A few years ago Kevin Vande Streek heard a sermon preached on Joshua. He was so inspired by the story that he went home and read the entire book.
“It’s not the first time I had read the book of Joshua,” said Vande Streek, Calvin professor and basketball coach. “It’s just that it sparked an interest in me, and I discovered a lot that could benefit what I do.”
So Vande Streek tried to get some of those ideas down on paper. “Joshua is such a great story,” he said. “It’s a story of ups and downs, of celebrations and failures. Joshua kept his faith no matter what circumstances came his way. Trials are a part of life; they’re part of the Christian walk. Joshua is a great example of how to deal with those.”
With the help of German professor emeritus Wally Bratt, those ideas came together in a new devotional book, Strong and Courageous: Joshua’s Lessons for Athletes (and the Cheering Section).
The book, published by the Calvin Alumni Association, is Vande Streek’s second devotional. The first, Lasting Victory (Calvin Alumni Association, 2002), was very popular, especially among high school athletes.
“There aren’t a lot of devotional books with athletic themes,” said Vande Streek. “There are lot of devotional books and loads of books on leadership, but not a lot that specifically tie in athletics. I think there is a real interest in this type of book.”
The difference between Vande Streek’s first book and this one is the Joshua story as the connecting theme, he said. “The high school group is a challenging audience,” he said. “They want to be entertained. They want something they can relate to, so when you take this old story of Joshua, you have to make it applicable to today.”
Vande Streek does that by first giving some context to a passage from Joshua and then relating it to modern-day athletes like Cy Young winner Tim Lincecom or Houston Texans quarterback Matt Leinart, and to current situations that young athletes face.
Some of the themes in the book’s 60 short pieces include commitment, encouragement, leadership, perseverance and teamwork—all characteristics demonstrated by Joshua.
Vande Streek believes his intent for the book aligns easily with Calvin’s purpose. “Calvin’s mission is to encourage young people to serve in the kingdom,” he said. “As a basketball coach, I ask myself, ‘How does what I do feed into that?’ And ‘How do I extend that to future students, to alumni and to the community?’
“This is one way of doing that. I think in the book are some things that someone new to the faith would find inspiring, and someone who has walked in the faith for 50 years could find some things to be challenged by.”