Experts on "Missions"

Betsy A. Barber

  • Director, Center for Spiritual Renewal
  • Associate Director, Institute for Spiritual Formation
  • Associate Professor of Spirituality and Psychology

Dr. Barber has a clinical practice with specialization in the soul care and mental health of christian workers. She teaches courses in spiritual formation, soul care, missions, maturity, and marital relationships. She has particular interest in spiritual formation and supervision of students in spiritual direction and mentoring. She has worked with her husband as a missionary in Bible translation and counseling ministries for 24 years. In addition to being a licensed clinical psychologist, she has background and training in spiritual direction.

View full profile

Marla Campbell

  • Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies

Presently Dr. Marla Campbell teaches with the faculty of the School of Intercultural Studies following five years in the Education Department at Biola University. Prior to this, Marla served as Dean of Students at Bethany College and as a missionary in the Balkans of Eastern Europe then later with Asia-Pacific Education working with Bible colleges. All of these have offered opportunities to fulfill her desire to reach the lost, especially through the teaching and training of others who will carry on the task. During her 14 years of teaching in Christian high schools, Dr. Campbell had a vision for taking drama ministry teams nationally and internationally with the development of Parable Drama. Her mission opportunities have taken her throughout the USA and to over 60 countries. Whether at home or abroad, Marla has always had a focus on education and ministries with a strong passion for biblical integration, intentional living and spiritual formation. She enjoys opportunities to teach and speak in a variety of these venues as well as in women's ministry settings. Equipping Christian educators in public or private schools, whether at home or abroad, remains a primary focus for both speaking and publishing.

View full profile

Octavio Javier Esqueda

  • Professor of Christian Higher Education

Octavio Javier Esqueda is a professor of Christian higher education in the doctoral programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He was born and raised in Guadalajara, México, where he graduated with honors with a Licenciatura in Latin American Literature from the University of Guadalajara as well as two additional diplomas, one on religion and society and the second on journalism. He graduated with honors from Dallas Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Christian Education and completed his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Higher Education at the University of North Texas. Before coming to Biola University in 2011, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas for over seven years. He and his wife, Angélica, have two children Darío and Salma. Dr. Esqueda has several publications on theological education, Christian higher education, and literature. Teaching is his passion and has had the opportunity to teach in several countries on different academic levels. He is an avid soccer fan.

View full profile

Joe Henderson

  • Associate Professor

Joe Henderson teaches Bible, literature, and hermeneutics. In his doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary, he studied hermeneutics and Old Testament literature. His dissertation on the poetry of the book of Jeremiah is the fruit of his interest in the relationship between the history of biblical interpretation and the history of literary criticism. His other interests include Robert Louis Stevenson's novels, Paul's theology, Milton's Prose, Brevard Childs' hermeneutics, Flannery O'Connor's stories, Charles Wesley's hymns, and Francis of Assisi's life. Joe is a graduate of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky and Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. He and his wife Conchie served at Rift Valley Academy as dorm parents for fifth- and sixth-grade girls. Now they are the grateful parents of Kip, William and Laurel.

View full profile

Alan McMahan

  • Undergraduate Chair, Cook School of Intercultural Studies
  • Program Director Undergraduate Studies for Intercultural Studies
  • Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies

Dr. Alan McMahan has served in churches in North America and on the Pacific Rim as well as taught in the areas of missiology, church growth, leadership, organizational development, and evangelism. He has been active in training undergraduate and graduate students including mid-career professionals, Bible school teachers, pastors, and denominational leaders through the U.S., Canada, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia in the effective means to develop leaders and grow churches. He maintains an active consulting service in churches and is the former President of the American Society of Church Growth. He has earned degrees from Fuller Seminary, Asbury Seminary, the Alliance Theological Seminary and Nyack College. His Ph.D. dissertation was entitled, "Training Turnaround Leaders, Systemic Approaches to Reinstate Growth in Plateaued Churches." He has served as a Vice President for the Alliance Theological Seminary, and as the Academic Dean at The King’s College in mid-town Manhattan. Dr. McMahan now works at Biola University as an Associate Professor in the School of Intercultural Studies and serves as the Department Chair for the Undergraduate Intercultural Studies Program. He is married to Terri, and has two sons.

View full profile

Kenneth Nehrbass

  • Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies
  • Program Director, MA Intercultural Studies

Dr. Nehrbass was a pastor before he and his wife Mendy joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 2000. In 2002, they moved to the island of Tanna (in Vanuatu) to translate the New Testament with a team of nationals. In 2012 they moved back to the USA, and Dr. Nehrbass became assistant professor of International Studies at Belhaven University. In 2014, he moved to Biola to teach and direct the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs in intercultural studies. He continues to volunteer as a translation and anthropology consultant with SIL and the Seed Company. His research focuses on contextual theology and missiological anthropology. He and his wife have four children.

View full profile

Katherine Purgason

  • Chair, Department of Applied Linguistics & TSEOL
  • Program Director, Applied Linguistics & TESOL
  • Professor of TESOL

Dr. Purgason brings to her classes in TESOL methodology, curriculum, materials, and intercultural communication her years of experience living, studying, serving, and teaching in India, Russia, Korea, China, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Mauritania, Indonesia, Kuwait, Oman, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Spain. She has received two Fulbright fellowships and the Biola Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. She has been a U.S. State Department English Language Specialist. Her professional interests include methodology in local context and professional ethics.

Dr. Purgason has presented on methodology-and materials-related topics at more than 30 local, state, and national TESOL conferences, and has spoken about TESOL at Urbana and other similar conferences. She is the author of "Planning Lessons and Units" in Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Snow (2013), "Classroom Guidelines for Teachers with Convictions" in Wong and Canagarajah (2009), English Language Teaching in Theological Contexts (2010), and “A Clearer Picture…A Reader Responds to Julian Edge’s ‘Imperial Troopers and Servants of the Lord’” in TESOL Quarterly 36:4 (2004).

View full profile

Richard L. Starcher

  • Professor of Intercultural Education
  • Associate Dean
  • Chair, MA Missions

Dr. Starcher served as a pastor in rural Nebraska and as a missionary in Africa for 20 years. He taught at the Goyongo Bible Institute in Zaire, at the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology in the Central African Republic and at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology in Kenya where he also served as Dean of Extension Studies. He continues to teach and serve as an educational consultant in Africa. He is particularly interested in research methods and in exploring models for equipping leaders for the majority world Church. He also edits Missiology: An International Review, the official journal of the American Society of Missiology.

View full profile

Anneke Stasson

  • Assistant Professor, Torrey Honors Institute

Anneke grew up in Olympia, WA and is thrilled to be living on the West Coast again after living for eight years in Boston. Anneke receieved her BA in English from Calvin College and her MA in Church History from Regent College in Vancouver, BC. Most recently, Anneke received her Ph.D. from Boston University, where she studied the History of Christianity, Global Christianity, and the History of Missions. Her dissertation was on twentieth-century missionaries and marriage counselors Walter and Ingrid Trobisch. Her current research continues to address the relationship between Christianity and cultural conceptions of gender, marriage, and family life. Anneke and her husband, Stevie, have three daughters, Mary Lou, Eleanor, and Ruthann, all of whom enjoy swimming, hiking, cooking, and reading.

View full profile

Tom Steffen

  • Professor Emeritus of Intercultural Studies

Dr. Steffen served 20 years with New Tribes Mission, 15 of those in the Philippines. He is Professor Emeritus of Intercultural Studies in the School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

View full profile

David L Talley

  • Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies
  • Chair Biblical & Theological Studies Old Testament Department

With varied ministry experiences, including student development, counseling, pastoring, and teaching psychology and Old Testament studies, Dr. Talley brings a blend of scholarship and practical application to his classroom instruction. He co-pastors a local church, and enjoys research in the areas of Old Testament theology, the Pentateuch, and the prophets. His dissertation research on the judgment of pain in Genesis 3 continues to be a focus in his research as he formulates a perspective on godly living in a difficult world. Dr. Talley is passionate about understanding and teaching the truths of God's Word, discipling and equipping others, and "passing on the faith" to the next generation. In 2013, he completed a survey book on the Old Testament, which seeks to focus on both the information of the biblical text and the transformation of the heart. His work has also been published in The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the Christian Research Journal. Dr. Talley travels extensively with the goal of partnering with the international church and training leaders, especially with a focus on impacting Muslim nations with the gospel. He has traveled to South Korea, Kenya, Thailand, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Honduras, Dominica, Nigeria, Mexico, and the Congo to equip believers.

View full profile

K. Erik Thoennes

  • Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies
  • Chair, Biblical & Theological Studies Theology Department

Dr. Thoennes is committed to teaching biblical and systematic theology so that he and his students love God and people more fully. He strives to make the necessary connections between the study of theology, obedience to Jesus, and fulfilling the Great Commission. He has taught theology and evangelism at the college and seminary levels for several years and is a frequent guest speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats, in addition to co-pastoring a local church. Dr. Thoennes has received the University award for faculty excellence and professor of the year. His research interests include godly jealousy, the atonement, the exclusivity of Christ, and theology of culture.

View full profile

Evanson Wamagatta

  • Associate Professor of History

Dr. Wamagatta has taught history at the University of Nairobi for about seven years. He also taught for four years as a graduate instructor at West Virginia University. In the 2001-2002 academic year, he was a Visiting Lecturer at Biola University. He became a full-time faculty in the Fall of 2003.

View full profile

Suzanne Welty

  • Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Suzanne joins the Communicative Sciences and Disorders department this term after serving as adjunct faculty since 2011. She has been employed for over two decades in the public schools as a speech language pathologist and special education teacher. Suzanne has specialized in diagnosing and remediating communication, behavioral, and social challenges of individuals diagnosed with Autism and other developmental disabilities. She counts it a privilege to equip her students to become competent and compassionate speech and language pathologists.

One of Suzanne’s deepest joys is helping those with special needs discover their unique talents and gifts as they find a place of service within the local church. In addition, Suzanne has a passion for missions. She has spent many summers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Germany and finds joy in visiting, praying for, and investing in those who are serving Christ world-wide.

View full profile

Allen L. Yeh

  • Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies

Allen Yeh is a missiologist who specializes in Latin America and China. He also has other academic interests in history, classical music, homiletics, social justice, the California missions, the Maya, and biographical interest in Jonathan Edwards (America's greatest theologian) and Adoniram Judson (America's first intercontinental missionary). He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia. He earned his B.A. from Yale, M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell, M.Th. from Edinburgh, and D.Phil. from Oxford. Despite this alphabet soup, he believes that experience is the greatest teacher of all (besides the Bible). As such, Allen has been to over 60 countries on every continent, to study, do missions work, and experience the culture. As Mark Twain said in 1857, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

View full profile

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
1-562-903-6000