0 President Lewis speaking with a student in front of the Chapel Quad

Strong, Courageous, Fearless | President’s Blog

January 27, 2022

For American Christians, this is a radically different time—not only different from the time of my youth but, frankly, radically different than even ten years ago. Being an American Christian demands a degree of boldness that was not necessary just a few years ago. As a Christian college president and, more important, as a father, I now pray often that God would strengthen, bolden and empower our young people to declare their faith and to live it out loud and on purpose. That takes courage.

Houghton University declares to our students and to the world the scriptural truth that God HAS NOT given us a spirit of fear, and we do so unapologetically because it is a message our students and the American church as a whole need to hear with clarity: that we are to be strong, courageous and fearless, even in the face of being mischaracterized, disparaged and ostracized and sometimes even in the face of persecution. Regardless of how our times and our environment change, regardless of the dogmas and the new ideas of the day, regardless of what those around us might believe, God’s call to us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is as true today as it was yesterday. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ remains the only answer to the challenges of this fallen and sin-sick world, and it is our job to fearlessly make sure the Gospel is spread to the very ends of the earth.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

I believe God expects of us what we expected of Joshua. God expects us to see the challenges of our time—economic and supply chain issues, financial challenges, declining church membership and attendance, bold and unrepentant sin and debauchery—and believe with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength that God is able to step into any situation He chooses and make it into something different. I believe God expects us to be able to look at lost jobs, reduced hours, inflation, cancer, COVID-19, struggling marriages, and drug and alcohol addiction and say:

“My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Not according to our own power, but according to the power that worketh in us.”

boy sitting on man's back at sunrise with arms up

When I was a child and I found myself in frightening situations, there was no comfort in the world like knowing my daddy was there with me. He did not make whatever frightened me go away. In fact, sometimes he did not want it to go away because he wanted me to learn to face my fears. But there was no comfort and assurance better than knowing that, in spite of what was around me or ahead of me or how dark the night seemed to be, my daddy was there with me.

Today, as a parent, I find myself doing the same thing. When my daughter is in a place or a situation that I think is likely be frightening for her, just like my daddy did for me, I reach down to grab her hand and say, “Don’t be afraid, Daddy is right here.” I can not always make what is frightening go away. But I can assure her that, regardless of how dark it gets or how frightening it sounds, her daddy will not leave her side.

The reason I encourage her to be brave is that I know what she is about to see could be frightening. I do not encourage her to be courageous because I know she has all the strength, tools, and experience on her own to deal with everything that she is experiencing. Instead, as I encourage her to be strong, to be courageous, to be fearless, I do so because her daddy can handle whatever dangers, real or perceived, might come her way. And I want her to know and never doubt that her daddy will be by her side through it all.

In a similar but infinitely more powerful fashion, when God says to Joshua and He says to us to be strong and courageous, He recognizes and expects that we are about to have experiences that might be frightening for us. His direction to us to be courageous is not based on his confidence in our abilities, regardless of how able we are, or His confidence in our strength, regardless of how strong we might be. When God directs us to be strong, to be courageous, to be fearless, it is because He (our daddy) is with us, and He will never forsake us.

Watch as President Lewis expands on this in his January 9, 2022 message at Eastern Hills Church in Williamsville, NY

Friends, I encourage you to not be afraid. Be strong. Be courageous. Be fearless. Not because of any overconfidence or arrogance about your intellect or abilities but because you know your daddy is with you. And He will never leave you or forsake you.

student smiling while reading book in school library

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President Wayne D. Lewis Jr.

About the Author

With 20 years of experience in education, higher education leadership is a calling for Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., President of Houghton University. He is recognized as being a champion for students; focusing on improving educational access, opportunities and experiences for students, including those who have historically been underserved.

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