Faith in the capacity of every individual who shows a desire to serve will prove essential to the efforts of those who are to elicit from the believers wholehearted participation in the Plan. Unqualified love free of paternalism will be indispensable if they are to help turn hesitation into courage born of trust in God and transform a yearning for excitement into a commitment to long-term action. — Universal House of Justice, 28 December 2010This is the story of a Bahá’í youth and how he became active in the Bahá’í community through embarking on a year of service:
I grew up in a Bahá’í family in Los Angeles, with both my parents dedicated to the Cause. After graduating high school and seeking direction in my life, I decided to serve a year in my father’s home country of El Salvador. Before I knew it, I was in a different country, living with an aunt whom I had never met before.
All I knew was that I wanted to serve the Five Year Plan, of which I had only a vague understanding. My only experience with core activities had been to briefly assist with children’s classes and being a prayer partner. But with the loving support and example of the Bahá'í community of El Salvador, I was nurtured into completing the main sequence of the Ruhi Institute. During the same period my capacity slowly started to grow in a spiritual sense, since I was not accustomed to really serving wholeheartedly and enduring so many trials in order to accomplish activities that didn’t always appeal to me at first.
As a result of making an honest effort in striving to understand that the Writings and service go hand in hand, God confirmed me with an understanding of the process in which we are engaged as a community, an understanding that continues to guide my life today. When I think about my year of service, it was one of the happiest periods of my life. Being given so many opportunities to serve, in capacities I would never have imagined, deeply affected my thinking about service. It wasn't something I was giving, but rather something that was necessary for the community to grow. The community was always by my side and always served alongside me. Serving also provided me with opportunities to learn from situations I was unfamiliar with. Through constant effort—especially teaching, the four core activities, and prayer—I was able to understand my place in the Five Year Plan and return home with a desire to continue serving my own community with the same spirit of a pioneer.