Chicago Zone Visits 251 Youth in a Single Day!

Who will be next to create their own history toward 50K with Sensei?

With the goal of expanding youth membership and fostering new leaders, the SGI-USA recently developed an integrated four-point strategy for victory toward next year’s gathering of “50,000 Lions of Justice: Ushering in an Era of Hope and Respect.” They are: 1. Shakubuku, 2. Unit leaders, 3. Home visits and 4. Discussion meetings (see Aug. 18 World Tribune, p. 6).

As a result of our four-divisional efforts thus far, leaders across the SGI-USA have home visited over 13,000 young men and young women this year! With each heartfelt interaction, youth are awakening to their profound mission to stand up for the dignity of life with their fellow comrades in the SGI.

SGI President Ikeda writes: “One ripple can produce countless others. In this way, the ripple created by your efforts to visit one member and engage sincerely with them will give rise to untold more. This has been the secret to the Soka Gakkai’s present development” (March 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 33).

In the spirit of creating countless ripples of joy toward the gathering of “50,000 Lions of Justice,” Chicago Zone—comprising Illinois, Indiana, parts of Michigan and Wisconsin—rallied over 100 district-through-zone four-divisional leaders on Aug. 5 for a daylong campaign to home visit youth.

In the end, 251 youth were visited and 179 confirmed to attend their August district discussion meeting, while 82 accepted unit leadership!

James Herrmann, the Chicago Zone four-divisional leader, who himself visited 12 young men that day, said they wanted to emphasize the importance of “practice for others” through encouraging many youth to challenge sharing Buddhism with their friends, as well as taking on unit leadership, particularly for those who don’t already have responsibilities within the SGI-USA. “Some people unknowingly base themselves on a self-centered practice,” Mr. Herrmann said.

“Supporting others in faith is the only way to create lasting fortune and happiness in our lives. I shared with the youth Nichiren Daishonin’s words, ‘If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way’ ” (“On the Three Virtues of Food,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1060).

So what were the keys to victory? Preparation and the tenacity of youth. A week prior to the campaign, chapter leaders reported their home visitation schedules. Melissa Bradford, of Southwest Chapter, communicated with her team regularly leading up to the day, ensuring that each youth, even those who hadn’t been reached in months or even years, could be visited and encouraged.

On the day of, leaders who lived within one hour of the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center gathered to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and seek encouragement from SGI-USA Senior Vice General Director Tariq Hasan, who also took part in the day’s activities. Those who lived an hour-plus from the center joined by phone.

The youth, together with the men’s and women’s leaders, set out with detailed plans. One youth drove several hours to visit an unresponsive member. Upon arrival, the young man, who was struggling with his health, had tears in his eyes, grateful for the care of his fellow SGI members.

Back at the Chicago Culture Center, a control center took calls from members who reported on each home visit and in turn received real-time updates on Chicago Zone’s results.

“The home visits changed my perspective on the realities of many youth who, while sincerely participating in SGI activities, were challenging difficult living situations,” said Mr. Herrmann. “You can’t learn those things from a phone call or an email. You can’t see their life brighten right in front of you from a text message.”

As elated members continued to report their home visit victories to the center, a shockwave of joy permeated throughout—Chicago Zone had far surpassed its goal of 200 youth home visits for that day.

Yoko Ambulo, the zone young women’s leader, said the campaign was so successful that they will continue this rhythm of home visits on the second Saturday of every month, with enough time to promote district discussion meetings. “This concentrated effort was full of heart,” she said. “It proved the power of what we can accomplish in one day when we unite to respond to Sensei!”

Chicago Zone set a new tradition that encapsulates the SGI-USA’s four-point strategy for victory. That eventful day was appropriately titled “Make History on Aug. 5!”

Who will be next to create their own history toward 50K with Sensei?


(p. 10)