Good Questions Deserve Good Answers

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Our Speakers – Base Camp West

These teachers were carefully chosen based on their expertise, commitment to their respective churches, and their love for Jesus. These topics were carefully chosen based on the questions Christian teens are asking (and being asked) as reflected in our research and survey results.

Jordan Francis
Talk Title: TBA
Originally from Birmingham, England; Jordan’s passion is seeing young people come to Christ and develop an anchored worldview that can withstand the attacks of our cultural moment. As the Director of Mission for RealTalk, Jordan creates space for evangelistic discussion groups that focus on the questions young people are asking and being asked. The mission of realTALK is to reach, train, and network students; aiding them in fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. Jordan has a wife named Kathleen and a son named Isaiah.

Jim Mullins
Talk Title: TBA
Jim Mullins is the pastor of theological and vocational formation for Redemption Tempe and is on the leadership team for the Surge Network. He has worked as a pastor, entrepreneur, nonprofit leader, and a basketball scout in Turkey. He’s the co-founder of several organizations, including the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, Uzbek Justice Initiative, and Peace Catalyst International. He’s married to Jenny, and has a six-year old daughter named Elliana. They spend their time watching basketball, cooking Middle Eastern food, and being completely ineffective gardeners.

Dennae Pierre
Talk Title: TBA
Dennae was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Dennae is the Executive Director of Surge Network which is a collaborative partnership of many local congregations throughout Arizona. Dennae is also the founder of Foster Care Initiatives and has started multiple community development works in under-resourced areas. Dennae desires to see churches across our valley cross cultures and boundaries to deepen their love for one another, unite in love for Jesus, and partner together to serve and walk with the poor and marginalized. She has worked extensively throughout Phoenix to advocate for and equip adoptive families, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, and low-income families. Dennae helped plant Roosevelt Community Church alongside her husband, Vermon Pierre, who is the lead pastor. Dennae and Vermon have four children and enjoy spending their free time exploring the parks, restaurants, and coffee shops of Downtown Phoenix.

Taylor Reynolds
Talk Title: TBA
Originally from Valdosta, Georgia, Taylor is a transplant to St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Washington University where he studied history, psychology, and religion and politics. While attending WashU, he founded Kairos, an undergraduate journal on Christian thought. Currently, Taylor is a leading member of Midrash St. Louis and frequently facilitates group discussions on the intersection of Christianity and culture. Midrash discussions happen in a variety of places including: pubs, coffee shops, art galleries, museums — anywhere that people intersect with culture.

His current aspirations include publishing his book and completing his PhD. In his free time, Taylor writes poetry, fishes, watches romantic comedies, backpacks, reads novels, and waxes philosophical with anyone who will engage. He prefers dead languages over computer languages, existentialism over analytic philosophy, and people who disagree with him over people who agree with him.

Jeremy R. Smith
Talk Title: The Problem of Evil and Suffering
Talk Title: Why Bother With Apologetics?
Jeremy R. Smith is a self described “debtor to unearned grace, advocate for the local Church, and backyard missionary.” Jeremy’s life miraculously changed when Jesus rescued him in 1996. Since then, he’s been passionate about helping Christians and non-Christians to think through and seriously consider what they believe, why they believe it, and why those beliefs matter.

Jeremy studied Christian Apologetics & Philosophy through Biola University in La Mirada, CA and is currently studying select topics related to Apologetics & Evangelism at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO.

From 2007 – 2012 Jeremy served as a big brother mentor at The Mill Skateboard Park in Granite City, IL. Jeremy is a member of The Christian Apologetics Alliance, The Missouri Apologetics Network, St. Louis’ Reasonable Faith Chapter, and Midrash St. Louis. Jeremy also serves part time as a Corporate Chaplain at Cordell & Cordell (A Domestic Litigation Firm).

Jeremy is happily married to Katie and is a grateful stepfather to Elijah 8 and Lucy 7.

Shawn White
Talk Title: TBA
Shawn White has earned a BA in Religious Studies from Southern Evangelical Bible College and an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He is currently working towards a Doctorate of Philosophy in Humanities from Faulkner University. In 2012, Shawn founded Smart Faith, an apologetic ministry focused on “training believers to be confident, courageous, and culturally aware.” Smart Faith puts on an annual conference during which leading local apologists and others from across the country come to Phoenix to present in the areas of science, history, philosophy, the arts, and how those relate to the Christian faith. Shawn specializes in the defense of the resurrection of Christ. By day, Shawn is a computer software developer. He and his wife, Davina, also are active in serving with their home congregation at Canyon Church of Christ in North Phoenix, where Shawn leads the Apologetics Ministry.

Past Faith Ascent Teachers / Speakers

Matthew Lee Anderson Matthew Lee Anderson is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith. Anderson is the founder of and writes periodically for Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and Relevant Magazine. He has been interviewed in media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and The Associated Press. A graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, he is now a graduate student at Oxford University.

Luke Bobo Ph.D. Dr. Bobo (Dr. B) serves as Director of Resource and Curriculum Development for Made to Flourish ( He is the former associate professor and department chair for Lindenwood University of St. Charles, MO in the school’s Christian Ministry Studies Program. And prior to Lindenwood, Luke also served as Assistant Dean for both the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute and Youth In Ministry Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary. He has spoken and/or preached in Cape Town, South Africa and Goiânia, Brazil. Dr. Bobo holds a PhD in Rabbinic Andragogy from the University of Missouri St. Louis. He holds a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO); a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia; and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Professionally, Dr. Bobo worked as an Electrical Engineer for fifteen years prior to his work with the Institute. He is a regular contributor to The Washington Institute ( He sits on several national boards including the University of Kansas Alumni Association, Consortium of Christian Study Centers (CCSC) and The Culture House. And he is the author of “Living Salty and Light-filled Lives in the Workplace” (Wipf and Stock, 2014) and “A Layperson’s Guide to Biblical Interpretation” (Wipf and Stock, 2016).

Speaker: Chris Gadsden Ph.D. Chris Gadsden hails from the Sunshine State where he acquired a passion for college football while attending Florida State University. For over 20 years, he and his amazing wife Kristin have worked with Cru to serve the spiritual needs of students and professors, with a special emphasis on helping people overcome intellectual obstacles to faith in and intimacy with God. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Biola University and a Ph.D in Philosophy from Mizzou; his publications include a chapter in the recent edition of Doctor Who and Philosophy.

H.L. Hussmann   H.L. Hussmann travels locally and internationally leading mission teams and training Christians in evangelism and apologetics. He is the author of God’s Greatest Passion: Every Christian, Everywhere, Sharing Jesus and Letters From a Martyred Christian. He has served as a Chi Alpha campus minister at Murray State University since 1996 where he graduated in Engineering Physics. He is a writer on assignment for Outreach Magazine and his wife Kara and three-year-old-son Siler are his life’s second delight. H.L. is a resident speaker for Faith Ascent and a long time friend of the ministry. H.L. and his wife Kara will be moving to Louisville, KY in the fall to plant Daylight Church

Adam McCleod
Adam J. MacLeod Adam J. MacLeod is Associate Professor at Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. He serves as consulting scholar for the Massachusetts Family Institute and a faculty member of the Witherspoon Institute’s annual Moral Foundations of Law seminar for graduate students. He is a former visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and he formerly served as a Deputy Attorney General of Alabama, advising the Governor and Attorney General in defense of Alabama’s marriage laws. Professor MacLeod writes and speaks in academic and public venues about the importance of the family, religious associations, private property and other foundational institutions of private ordering. He is the author of Property and Practical Reason, published by Cambridge University Press, and dozens of articles, essays, and book reviews in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. He contributes to the online journals Public Discourse and Library of Law & Liberty. Before beginning his scholarly career, Professor MacLeod served as law clerk for state and federal judges in Massachusetts and Colorado and practiced law in Boston. He holds degrees from Gordon College and the University of Notre Dame Law School. He is a member of Christ Church in Montgomery, Alabama where he attends with his wife and daughters. A former and founding member of the Pneuma Brass Quintet in Boston, he is a musician, runner, cyclist, skier, hiker, Notre Dame partisan, husband, and father.

Michael J. McClymond Ph.D. Michael J. McClymond Ph.D. is Professor of Modern Christianity at Saint Louis University. He was educated at Northwestern University (B. A. in Chemistry), Yale University (M.Div.), and the University of Chicago (M.A. in Religion, Ph.D. in Theology). In addition to his work at Saint Louis University, he held teaching or research appointments at Wheaton College – Illinois (1988-89), Westmont College (1989-96), University of California – San Diego (1996-98), and Emory University (2001-02). McClymond’s book, Encounters With God: An Approach to the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, 1998), received the 1999 Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History. He was editor of Embodying the Spirit: New Perspectives on North American Revivalism (Johns Hopkins University Press,2004), and author of Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth (Eerdmans,2004; winner of the Award of Merit in 2005 from Christianity Today magazine). He is the sole editor of a two-volume reference work that incorporates the contributions of one hundred and twenty scholars, Encyclopedia of Religious Revivals in America (Greenwood Press, 2007). McClymond is the co-author of The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2012). Comprising forty-five chapters, this work is the most in-depth academic study yet published on Edwards’s thought and won Christianity Today’s 2013 best book award in the category of theology and ethics. Michael is an advisory board member, a resident instructor, and a seminar speaker for Faith Ascent Ministries.

Josh McDowell Well known as an articulate speaker, Josh has addressed more than 25 million people, giving over 26,000 talks in 125 countries. As a young man, Josh McDowell considered himself an agnostic. He truly believed that Christianity was worthless. However, when challenged to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. After trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, Josh’s life changed dramatically as he experienced the power of God’s love. After his conversion, his plans for law school turned instead to plans to tell a doubting world about the truth of Jesus Christ. After studying at Kellogg College, Josh completed his college degree at Wheaton College and then attended Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree. In 1961, Josh joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ International (now called Cru). Not long after, he started the Josh McDowell Ministry to reach young people worldwide with the truth and love of Jesus.

Sean McDowell Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for reaching the younger generation with the Gospel message. He connects with youth in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a Biblical worldview. He serves as Head of the Bible Department at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools where he teaches Philosophy, Theology, and Apologetics. As a high school teacher, Sean has exceptional insight into the prevailing culture and imparts his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors, and parents alike. In 2008 he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, California. His apologetics training was awarded Exemplary Status by the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities, and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth Specialties, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Focus on the Family, Point of View, Converse with Scholars, Stand to Reason as well as shows hosted by Hugh Hewitt, Frank Pastore, Michael Reagan, and others.

Gregory R. Perry, Ph.D. Dr. Perry is the Associate Professor of New Testament & Director of the City Ministry Initiative at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. Dr. Perry came to Covenant Seminary in 2003, following over ten years of ministry in local churches and on the mission field. While teaching theology in Australia, Dr. Perry chaired a task force to assess and support Australian church planters. He has also served on pastoral church staffs in Atlanta and Northern Virginia, working with small groups, pastoral care, and ministry to single adults. Dr. Perry has been involved in several creative nonprofit ministries seeking to embody the Gospel while addressing social challenges in urban Atlanta and D.C. He is currently a board member of Third Millennium, an organization created to bring theological education to church leaders in the developing world. Dr. Perry has a heart to disciple students in creative cultural applications of the Gospel, which he carries out through the Seminary’s City Ministry Initiative.

John Richardson M.Div. John Richardson is a professional mediator and pastoral counselor at Level Path Ministries in St. Louis, MO. John also serves as the Pastor of Congregational Care at First Free Church in St. Louis, MO. At First Free, John oversees multiple care ministries including Celebrate Recovery, Visitation Ministry, Pre-Marital Mentoring, and general Counseling. John has a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Fort Wayne Bible College. He is a Certified Christian Conciliator with the Institute of Christian Conciliation and serves on the board of directors for the Association of Missouri Mediators.

Lee Strobel Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor ofThe Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty books and has been interviewed on numerous national TV programs, including ABC, Fox, PBS, and CNN. Described in the Washington Post as “one of the evangelical community’s most popular apologists,” Lee shared the Christian Book of the Year award in 2005 for a curriculum he co-authored with Garry Poole about the movie The Passion of the Christ. He also won Gold Medallions for his books The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and the The Case for a Creator, all of which have been made into documentaries distributed by Lionsgate. Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism degree, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law degree, 1979). He was a professional journalist for 14 years at The Chicago Tribuneand other newspapers, winning Illinois’ top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International. After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Lee became a Christian in 1981. He joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL, in 1987, and later became a teaching pastor there. He joined Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, as a teaching pastor in 2000. He left Saddleback’s staff to focus on writing.

Frank Turek Dr. Frank Turek is a dynamic speaker and award-winning author or coauthor of three books: I Don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Correct, Not Politically Correct and Legislating Morality. As the President of, Frank impacts young and old alike at colleges, high schools and churches with hard yet entertaining evidence for Christianity. He hosts a hour long TV program each week called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist that is broadcast Wednesday nights at 9pm and 1am Eastern on DirecTV Channel 378 (the NRB Network). His radio program called CrossExamined with Frank Turek airs on 144 stations every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. eastern. Frank also writes a column for and has appeared on many TV and radio programs including:The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, Faith under Fire, Politically Incorrect, The Bible Answerman, and Focus on the Family. He has debated atheist Christopher Hitchens twice. A former Aviator in the U.S. Navy, Frank has a Masters from George Washington University and a Doctorate in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary. To help reverse the exodus of young people from the Christian faith, Frank conducts dynamic I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist outreach events on campus. At these events, Frank presents the evidence for Christianity, cross-examines arguments against it, and answers student questions.

Lilian Werner Lilian Werner is the Director for Women’s Ministries at FirstLight Ministries, a para-church ministry helping Christians align their sexual lives to the teaching of Scripture. Since 2003 FirstLight has been helping men and women who are struggling with sexual brokenness, as well as their families, find hope and healing in Jesus Christ. Lilian has worked as an LPC for 12 years, and has been involved in ministry in various ways. She has worked in church planting, women’s ministries, children’s ministries and adult Sunday School. Her degree is from Covenant Theological Seminary. She and her husband Brad live in South City have 3 children: Inna who is 20 and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and new baby, Ivan who is in kindergarten, and Anya who just turned 3.