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POP 07a - My Declaration

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Baha'i's use the term "declaration"
regarding their belief in and commitment to Baha'u'llah.
Here I will tell you about the event
that led to my declaration.

I had been aware of the Baha'i Faith
for many years
and had visited the Temple in Chicago
a number of times.

Then, back in my native Kansas
I saw an ad in the Sunday paper
with a picture of the Temple
and called out of curiosity
that there were Baha'i's there.

At the local Baha'i's insistence
I visited with the group
that morning
but told them I had no time
to read a book.
Their reply was:

During next week
a major Evangelical Crusade
was planned for the City of Wichita.
Everywhere one looked
one saw banners that proclaimed -
the evangelist.

The banners were in store windows,
on car bumpers,
on telephone poles,
and on two big banners
strung across the main street
at both ends.

On the radio,
in the newspapers,
everywhere one looked
or heard - it was:
The newspapers reported
the week long event.
Many thousands in attendance -
the gigantic choir -
the moving sermons.

Each evening a Baptist friend
would come and ask me to go
but I was too busy.

The final evening he came
and insisted and insisted
telling me that the night before
over a hundred and fifty people
and gone forward to be baptized,
and that this was my last chance to -

In consideration for my friend -
I finally went with him.
The coliseum was packed.
The main floor
which was the city basket ball court
was filled with chairs.

At one end of the court was a stage
with 150 robed members of the choir
comprised of the joint choirs of
a number of the cities churches.

Three of the four balconies surrounding
three sides of the basket ball court
were also filled with only some vacant seats
in the fourth balcony.
Thousands in attendance.

It looked something like a political convention
with lettered signs held up on tall poles
showing the seating location
of each of the city's many churches.

The church with the largest percentage attendance
was being given new hymnals for the church.
The winning church
had 300% in attendance.
It was a large meeting.

The choir and congregation concluded a hymn
and all sat down
and Haggai rose to speak.
Indeed a powerful sermon.

I still remember from the sermon
how he pointed out
the number of beneficial institutions of mankind
that have been started
because of the teaching of Christ.

There are hospitals,
and schools,
and relief organizations of all sorts.
The list goes on into the tens -
as he gave it,
and the numbers of each
in the tens of thousands or more.

What man,
he asked,
has ever done more to benefit mankind?
One can look at all sorts
of political organizations
and political philosophies.
Personal organizations,
and personal philosophies
but what has done more
than the teaching of Christ
to benefit mankind?

Then he pointed out.
One is either for
or against
this movement that has so benefited mankind.
One cannot say
that they are neutral or indifferent -
because they are either part of the solution
or part of the problem.
Many were the points
that Haggai made of this sort.

I concluded that
well it doesn't really do any harm
in supporting Christ -
and better this source of good
than none.

When the altar call was given -
no one went up
although over a hundred and fifty
had gone the night before.
Even more were expected this night -
but I guess the crowd had thought
to beat the rush.

Several times Haggai paused the choir -
and urged sinners to come forward.
One time he gave an exhortation
that those there would be standing
on one side of the Pearly Gates
and that husband, brother, sister, friend
next to them would not be
because they had not turned to them
and offered to go forward with them.

My friend stood next to me
like a statue of rock,
but I must have dropped a shoulder
or something
because an usher came up from behind
and asked if I would like to go forward.

At the front I found myself
and one other fellow who eventually came forward
standing there looking up at the choir.
Haggai finally stopped the music
and looking down at this poor catch said -
He assigned to each of us
two deacons (or guards as I called them)
and told them to take us to an upper room
where he would come shortly.

And so we marched out -
I and my two guards leading,
and the other fellow and his two guards trailing.

Up the broad cement and steel stairways
behind the auditorium
and into a team dressing room.

Red brick walls and wooden floors
with windows two feet above one's head.
Fold-down windows with opaque
chicken wire-embedded glass.
Hanging from the 15 ft ceiling
down the middle of the 50 ft room
five single light fixtures on stranded cord
with green shades and 150 watt bulbs.

Except for one table -
the otherwise unfurnished room
had lining down the walls on each side
a half dozen 7 ft benches
with patches of white showing through peeling green paint
worn out from a generation of showered athletes
having been sitting upon them.

Being first through the door -
my guards and I proceeded forward
several benches and sat down
with one guard on each side.

With a couple of benches in between
my companion captive was also similarly seated.
And thus we sat -
in total silence
none of our guards
having every spoken a single word
to either of us.

Through the thick walls of the fortress
and away in the distance
we could dimly hear the voices of thousands
raised in praise to the Lord of the Ages.

And then -
total silence
as there must have been being offered upon them
a final blessing.

And suddenly -
a loud clamor and commotion
as thousands rose from their seats
and moved towards the exit.

Bit by bit,
the clamor died away
until again there was total silence.
And then from the distance -
thump, thump, thump
growing louder -
and the door burst open
and in marched Haggai with
twenty or more ministers behind him.

He stopped in front of the other prisoner,
whose guards IMMEDIATELY
split away from him and departed
as the ministers formed a semi-circle
around behind Haggai, who said -

At this point one of the ministers said
that the conversant had been attending his
and stepped forward and put his hand on his shoulder
and then with a glance over towards me -
seeing that he did not know me,
led the petitioner from the room.

Haggai then turned towards me.
and the semi-circle formed behind him.
SUDDENLY my guards were GONE!

At this point
Haggai glances back over his shoulder
and about a fourth of the ministers and about a fourth of the ministers and about a fourth of the ministers and about a fourth of the ministers And Haggai says,
So, I did as he said.
And the next morning,
I called at his motel,
and the operator said he had gone for breakfast -
and when I called again -
a little later she said that he had left -
and so I never got to talk to him.

But, I did exactly as he said,
and I want to testify to the efficacy of Christian prayer.
Each evening and morning
I read a chapter of the Gospel of St. John
and each morning and evening
I got down on my knees
and I prayed to God to show me His Will.

A few nights later -
I was asleep in my room -
when a figure appeared through
the darkened doorway.

I fumbled over and turned on the night stand lamp.
There in the room stood another friend -
from the Christian Science Church.

Thus it was that I descended the stairs -
in my good suit pants and non-matching garb,
to find his new motorbike parked at the curb.

(Same happened with my father,
and one of my sons was nearly killed on one,
and a friend's son is paralyzed -
I do not care for them.)

But my friend insisted.

We didn't make it.
We were on a one way street.
Putt, putt, putt,
slowly up to the stop-light at the corner,
waiting for it to turn green,
which it does
and a car on the four lane road ahead
pulls up on the center lane and stops
to wait at their now red light
and we speed up to go across in front of it and turn -
when a car load of drunks comes through
on the curb lane and hits us.

I sail completely across the street -

someone is saying to the ambulance driver.
A phrase which is repeated at the hospital.

I ask that a call be placed to my Christian Science Teacher,
(I am what they call a class taught student)
as they take me down to X-ray,
for 14 breaks where the car had hit me -

I tell the attendant.
(The other fellow only had a broken shoulder bone.)

And so I ended back at my office -
when my father shows up from our home
30 miles south -
having heard about it on the radio.
He arrived at the same time
as one of the Baha'i's I had met.

My father and the Baha'i insisted
that I accompany my father home,
where my father summoned a local physician.
Although there were three hospitals in the
town the physician decided
I should be sent back by ambulance to the city,
where I was confined to a bed
although I still declined surgery.

The next day the Baha'i came with a book.

I had never felt pain
from the moment my CS Teacher was called,
and all the bones set themselves
and healed without surgery,
although I was released a week later
with a leg cast
but the fellow in the next bed was REALLY sick -
and there I was
reading the Baha'i Book
and in exaltation -
That alone could have killed him.

My favorite song became,
Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy singing -

I played it over and over and over.

Each person's experience in their religion
is a mystery.
Each person finds the mystery of life and love
in their own experiences.
For some my experience
may seem more story teller than story -
but we all seek the mystery of life.

There are always deeper Truths
and we can always grow deeper to God.
Many are the paths
and some may wonder how one can say
that one path is better than another.

One never has the FINAL answer
and all that one can do is compare what they have
with what they are given the opportunity to examine.
You have a box --
and I have a box.
You KNOW that what is in your box is beautiful and wonderful.
You just can't imagine
that there can be anything better.

You say to me -

And I LOOK and say,
Unless you look in my box -
you will never know.
God is Infinite
and His Creation is Infinite.
If you live 10 million years -
(and you will and many times that more)
you will never begin to exhaust
what you can learn about God and His Creation.

But, those who are haughty before God -
and refuse to look in another box,
will never know.
They can progress but only within their box
and as wonderful as that may be
it is still confining
and that is all that they will have
from Eternity unto Eternity -
while there is Infinitely more to God
and His Creation.

What we are meant to gain and set in this life
is our attitude of openness to the Holy Spirit -
and not some limited amount of finite knowledge
or dogma.

If there is good in all religions,
one may ask -
then what difference does it make
which religion one chooses.
The difference is that one must choose
to do the Will of God -
and they must always be open
to making comparisons and choices
as He leads us on the path.

Many a Christian,
many a Mormon,
has borne me their testimony.
Because I lived in Provo, Utah
and would always welcome the practicing Mormon Missionaries
I am sure that I have had more Mormon Testimonies
borne unto me
than any other single individual on earth.

And I am glad that they -
and the many hundreds of other
truly devout Christians that I have met -
have a Testimony.

But I do wish -
that they could also look into my box,
and see then which they think
it is the Will of God that they should choose.

Peace and love,
Bruce Beach

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