Vol 6

Our View of Sacrifice

Shoghi Effendi_Young Man

 "He hopes that the friends will display a certain amount of faith and courage and not fear present economic conditions. We should not let financial considerations hamper our work and discourage us in rendering our services. Giving lavishly during days of plenty cannot be termed sacrifice. It applies only to our activities when depression and economic difficulties seem to block the way . . . Whatever we sacrifice at present is to assure the welfare of humanity and ourselves as members of it in the future."

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, February 1932, Extracts from the USBN)

What is sacrifice? What does it mean in modern American society? How can we show our love for Baha’u’llah beyond giving up small, insignificant conveniences and privileges here and there? Though they add up, is this enough? Is sacrificing giving from our excess? To consider a different perspective, what would our collective material support of the Funds look like if we were to give from beyond our discretionary income, exceeding our previous notions of contributing, through universal voluntary sacrifices?

The reason we are asking these pointed questions at this time is because the National Fund is in crisis. To give an example of the far-reaching ramifications of the state of the Fund, recently, in addition to a hiring freeze imposed by the National Assembly, forty positions were cut from the National Administration.  This difficult decision was reached after having exhausted other cost-effective measures and seeing no other alternatives. These measures included postponing all non-essential maintenance and repairs to our National properties, reductions of up to thirty percent in every area of the budget and cuts to the National Assembly's meetings and travel schedule. All of these actions were taken in order to be able to sustain a balanced budget and avoid additional borrowing and an increased cash deficit. And yet, most of the cuts still will not have an immediate effect on the National budget, taking several months before any financial benefit of these actions will be realized.

Recently, increased activities in the defense of the friends in Iran demand the immediate attention and increased assistance of the National Fund for legal and external relations. And in December, the costs of the Six Regional Conferences called for by the Universal House of Justice were absorbed by the National Assembly so that every American believer had the opportunity to attend and unify around this call to action.

As Fund educators, we urgently need your help in educating the believers about this situation to stimulate sustained contributions to the Fund. There is no time to lose, friends.

We encourage you to engage the believers in your community in a serious discussion at Feast about our view of sacrifice as Baha'is and how we can assist our community to achieve a greater realization of our capacity. This means thinking and acting in ways we never have in the past. Continue to read the current issue of the BTB where we have included a story of one of the beloved Dawn Breakers and assist us in asking the question, "how can our sacrifices become a reflection of theirs?"

Please share your experiences, results and opinions on the Treasurers Cafe and let's generate a bold spirit of action.


Our Spiritual Ancestor: Sulayman Khan

We have included in this Baha’i Treasurers Bulletin an account of the martyrdom of Sulayman Khan. As we know, we are the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers. Let us reflect on what it means in our lives today, in a tangible and accountable way, to sacrifice of our time and resources as they sacrificed their lives:

"Another victim of the frightful tortures inflicted by an unyielding enemy was the high-minded, the influential and courageous Haji Sulayman Khan. So greatly was he esteemed that the Amir-Nizam had felt, on a previous occasion, constrained to ignore his connection with the Faith he had embraced and to spare his life. The turmoil that convulsed Tihran as a result of the attempt on the life of the sovereign, however, precipitated his arrest and brought about his martyrdom. The Shah, having failed to induce him through the Hajibu'd-Dawlih to recant, commanded that he be put to death in any way he himself might choose. Nine holes, at his express wish, were made in his flesh, in each of which a lighted candle was placed. As the executioner shrank from performing this gruesome task, he attempted to snatch the knife from his hand that he might himself plunge it into his own body. Fearing lest he should attack him the executioner refused, and bade his men tie the victim's hands behind his back, whereupon the intrepid sufferer pleaded with them to pierce two holes in his breast, two in his shoulders, one in the nape of his neck, and four others in his back -- a wish they complied with. Standing erect as an arrow, his eyes glowing with stoic fortitude, unperturbed by the howling multitude or the sight of his own blood streaming from his wounds, and preceded by minstrels and drummers, he led the concourse that pressed round him to the final place of his martyrdom. Every few steps he would interrupt his march to address the bewildered bystanders in words in which he glorified the Bab and magnified the significance of his own death. As his eyes beheld the candles flickering in their bloody sockets, he would burst forth in exclamations of unrestrained delight. Whenever one of them fell from his body he would with his own hand pick it up, light it from the others, and replace it. "Why dost thou not dance?" asked the executioner mockingly, "since thou findest death so pleasant?" "Dance?" cried the sufferer, "In one hand the wine-cup, in one hand the tresses of the Friend. Such a dance in the midst of the market-place is my desire!" He was still in the bazaar when the flowing of a breeze, fanning the flames of the candles now burning deep in his flesh, caused it to sizzle, whereupon he burst forth addressing the flames that ate into his wounds: "You have long lost your sting, O flames, and have been robbed of your power to pain me. Make haste, for from your very tongues of fire I can hear the voice that calls me to my Beloved." In a blaze of light he walked as a conqueror might have marched to the scene of his victory. At the foot of the gallows he once again raised his voice in a final appeal to the multitude of onlookers. He then prostrated himself in the direction of the shrine of the Imam-Zadih Hasan, murmuring some words in Arabic. "My work is now finished," he cried to the executioner, "come and do yours." Life still lingered in him as his body was sawn into two halves, with the praise of his Beloved still fluttering from his dying lips. The scorched and bloody remnants of his corpse were, as he himself had requested, suspended on either side of the Gate of Naw, mute witnesses to the unquenchable love which the Bab had kindled in the breasts of His disciples."

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 77)


New Issue of Liang's Adventures!

Liangcover The Office of the Treasurer is delighted to announce a special addition to Liang's Adventures, making its debut in the current issue - a bilingual English/Spanish story! To welcome the many new believers that are embracing Baha'u'llah's Message from a rich variety of backgrounds, beginning with the current issue each Liang feature story will be translated into Spanish.

Liang's Adventures is now an even more valuable tool in reaching children from diverse backgrounds.


On People's Minds

E=MC2 Question

We need to know if our Local Spiritual Assembly can be named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. According to what we find in Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities and on our website, all references state the National Spiritual Assembly as a beneficiary, but there is reference to making bequests to the Baha'i Faith. A beneficiary life insurance form found under 'Planned Giving' only cites the NSA, with it's EIN number noted.

Answer

Local Assemblies are legally recognized institutions, and the friends are free to name any Local Spiritual Assembly as a life insurance beneficiary. The name of your Assembly should appear on the policy as the “Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of ___________.”  Also, if you don't know, please check to see if your Assembly has an EIN number. You may wish to make a note of this number for your records.


$10.6 Million Left To Go!

Fund charts.001 A renewed spirit of sacrifice has been awakened as vast numbers of believers have responded to the letter sent by our National Treasurer, Dr. William Roberts, dated December 17, 2008.  An extraordinary volume of contributions were received following the sending out of this letter, $3.8 Million in one month alone, which includes $400,000 contributed between the 6 Regional Conferences.

But there is still a long way to go to reach the National Fund Goal of $25 Million.  Imagine the power that will be generated when the American Baha'i community comes forward to win this goal, or to exceed it, during these times of economic crisis.  What a testament to our faith in Baha’u’llah and His world-transforming system!

Our Supreme Body tells us:

“Bold and determined efforts are being made to share the Message of Baha’u’llah with receptive souls, and new believers are being welcomed at a rate not seen in many years. The immediate engagement of these fresh adherents in the courses of the training institute provides the means for quickly confirming them in active service and establishing a sustainable pattern of expansion and consolidation.” (The Universal House of Justice, 6 December 2008)

We ask you to consult with the members of your Local Spiritual Assembly, your communities and your clusters about how the training institute is helping to build Baha’u’llah’s new civilization. Integrate in your consultations how the National Fund is the bedrock for the study circles and thus the importance of winning this year’s National Fund goal of $25 Million. Reflect on how it is all tied together and share your learnings on the Treasurers Cafe. Everyone will benefit from hearing the results of these crucial conversations.

“As the activities of the American Baha’i Community expand, and its world-wide prestige correspondingly increases, the institution of the National Fund, the bedrock on which all other institutions must necessarily rest and be established, acquires added importance…”

(Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated July 29, 1935, Baha'i Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 9)


New Issue of FUNDamentals!

FUNDamentalsHeader

The Office of the Treasurer is happy to announce the latest issue of FUNDamentals! This issue is packed with information, including the launch of the FUNDcast podcast series, an online devotional slide show, and an exclusive edition of Hank & Terri comic. Running throughout this issue is a call to action to meet the two momentous goals facing the American Baha'i community - to have 74 more IPGs in this country by Ridvan 2009 and the $25 million National Fund goal. FUNDamentals is a resource from which you can extract ideas for your work as treasurers and we hope you will make use of it. We look forward to hearing stories of the results!


Joyful Times of Giving

Atlanta young peopleAs we approach special days like Ayyam-i-Ha, Naw-Ruz and the Fast, we hope to hear uplifting stories of fundraisers in your communities, similar to the ones below. We encourage you to start planning ways to celebrate these joyful times of giving and come together in unity to help win the National Fund goal. Please post these stories on the Treasurers Cafe for everyone to be inspired!

Fundraisers can be a very powerful rallying tool of unity. They are experiencing this in places like Gwinnett County South in Georgia where a group of junior youth organized a fund raiser that came from a consultation during last year's Fast on how they can, in a unified effort, generate greater support for the funds; or in the Washington/Idaho Cluster 25 which doesn’t have a Local Spiritual Assembly in the entire cluster, but sure do have plenty of love and devotion to go around. 

They celebrated a recent Holy Day in a very creative way in which they both commemorated the birth of their Lord and contributed to the building of His new civilization at the same time. This Holy Day gathering included a potluck dinner, singing, and a unique fundraiser for the National Fund. The adults and children present made birthday cards for Baha’u’llah in the form of collages made from magazine images. In their handmade cards they included a contribution to the Fund, which was a gift to Baha’u’llah for His birthday. What a wonderful way to integrate the arts in service to the Five Year Plan!