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Daniel is a Young Adults Pastor in Ottawa and a leadership consultant and human rights project coordinator for Members of Parliament. He has a Master’s in History and a BA in Philosophy and History from the University of Ottawa. Daniel speaks internationally in universities, churches and pubs and is passionate about Instagram, fitness, good food, coffee, and gelato.
Louis (Lou) Phillips is a full-time OCCA Fellow based in the greater New England area. He grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his parents and five older siblings. Lou attended Grove City College and was graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree double majoring in Molecular Biology and Political Science. Lou interned for the Heritage Foundation at their Center for Health Policy Studies and then became the Health Policy Legislative Correspondent for Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. While in Washington, Lou felt the call of God elsewhere in his life and joined an evangelistic outreach called Silver Ring Thing (SRT). For three years, Lou traveled with this ministry all across the United States putting on concert-style events talking to teens about love, sex, and life. Through this evangelistic experience, he developed a passion for apologetics. Lou received his Certificate of Theological Studies from Oxford University (Wycliffe Hall) and was trained at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) where he was involved in many evangelistic events and outreaches. Coming from a large family, Lou loves to hang out with his siblings and their spouses, as well as spend time with his ever-growing number of nieces and nephews. In his spare time Lou likes to stay active and do anything outdoors.
Alanzo Julian Paul is an Itinerant Speaker and is based in Canada where he was born and raised. He first held a corporate position in an oil and gas company for several years before entering the e-commerce sector. In what was Alanzo’s first private sector venture as an entrepreneur, he and his wife founded a global men’s grooming brand. His business has thrived and can now be found throughout the UK, Europe, US, and Canada. Alanzo has mentored youth for nearly ten years and has spoken at prison, churches, universities, schools, and youth groups. He has been studying theology at the University of Oxford since September 2016.
Karen studied opera at the University of Alberta and jazz performance at Grant MacEwan University, where she graduated with a diploma in vocal music performance.
This mother of three spends her time doing volunteer work for activist and non-profit groups, and is the current President of the Society of Edmonton Atheists. She is also the co-founder of Secular Alberta, which tackles secular issues by facilitating educational events regarding these topics.
Her volunteer work and activism started when she was a teenager. Karen was the president of Students Against Impaired Driving at 15, a speaker with St. Albert Pregnancy Help at 16, and a Big Sister with Big Sisters/Big Brothers when she was 18 years old. Her current activism mainly focuses on secular issues such as Medical Assistance in Dying, Abortion rights, Comprehensive Sexual Education, LGBTQ+ rights, and Alberta’s Catholic and public school systems.
Rabbi Gila Caine graduated from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, as well as completed a B.A. degree in sociology and anthropology. Her rabbinic thesis explored liturgical, spiritual, and ceremonial aspects of labor and delivery in Jewish tradition and contemporary practice. She has experience in working with students at Tel Chai College, as well as the Rape Crisis Center. All of her experiences inspired her to pursue her path as a rabbi. She moved to Edmonton from Israel and is the current rabbi of temple Beth Ora. She continues to make meaningful personal and spiritual connections with each member in the community. Rabbi Caine has been persistent on creating a liberal Jewish presence through connections with the local municipality, schools, and local initiatives with the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism.
Imam Sherif Elsayed is a graduate of Al Azhar University, department of Islamic Studies in English in 2003. He has been serving as an Imam for the last 15 years: In Egypt from 2003-2008, in California, USA from 2008-2009, in Las Vegas, USA from 2009-2013. Imam Sherif has been providing Imam’s services in Edmonton for the last 6 years, from 2013-2016 in Al Rashid Mosque and is the current Imam of MCE Mosque.
Riffat Aziz , holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, and an MBA from the Zicklin School of Business, located in New York City. She currently works as a Manager at IFSSA, Islamic Family and Social Services Association. Riffat has had the honor of working and living in 4 countries, the United Arab Emirates, where she was born, the United States, a brief stint in Calcutta, India and now in Edmonton, Canada which she calls home. Throughout her experiences in these countries, her passion remains the same: to develop and align her growth with the teachings of Shia Islam. She was until recently heavily involved in the Sunday school at the ISIA, and served as Principal of the school from 2016 to 2018, with more than 100 students under her care. She now volunteers at Al Baqir Academy, the only Shia Islamic school located in Alberta. Riffat is fluent in 4 languages and is a dedicated single mum of two young boys.
Maria Gabankova grew up in former Czechoslovakia with her brother, Jan, in a family of visual artists. Her parents, Antonia and Jozef Gabanek (Prague Academy of Fine Art), had a profound influence on her development through their art and dissident lifestyle. Based in Toronto, she also spends time in British Columbia and in Prague. Frequent stays in Europe provide fresh contact with the Czech and international visual art, cinema and music scenes.
Maria has received several awards and her work is represented in private and public art collections in North America and Europe. She has exhibited her work extensively in Canada, and internationally, since 1980. From 1990 to 2015, she taught figure drawing, painting and portraiture at Ontario College of Art and Design University. In 2007, under the title “Body Broken/Body Redeemed”, a selection of more than 50 of the artist’s works (reproduced in colour) were published by British publisher Piquant Editions. The central theme of her work is realist figurative representation with conceptual emphasis on the spiritual and Biblical. Portraiture holds a special focus in her practice. She was commissioned to paint portraits of many distinguished Canadians and Czechs, including the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame, a historical mural painting for Ft. Langley Museum (BC) and the Fred Metzger Collection.
In addition to being a founding member of Loop gallery, Toronto, Maria has been invited to serve on art juries, speak at conferences, and work in film (with Warner Brothers) and theater. You can see her work at www.paintinggallery.ca
Dr. Wayne Sumner is University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He holds a PhD from Princeton University and is the author of numerous books in the fields of ethics, philosophy of law, and political philosophy including “The Moral Foundation of Rights” and “Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics.” He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2009 was awarded the Molson Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Dr. Barth Netterfield (PhD, Princeton) is a Canadian astrophysicist and a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto. He is a leading expert in the development of balloon-borne telescopes. These are astrophysical experiments that are lifted into the stratosphere by high-altitude balloons where they conduct observations that would be hindered by atmospheric interference if done on the ground. Netterfield is primarily known for his work in observational cosmology, specifically in developing instrumentation to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation.
Most notably, he was a key member of the instrument team for BOOMERANG, the experiment that made one of the first accurate determinations of the age, geometry, and mass-energy content of the universe. More recently, he has delved into the field of submillimetre astronomy and the physics of star formation, through his involvement with the BLAST telescope. Netterfield was featured prominently in BLAST!, a documentary film about the 2005 and 2006 flights of BLAST from Sweden and Antarctica. A committed Christian, Barth loves to have discussions with others about the biggest questions of life.
Josh Tiessen is a young international award-winning artist from Stoney Creek, Ontario. He is considered one of the world’s top ten prodigy artists (Huffington Post). Tiessen was juried in as the youngest member of International Guild of Realism ranked among foremost realist artists from around the world, and Artists for Conservation and Society of Animal Artists. Art Renewal Center USA designated him “Associate Living Master,” and Jonathan LeVine Projects gallery chose him out of 2000 artists as First Place in their international competition “Search for the Next Great Artist.”
Mentored by artists such as the acclaimed Canadian Robert Bateman, Tiessen has exhibited his work for the past 11 years in over 90 exhibitions including the National Gallery of Canada and prominent galleries in the United States. He has sold 90 original works and hundreds of limited edition giclée prints to private and corporate Canadian and international collectors. Josh has been featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles and on TV and spoken widely to various audiences. His work has been donated to many charitable organizations, and he established his own Arts for a Change Foundation. Tiessen awards and honours include IGOR Creative Achievement, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 for his artistic accomplishment and philanthropic work. Despite of this early success, Tiessen acknowledges that his artistic talent is a gift from God. His artistic style is contemporary realism, through which he delights in showing the beauty and diversity of creation, and the image of God in human creativity.
Jen Pollock Michel is the award-winning author of “Teach Us to Want” and “Keeping Place.” Her third book, “Surprised by Paradox,” releases in May 2019. Jen writes widely for print and digital publications and travels widely to speak to various audiences. She holds a BA in French from Wheaton College and an MA in Literature from Northwestern University. Based in Toronto, she is married to Ryan, and they have five school-age children. Their family attends Grace Toronto Church. You can follow Jen on Twitter @jenpmichel.
Wesley Huff was born in Pakistan and spent his childhood in the Middle East. He has a BA in Sociology (York), a MTS in Christian foundations (Tyndale), and is currently a PhD student in New Testament at the University of Toronto. His is interested in inter-faith dialogue between Islam and Christianity, primarily in the textual histories of the Bible and Qur’an. Wes lives in Toronto with his wife Melissa and their son.
Sam Allberry is a graduate of Oxford University (theology), an editor for The Gospel Coalition, a global speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), and a pastor based in Maidenhead, UK. He is the author of a number of books on Christian belief, including the bestselling “Is God Anti-Gay?,” “Why Bother with Church?,” and “90 Days in John 14-17,” co-authored with New York Times bestselling writer Tim Keller. Sam spent many years working with university students at St. Ebbe’s Church in Oxford. As an ordained minister in the Church of England, he was recently elected to serve on its governing body, the General Synod. Sam speaks widely on issues of sexuality and identity. He is currently working on projects concerning singleness and the Christian understanding of the body. In his spare time Sam enjoys hiking, American history, and slowly perfecting his recipe for Thai green curry.
Logan Gates is an Itinerant Speaker with RZIM Canada. He earned a master’s degree in theology from the University of Oxford alongside two years of study at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Logan’s passion is to help others encounter God by exploring the big questions in life. Topics he often tackles include “Why believe anything?”, “Jesus: Man, Myth, or More?”, “Why Would a Loving God Judge Me?,” and “Finding Unity in a Culture of Division.” Logan also speaks Spanish and French and speaks at universities and other audiences both in Canada and abroad. He lives in Toronto where he loves to surf, drink tea, and cook Thai food with his lovely new bride, Samantha.
Dr. Tanya Walker completed her undergraduate degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) from Oxford University. Tanya then worked in various political roles before returning to postgraduate research. She holds an MA in Islamic Societies and Cultures and a PhD in Politics and International studies from the University of London. Tanya speaks internationally on the intersection of religion and culture for the UK division of RZIM (Zacharias Trust). She is also the Dean of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics where she teaches postgraduate students on the toughest questions asked of the Christian faith. Based in Oxford, Tanya is married to Toby and they have two young children.
Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and is the author of several books, including, “Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World” and “Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews.” For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine-year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart. Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe. He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs all over the world. Abdu holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer. Abdu is a Scholar in Residence at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He currently lives in Detroit with his wife and their three children.
Jon Topping works as an apologist for Power to Change in the Ultimate Questions Apologetics Team. He is also a youth pastor at his church, and a professor at Master’s Bible College. He enjoys the intersection of philosophy and faith. Jon and his wife live in Peterborough, Ontario, with their daughter Laura, their dog Lt. Reginald Barkley, and their two cats, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Spot.
Dr. Daniel Thejus (Bobby) is a Speaker and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society. After completing his undergraduate course in economics, politics, and sociology, he completed his master’s degree in philosophy with a gold medal from Madras Christian College. His passion to understand the times led him to earn a PhD from Madras University. His research focused on Amartya Sen’s idea of justice, identity, and democracy. Apart from his research interests he is interested in speaking about and discussing Jesus.
Carrielynn (Carrie) Lund is a Metis consultant and social scientist with expertise in health research ethics and Aboriginal community-based research and capacity builing. She was awarded the Alberta Centennial medal (Lamouche) and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (Lamouche). Her extensive committee work includes 10 years on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (Treasurer), Alberta Human Rights Educational committee, both the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and Health Canada/Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC) Standing Ethics committees and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons With Disabilities. She is also on staff with Connecting Streams, a ministry arm of Power to Change and is involved in special projects including a video series for outreach to seniors in long-term care. She coaches volunteers who work in the inner-city as well as in long-term care facilities and comes along-side churches and helps to inspire and train members of the congregations for volunteer service.
Alycia Wood graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College with a degree in Criminal Justice and from Marygrove College with a Master’s in Social Justice. She also graduated from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and spent two years as a Fellow with RZIM in New England. Alycia’s speaking background is quite diverse. From universities (such as MIT, UCONN, Harvard, University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Dartmouth College, and Brown University), to retreats, from conferences to men’s and women’s prisons, Alycia has addressed major issues surrounding faith to diverse audiences. Additionally, she has traveled to countries such as Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, volunteering at soup kitchens and orphanages as her passions for “showing Christ” extend beyond her local environment. In her spare time, Alycia enjoys music and is a lover of all things football and hockey.
Nathan Rittenhouse is an Itinerant Speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He was graduated from Bridgewater College in Virginia with a double major in Physics and Philosophy and Religion, and a minor in Mathematics before attending the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He holds an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Nathan has interests in topics of science and religion, church history, and systematic theology. He grew up in an active church and Christian family and developed an enthusiasm for Christ that has intensified with his academic studies. As a student, Nathan refreshed his mind by running track and cross-country and continues to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities with his wife and kids. Nathan spent the last three years traveling and speaking in universities throughout New England, and is currently focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region.
Basil McLaren is an Adjunct Speaker with RZIM Canada currently based in the cultural epicentre of Nelson, BC. After teaching the Bible in nearly 70 countries, Basil earned a Master of Arts in Theological studies from Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. His study interests included the development of doctrine, the sexual revolution, and C.S. Lewis and morality. In 2017-2018 Basil spent a year of further studies in theology and philosophy at the University of Oxford while attending the OCCA (Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics). In Nelson, Basil does property management, is a pastor of evangelism at the Junction Covenant Church, and is in the process of adopting children with his wife, Sheryl.
Neil Vimalkumar Boniface is Senior Apologist and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society. He is trained as an engineer from the Allahabad University. Coming from a Christian home, he committed his life to the Lord Jesus during his college years and with a mounting interest in the big questions of life, he pursued an MA (Honours) in Theology from SAIACS, Bengaluru. Neil completed a second masters from the University of Edinburgh (UK), specializing in Science and Religion. Since 2003, Neil has traveled widely and spoken on varied platforms both in India and abroad. His audiences include students and faculty from premier educational institutions, corporate boardrooms, and professionals from different walks of life. His inspirational lectures have been well-received in the public arena. He enjoys interacting with his audiences as he presents the message of Jesus Christ to them. Neil has preached in Christian conferences, leading churches, retreats, and has been instrumental in training many in sharing and defending the faith. He has also spoken on radio broadcasts with AIR FM and FEBA. Neil and his family make their home in Chennai, India.
Kirk Durston’s work involves a significant amount of time thinking, writing and speaking about the interaction of science, theology and philosophy within the context of authentic Christianity. He has been married for 37 years to Patti, and they have six children and three grandchildren. Kirk holds Bachelor Degrees in both Physics and Mechanical Engineering, as well as a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Manitoba. In 2010, Kirk completed his Ph.D. in Biophysics at the University of Guelph. Over the years, Kirk has been published in various academic journals for his research in both science and philosophy. Currently, Kirk is a Researcher and Speaker for Power-to-Change Ministries.
Michael Suderman is an Itinerant Speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is based in Washington, DC. He graduated from Tabor College in Kansas with a double major in Philosophy and Biblical & Religious Studies, and a minor in Psychology. He recently completed a Masters of Theology at the University of Oxford alongside two years of study at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Michael has interests in topics related to faith and science, world religions, and the intersection of Christianity and culture. His passion is to help facilitate the discovery and rediscovery of Jesus by communicating and clarifying the gospel as the most profound solution to life’s most meaningful questions. Prior to studying in Oxford, Michael was involved with youth and university ministries and participated in educational and volunteer work throughout India.
Alexandra Carroll resides in Littleton, Colorado. She has a background in the sciences, but don’t hold that against her. Her technical background includes laboratory and field research, and banging her head agains her desk late at night waiting for an idea to pop in. She has traveled and spoken in many settings across Europe, North America, and South America. She always travels and speaks at the same time, because she is one of those people who never stops chatting on planes, much to the chagrin of passengers in her general vicinity. You know what they say: there’s no audience like a captive one. She has been invited to speak on topics including paleontology, biology, cosmology, philosophy, philology, amphibology, and most often antapology. She has experience teaching English from primary to university ages, yet somehow she still struggles to formulate sentences and often uses words that are not real. She was a botany tutor at Colorado State University until it almost killed her. She has a great appreciation for film and worked as a projectionist for years until the projectors went digital. That’s about the time she went into lab work, because it’s also solitary, quiet, and very dark. Creative people have sensitive skin and sensitiver feelings. Sensitiver is a word, trust me, i’m an English teacher.
Nathan Betts is an apologist with RZIM. He speaks frequently across the US and Canada. His focus areas include the interface of faith and culture, digital technology and belief, and youth apologetics. Nathan co-wrote and co-presented RZIM’s Short Answers to Big Questions video series. He contributes regularly to RZIM’s A Slice of Infinity and Just Thinking Magazine publications and his writing has been featured in The Seattle Times and Christianity Today. Nathan completed his undergraduate degree at Tyndale University and his MA in Bible and Ministry at King’s College, University of London. He is also a graduate of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is an avid percussionist and a keen baseball fan. Nathan and his wife, Brittany, live near Seattle, Washington, with their young children.
Matthew Mittelberg is a fulltime OCCA Fellow based in Boston, Massachusetts. He was raised in an environment of apologetics and evangelism, as his father, Mark Mittelberg, writes and teaches in these areas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurial business from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. During his time there, he started and led the Defenders Apologetics Club for three years and was in a number of leadership roles including Servant Scholar and Senior Senator. Matthew received his Certificate of Theological Studies from Wycliffe Hall and was trained at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He has spoken at universities, churches, societies, and training events, and has led international missions trips in Europe and Asia. Matthew loves competing in ultimate Frisbee, eating Japanese food, and spending time with his friends. He’s passionate about helping people understand that faith in God makes sense, removing barriers to belief, and personally introducing others to Jesus.
Andy Bannister is an adjunct speaker with RZIM. Prior to working with Solas, Andy was director and lead apologist at the Canada office of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. Andy is the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an and his latest book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: The Terrible Consequences of Really Bad Arguments), is a humorous engagement with the New Atheism. When not traveling, speaking, or writing, Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber, and photographer. He is married to Astrid; they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher. Learn more about Andy at andybannister.net/about.
Vince Vitale is Director of the Zacharias Institute. He was educated at Princeton University and the University of Oxford, and he later taught philosophy of religion as a faculty member at both universities. During his undergraduate studies at Princeton, Vince took a journey from skeptic to evangelist. He then completed masters and PhD studies at Oxford, receiving a Daniel M. Sachs Graduating Scholarship and a Clarendon Scholarship. While researching at Oxford, Vince developed a new response to the problem of evil called the Non-Identity Defense which is discussed in his two books, co-authored with Ravi Zacharias. Vince has also been awarded IVP Young Philosopher of Religion of the Year 2013. Vince has an interest in the intersection of faith and sport and has actively been involved in sports his entire life. At one time, Vince was the Faculty Director of Athletes in Action. Vince has spoken at many universities, including UC Berkeley, Princeton, Oxford, and Cambridge. In 2017, he had the privilege of speaking at Google Headquarters and Passion City Church.
Dr. Shabir Ally holds an M.A. and PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Toronto. He completed his B.A. in Religious Studies from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, with a specialization in Biblical Literature.For over 30 years, he has been an active member of the Muslim community in Toronto, as well as an active participant in interfaith dialogues and initiatives. He is an internationally sought after speaker, scholar and theologian, and is the author of numerous books on Islam and the Abrahamic faiths.He has recently taught courses on Arabic, the Quran, and Islam at the University of Toronto in the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations department. He is President of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International in Toronto.
Andrew is a Canadian finishing up a doctorate of philosophy in modern theology at Oxford University. Prior to moving to the UK for further study with his wife Julie and their three young children, Andy served as a pastor for eight years in a Baptist church in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia. He is a carpenter who loves rugby and ice hockey (but has been known to get a run out at the wicket since crossing the pond). Before embracing belief in God, Andrew spent much of his young adult years pursuing pleasure to assuage family pain, and so is personally invested in this question of God and our desire for happiness.
Justitia Pak is a management consultant with over 12 years of experience in digital strategy & transformation. After working with one of Canada’s largest consulting firms, he now leads major digital transformations at large financial institutions in Toronto, Canada and serves on the board of directors for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) Canada.
After graduating from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics, Justitia completed his Masters in International Relations in Melbourne Australia writing his thesis on “Religious Resurgence in International Relations post 9-11.” Justitia studied Biblical Interpretation at Tyndale Seminary in 2009, and from 2011-2012 studied Philosophy and Theology at the University of Oxford. Justitia regularly attends services at Grace Toronto
Luna Wang is an OCCA Fellow with the Zacharias Trust. She comes from China where she did her undergraduate study in Law and Economics in Beijing. She worked in the real estate industry for several years before coming to Oxford for a master’s degree in Sociology. She became a Christian in that year, subsequently joining the St Ebbe’s Church staff team, working in postgraduate student ministry for three years. She has recently completed the one-year program at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.