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To the Baha'is of the world acting under the Mandate of 'Abdu'l-Baha

posted Apr 5, 2016, 10:15 AM by Charles Thilking

26 March 2016

To the Baha'is of the world acting under the Mandate of 'Abdu'l-Baha

Dearly loved Friends,
                Today at dawn, on your behalf, the members of the Universal House of Justice gathered
with the members of the International Teaching Centre in the Master's room at the house in
Bahji to commemorate that pivotal moment when the first of the Tablets of the Divine Plan was
revealed by the pen of Abdu'l-Baha. Prayers from those wondrous Tablets were offered in
thanksgiving for the glorious achievements of the past. Divine assistance was sought in support
of the labours required in the forthcoming stage of the Plan's unfoldment. And heavenly
bounties were implored to ensure still greater victories in meeting the challenges of future
stages, one after another, reaching as far as the fringes of the Golden Age.

                The Divine Plan, that sublime series of letters addressed by Abdu'l-Baha to the Baha'is
of North America between 26 March 1916 and 8 March 1917, constitutes one of the mighty
Charters of His Father's Faith. Set forth in those fourteen Tablets, Shoghi Effendi explains, is
"the mightiest Plan ever generated through the creative power of the Most Great Name." It is
"impelled by forces beyond our power to predict or appraise" and "claims as the theatre for its
operation territories spread over five continents and the islands of the seven seas." Within it are
held "the seeds of the world's spiritual revival and ultimate redemption."

                In the Tablets of the Divine Plan Abdu'l-Baha not only provided the broad vision necessary
to carry out the responsibilities entrusted by Baha'u'llah to His loved ones, but He also outlined
spiritual concepts and practical strategies necessary for success. In His exhortations to teach and
to travel to teach; to arise personally or deputize others; to move to all parts of the world and open
countries and territories, each meticulously named; to learn the relevant languages and translate
and disseminate the Sacred Texts; to train the teachers of the Faith and especially youth; to teach
the masses and, particularly, indigenous peoples; to be firm in the Covenant and protect the Faith;
and to sow seeds and cultivate them in a process of organic growth, we find hallmarks of the
entire series of Plans—each a specific stage of the Divine Plan shaped by the Head of the Faith—
that w i ll continue to unfold throughout the Formative Age.

                The initial response to the Tablets of the Divine Plan was limited to the noble exploits of a
few who, like the immortal Martha Root, arose independently. It was Shoghi Effendi who assisted
the Baha'is of the world to gradually grasp the significance of this Charter and learn to approach
its requirements in a systematic manner. The Plan was held in abeyance for nearly twenty years
while the Administrative Order took shape, after which communities were patiently guided to
conduct national plans, including the two Seven Year Plans in North America that constituted the
first stages of the Divine Plan, until finally, in 1953, all could unite in the first global Plan, the
Ten Year Crusade. Shoghi Effendi looked beyond that crucial decade to "the launching of worldwide enterprises destined to be embarked upon, in future epochs" of the Formative Age, "by the
Universal House of Justice, that will symbolize the unity and coordinate and unify the activities of
these National Assemblies." The Divine Plan continues at the present time with the intensive effort
to establish a pattern of community life that can embrace thousands upon thousands in clusters that
cover the face of the planet. Let every Baha'i appreciate, more deeply than ever before, that the
provisions of the next stage of the Divine Plan set forth in our recent message to the Counsellors'
Conference comprise the challenging requirements of the present hour—requirements both urgent
and sacred, which, when sacrificially and persistently addressed, may hasten "the advent of that
Golden Age which must witness the proclamation of the Most Great Peace and the unfoldment of
that world civilization which is the offspring and primary purpose of that Peace."

                How is it possible to adequately convey our feelings of irrepressible love and unbounded
admiration as we reflect on the exploits of the members of your communities, past and present, in
pursuit of your sacred mission? The vision that unfolds before our eyes is of a grassroots stirring,
an organic flowering, a resistless movement that has grown imperceptibly at times and at others
in great surges to eventually embrace the entire world: God-intoxicated lovers exceeding their
personal capacities, embryonic institutions learning to exercise their powers for the well-being of
humanity, communities emerging as shelters and schools in which human potential is nourished.
We pay homage to the humblest ministrations and ceaseless endeavours of the Faith's devoted
rank and file, as well as to the extraordinary accomplishments of its heroes, knights, and martyrs.
On vast continents and scattered islands, from arctic regions to desert climes, atop mountain
plateaus and across lowland plains, in crowded urban quarters and villages along rivers and
jungle paths, you and your spiritual forebears brought the message of the Blessed Beauty to
peoples and nations. You sacrificed rest and comfort and left your homes to journey to unfamiliar
lands or homefront outposts. You set aside your own interests for the common good. Whatever
your means, you sacrificially contributed your share of resources. You taught the Faith to
multitudes, to groups in various settings, and to individuals in your homes. You quickened souls
and helped them on their own paths of service, disseminated widely the Baha'i writings and
participated in deep study of the teachings, strove for excellence in all fields, engaged diverse
peoples of all strata in conversations pertaining to the search for solutions to humanity's ills, and
initiated efforts for economic and social development. Though misunderstandings and problems
sometimes arose, you forgave one another and marched together in serried lines. You raised the
framework of the Administrative Order and clung steadfastly to the Covenant, protecting the
Faith from every blow directed against it. In your ardour for the Beloved, you endured prejudice
and estrangement, privation and loneliness, persecution and imprisonment. You welcomed and
nurtured generations of children and youth upon whom the vitality of the Faith and future of
humanity depend, and as tested veterans, you heeded the Master's admonition to serve until your
last breath. You have written the story of the unfoldment of the Divine Plan on the scroll of its
first century. Before you, beloved friends, lies stretched out the blank scroll of the future on
which you and your spiritual descendants will inscribe fresh and lasting deeds of renunciation and
heroism for the betterment of the world.

Charles Thilking,
Apr 5, 2016, 10:15 AM