Pain and Ransom - Report from Baha'i Regional Conference in Frankfurt, Germany

This is a part from the personal report of my friend (on Baha'i Woman Converse Email List) who attended one of the 41 Baha'i Regional Conference recently. She attended the conference in Frankfurt, Germany on 7 and 8 February 2009, and what she shared with us was so brilliantly inspiring, that I wanted to share this bit with you all... Below is part 3 of her report on 'Pain and Ransom':


This chapter of my report will be especially interesting to all of you who are in *pain and hurt* , I suppose.

During the last session, Counsellors Joany Lincoln and Stephen Birkland somewhat "reached the peak" of their talks - they sent us out with highly touching, motivating and inspiring messages!
So here's a tidbit of Mr. Birkland's speech (To make it readable better, I won't insert "he said" again and again; instead, please not that everything between the ---------{-----<(@ is *paraphrased* from his words and not my personal comment! Of course, as it is my paraphrasing and even written out of memory only, as I was able to note only a few key words, there's *no* guarantee for this and I apologize for any optional misunderstanding!):

*The spiritual meaning of ransom*

In every Faith, there is the concept of ransom. It is connected to "Crisis and Victory". In the Baha'i-Faith, the greatest ransom was offered by Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch. In Akka, when he fell from the roof and lay deathbound, Baha'u'llah offered him healing. Mirza Mihdi asked his exalted father to allow him to die, offering his life as a ransom for the Faith. Especially, he asked for this sacrifice to be the ransom in exchange for the prison (rather carcel) doors to open for Baha'u'llah, his family and the friends. Baha'u'llah accepted this ransom, Mirza Mihdi passed away and within few months the prison doors opened!

So this is an exalted example for all of us. Baha'u'llah told us that *to every success belongs sacrifice* ! Crisis and victory. Pay the price, and you win.

Now - what does this mean for the Five-Year-Plan? The Plan is carried out by Baha'is - who are human. There will be hurts. Someone will not acknowledge your efforts properly, someone will do something unwise, someone will ignore your input, someone will attack you, someone will backbite or let you down or just be a pain in the neck. So what? Remember Shoghi Effendi saying "forgive and forget"! And, to help you and the Faith at the same time - you can offer your hurt as a ransom for the success of the Plan! Clear your heart from revengeful attitudes, focus on purity, and with the right motivation, if you truly do it out of love of God, turn to Baha'u'llah and ask Him to accept your hurt as a ransom. Thus the Plan can progress even faster!

Or - if you haven't been hurt, but are in any kind of emotional or physical pain - you can offer this pain just as well! Think of the wonderful examples in Baha'i-history, of the heroes who were ill, disabled, had lost family or whatever, and who sacrificed their pains for the Victory of the Faith! For example, Hand of the Cause Amelia Collins with her severe diseases ...

... talking of Amelia Collins - even if you don't have any hurt or pain to offer as a ransom, you surely can offer something. When there was the call for donations for the construction of the Mother Temple of the West, the House of Worship in Wilmette, there was this lady who literally had nothing. Nothing but a huge stone ... You probably know the story. For those who don't, just briefly: Amelia Collins was in charge of collecting funds for the project. This poor lady came to her and offered the stone. Maybe someone else would have sent her away. Amelia Collins understood the sincerity in this offer immediately and accepted it and even more - as the stone was huge and heavy, she brought a child's pram to put it in and, together with the lady, bring it to the construction site. There, the pram crashed and the stone remained lieing there. When 'Abdu'l-Baha came, he saw it - and destined it to be *the cornerstone of the Mother Temple of the West* !

So - *every single humble person* owes at least something which is valuable or precious enough to be offered - as a ransom for the progress of the Divine Plan!

Isn't that *wonderful* ??? It brought me to tears right away, for only an hour before that session, I was hurt by someone there. I had offered some service and it was rejected in kinda rude way. Of course, psychologist me immediately understood that the rudity came from the stress this person had to endure during the conference. But the little-tiny-whimpsy-Elena felt hurt inside. :-) And here it was, a *glorious* solution to my itsy-bitsy-tiny problem: I could offer this hurt as a ransom, I could focus of the love of God, strive to bring my heart to some pure attitude, let go my focus on that person and exchange it for the focus on Baha'u'llah, asking Him to accept this pain as a ransom for whatever aspect of the Plan He decides. :-) This gave my hurt a meaning. This made it *meaningful* - and my inner feeling immediately switched from "down" to "high up"!!!

And those of you who are in severe emotional or physical pain - as Counsellor Birkland pointed out, you may think of Mirza Mihdi's sacrifice, physical pain and even death ... *Justice* is a key concept in this revelation. So, God knows *YOUR* suffering and what it means for *you* in *your* life. We can't compare ourselves to the exalted figure of Mirza Mihdi. But, as God is just, he accepts even the tiniest offer for a great purpose, if our hearts are pure. See the cornerstone for that one ... So, even if we are Miss-unknown, feeling the least worthy for offering anything - rest assured, God in His justice *knows* how to handle things in justice. And the Manifestation of God for this era assured us that He accepts *all* our offers, as humble as they may be.

:-) Isn't that *GLORIOUS* ??? :-) Whatever test you may go through - you can use it to foster and promote the progress of the Divine Plan!!!


Imagine the logistics of this particular conference:
About 5000 people from different countries across Europe.
The conference proceedings were in English with simultaneous translation offered in German, French, Czech, Polish, and Hungarian.

Supplementary activities to the conference were planned at the Baha’i House of Worship 25 kilometers west of Frankfurt at Langenhain. The day before the conference opened, special transportation shuttled people from the Congress hall to the temple for four separate devotional programs. For many of the attendees, it was their first visit to the house of worship, and they represented one of the largest and most diverse groups ever to join there for prayers.

Another feature of the gathering were the references to 1958, when Frankfurt hosted another landmark conference – one of the intercontinental conferences held at the midway point of another Baha’i plan, the 10-year initiative launched in 1953 by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. Among the attendees at this year’s gathering were at least nine people who participated in the earlier event. They noted that in 1958, Baha’is from Iran were free to travel to such a gathering – at this conference, they were represented by red roses placed at the front of each of the auditoriums.

Here is a little video from the Conference held in Frankfurt:

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