By Caryn Schierbeek

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT

It was almost a year ago that I got this verse tattooed onto my foot. (Sorry, Mom.) Why? Because four of my Young Life girls wanted to get various tattoos and piercings in honor of an 18th birthday. So, like any self-respecting YL leader, I went along and joined in the fun.


All joking aside, this verse carries some serious weight. It comes at the end of God charging Joshua with his call to assume leadership and lead the Israelites forward. As I considered the role of Area Director in Michiana, much of God’s encouragement to Joshua rang true for myself.

Similar to Joshua and Moses, Brad Sytsma (outgoing Area Director) and I have been on this journey together. I consider it a great privilege to have learned from Brad as I watched him lead our area with great, prayerful wisdom and discernment. I have learned from one of the best, I know the journey we have been on, and I am confident I have an idea of where God is calling us next. This transition in leadership does not come with the same grief as the shift from Moses to Joshua—it comes with great celebration as Brad continues on in His calling. I am celebrating with Brad who was not only my boss, but also my friend (pal!). I am also celebrating with his family who I love.

Verse 9 was the third time God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous in His charge. Through my time of consideration (and still now) I took a look at the meaning of strength and courage. Strength defined is “the ability to resist being moved or broken.” I realized strength is not necessarily speaking the loudest or having the answers. (Thank goodness!) Instead, strength is the ability to remain unwavering in pursuing God’s vision and call. When contemplating courage, I saw the action of stepping out in faith to a space where there may be no visible or easy solution. (Joshua’s faith was tested when he was called to lead the Israelites by way of the Jordan River—a path that Joshua neededGod on.)

Finally, God says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you will go.” While the journey may seem scary at times and could bring along some tough trials – GOD IS WITH US.

I believe God is calling us to an exciting, challenging path. Our journey includes going onto the campus of Notre Dame, into the city culture of South Bend, into the suburban culture of Penn-Harris-Madison, the community-minded culture of Mishawaka and beyond! Not only is Young Life in Michiana called to love and share the Good News in all of these pockets, I believe we are also called to create a unique Kingdom culture that brings all of these pockets together.

My husband, Brent, and I were so blessed by the words of encouragement we received from our local Committee and other friends in the area as we prayed about beginning a new season. I am thrilled to be able to say that I get to be the next Area Director of Michiana!! As this journey begins, I ask that you pray for me to be strong (remain steadfast on the path God is calling us to) and courageous (move in faith to places that present challenges.) Please also pray that I love all those I’m called to with great joy and care.

God is doing some amazing works in Michiana. I am so proud of our volunteer leaders who are loving students well. God has helped us build great relationships with each other and with our high school, middle school and college-aged friends. We have some great foundational things in place, and I am confident that no matter where God is calling us to next, He will be with us! We need God!

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