Steps of Courage

Joshua 1:9

Joshua took up the mantle of leadership of God’s people in the year 1273 BC 1 . At eighty years old, he led approximately one million Israelites into the promised land 2 . Those were not times of societal safety and security but of great apostasy, geopolitical turmoil,

and uncertainty. Secular history records that at the beginning of that decade, Ramesses II (19th dynasty) had become Pharoah of Egypt (1279 BC), built a temple unto himself, and launched aggressive campaigns against the Amorites in Northern Lebanon and Northwestern Syria. He engaged in the largest chariot to chariot war recorded in antiquity against the Hittites for territory (5,000 to 6,000 chariots) at the Battle of Kadesh. At the end of this battle, the first recorded peace treaty in history was forged between the Egyptians and the Hittites- a 15-year agreement called the Treaty of Kadesh. By 1274, the year before Joshua became leader of Israel, Ramesses II (now Ramesses the Great) launched military campaigns to reclaim territories in Syria, Canaan, and the Euphrates 3. Additionally, there were social ills, economic ruin, and moral degradation in society resulting from the constant tribal invasions and spiritual apostasy.

It is against this backdrop that Jehovah commands Joshua to lead Israel to take the

steps of courage necessary to enter their promised land. Jehovah declares: “arise, go

over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them…From

the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as…the River Euphrates, all the land of the

Hittites.” (Joshua 1:2-4 NKJV). 

Wait…what?! Let us not miss the fact that Pharoah was fighting over some of the land of

the Hittites and the Euphrates, but God wanted to give His people ALL of it, the very

land at the center of contention between two powerful heathen nations! If Ramesses the

Great with all his military prowess couldn't conquer this land, how would Israel being of

no recognizable might accomplish this? Without Moses’s experience to rely on, Joshua

was all alone on this one. He couldn’t turn back now because God wanted to bless him

as immensely as He had blessed Moses and to perform miracles for him too.

God's people did enter their promised land but only through faith and total dependence

on Him. This story of triumph never ceases to thrill us. Now, when I reflect on the steps

of courage required in my own present circumstances, I wish I could sit across from

Joshua in a snazzy cafe and grill the old timer for his best leadership tips over hot

drinks.

What steps of courage are you called to take? Stepping into new territory? Saying yes

to that promotion even though you are terrified by the elements around and intimidated

by the unknown? Or something else entirely? The uncertainty around what is unknown

rattles us more than it should; and turbulent life situations can derail our trust if we are

not careful to anchor our steps in promises like Joshua 1:9. I particularly like the version

presented in the Amplified Bible Classic Edition: "Have not I commanded you? Be

strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord

your God is with you wherever you go." Israel’s blessings were incumbent on their

courage to step forward in faith, and so are ours. God wants to bless us, but we need to

2 https://www.amicidomenicani.it/en/i-would-like-to-know-how-many-israelites-went-into-canaan-with-joshua/

3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1270s_BC

take the courageous steps. Completing this journey of faith is dependent on three

things:

1. Focusing only on your immediate next step

When God is leading you, it is unproductive and self-sabotaging to preoccupy yourself

with the 'hows' and 'whys' of the accomplishment of His promises. Our responsibility is

to depend totally on Him, pray for grace to discern our immediate next step and the

courage to step out in faith and take it.

2. Looking for cues on which to anchor your faith

You might have attempted to take steps of courage before but have been unsuccessful.

Try again. This time, focus on God's renewed promises that He is with you. Be positive,

be vigilant for the faintest cues that God is parting rivers on your behalf and using others

to eliminate your enemies. Then, encourage yourself daily despite what you see with

your human eyes. No one had ever crossed a sea on dry land, nor taken a city merely

by singing and shouting. It is impossible until it is done!

3. Constant prayer and quiet 

Above everything, remain in constant prayer and quiet in order to both hear and think

clearly about your circumstances. This is the true art of war. The quieter you get before

the Lord, the more strength you will draw for the battle. Don’t be dismayed. Instead, like

Joshua, rise early and put God’s promises before Him…yet again.

Questions for Discussion

1. Why do you struggle to trust God's promises to you? (Be honest with yourself and make a list of all the factors that hinder you).

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Closing Thoughts

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Contributors

Editor
Picture of Xiomara Perdomo

Xiomara Perdomo

Assistant to the President for Mission

Writer
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Xiomara Perdomo

Assistant to the President for Mission

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Justin & Sheree Kelly

Meet Sheree Kelly, a spirited and visionary leader in elementary education with over a decade of transformative experience. A proud alumna of Oakwood University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Sheree has earned accolades aplenty, including the illustrious Southwestern Union Conference Teacher of Excellence award in 2023. Her dedication to nurturing young minds is enhanced by a Counseling endorsement on her denominational certification, showcasing her commitment to comprehensive student well-being.

Justin Kelly is a dynamic professional whose expertise spans education, information technology, and missionary work. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Oakwood College and a Master’s Degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Justin is a tech-savvy trailblazer. He is the creative force behind Superscrum.net, a cutting-edge blog on agile software development techniques, making waves in the tech community.
This powerhouse couple, Justin and Sheree, shine as local elders at Fondren Seventh Day Adventist Church in Houston, Texas. They’ve also shared their talents as elementary teachers at Excel Adventist Academy. Beyond their professional roles, they are known for their love of salsa dancing, country music, and throwing unforgettable themed parties. Their true passion lies in building community through small group studies, potlucks, and engaging events at their home in Fresno, Texas.
Justin and Sheree excel in mastering the delicate art of balancing life, work, and church. They champion the virtues of temperance and healthy boundaries, ensuring harmony in all aspects of life. With nearly eight joyful years of marriage, their unwavering faith in Jesus Christ fuels their journey and dedication.

Daniel Pino

Daniel Pino Romero serves as a pastor at the Houston Spanish Northwest SDA Church.

Dr. Tom Grove

Dr. Tom Grove is a proud native of Pennsylvania who calls Texas home. He is serving as the
Associate Director for Ministry & Evangelism for the Texas Conference. He also serves as the
English Men’s Volunteer Coordinator for the Conference. Prior to his transition to the Texas
Conference office, he served as the Executive Pastor of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist
Church in Arlington, Texas. Before coming to Texas, he spent 15 years pastoring in the
Pennsylvania Conference. He is an alumnus of Columbia Union College (now Washington
Adventist University) as well as Andrews University where he received his Master of Divinity
and his Doctor of Ministry. He is the author of the Men’s Spiritual Leadership curriculum,
Joshua’s Men, which is published by AdventSource and is being used throughout the North
American Division to mentor men to be leaders in their homes, communities, and churches.

He has been married to his wonderful wife Deborah, a Speech-Language Pathologist, for 27
years and is the proud father of Mark and Caroline. In his time off, he loves reading, traveling,
playing racquetball and cheering for all the sports teams who call Pittsburgh home.

Xav Handfield

Xavyance “Xav” Handfield is a nationally recognized speaker, health and wellness activator, educator and is the CEO of the Handfield Group, LLC. His mission is to use his gifts and his voice to inspire and evoke change in the world. In 2015, he started his speaking career and has been blessed to inspire and speak to thousands of individuals across the country for corporate events, churches, and community organizations. In 2017, he created Plant Based Brotha, which initially started to empower people to be able to transition to a plant-based lifestyle but has since pivoted to teaching others that health and wellness is a holistic experience.

Xav is excited about life and is a living testament that our gifts make room for us, and he truly works towards God’s purpose. He is married to his wife Jasmine, and they just welcomed their first child, a baby girl in April. Xav aspires to inspire before he expires and has a favorite verse, Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Michal Anne Whitcomb

Michal Anne Whitcomb is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, Texas. Michal has spent her 16 year career dedicated to the empowerment, healing, and growth of her clients.  She began her career at Genesis Women’s Shelter, where she worked with women and children impacted by domestic violence. Michal continued her work with children and their families at Dallas ISD’s Youth and Family Centers. In 2012, she began her private practice in Dallas, Texas, where she works with adults, teens, and families on issues of depression, anxiety, grief/loss, relational issues, and trauma. Michal has training in several modalities, many related to the treatment of trauma and adverse experiences. Michal is Certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), an evidenced-based trauma treatment, and is also an EMDR Consultant-in-Training. Michal lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Levi, and their two children. If she is not at work, you can usually find Michal playing softball, singing at church, or enjoying a hike.

Stephen and Felecia Lee

Stephen and Felecia Lee are a mission-minded creative duo. Stephen founded a marketing business, and Felecia is a homemaker. They led at ASI and spoke at GYC, SAC, AYP, and conference events. Based in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, their talks on communication, relationships, productivity, and faith empower individuals to inspire change.

Costin Jordache, MA, MBA, APR

Costin Jordache serves as Vice President of System Strategy and Brand Development for Adventist HealthCare, a healthcare system operating in Maryland and Washington DC. In his role, Costin oversees strategic planning and development, as well as public relations, marketing and communication for the healthcare system.

Over the last 25 years, he has served in leadership roles including News Editor for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, Vice President for Communication in the Central California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Director of Communication in the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor for Media at the Loma Linda University Church and Senior Pastor of the Dallas First Church.

Costin holds a Masters degree in Radio, Television & Film from the University of Texas at Austin as well as an MBA from California State University, along with a BA in Theology and Biblical Languages from Southwestern Adventist University. Costin is accredited in Public Relations by the Public Relations Society of America.

He specializes in strategic communication and media leadership, public relations, teaching, strategic planning and organizational leadership.

Costin is married to Leah Jordache. They have two sons, Roman, 18 and Lance 16.

David Asscherick

David is a speaker/director for Light Bearers and ARISE co-founder and instructor. Since his baptism in 1999, David has traveled the globe preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Violeta are the happy parents of two boys, Landon and Jabel.

Keynote Speaker

Benjamin Lundquist, host of Rise & Lead, will headline 2023 AYP Convention.

Benjamin Lundquist is a top motivational speaker and one the leading voices for leadership development and empowerment. He is passionate about helping students and professionals see their worth and value, see themselves as a leader, and see their potential to change the world. The message he shares is motivating, relatable, and highly practical. Audiences are challenged to take extreme ownership of the unique gifts and opportunities they have. He is an international speaker and host of Rise and Lead Podcast which has been downloaded in over 110 countries providing aspiring and experienced leaders of all ages with world-class content and conversation. He frequently speaks at corporate and faith events, universities, and high schools.

Identity in Christ | Breakout Track

April is currently an associate pastor for discipleship at Keene SDA church. She is enrolled in a dual graduate program for Public Health and MDIV chaplaincy. She enjoys working with different ministries that highlight service, hospitality, and life enrichment. 

Her hobbies include traveling, reading, music, and extreme sports. An introvert at heart, she enjoys moments with close friends and in the quiet. Her and her husband, Blake Snyder reside in Burleson, Texas.

Purpose & Calling | Breakout Track

Ann Roda likes to describe her life as one long adventure with God. She began her career as a registered nurse in OB then transitioned into healthcare administration. Then, God unexpectedly redirected her path to the Adventist Theological Seminary, for an MDiv, and into pastoral ministry. She spent 15 years as a church pastor in Marietta, Georgia and Fulton, Maryland. Six years ago, God had another adventure for Ann, and called her back into the health care ministry, serving with Adventist HealthCare as Vice President for Mission and Spiritual Care. 

This position is the perfect combination of both pastoral ministry and health care. Ann is married to Jose Hernandez, a licensed professional counselor. Ann and her husband enjoy hiking, biking, and traveling.

Relationships | Breakout Track

Stephen and Felecia Lee are partners in the mission. They share a mutual passion for young adult ministries and using their talents to share the Gospel online and through speaking engagements. Stephen helps individuals and businesses function more efficiently through time management and productivity techniques. Felecia is a full-time homemaker and also the founder of the New Wives Club. 

In addition to this, she runs a program teaching women of color how to learn principles of faith through natural hair care. They live in New Hampshire and speak in different places on topics related to singleness, courtship, communication, evangelism, and faith.

Spiritual Health | Breakout Track

Shawn is passionate about generations coming together! She grew up in a four-generation family business and knows, from first-hand experience, that when people of all ages work together, everyone wins!

She has a B.S. in marketing from the University of Nebraska and is an award-winning sales and marketing professional. Her professional certifications include being a member of the John Maxwell Team and DISC Behavioral Consultant. Recently she published her first book “Strategies for Generational Inclusion at Work.”

Communities | Breakout Track

Michael Gibson currently serves as the Lead Pastor at the Keene SDA Church where he most previously served for four years as Pastor for Young Adults and lead Elevate, a growing and thriving young adult community in Keene. Michael is married to Melissa and they both enjoy the outdoors, long walks, and traveling to new, unexplored places. 

Most days, when he’s not teaching, preaching or studying, you’ll find him playing disc golf or working on home renovations with Melissa. They recently welcomed their son, Micah Eden, into the world last October and ever since, life has taken on a whole new meaning. Above all, Michael and Melissa have a passion for discipleship and telling others about the incredible God they serve. For them, the gospel boils down to loving God and loving people.