Academic Team

Professor Patrick Sookhdeo, Director. Islamics, Mission Studies and Religious Liberty

Patrick Sookhdeo is the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and International Director of the Barnabas Fund. He is an outspoken spokesman for persecuted Christian minorities around the world. Sookhdeo is a commentator on jihadist ideology, and has lectured British and NATO military officers on radical Islam

In 1967 he pursued studies at London Bible College (now the London School of Theology) and went on to obtain a Doctorate from the London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. During that time Sookhdeo began exploring inter-faith dialogue and became increasingly concerned by the brutality being leveled at Christian minorities in Islamic nations, and the Islamic death penalties for conversion from Islam.[1]

In 1975 with his wife Rosemary, Dr Sookhdeo founded “In Contact Ministries” now called Servants Fellowship International, promoting evangelism and compassionate ministries in multi-cultural urban contexts in the UK. And in 1989, Sookhdeo created the London-based Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, and this saw the creation of a global database on extremist movements and ideologies whose followers were persecuting religious minorities across the Muslim world.

Dr Sookhdeo was awarded the 2001 Coventry Cathedral International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation. TheSyriac Orthodox Church has awarded him St. Ignatius Theophoros’ Decoration as Commander. He is also Chorepiscopus in the Syriac Orthodox Church.

He is Dean Theologian of the Diocese of Abuja Province, Nigeria , and ordained in the Church of Pakistan. Dr Sookhdeo is non- residentiary canon of Khyber Diocese, Pakistan. He has been a pastor, evangelist and Bible teacher for 40 years.

He is the author of numerous papers and author/editor of several books, including Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam and Understanding Islamist Terrorism.

Dr. Joshva Raja John.

Co-Dean and Research Supervisor Mission in the Public Space

Dr. Joshva Raja John was an Associate Professor at the United Theological College, Bangalore. He had his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Raja John taught at Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies and was a research fellow and research supervisor for the University of Birmingham, the University of Gloucestershire and the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently an academic director for the Barnabas Fund and Co-Dean of OCRPL. He is also an Emeritus Canon of the Birmingham Cathedral.

Dr. Raja John has published and edited a number of books in the area of media, communication and mission, theological education and global Christianity.

Dr. Raja John is married to Mrs. Rachel Raja JT and has two children Angeline and Jessica. Dr. Raja John is also an honorary clergy of the Church of England Parish at Seend Salisbury Diocese.

Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Co-Dean. Mission Studies and Ethics Read more
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, a graduate of Oxford in classics and theology, is married to Elaine, a retired cancer consultant. They have three married children and eight grandchildren. After six years in India, with his senior colleague, Canon Dr Vinay Samuel, he helped establish the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies from 1983. He has been an elected member of General Synod of the Church of England and was conference director for the 2008 Jerusalem Conference of GAFCON. His postgraduate research has covered Liberation Theology, Christianity and Violence, and Christian Social Ministries in India and Indonesia. He holds canonries in Nigeria and Ghana. He is co-dean of the OCRPL Graduate Programmes with Stellenbosch and Pretoria Universities.

Professor Christopher Byaruhanga, Uganda Christian University. Systematic Theology

Dr Prasad D R J Phillips.

Distance Learning Coordinator and Tutor

He is a theological educator since 1998, equipping church and mission leaders.  He completed his Graduate and Postgraduate studies in Philosophy from Madras University. After earning his BD, was involved in grass-root level theological training. He then completed his MTh in Missiology; both degrees are from Serampore University. Thereafter, was involved in equipping Christian leaders in India and elsewhere through theological education by extension (TEE). He earned his PhD in World Christianity, the University of Edinburgh in 2018.

He is married to Dr Premila Phillips, currently working with NHS as a speciality doctor and they have a teenage son Arpith Phillips.

Currently he serves OCPRL as a Distance Learning Coordinator and Tutor with a research interests in World Christianity, Missiology and Practical Theology.

Dr Tim Shah, George Washington University. Religious Freedom

Sheikh Dr Muhammed Yusuf Al-Hussaini. Islamic Studies

Dr Sara Afsari

Originally from Iran, Sara Afshari holds a Ph.D in Media Religion and Culture from the University of Edinburgh. She is a convert to Christianity from Shia/communist/atheist background.

She is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, a Christian satellite television channel in Persian/Farsi language for the peoples of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan; founder of PARS Media Trust based in London; Founder of Bent-e Alhoda, a women’s Secondary School in the city of Robaat Karim, Iran.

Beside her Ph.D. she holds several BA and MA degrees in the areas of Literature, Theology (two degrees), Media and communication, Management, Women’s development studies and adult education. Her research interests include:

  • Media, Religion and Culture, mainly relating to religious conversion, especially how Muslims negotiate their conversion to Christianity using media.
  • Negotiating belonging: how refugees and migrants (mainly from Muslim background) negotiate their space and belonging with their new host societies.
  • Conversion: how Muslims understand the concept of conversion to Christianity, how they reconstruct their new religious identities and worldviews.
  • Interfaith studies between Christianity and Islam especially in the area of contextualisation.


Dr Anna Bekele

Anna Bekele received her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2011. Her doctoral research focused on political Islam and mobilization in Eastern Europe. Prior to her doctoral studies, she lived in Moldova, Azerbaijan and Iran.

In 2013 she was a Robert Bosch Fellow at the Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs), one of the leading think tanks in the world. After that she worked as an executive director of the Westminster Institute in the US.

Her areas of expertise are political Islam, social movements and mobilization, Islam in Russia, Central Asia and Caucasus.


Anna enjoys research and she developed some analytical and critical skills in the process. She has solid verbal and written communication skills. She has been teaching for a numbers of years, most recently at postgraduate level. According to StrengthFinder results (Gallop Research), her strengths are Input, Learner, Maximiser, Intellection and Connectedness.


Anna has a number of publications in academic journals. She also co-edited with Dr Patrick Sookhdeo Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood: A New American Strategy (2015).

2017 ‘Al-Shabaab and its (Un)Certain Future’

2015 Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood: A New American Strategy (editor and contributor); Isaac Publisher

2014 ‘Transnational Islamic Networks in Russia and Ukraine’, Chatham House

2014 ‘Boko Haram and its Impact’, The Westminster Institute

2013 Growing Islamic Extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus – Situation and Outlook’, World Watch Monitor

2012 ‘Transnational Islamic Networks’, Sage: Transformation

2012 ‘Islamic Discourse in Europe: Communicating the Message and Constructing the Meaning’ , WMAC

2009 ‘Islamisation in Eastern Europe: A Case Study of Arraid in Ukraine’, Das Institut für Islamfragen

2009 Revised article on ‘Crimean Khanate’, Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World.


Dr Wenjuan Zhao

Dr. Wenjuan Zhao is an academic researcher of the OCRPL and a research fellow for the Minzu University, Academy of Religions, in Beijing. She received her Ph.D. from Hong Kong Baptist University with a specialization in Christian Virtue Ethics. Prior to the OCRPL, she worked at Hong Kong Baptist University and then conducted her research at Duke University.  Her research covers Christian virtue ethics, ecclesiology, war and peace, suffering and pastoral care, Christianity in China, and Chinese theology. Her published books and articles mainly focus on these areas.

Apart from her academic research, she actively engages in Christian communities locally and globally. She joined the community-based Immigrant Ministry providing services for immigrants in an interfaith model for cooperation and collaboration. She participated in the Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia, cultivating relationship-building and addressing contextual challenges such as the many conflicts and divides of Northeast Asia with international fellow Christian leaders. She is one of the co-founders of a Campus Ministry aiming to share the Gospel with Mandarin-speaking students at Hong Kong Baptist University. She is a member of the Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry, which is committed to bringing women’s voices and concerns to the faith communities and society.

Dr Anwar Berhe
Anwar M. Berhe was born and grew up in a Muslim family. But God encountered him through a dream in 1993 and decided to follow Christ after debating with his Christian friends and Muslim apologist for three years. After his conversion from Islam to Christianity, he served as the Muslim Outreach Director at the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church in Ethiopia for ten years and taught multiple courses on missions to Muslims and Islamic studies in various theological colleges and Bible schools in Ethiopia. His undergraduate and postgraduate studies focus on Christian mission and Islamic studies. He also finished his doctoral degree in Islamic studies at the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia in 2019. His doctoral work focuses on investigating Muslim views of Christianity in Ethiopia and its contribution to interreligious harmony in the contemporary period. At the moment, he is serving as senior faculty, Academic dean for undergraduate program, and director for the MA in CMR program at the Evangelical Theological College at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr Moussa Bongoyok
Prof. Moussa Bongoyok was born in Cameroon. He has earned his Ph.D. in intercultural Studies at Fuller Graduate School with a specialization in Islamic Studies. He did his postdoctoral studies on Islam and development.  He teaches at the university level since 1994. Currently, he is the current President of Institut Universitaire de Développement International (IUDI), a university-based in Cameroon but provides online education to French and English-speaking students from 18 nations. He is also a professor of intercultural studies (specializing in Islamic Studies) and holistic development. He taught Islamic Studies and led the Islamic Studies programs in Cameroon and Central African Republic (1994-2009). He was also the Coordinator of the Islamic Studies for seven years at BIOLA University (USA) while carrying full load teaching online and on-site. Before his current position, he has also carried out several academic leadership responsibilities as Director of Communication and Institutional Development, Ph.D. program Director and Academic Dean in Africa and the United States.  Besides IUDI, he teaches as an adjunct in several universities, including Concordia University Irvine and William Carey International University in the USA and Kampen University in the Netherlands. Bongoyok brings strong skills in areas of academic leadership, Islamic Studies, holistic development, intercultural studies, intercultural communication, program development, and implementation, balance between scholarship and practice, cross-cultural competencies, systematic theology, missiology, Christian-Muslim relations, Mission among the unreached Muslim people groups, and non-Western perspectives on current trends in the Muslim World. He is married to Priscilla, and they have three children.

Dr Adekoya Julius

Dr Joshua Afzal

Dr Joshua Afzal was born and raised in a Pakistani Christian family. His father was a community leader therefore Joshua developed an interest in community-based activates and developmental work. He wanted to continue the agricultural legacy of his family therefore he joined Agriculture University of Faisalabad, Pakistan. There he completed his B.Sc. (Hons) in Agriculture and M.Sc. (Hons) in Crop Protection. He joined Agriculture University as a Research Scientist and supervised MS students. In 2010, he moved to Germany and joined the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart. There he completed his PhD in Crop Sciences and Post-Doctoral work in Plant Biotechnology. He has published his research was on Sustainable Agriculture. During his study, he initiated various projects of rural development and afterwards started a consultancy company. He had been frequently invited for lectures on agriculture and development. He is deeply interested in the implementation of scientific research in the development of people. He is leading the International M.A. in Sustainable Development in OCRPL.

He is working as OCRPL staff and also a research fellow at University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

Academic Advisors

For Stellenbosch University

Dr Len Hansen, Director of Research and Chairman of University Ethics Committee.

Dr Jurgens Hendricks, Emeritus Professor in Practical Theology and Missiology.

For University of Pretoria

Professor Wim Dreyer, Senior Lecturer, Systematic and Historical Theology.

Dr Maniraj Sukdaven, Senior Lecturer, Religion Studies.

For Everyone

Bishop Dr Joshua Banda, Zambia, Social Science Research.

Rev Dr J Andrew Kirk, UK, former Argentina, Philosophy and Mission Theology.

Rev Dr Christopher JH Wright, Ministries Director, Langham Partnership, Old Testament.

Fr Steven Bevans, Contextual Theologies.

Current Researchers

Researchers, both men and women are currently enrolled from the following countries
Antingua, Bahamas, Columbia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Uganda,
Their topics cover the fields of politics and governance, combatting terrorism and violence, corruption, children, education, the experience of disabled and of marginalised peoples, justice, land rights, division in denominations, traditional religious and cultural beliefs, discipleship training, mission partnerships, work ethics, holistic mission practice, media and use of social networks, engaging with islamisation, gender violence, and ministry among refugee communities. All these topics are researched in relation to the relevant biblical, cultural, theological, sociological and religious studies.


Professor Patrick Sookhdeo, Chair (exec director)

Dr Vinay Samuel (member)

Canon Dr Chris Sugden (co-dean and member)

Hendrik Storm (treasurer)

Dr. Joshva Raja John (co-dean)


Mr Andre Lombard

Mr Nathanael Cullis

Mr Joshua Nurcombe-Pike