By Nona Simons
I have known wkj for other 40 years. She was one of my best friends in high school. My other best friend was mds. A month or two ago, I added them to my daily prayer list and have been including them in my prayers on almost a daily basis since then. Just after Christmas, I got a card from mds, with pictures of her grown kids. She mentioned that she would be in our home town in early January. She gave me wkj’s phone number in the event that I ever wanted to come down and visit her and wkj. So, I called wkj and decided to get together on January 14th (tomorrow).
However, because of exposure to the flu, I knew we could not make the drive to the Bay Area, where our home town is located. I called wkj up, and I described the situation to her. She understood my position. However, I still wanted to see her and told her this. After a little more discussion, I introduced two alternative plans: 1) They drive down to my house and we go out to lunch since wkj does not want to be exposed to the flu; and 2) teleconference-because I have unlimited cell minutes, I call one of their numbers (whichever one has a speaker phone), and we all talk on the phone together.
Well, wkj and I then got to talking and she loved hearing all the colorful storys of my life over the last 30 to 40 years. She said she definitely had to call mds and arrange to drive here to have lunch with us.
Now, I had done all the talking, and wanted to learn more about what wjk was up to. Hence, I asked if she was still a Christian. She indicated that she sort of was. It turns out she stopped actively participating in the church community, due to not being able to tolerate the gossiping and backbiting that occurred.
It reminded me of my friend sb, who was a strong Christian, tried to live the Christian life, but rarely if ever attended church for the same reasons as wkj. Neither one could stand the hypocrisy they observed among people who called themselves Christian. My immediate response was that as critical of the Baha’is as I was, they would never stoop as low as the people in her church. If they did, we could go to various institutions of the Faith, and the situation would be rectified.
I explained in a general sense how the appeals process went if you believed a bad or harmful decision was made by the LSA (Local Spiritual Assembly/local governing body). That made a great deal of sense to her. Furthermore, I explained that I was so strongly involved in being a Baha’i that I couldn’t help talking about it but would never want to force my beliefs “down anyone’s throat.”
Next, I explained that Bahá’ís don’t believe in proselytizing, but do tell people about their beliefs. If the listener is not interested, we let them remain with their opinions without trying to convince them to believe the same way we do.. This also impressed her. After that, we talked about the logistics involved regarding our getting together.
Praying for my friends daily set in motion, the process of my connecting with my two friends. With God’s help I was inspired to plant in wkj, the “seeds” of interest in the Baha’i Faith. Furthermore, I felt far less critical of our malfunctioning communities, because at our wors,t we didn’t seem as bad as the type of Christian community that wkj and mds had belonged to. Also, with our system of seeking advice and making appeals to the higher institutions, we have a way of resolving disputes and ending bad practices, like back-biting and gossip. This is an important area of growth for me. This is not to say that our Baha’i communities are all well and wonderful, but we do have tools to improve our communities that do not exist in other religions.
Groundwork has been laid for future discussions of the Faith with wkj because I mentioned being so involved in the Faith that I couldn’t help talking about it. I can’t wait to find out what happens when we next see one another. What a wonderful way to be of assistance to God, to be more confirmed in our Faith, and to understand, at a deeper level, the power of our Teachings and the magnificence of our Faith.