Looking at things differently
“Any activity can be spiritual”
It’s Tuesday, and Major Kelly Pontsler is busy navigating Paris’s crowded city streets as she drives from her apartment at the City of Refuge to the Army’s territorial headquarters over on rue des Fréres Flavien.
On this gray, early spring morning, she deftly maneuvers through the commuter traffic and at one point calmly comments, “Oh, look—they’ve closed off this road that we’re supposed to be on…wasn’t like that yesterday.” And then she quickly finds another way to reach her destination.
Flexibility seems to be second nature to her.
Pontsler has served in Africa’s Congo during tumultuous times; she has had financial responsibilities for four countries within the Europe Zone, based in Rome and then Belgium; she has been undersecretary for the International Secretary for Europe. Her most recent appointment has brought her to the France Territory for a three-year term.
In addition to being a member of the Project Warsaw team, she is territorial coordinator for the territory’s “Action Espoir”—or, “Hope Action,” which is a national program with its starting point in Paris.
The program’s goal is to get soldiers involved in corps and community action—to rekindle the sense of the corps as a community center—and along with that, to encourage Salvationists to do outreach on a personal level. “Not outreach programs,” explains Pontsler, “but personal involvement in a practical way.”
This involves Salvationists finding ways to influence their neighborhood to make it better; to stop hiding behind the excuses of “no time, no money, don’t know how.” It is a personal commitment, she notes, to being involved in the world around us.
While getting soldiers involved may take time, Hope Action principles are simple: look at your neighborhood. Ask yourself: what is there? A school, a metro, stores? And then, where can you connect and be present? It could be as simple as having a knitting class, or helping students with homework.
“Any activity can be spiritual,” said Pontsler. “You just have to look at things differently.”