Sukyo Mahikari
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Chicago Members Spread Light at Community Festivals

The Chicago center has been reaching out to the community by organizing booths at fairs and festivals. Through these activities, many people are able to hear about Sukyo Mahikari for the first time, learn some teachings, and receive Light. In addition, members gain valuable experience and confidence in talking to people about Sukyo Mahikari.
Our first activity in April was at a Green Expo featuring green businesses, environmental organizations, and related groups. The Green Expo was hosted by a local environmental organization and the city government. The theme for our booth was "Organic Gardening as a Spiritual Practice." We put this theme on a beautiful poster with some nature photos. We also had a laptop with a photo slideshow highlighting the basic principles of yoko farming. The response from the public and from vendors at the Expo was very positive. This was great encouragement for members in their efforts to guide others.
To bring people into the booth, we offered free seeds for their garden. We chose three types of plants that are easy to grow in our area, and packaged them individually for each guest. As we explained yoko farming, we introduced the Light and offered to give the person Light.

Fifteen members participated. We distributed 150 Sukyo Mahikari pamphlets and cards, and gave Light to 31 guests. We made wonderful connections with people, and we felt we made a good impression within our own community.

There were many arrangements from God that helped and encouraged us as well. Most booths were just small tables next to each other with not much room, but since we requested electricity for the computer, we were put in a place which had more room for us to give Light. Another example is that the woman in the booth next to us commented that she was not selling much, so she took a break and received Light. Immediately afterward, she sold many things, and said it was because of the Light!
Since the Green Expo was such a positive experience, members decided to continue this type of activity. The next booth we organized was at an outdoor festival called "A Day in our Village," in Oak Park, Illinois, 7 miles from Chicago. This festival features local organizations, churches, and businesses, as a way of encouraging people in the community to get involved. The theme for this booth was "Improve yourself . . . Improve the world" - the motto on the Sukyo Mahikari website and on the backs of our T-shirts. We had this line printed on a 10-foot banner and hung it on the tent canopy.
As an icebreaker to bring people in, we had a "Secret Message" jar filled with slips of paper, similar to fortune cookie messages. Each message was based on our spiritual practice, such as "Use only positive words, even when things don't go your way," and, "Start a gratitude journal," and "Ride your bike instead of driving." Welcome team members explained our purpose and directed guests toward Light-givers.
This time the response was even better, and we gave Light to people one after another. We ended up being able to give each guest Light for only ten minutes as so many people were waiting! Ten members participated, and we distributed 200 Sukyo Mahikari pamphlets and cards, gave Light to 65 guests, and were given contact information by 45 guests for follow-up.
There were many amazing arrangements by God for this activity. First, thunderstorms were predicted, and we thought the festival might be canceled. However, during our prayer to begin the activity, a strong wind rose up. The wind continued while we set up, but died down by the time we opened the booth. After that, the weather was cloudy and mild all day, with only about ten minutes of rain. It was as if the wind blew the storm away!
There were also several amazing experiences with the Secret Messages. One woman got a message that said, "Greet your co-workers with a smile." She told us that she was starting a new job the very next day! She was moved and gladly received Light. Another young woman walking by was an employee of a member who was staffing our booth. They were both amazed at the coincidence, especially because neither of them lives in this area. Then the message she pulled out was "Do something nice for your boss"!
Perhaps the most amazing experience was that a former member came to our booth. She was so happy to see us! No one had heard from her for over ten years. It turns out that she now lives across the street from the park where the festival was held. She is now in contact with center staff and local members.
Members really enjoyed these activities. One relatively new member said that every member should have this experience, to feel this positive response from the general public. Another said it was exhilarating to give Light to new people one after the other. It was a great experience, and we are planning more activities like this over the summer.

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Sukyo Mahikari is an Affiliate with the United Religions Initiative (URI) of North America