, but on every faithful and loyal follower of the Cause. The teaching of the Word is thus made universal and compulsory. How long then shall we wait to carry out this command, the full wisdom of which only future generations will be able to appreciate? We have no special teachers in the Cause. Everyone is a potential teacher. He has only to use what God has given him and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust.
Visiting teachers, who are, at least in a general way, supposed to be more competent and able than the rest, are undoubtedly of a great help. But these can never replace the mass of individual believers and fulfil what must be inevitably accomplished through the collective effort and wisdom of the community at large. What visiting teachers are supposed to do is to give the final touch to the work that has been done, to consolidate rather than supplement individual efforts and thereby direct them in a constructive and suitable channel. Their task is to encourage and inspire individual believers, and to broaden and deepen their vision of the task that is to be 35 done. And this, not by virtue of any inherent spiritual right, but in the spirit of simple and whole-hearted cooperation.
It is in this light that Shoghi Effendi views the whole problem of teaching not only in New Zealand but in all the Bahá’í world. He would, therefore, encourage you to take a leading part in the carrying out of his wishes on this point, to take yourself an active interest in teaching, not only private but also public, and in this way stimulate the friends to follow your example. It is then, and only then, that there can be a need for a qualified and competent visiting teacher in order to bring to full fruition individual teaching efforts.
Assuring you of our Guardian’s fervent prayers on your behalf, so that you may be increasingly blessed in your efforts for the spread of the Message.
Yours in His Service,
H. Rabbani
[From the Guardian:]
May the Beloved guide your steps, cheer your heart, deepen your understanding of the distinguishing features of His Faith and enable you to render the sacred Threshold unique and inestimable services,
Your true brother,