A homefront pioneer reflects on move within Virginia
By Monady Ahmadzadegan Shahmirzadi
Friends, we have been endowed with a great gift: an opportunity to serve Bahá’u’lláh in this Formative Age in the development of the Faith and its institutions. The opportunities for service are everywhere, and there are many ways one can serve Bahá’u’lláh. One is homefront pioneering.
My family and I moved from northern Virginia to the Lynchburg cluster of central Virginia in February 2014. We had been talking about pioneering as a family for a while, one reason being the responsibility we felt we had to the Bahá’ís in Iran, especially those imprisoned.
My brothers and I agreed to the idea of pioneering someday. But being honest, I didn’t think we were ready for it when we actually decided to do it. I wanted to gain more experience, feel more comfortable teaching and wait until at least one of my brothers was trained to serve as an animator for junior youth groups. But we consulted with our Auxiliary Board member and had the support of the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Atlantic States and other friends. So we moved.
Two Bahá’í families had already been living in the Lynchburg area as pioneers for 20 years. We are thankful that they stayed, for their sacrifices have contributed significantly to our cluster’s growth. At our first Feasts in the cluster, only my family and the other two families participated. But we were a motivated group that was excited to start other activities and to grow our cluster.
And so we planned, all the time. We planned to not only reach out to friends of the Faith, but also to other Bahá’ís in the cluster.
With the support, prayers and encouragement of friends who have come here to help us — such as Counselor Anita Williams and Auxiliary Board member Farzaneh Rasooly — and support and guidance from the National Spiritual Assembly, its offices and the Regional Bahá’í Council, we were able to expand, reach out to other Bahá’ís, re-form the registered Bahá’í group of Bedford County, develop our cluster, and after a few months pass the first milestone in our program of growth.
Our small group of seven is now 15 active Bahá’ís, four of whom are youth! We have a children’s class, a junior youth group, a fireside and devotional, two study circles, Feasts, Holy Day observances, dawn prayers, deepening classes, a youth night and, starting in November, our cycles of growth.
The progress of this cluster is due to the unity we have established between ourselves as cluster members and our eagerness to start meaningful conversations with our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teachers and friends and to invite them to our activities.
After reflecting about my experience in the Lynchburg area, I realized that the challenges I had dreaded and everyone else exaggerated are the same kind of challenges we had been facing in northern Virginia. The difficulties are everywhere and they’re not different for homefront pioneers. But the joy and the blessings are numerous.
Thanks to the decision we made, I have gained confidence in serving the Cause, I have grown spiritually, and I’ve learned to never dwell on my shortcomings. All of this, and homefront pioneering is the lifestyle I have chosen for myself.
We read stories of the beloved friends who sacrificed their lives for this new Revelation in the Heroic Age. We are struck by awe and wonder at their service and their love for God, we thank them, pray for their souls, and we share their stories with our friends and family.
Friends, we have the bounty of living in the Formative Age. Once we have fulfilled our duties for this Age, friends from the Golden Age leading to the Most Great Peace will read our stories of sacrifice and bravery. We are writing those stories. Let’s make them awe-inspiring!
May Bahá’u’lláh send us all His blessings and guidance as we strive to serve His Cause.