International Expansion of Teaching Activities
While the fabric of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh gradually arose, and while through the influence of unforeseen forces the independence of the Faith was more and more definitely acknowledged by its enemies and demonstrated by its friends, another development, no less pregnant with consequences, was at the same time being set in motion. The purpose of this was to extend the borders of the Faith, increasing the number of its declared supporters and of its administrative centers, and to give a new and ever growing impetus to the enriching, the expanding, the diversifying of its literature, and to the task of disseminating it farther and farther afield. Experience indeed proved that the very pattern of the Administrative Order, apart from other distinctive features, definitely encouraged efficiency and expedition in this work of teaching, and its builders found their zeal continually quickened and their missionary ardor heightened as the Faith moved forward to an ever fuller emancipation.
Nor were they unmindful of the exhortations, the appeals and the promises of the Founders of their Faith, Who, for three quarters of a century, had, each in His own way and within the limits circumscribing His activities, labored so heroically to noise abroad the fame of the Cause Whose destiny an almighty Providence had commissioned them to shape.
The Herald of their Faith had commanded the sovereigns of the earth themselves to arise and teach His Cause, writing in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá: "O concourse of kings! Deliver with truth and in all haste the verses sent down by Us to the peoples of Turkey and of India, and beyond them ... to lands in both the East and the West." "Issue forth from your cities, O peoples of the West," He, in that same Book, had moreover written, "to aid God." "We behold you from Our Most Glorious Horizon," Bahá'u'lláh had thus addressed His followers in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, "and will assist whosoever will arise to aid My Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high, and a cohort of the angels, who are nigh unto Me." "...Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Bahá!" He, furthermore, had written, "for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His message, and
regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds." "Should a man all alone," He had clearly affirmed, "arise in the name of Bahá and put on the armor of His love, him will the Almighty cause to be victorious, though the forces of earth and heaven be arrayed against him." "Should any one arise for the triumph of Our Cause," He moreover had declared, "him will God render victorious though tens of thousands of enemies be leagued against him." And again: "Center your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and promote it. Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation..." "They that have forsaken their country," is His own promise, "for the purpose of teaching Our Cause--these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through its power... Such a service is indeed the prince of all goodly deeds, and the ornament of every goodly act." "In these days," `Abdu'l-Bahá had written in His Will, "the most important of all things is the guidance of the nations and peoples of the world. Teaching the Cause is of the utmost importance, for it is the head corner-stone of the foundation itself." "The disciples of Christ," He had declared in that same Document, "forgot themselves and all earthly things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves of self and passion, and, with absolute detachment, scattered far and wide, and engaged in guiding aright the peoples of the world, till at last they made the world another world, illumined the earth, and to their last hour proved self-sacrificing in the path of that Beloved One of God. Finally, in various lands they suffered martyrdom. Let men of action follow in their footsteps." "When the hour cometh," He had solemnly stated in that same Will, "that this wronged and broken-winged bird will have taken its flight unto the celestial concourse ... it is incumbent upon ... the friends and loved ones, one and all, to bestir themselves and arise, with heart and soul, and in one accord ... to teach His Cause and promote His Faith. It behoveth them not to rest for a moment... They must disperse themselves in every land ... and travel throughout all regions. Bestirred, without rest, and steadfast to the end, they must raise in every land the cry of Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá (O Thou the Glory of Glories) ... that throughout the East and the West a vast concourse may gather under the shadow of the Word of God, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted, that men's faces may be illumined, that their hearts may be filled with the Divine Spirit and their souls become heavenly."
Obedient to these repeated injunctions, mindful of these glowing promises, conscious of the sublimity of their calling, spurred on by the
example which `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself had set, undismayed by His sudden removal from their midst, undaunted by the attacks launched by their adversaries from within and from without, His followers in both the East and in the West arose, in the full strength of their solidarity, to promote, more vigorously than ever before, the international expansion of their Faith, an expansion which was now to assume such proportions as to deserve to be recognized as one of the most significant developments in the history of the first Bahá'í century.
Launched in every continent of the globe, at first intermittent, haphazard, and unorganized, and later, as a result of the emergence of a slowly developing Administrative Order, systematically conducted, centrally directed and efficiently prosecuted, the teaching enterprises which were undertaken by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in many lands, but conspicuously in America, and which were pursued by members of all ages and of both sexes, by neophytes and by veterans, by itinerant teachers and by settlers, constitute, by virtue of their range and the blessings which have flowed from them, a shining episode that yields place to none except those associated with the exploits which have immortalized the early years of the primitive age of the Bahá'í Dispensation.
The light of the Faith which during the nine years of the Bábí Dispensation had irradiated Persia, and been reflected on the adjoining territory of Iraq; which in the course of Bahá'u'lláh's thirty-nine-year ministry had shed its splendor upon India, Egypt, Turkey, the Caucasus, Turkistán, the Súdán, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Burma, and which had subsequently, through the impulse of a divinely-instituted Covenant, traveled to the United States of America, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy, Holland, Hungary, Switzerland, Arabia, Tunisia, China, Japan, the Hawaiian Islands, South Africa, Brazil and Australia, was now to be carried to, and illuminate, ere the termination of the first Bahá'í century, no less than thirty-four independent nations, as well as several dependencies situated in the American, the Asiatic and African continents, in the Persian Gulf, and in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. In Norway, in Sweden, in Denmark, in Belgium, in Finland, in Ireland, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, in Rumania, in Yugoslavia, in Bulgaria, in Albania, in Afghanistan, in Abyssinia, in New Zealand and in nineteen Latin American Republics ensigns of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh have been raised since `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, and the structural basis of the Administrative Order of His Faith, in many of them, already established. In several dependencies, moreover, in both the East and the
West, including Alaska, Iceland, Jamaica, Porto Rico, the island of Solano in the Philippines, Java, Tasmania, the islands of Bahrayn and of Tahiti, Baluchistan, South Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo, the bearers of the new born Gospel have established their residence, and are bending every effort to lay an impregnable basis for its institutions.
Through lectures and conferences, through the press and radio, through the organization of study classes and fire-side gatherings, through participation in the activities of societies, institutes and clubs animated by ideals akin to the principles of the Faith, through the dissemination of Bahá'í literature, through various exhibits, through the establishment of teacher training classes, through contact with statesmen, scholars, publicists, philanthropists and other leaders of public thought--most of which have been carried out through the resourcefulness of the members of the American Bahá'í community, who have assumed direct responsibility for the spiritual conquest of the vast majority of these countries and dependencies--above all through the inflexible resolution and unswerving fidelity of pioneers who, whether as visiting teachers or as residents, have participated in these crusades, have these signal victories been achieved during the closing decades of the first Bahá'í century.
Nor should reference be omitted to the international teaching activities of the western followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and particularly the members of the stalwart American Bahá'í community, who, seizing every opportunity that presented itself to them, have either through example, precept or the circulation of literature carried the Faith to virgin fields, scattering the seeds which must eventually germinate and yield a harvest as notable as those already garnered in the aforementioned countries. Through such efforts as these the breezes of God's vitalizing Revelation have been blown upon the uttermost corners of the earth, bearing the germ of a new spiritual life to such distant climes and inhospitable regions as Lapland; the Island of Spitzbergen, the northernmost settlement in the world; Hammerfest, in Norway, and Magellanes, in the extremity of Chile--the most northerly and southerly cities of the globe respectively; Pago Pago and Fiji, in the Pacific Ocean; Chichen Itza, in the province of Yucatan; the Bahama Islands, Trinidad and Barbados in the West Indies; the Island of Bali and British North Borneo in the East Indies; Patagonia; British Guiana; Seychelles Islands; New Guinea and Ceylon.
Nor can we fail to notice the special endeavors that have been exerted by individuals as well as Assemblies for the purpose of establishing
contact with minority groups and races in various parts of the world, such as the Jews and Negroes in the United States of America, the Eskimos in Alaska, the Patagonian Indians in Argentina, the Mexican Indians in Mexico, the Inca Indians in Peru, the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the Oneida Indians in Wisconsin, the Mayans in Yucatan, the Lapps in Northern Scandinavia, and the Maoris in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Of special and valuable assistance has been the institution of an international Bahá'í Bureau in Geneva, a center designed primarily to facilitate the expansion of the teaching activities of the Faith in the European continent, which, as an auxiliary to the world administrative center in the Holy Land, has maintained contact with Bahá'í communities in the East and in the West. Serving as a bureau of information on the Faith, as well as a distributing center for its literature, it has, through its free reading room and lending library, through the hospitality extended to itinerant teachers and visiting believers, and through its contact with various societies, contributed, in no small measure, to the consolidation of the teaching enterprises undertaken by individuals as well as Bahá'í National Assemblies.
Through these teaching activities, some initiated by individual believers, others conducted through plans launched by organized Assemblies, the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh which, in His lifetime, had included within its ranks Persians, Arabs, Turks, Russians, Kurds, Indians, Burmese and Negroes, and was later, in the days of `Abdu'l-Bahá, reinforced by the inclusion of American, British, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Armenian converts, could now boast of having enrolled amongst its avowed supporters representatives of such widely dispersed ethnic groups and nationalities as Hungarians, Netherlanders, Irishmen, Scandinavians, Sudanese, Czechs, Bulgarians, Finns, Ethiopians, Albanians, Poles, Eskimos, American Indians, Yugoslavians, Latin Americans and Maoris.
So notable an enlargement of the limits of the Faith, so striking an increase in the diversity of the elements included within its pale, was accompanied by an enormous extension in the volume and the circulation of its literature, an extension that sharply contrasted with those initial measures undertaken for the publication of the few editions of Bahá'u'lláh's writing issued during the concluding years of His ministry. The range of Bahá'í literature, confined during half a century, in the days of the Báb and of Bahá'u'lláh, to the two languages in which their teachings were originally revealed, and subsequently extended, in the lifetime of `Abdu'l-Bahá, to include editions
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