SharperFocus ” Belief in action”
By Kelly Pontsler, Major
Forgive me if I start by mentioning the weather. It was a gloriously sunny day in Salem, Ore., (something of a rarity since my arrival three months ago) and it got things off on the right foot. It only got better from there, as over 100 advisory board members, friends and supporters of the Army’s work in Marion and Polk Counties joined us for lunch.
This annual fundraiser is an opportunity to make new acquaintances and share the story of The Salvation Army at work, capturing the essence of our mission under the banner of “Belief in Action.” The conversation around the tables was lively, the stories of those impacted by our services and ministry were moving—and we left sensing that the door had been opened to new opportunities.
As I got back to other things—a few hallelujahs still being whispered under my breath—I couldn’t shake that phrase from my head: belief in action. I’m regularly asked what the Army is all about; what’s our purpose? Without hesitation I will say that we are the church with our sleeves rolled up—hands on, digging in, getting-the-job-done kind of people. We put our faith to work in practical action. And the stories we tell at our fundraisers always reflect that approach to humanitarian and community service. Available at the point of need, ready to intervene with social services and financial assistance, prompt to engage with those desperate for change—all of it flowing out of our Christian faith as we strive to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Belief in action. Sure, that’s all good, I thought. And then I walked into the chapel just before heading home.
Our teen worship team was rehearsing: keyboard, guitars, vocalists, saxophone and drums praising the Lord. I stood at the back of the chapel amazed at how far they’ve come, some of them just picking up their instruments this year. The look of concentration on their faces spoke volumes about their serious intentions to get this right. As I stood there that phrase flicked through my mind again: belief in action. We describe our practical assistance as how we put our faith into action, but the dots suddenly connected and I thought, yes, this is also belief in action.
A youth worker invests her heart and soul into these kids—putting her faith into tangible action by coaching them, showing love and acceptance, encouraging them without ceasing and then beaming with joy at their success. That guy at the back of the platform? When it comes to conversation, he is soft spoken; yet recently he summoned up the courage to learn and present a dramatic monologue in front of a room full of his peers, and his natural sense of rhythm is beginning to flow out through a set of drums. He’s finding his voice and putting his belief into action.
I was awestruck, bursting at the seams proud, and so abundantly grateful that God has given us this group of teens. We often look at our youth and smile as we say, “there goes the Army of tomorrow.” I have to disagree. They are the Army of today! They have big hearts and boundless energy; they are striving to be all that God wants them to be; they are making bold statements about their faith in everything they do. They get it: belief in action. And I can hardly wait for them to lead us in worship on Sunday.
Did I mention that yesterday was a really great day?