Academic Team

Professor Patrick Sookhdeo

Islamics, Mission Studies and Religious Liberty

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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.

Associate Director of OCRPL

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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

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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.

Dr Prasad D R J Phillips

Distance Learning Coordinator and Tutor

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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 Sara Afsari

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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

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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.

Skills:

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.

Publications:

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

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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 Moussa Bongoyok

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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 Nick Ridley

Fellow OCRPL and Research Associate, University of Pretoria

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After graduating in History, Nick became an intelligence analyst at the Met. Police New Scotland Yard, and then at Europol in the anti – terrorist unit. Whilst working in intelligence analysis he continued studying and gained two PhDs, in terrorist studies and in international relations. He has taught at the Italian universities of Universita Cattolica in Milan and at Teramo University, at London Metropolitan, UK  and The Hague University, Netherlands as well as lecturing at the NATO Centre of Defence against Terrorism . He is a Visiting Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University.

He specialises in and  has written several books on terrorism and the history of insurgencies.

Dr Nick Ridley
Visiting Lecturer
Liverpool John Moores University

  • Author Terrorist Financing  (Edward Elgar 2012)
  • Author Terrorism in East and West Africa  (Edward Elgar 2015)
  • Author Michael Collins and the funding of political violence (Routledge 2017)
  • Author Maurits of Nassau and the survival of the Dutch Revolt-comparative insurgencies (Routledge 2019)
  • Author Frederik Hendrik and the triumph of the Dutch Revolt-comparative insurgencies (Routledge 2020)

Professor Christopher Byaruhanga

Uganda Christian University. Systematic Theology

Sheikh Dr Muhammed Yusuf Al-Hussaini

Islamic Studies

Dr Adekoya Julius

Dr Vinay Samuel

Dr Ruth Samuel

Dr. I Lanusenla Ao

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Dr. I Lanusenla Ao hails from Nagaland, India, and is a member of the Ao Baptist Church. She has served as General Secretary Cadet, Christian Youth Endeavour at Tuensang Ao Baptist Church, Nagaland, as Chaplain of the North East Indian Christian Fellowship, Madurai, Tamilnadu, India, as Advisor of the North East Fellowship, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. She has served as Associate Professor at Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur, India and at Gossner Theological College, Ranchi, Jharkhand.

She earned Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) at Eastern Theological College, Jorhat, Assam, Master of Theology (M.Th.) specialising in Christian Communication (Christian Ministry) at United Theological College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, and Doctor of Theology (D.Th.) at Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai.

She has two books to her name, entitled ‘Communicating Christian Thoughts on Voiceless Tribal Women: A Sociological Perspective.’ and ‘Preaching the Gospel in a Media Saturated World.’ She was also an editor of journals Sandeshharika (Prophetess’s Voice) while at Leonard Theological College and Adivasi Journal of Theology at Gossner Theological College. She has presented papers and contributed numbers of articles in various national and international journals.

In addition to involvement in teaching ministry, she has organised and performed with students in Street Play/Theatre in various places based on various social issues that are commonly faced in the society, such as the problems related to Alcoholism, Child Labour, Women’s Rights, HIV/AIDS Awareness, etc.

Revd Dr Albert S Walters

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The Revd Dr Albert Sundararaj WALTERS has been a theological educator for more than thirty years. He was lecturer and Dean of Students at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM). He has taught courses on World Religions, Anglicanism, Christian-Muslim Relations, Worship & Liturgy and Interfaith Studies. He has authored two books and written a number of scholarly articles and book chapters.

Dr Walters studied theology at Bishop’s College, Kolkata (BD), Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Seoul (MTh), and at the University of Birmingham, UK where he received his PhD in Theology (Islamic Studies). He is a retired priest of the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia. He was formerly Vicar-General in the Diocese of Iran and Principal at St Andrew’s Theological College, Dhaka. Currently he is an adjunct faculty member at STM and an itinerant preacher and lecturer. Dr Walters is married to Rose Mary Thomas and they have three adult children.

Riad Ghobrial

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Riad Ghobrial was born in Egypt. He was raised in College de la Sainte Famille Jesuit School in Cairo. Right after receiving his B.Sc. in civil engineering from Cairo University, he was called to be a full-time missionary with the Coptic Church. He served for many years in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Congo, and Bolivia. He is the founder and director of MSME, Mission of Saint Mark for Evangelism whose main goal is to reach out to the marginalized villages in Egypt and to implement spiritual, social, educational, and medical projects.
Riad received his first Masters degree in Theological Studies from ACTS, St. Athanasius and St Cyril Theological School in California. His second Masters was from Claremont School of Theology, with Liberation theology as the area of concentration. His thesis was titled “A Study on the Book of Psalms: the Historical and Contemporary Cry of the Oppressed in the African Context.” He headed the translation team of the Coptic Psalmody from Coptic and Arabic to Swahili in 2016. He is the author of The Journey (in Arabic, of three volumes), guidance for Christians to build their spiritual life and fulfill God’s call in their lives, published by Alexandria School for Christian Studies, Egypt, June 2021. He is also a guest lecturer in several seminaries in Egypt and abroad. Riad currently teaches Quranic Arabic at OCRPL to MTh programs. His research interests are liberation theologies, missiology, and Coptic studies.
Riad is married to Dr. Myrto Theocharous, an Old Testament scholar teaching in the Greek Bible College.

Taimaya Ragui

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Taimaya Ragui is a PhD graduate of SAIACS in the Department of Theology, where his research focuses on interfacing theological interpretation of Scripture and contextual theology. He joins The Shepherd’s Academy as an Academic Research Coordinator with a focus on course development, particularly within content finalisation and quality assurance. He comes with experience in online theological education, grassroot theological education, and pastoral experience in a cross-cultural setting.

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.

Management

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)