God has made people both physical and also spiritual. Our spirit longs to talk to God. He sent us His Spiritual Teachers to teach us about God. These Spiritual Teachers are very, very special. They can hear God speak to them. This story is of Bahá’u’lláh, our Spiritual Teacher, the newest Prophet of God.
Bahá’u’lláh, like the Báb lived a long time ago in Iran. They lived at the same time but they never met. When someone came to tell Bahá’u’lláh about the Báb, He knew at once that what He heard was true and He decided at once to help Him. Bahá’u’lláh helped by teaching the people how God wanted them to live.
Do you remember that the Báb had so many followers who were put in prison or killed? Bahá’u’lláh was also put in prison. It was a most terrible place like a big dark room under the ground, that was named the Síyáh-Chál. There were many prisoners there. Bahá’u’lláh and His friends were chained round their ankles and round their necks. Bahá’u’lláh was kept in this terrible place for four months, while many of His followers were taken away and killed.
One night, while still in that horrible prison, Bahá’u’lláh had a wonderful dream. He dreamed that a big river was flowing from the top of His head, down His body and as it flowed His whole body seemed to be as hot as fire. In His dream He heard God speaking, and He understood that He should not be afraid for He was safe. He would be the Victor. He would win by Himself and by His Pen. When God said "By Yourself" it seems as if God meant that the way Bahá’u’lláh would live and the way He would speak would win the hearts of the people. And when God said "By your Pen" it seems that He meant the Words that Bahá’u’lláh would write would attract people’s hearts. And all that came true.
When He was freed from prison He and His family were sent away from His home in Iran and sent to the neighbouring country of Iraq. Bahá’u’lláh spent the rest of His life as a prisoner. But many people came to visit Him and listen to Him. Bahá’u’lláh also wrote many, many letters telling people about God and His Teachings which are like a medicine for the problems of the whole world. The words from these letters have been made into books for us to read. Bahá’u’lláh came to teach us that all the people of the world are God’s people and He wants us to forget our differences and live happily together.
Activity. Draw bricks/paving stones on the paper. Stick a black paper circle (to represent the Síyáh-Chál) in the centre of the paving. Then stick paper bars over it to represent the prison.
About 1,000 years passed after Muhammad and God saw that many people were not listening to their Prophets. Most of the Jews were not listening to Moses. Most of the Buddhists were not listening to Buddha. Most of the Christians were not listening to Jesus. Most of the Muslems were not listening to Muhammad.
It was time to send a new Messenger. In fact there were so many problems in the world that God sent two Messengers. Their names were the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Today we will hear about the Báb. The name Báb means Gate. This is because He would open the way for Bahá’u’lláh to come.
The Báb was born in Iran, far, far away. His father died when He was a baby and so He was brought up in His uncle’s house. When He was old enough He went to school for a while, but the teacher said, "This child seems to be ready to proclaim, to give out a message to the world. You see this child comes to my school as a pupil, but really He is my teacher!" The teacher said that he was not able to teach the boy any more.
He was so clever because He was going to be God’s Messenger. When He left school He went to work for His uncle in his shop. When He was older He began to tell the people what God told Him to say. His most important Message was that soon God would send His Promised One. The Báb was so wonderful and His words were so powerful that many people crowded round Him to listen. At last the government and priests became very worried. They felt that they would lose their power over the people and they would lose their wealth too. They excited the people to rise against the Báb and His followers, who were called Bábís. They killed many of them and stole their property. Then they put the Báb is prison and continued to kill the Bábís.
One day the soldiers were told to take the Báb right across the country to a prison in the mountains in the north. The Báb and the soldiers all travelled riding on horses and camped each night. The people in the villages they passed through, used to come out to meet the Báb and in the evenings when they camped they would come to listen to the Báb and His wonderful Words.
He would talk to them and bless them. So many people followed the Báb and listened to Him instead of listening to the priests, that the priests became scared that the people would leave their mosques and follow the Báb. Eventually the priests said that the only way to stop this religion was to kill the Báb, so a regiment of soldiers was ordered to shoot Him. But no-one can stop God’s work so even though the Báb was martyred (killed) the followers of the Báb, who were not killed went on teaching the new Teachings. They reminded the people that another Messenger would soon come and they must be ready to welcome Him when He came.
Activities:- Draw the most beautiful iron gate with twists and decorations all over it. This will remind us that the name Báb means Gate.
Moses had led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they lived there for very many years. A few people still listened to what Moses had taught them, but most people did not listen and did many bad things.
God knew it was time to send another Messenger. But first He sent someone to prepare the people to listen to His Messenger. This person was John the Baptist. God sent John to call the people. He was a tough, strong, man who wore rough clothes made from the wool of a camel. And he just ate what he could find in the wilderness, like locusts, berries and wild honey. He walked from place to place telling the people that many of them were doing bad things. They must be sorry and leave their bad ways. They must change into good people. If they said that they were truly sorry John would baptize them in the River Jordan as a sign their sins were washed away.
Then people asked John, "Are you the Messenger from God?" He said, "No! The Messenger is coming soon and He is so wonderful that I am not worthy to take His shoes off for Him." Many, many people came to see John the Baptist and were baptized.
But the government and church of that country were afraid that the people were following after and listening to John. Some time later they put John in prison and later they killed him. They cut off his head. They thought that that could stop the Word of God, but no-one can stop God from sending His Message to His people.
One day, before John the Baptist was killed, Jesus came to the river and asked John to baptize Him. John said that he could not baptize Jesus because Jesus was not a sinner. It would be better if Jesus baptized John. But Jesus told John it was good just to do as He said, so John baptized Jesus.
When Jesus came out of the water He looked up and it seemed to Him as if the heavens opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to Him. Then He heard the voice of God saying, "This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased".
This is when Jesus knew that God had chosen Him to be His Spiritual Teacher (Manifestation of God) and He must teach the people to love God and to obey His commandments.
Jesus left His peaceful life at home and went out to teach the people and heal those who were sick. He left His home and walked down the long dusty road to the Sea of Galilee. There He stayed day after day, teaching the people that they must do only what is good and stop doing bad things. The sick people came to Him and He healed them. The news about this wonderful Man spread all around and more and more people came to see and hear Him.
Now Jesus knew that He would need some special friends to help Him with His work. As He was walking along the seashore He saw two fishermen in their boat near the shore. He called out to them to come and follow Him. They brought their boat in straight away and followed Him. A little further along the shore He saw two fishermen in their boat, mending their nets and He called to them to come and follow Him and they did.
One day there was a big crowd of people who wanted to hear Jesus and He wanted them to be able to hear Him so He asked to be taken in a boat just a little way from the shore. They rowed Him out and there He stood in the boat and told the people that God wanted them to change to be good people.
When He had finished speaking He told the fishermen to put their net into the water. They said to Jesus, "We have fished all night and have caught nothing, but if You tell us to put our nets into the water now we will do it." They let down their nets into the water and they were amazed to catch lots and lots of fish. The net was so heavy with fish that they called their friends in another boat to help them bring in the fish to the shore.
After that the four fishermen and eight others followed Jesus and helped Him teach the people. That is how Jesus started teaching as God had told Him to do.
Activity. Draw a dove descending through the clouds and colour the picture.
About 600 years after Jesus, God saw that the people had forgotten the beautiful lessons that Jesus had taught them. When He looked at the world He saw that some people were very dirty and that they were lying and stealing and hurting each other. In some places they were fighting with swords and spears and knives. Many people were hurt and some men were killed which left their wives with no-one to look after them and their little children.
God saw that it was time to send a new Prophet to the land of Arabia. He chose a very good man whose name was Muhammad. Muhammad used to take trade goods across the desert on His camels. He visited many places to buy and sell his goods. He saw how bad many people were and that they didn’t know about God and instead they used to pray to images that they made out of wood. God told Muhammad to tell the people that no-one can see God but His signs are everywhere. They must pray to the One True God and not worship images.
The people just laughed at Muhammad and told Him to go away and leave them alone. But Muhammad kept on telling them that they must change their ways and worship the One True God.
One night when everyone was asleep Muhammad went into the place where the Arabs kept all their images. With an axe He chopped up all the wooden images. Then those fierce people wanted to kill Muhammad and He knew that He must go away. He decided to go to a town called Medina. It took Him two or three days to get there.
One evening He came to a cave and He went in. Now a spider lived in that cave and when
Muhammad had gone in, the spider made a big web right across the opening of the cave. When the men who wanted to kill Muhammad came there, they saw the spider’s web across the opening of the cave. They said to each other, "He cannot be in this cave because there is a spider’s web across the opening. We must look for Him somewhere else." So they went away and that is how God used a spider to save Muhammad.
Muhammad taught the people in Medina about the One True God, and how God has sent His Messengers like Moses and Jesus to teach us. His followers became known as Muslims. He taught them to love and worship God. They must honour all the Messengers of God. They must welcome guests and share with them. If they promise to do something they must do it. They must always tell the truth. They must listen to God and pray to God every day. Muhammad promised that one day God would send another Messenger.
Activities. Draw a cave entrance with the spider’s web across it. (If possible show the children a picture of a spider’s web.)
When God looks at the world and sees that the people are forgetting His Commandments He sends another Manifestation to teach us. One of these Messengers was named Buddha. He lived long, long ago in India. His father was a great King and they lived in a beautiful palace. In the palace there were hundreds of rooms and staircases, and the King had plenty of money. When he died he wanted his son, who later became known as Buddha, to be a great king in his place.
Now at that time many people were very wicked and they did many bad things, and God had to send someone to teach them. He chose Buddha. Buddha lived in the palace and He was a very good man who felt very sorry for the poor people who lived round about. He was kind and loved the people and He wanted to help them.
One day He knew that it was time to leave the palace. He took off his rich princely clothes and put on the rough clothes worn by the poor people. Then He simply left the palace. He set off walking along the paths of India just like a poor man. He didn’t mind leaving everything behind. He only wanted to do what God wanted Him to do.
After a long walk He came to a forest in which lived many dangerous animals, but He was not afraid as He knew that God was with Him. He walked and walked until He came to a grassy place in the middle of the forest. In this space grew a huge Bo-tree. He sat under the shade of the Bo-tree and while He was there God spoke to Him. God told Him what to say and what to do, and gave Him the strength to do it.
Many people came to listen to Buddha and He taught them. He taught them that they must not do things that make others unhappy or hurt them. That we should be generous to others, to always tell the truth, and not to be selfish. If things are difficult, we must not complain but just carry on with a smile. Buddha taught the people to think about all the many beautiful things that are in the world. He sent His followers throughout the country to teach the people. Today there are millions of Buddha’s followers throughout the world. They are called Buddhists.
Activities. Have the children draw the huge Bo-tree and the people sitting under it. Do not draw Buddha as it is not respectful to draw a Manifestation of God.
Bigger children can fill in the missing words:-
1. Buddha was a ............................
2. He .......................... to God.
3. He left the ............................
4. He sat ..........................the Bo-tree.
palace listened under prince