The new Plan revolves around a triple theme: enhancing the vitality of the faith of individual believers, greatly developing the human resources of the Cause, and fostering the proper functioning of local and national Bahá’í institutions. This is to lend focus to requisites of success as the Plan’s manifold goals are pursued in these turbulent times.
Against the conspicuous signs of moral decadence which daily is corroding the foundations of civilized life, these graphic words of Bahá’u’lláh assume an acute urgency: “The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it. The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it?” Such words have particular implications for the actions of anyone who has recognized the Lord of the Age. A crucial consequence of this recognition is a belief that impels acceptance of His commandments. Depth of belief is assured by the inner transformation, that salutary acquisition of spiritual and moral character, which is the outcome of obedience to the divine laws and principles. Towards this end the release of the annotated Kitáb-i-Aqdas in English, and its anticipated early publication in other major languages, provide a mighty infusion of divine guidance for realizing the vitality of faith which is essential to the spiritual well-being and happiness of individuals and the strengthening of the fabric of the community. No less essential to nourishing this vitality is the cultivation of a sense of spirituality, that mystic feeling which unites the individual with God and is achieved through meditation and prayer.
Training of the friends and their striving, through serious individual study, to acquire knowledge of the Faith, to apply its principles and administer its affairs, are indispensable to developing the human resources necessary to the progress of the Cause. But knowledge alone is not adequate; it is vital that training be given in a manner that inspires love and devotion, fosters firmness in the Covenant, prompts the individual to active participation in the work of the Cause and to taking sound initiatives in the promotion of its interests. Special efforts to attract people of capacity to the Faith will also go far towards providing the human resources so greatly needed at this time. Moreover, these endeavors will stimulate and strengthen the ability of Spiritual Assemblies to meet their weighty responsibilities.
The proper functioning of these institutions depends largely on the efforts of their members to familiarize themselves with their duties and to adhere scrupulously to principle in their personal behavior and in the conduct of their official responsibilities. Of relevant importance, too, are their resolve to remove all traces of estrangement and sectarian tendencies from their midst, their ability to win the affection and support of the friends under their care and to involve as many individuals as possible in the work of the Cause. By their constantly aiming at improving their performance, the communities they guide will reflect a pattern of life that will be a credit to the Faith and will, as a welcome consequence, rekindle hope among the increasingly disillusioned members of society. 1
The human resources of the Cause are being augmented in two ways. People of capacity are being moved to embrace the Faith, reinforcing the ranks of those who are already serving. The latter, for their part, have been enriching their experience and acquiring greater capabilities through a more profound study of the Teachings and through expressing them in action. Recognizing the need for a more systematic deepening of their understanding of the Teachings and their application to society, the friends have increased the use of workshops and institutes, with notable success. In the year ahead these two complementary processes—attracting people of capacity and increasing our own abilities—must be further advanced, stimulating individual action and the harmonious development of a wide range of activities for the promotion of the Faith.
As the potentialities of the individual believers unfold, so the local and national Bahá’í institutions are gaining ability to foster the quality of the life of their communities and to conceive and implement imaginative programs. In many areas Local Spiritual Assemblies have collaborated in teaching the Faith in a region. National Assemblies, likewise, have been evolving innovative projects to seize the opportunities presented by developments outside the Cause. Some examples of such activities, in very different fields, have been the Open Letter Project in Albania; the response to the extraordinary receptivity of the authorities and the general population in the Sakha and Buryat Republics in Siberia; and the agreement signed between the National Spiritual Assembly of the Marshall Islands and the local government of Majuro Atoll in response to the national authorities’ request that the Bahá’ís assume responsibility for the operation of five state elementary schools.
The evolution of local and national Bahá’í institutions has made possible an increased measure of decentralization in the administration of the work. For this beneficial process to expand, however, the crucial prerequisite in most countries is the speedy improvement of the functioning of Local Spiritual Assemblies. This calls for the close attention of every believer. These local Bahá’í institutions, ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas itself, constitute a reservoir of strength and guidance which will amplify the effectiveness of the work of the Cause as they mature.
We live in the midst of populations which are in desperate need of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh. It is our duty to present it lucidly and convincingly to as many souls as possible. The darkness and suffering around us not only are the signs of a need, but also present us with an opportunity which we must not fail to use. Conveying the message is merely the first step. We must then ensure that it is understood and applied, for, as we read in one of the letters written on behalf of the Guardian: “Until the public sees in the Bahá’í Community a true pattern, in action, of something better than it already has, it will not respond to the Faith in large numbers.” When people embrace the Cause, they should then, through the Teachings, develop their relationships with each other and with their fellow-citizens to gradually produce a truly Bahá’í community, a light and haven for the bewildered. 2
Beloved coworkers: Beyond the need to win our goals, humanity’s current plight summons us to redoubled action. The cloud of despair hanging over the fortunes of a deranged world is the very harbinger of the spring rain that can quench the spiritual and material thirst of every people. It has only to be seeded through constant and confident acts of teaching. The performance of such acts, though dependent for reinforcement on the functions of Bahá’í institutions, rests primarily and ultimately with Bahá’í individuals.
Let no excessive self-criticism or any feelings of inadequacy, inability or inexperience hinder you or cause you to be afraid. Bury your fears in the assurances of Bahá’u’lláh. Has He not asserted that upon anyone who mentions His Name will descend the “hosts of Divine inspiration” and that on such a one will also descend the “Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light”? Step forth, then, into the arena where all His loved ones are equally summoned, equally challenged and abundantly blessed. For to teach, Bahá’u’lláh Himself affirms, is to do the “most meritorious of all deeds.” And at this extraordinary moment in the history of the planet, nothing whatever is of more critical importance than inviting people of every sort and every gift to the banquet table of the Lord of Hosts.
As we send you this message, clearly before us is a vision of untold victories waiting to be seized. We are certain you can realize a myriad of these in the remaining time of the Three Year Plan. Just such an accomplishment must earnestly be striven for, so as to set the stage for the next global enterprise to be launched at Riḍván 1996. There shall be mobilized then a world-embracing campaign to ensure a befitting crescendo to the achievements of a century regarded by no less than ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá Himself as a period that will have “left traces which shall last forever.” 3
Our hearts overflowing with gratitude to the Blessed Beauty, we acknowledge the abundant manifestations of His grace during the Three Year Plan, which has run its course with the advent of this Riḍván Festival. The animating spirit of the Holy Year, which lent impetus to the launching of the Plan at Riḍván 1993, pervaded this period of concentrated endeavor, rendering our world community more consolidated, more resilient, more mature, and more confident than before. At the same time, the community’s prestige attained new heights. While this Plan has not ended on a note of dramatic, numerical expansion, even though significant growth of membership occurred in various countries, it has nonetheless resulted in a qualitatively enriched community—one prepared to exploit the immediate prospects for the advancement of the Faith…
The signs of progress during the past three years were evident in a wide and varied field. The remarkable efforts to expand and consolidate the community, the increased ventures in social and economic development, and the unprecedented thrust of the external affairs work combine to portray a community endowed with new capacities…
During 1995, two major United Nations events exemplified the gathering momentum of an emerging unity of thought in world undertakings, and these engaged the active attention and participation of the Bahá’í community. First, the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen during March involved 250 friends from more than 40 countries who mounted an impressive effort to acquaint the summit participants and the related NGO Forum with the Teachings. It was on this occasion that the statement The Prosperity of Humankind, produced by the Bahá’í International Community’s Office of Public Information, was first distributed and discussed. Follow-up activities all over the world included the holding of conferences and seminars, as well as the distribution of the statement. Second, the Fourth World Conference on Women and the concomitant NGO Forum held in Beijing during September drew the attendance of more than 500 Bahá’ís from around the world, in addition to the official delegation of the Bahá’í International Community. In that same year, a third event, the observance of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, prompted the Bahá’í International Community’s United Nations Office to produce and distribute a statement, entitled “Turning Point for All Nations,” containing proposals for the development of that world organization. 4
- Universal House of Justice. “Riḍván 150 – To the Bahá’ís of the World.” Bahá’í Reference Library. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/19930421_001/1#328964491. [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “Riḍván 151 – To the Bahá’ís of the World.” Bahá’í Reference Library. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/19940421_001/1#158773367. [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “Riḍván 152 – To the Bahá’ís of the World.” Bahá’í Reference Library. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/19950421_001/1#027188572. [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “Riḍván 153 – To the Bahá’ís of the World.” Bahá’í Reference Library. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/19960421_001/1#850834393. [return]