In 1919, 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Center of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, sent Tablets (letters) to America outlining a great plan for a spiritual divine civilization for the whole world. A copy of these Tablets were sent to two Baha’is in California – Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn.
Upon reading these Tablets they felt overwhelmed with a desire for service. They prayed humbly: "Lord, here I am! Lord, here I am!”
A deep urge came to them to carry the Glad Tidings of the Baha'i Cause to Australia and New Zealand.
They worked and economized and finally landed in Australia with barely fifteen dollars. Mr. Dunn, who later became known as “Father Dunn” was taken ill, but “Mother Dunn” (Mrs. Dunn) went out to earn for those first few weeks. Then Father Dunn gained strength and went out and found a position.
“He who ariseth to serve the Cause of God verily the doors of might and power shall be thrown open before his face!” He just needs to ARISE in faith first.
For four years these two pioneer teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn, traveled throughout Australia, earning their living, and both telling the dear Australian friends about the Baha’i Cause for world peace.
In every large city that they lived, Martha Root, when travelling through in 1925, found a Baha’i center. While she was there, Martha Root was also told that in about two months a small group of Baha’i pilgrims - the first ever to go from Australia or New Zealand - would sail to Haifa to visit the beloved Guardian and study the Baha'i movement at its source. Furthermore she became aware that new believers were selling their homes and planning to go forth, as disciples of this New Day, to carry these glorious Glad Tidings all over the world, taking it first to their own beloved homeland.
Martha Root attended a Feast that Mr. and Mrs. Dunn had arranged in one of the cities after living there for just seven weeks. This was the first ever held Feast in South Australia! It was truly astonishing! One hundred and thirty-five interested friends were present. The decorations that were arranged by local people would have been considered remarkable in New York or in London. Most important of all, she could feel the Breaths of the Holy Spirit sweeping over the hearts.
Martha Root wondered as to what was the secret of this rapid progress of the Baha Cause in Australia. Two reasons came to her mind:
One was the fact that the Baha'i Cause is the Truth and the world is reaching out eagerly to know it, to live it and to promote it. The second reason she felt was seeing how Mr. and Mrs. Dunn were “living the life”! With them it was mostly deeds and lastly words. The splendid, dynamic sons and daughters in the different cities told her what these teachers do; the new souls measure sacrifice, trust worthiness and other ideals by these two Baha'i lives. In her travels worldwide, Martha Root had never seen two Baha'i souls give more, trust more, or pray more.
When Mr. Dunn found out that Martha Root was planning to write an article about Australia he told her: "Never mention us in writing about Australia. I wish I COULD do something for Australia!" Mrs. Dunn told her: "I have failed!”, and she wept.
It is in sweet humbleness like this that the spiritual gardens of Baha'i souls have come into their first exquisite bloom in this fair land of the Southern Cross.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunn told her that every day they would pray for Shoghi Effendi, the precious Guardian of the Cause. They felt perhaps he would come to Australia to rest in those, his dark days - they watched for him in the streets and when the boats arrived. Perhaps Shoghi Effendi's spirit did come, and finding faithfulness and progress, he was rejoiced!
Martha Root thought: Perhaps others who read how two souls, not young, not well, without funds except to pay for a steamship ticket, could arise and carry the fragrance of the Baha’i Cause to a young continent -- perhaps they too will prayerfully adventure forth! May they also find health, success and salvation!
This story has an aftermath.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunn went over to New Zealand on their vacation. Their real visit was to tell the people about the Baha'i Cause. They started out down the principal street of the city wondering how to begin. Briefly through prayer and guidance they found friends who had heard of the Baha'i Cause in the "Christian Commonwealth" of England in 1911. They arranged a lecture.
Among the many who came, they found a lovely woman in that city by the name Margaret who had also heard of the Baha'i Movement from a "Christian Commonwealth" mailed to her by a sister studying in London. The sister had heard ‘Abdu'l-Baha in Westminster. Margaret believed and had been a Baha'i in her heart for nine years.
That was only two years ago. Now when Martha Root visited New Zealand she found it just as awake as Australia and the friends there arranged Baha’i lectures - two and three a day. She noticed they were such spiritual, such efficient Baha'is!
(Adapted from an article by Martha Root: ‘How the Baha’i Message Came to Australia and New Zealand’, Star of the West, vol. 15, no. 11, February 1925)