About me

I offer spiritual direction, coaching (ICF certified ACC), and academic resourcing for Christian leaders, mostly across Africa.

I hold American and Canadian citizenships, but I was born in Switzerland, raised in Congo and Liberia, and worked for more than a decade in Kenya. Since I’ve lived more than half of my life on the African continent, I’d like to believe that my best values reflect the richness and complexity of the different African cultures which have shaped me.

My academic interests include biblical studies (specializing in Luke-Acts), early Christianity and Judaism, spirituality and faith more broadly, social-identity (ethnicity), culture, and missiology–particularly in the African context. Themes of justice, racism, and the sociology of economics are important applied subjects for me. Along those lines, I enjoy hearing and amplifying African, African-American, and other African Diaspora voices, especially for justice and against systemic (and often more subtle) forms of racism created and perpetuated by my own white peoples. Currently, we live in Alsace, France where I am learning how to better support and encourage French-language African scholarship [2018]. Through life experience and related study, I’ve learned a lot about neurology–notably ADHD, Aspergers, NLP, and the enneagram.

My PhD dissertation in New Testament from Africa International University incorporated theories of social legitimation, social identity (ethnicity), authorial audience, relevance, narrative, and intertextuality to study “Luke’s Narrative Legitimation of Paul and the Gospel among the Diaspora (Acts 16-19).” Previous degrees are in Bible and theology, religion, and pastoral studies from Wheaton College, Trinity (Deerfield), and Westminster (Philadelphia).

Along the way I’ve been deeply influenced by Ignatian spirituality and other more open forms of contemplative Christianity. I find new developments in the neurosciences, social psychology, and multicultural studies fascinating, particularly for their impact on various experiences and expressions of faith.

My wife Christi (Awaken Coaching) is a Professional Certified Coach with the ICF, a certified facilitator of Brené Brown’s Daring WayTM curriculum, a coach trainer, and also a spiritual director. She specializes in transformational coaching for identity and purpose. We have three kids: one born in Washington DC in 2000, one born in Paris, France 2003, and one born Nairobi, Kenya in 2006.

Email me directly HERE

34 thoughts on “About me

  1. Doug Green says:

    Ben! I just came across your blog through Jim West’s blog. I had completely lost track of you, so I’m glad to see that you are alive and well and back studying (yay!). Look forward to reading your blog in the coming days.
    If you ever feel like dropping me a line with a bit more news on what’s been happening since seminary, I’d love to hear from you.
    Doug Green

  2. Eric Sowell says:

    I too learned of you through Jim West’s blog. Looking forward to your posts.

  3. learnfrenchwiththebible says:


    Are you in a safe area, in light of all the unrest since Dec. 27?

    A native pastor in Nairobi, with whom I keep in contact, has lost everything.

  4. benbyerly says:

    Doug! I wrote you an e-mail years ago, which I never sent. I’ll send it now with other updates off-line. Everything I learned at Westminster, I learned in the OT department.

    Impressive blog Eric

    “learnfrenchwiththebible.” We are safe, and always have been. Maybe I’ll post on that soon. Others, like your pastor obviously haven’t. The tragic stories are heart wrenching.

  5. B.J.Barry says:

    G’day Ben,

    Cheers for the insight and as in the past I’m sure i’ll learn a thing or 3. Keep your head down mate!

    Regards from Addis.


  6. April B says:

    Hi there, Ben. You don’t know me, not thru Jim West or any other stellar human being. I just happened upon your blog thru a Google Alert on Kenya. My partner’s family is in Kenya, she is Kenyan and has only been in the states 7 of her 37 yrs. As you can imagine we are devastated by what is happening there. One of her family members has been murdered already. We can only pray.
    I’d love to know how to get your posts. I imagine they may be greatly informative and hopefully hopeful soon!

    Yes, keep your head down…

    In peace,

  7. Ben says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your partner’s family member. So many people have needlessly suffered tragic loss. When it affects someone from your own family, it is deeply saddening in a way that none of the rest of us can truly understand.

    I hope you also got to read some of the more uplifting stories written last week. A few people can certainly make life very miserable for so many others.

    We continue to pray.


  8. Maya says:

    I found your blog through my Google Alerts on Kenya. I am in Washington State, but I am a biblical counselor working with a missionary who is presently in Kitale, Kenya. I just heard around 200 men were rounded up by the police or army (not sure which) in Kitale as it appeared they had established some sort of training camp and had many weapons. Any more news on this? Have they found out what they were planning on doing? I have limited access to the missionary and I have been doing my best to stay on top of the current events. Besides Google Alerts, do you know of any online newspapers that would be helpful? Thanks!

  9. brad brisco says:

    Ben, I discovered you blog today from Google Alerts on Missional Church. I look forward to following your work. Blessings Brother!

  10. Waka Joseph Jonga says:

    I to congratulate you for your work well done. One thing I will to know from you is that of knowing A FRICAN CHRISTIANITY and some transformation that is going on at present. Hence if there are some text books to get from you I will be gratefull to have it. My address is Cameroon Baptist Seminary, Kumba, South West Province, Cameroon.

  11. Ben says:

    Jonga, Thanks for stopping by. As you know, African Christianity can be quite diverse and so transformation can mean many different things. My colleague, Peter Yuh, has taught translation at your other campus and greets you.

    Blessings in your studies.

  12. Ken Leighton says:

    boy that’s a terrific blog, what do you do for a day job? I’d need two days off just to understand what you’re talking about
    sound like trouble in the monkey cage over at WTS??

  13. Steve Lichty says:


    I just met with Spencer Radnich and he recommended I contact you. I’m a PhD student in political science at the University of Florida. I’m studying church-state relations in Kenya, focusing on 2002-2007 and specifically the 2005 constitutional referendum. I’ll be in Nairobi for two more weeks and would love to meet with you to solicit your opinion on my research project. I’m only in the preliminary stage, but I just had an amazing conversation with Spencer and he thought you could shed a lot of light on my research. Send me an email with your mobile and I’ll give you a call to see if sometime next week or the following would work to meet for an hour…or maybe coffee at Java House if you live in Nairobi (I live near the Junction). Thanks Ben.

  14. Ben says:

    Steve, I e-mailed you directly. I’ve got a couple of colleagues you should really talk to. If for some reason you didn’t get it, I’ll resend. My e-mail is in the link at the end of the above post.

  15. jutta says:

    The world is small – I came across your blog when Eddie mentioned it on BlogDay 2008 and put it on my blogreader. Now I discover that you are actually Brenda’s brother. We usually see each other during Sunday night service when they are in the capital. I have many friends among her mission colleagues. I find interconnections like that hilarious.

  16. Ben says:

    Sorry, your comment seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. It is a very small world.

  17. Benjamin Byerly says:

    We share the same name. Interesting blog.

  18. Ben says:

    That’s interesting. I know of two others – somebody in Oregon (class of 1998) and a former high school track star in Pennsylvania. Where are you?

  19. Benjamin Byerly says:

    Originally from North Carolina, I have lived in Alabama for 24 years. I am a petroleum geologist. I am a member of a Baptist church in Birmingham.

    I had no idea that were that many Ben Byerly’s around. Thanks for convincing the world that at least one of us is intelligent.

  20. Ben says:

    “that at least” one of us is intelligent”? Sounds to me like that “one” would be a petroleum geologist.

    Believe it or not, I’m originally from North Carolina too – at least my father is. I spent my sophomore year of High School at Greensboro Grimsley.

    Maybe we are actually related.

  21. Benjamin Byerly says:

    Sorry to take so long to get back with you. I grew up in Lexington about 20 miles away. We probably are related. Lot’s of Byerly’s in that part of the world. I attended UNC and had couple of good friends there that had attended Grimsley. Grimsley had a reputation for being a very good school.

  22. Hi Ben, in desperate need of suggestions on literature for my students at l’Université Chrétienne due Kinshasa (though in French), I am hoovering the Internet to find suggestions. Somehow I ended up on your fantastic page. I teach (As Dr. of Theology from a Swedish State University) at faculties in both Congo. If ever You want another book, mail me and Ill see to it that “my” publisher send U my PhD thesis “Conversion and Contextual Conceptions of Christ – a missiological study among young urban converts in BRazzaville”. Please make me a list of French lit. / Carl S

  23. Ben says:


    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Your dissertation looks very interesting, and I can imagine we would have a lot to talk about if we met – though I am relatively new to this field and my focus right now is basic (old-fashioned, Western) biblical studies.

    I’m afraid it will be a long time before I come up with a list in French, sorry. I would recommend contacting Rich Starcher who compiled the big PDF bibliography I linked to on the African Christianity Bibliography page. His e-mail is available on the Talbot seminary faculty pages: http://www.talbot.edu/faculty/faculty_profiles/profile.cfm?

    Hope that helps

  24. Chris Furr says:

    Hey Ben,
    We went to Wheaton together way back when! I recall that, back in those days, my conversations with you and your sister inspired me in my desire to do missions work. I ran across your blog on a google search for “missionary stages of culture shock.” My wife and I are deep into “stage two” right now! I’m living southeast of Paris and am working with a French church planter. We’ve been here for just over a year and are struggling to survive. I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog and gaining insight from your experience. Many blessings on you!

    • Ben says:

      Great to hear from you, Chris. France is a tough, tough nut. I eventually got the hang of it and loved it there, but it’s probably the hardest adjustment we’ve had anywhere. It has to be even tougher for someone in your field. Who are you working with? . . . I’m trying to think of something to say that would be encouraging to you, but all I can think of right now is a bunch of stories of our time there and memories of some of my favorite places. Overall, after we adjusted and apart from Christi’s job (our reason for being there), we had a great time.

  25. Chiira says:

    That was pretty serious.

  26. Lee says:


    I think you for stopping by the blog. I do intend to again take up Luke-Acts very soon. I have been preoccupied of late with Paul’s letter to the Romans and my local church. Good to hear from you.


  27. Joel Gray says:

    Hi Ben, remember me from ICA days? I serve in Burkina with SIM – since 1997.


  28. Ben says:

    Hey Joel,

    Great to hear from you!! Have you forgotten that your brother and I lived together for a bit in college?

    Have you met my colleague Samy Tioye. He does Bible translation in Burkina.

  29. Lisa (Frank) Ellis says:

    Hey Ben, a recent search I was doing for flowers native to West Africa turned up (after a wikipedia-style click-click-click-I can’t stop-click trail) a list of ICA folks online, including your blog. I’ve been poking my head into some here & there, catching up on how folks are doing, and it’s bringing back a lot of memories.

    Happy to see you’re doing well — what a beautiful family! So many ICAers are living overseas, it’s renewing my yearning to do the same. I’m happily settled in Oakland with Rick, though; if the right job came along we would jump at the chance to move (almost) anywhere overseas, but this will be our US home for a long time, I think. I’ve been thinking about trying to get back to RCI for a photojournalistic project, possibly next year. I love to be able to show Rick my home.

    Your stability, humor, and sage advice my freshman year in college helped keep me sane through what turned out to be a really tough year. Motorcycle study breaks didn’t hurt, either. Good to see you again, my friend.

    • Ben says:

      Lisa, it’s really great to hear from you. It has been a very, very long time. I’d love to see some of your photos if you post them anywhere.

      I often forget how hard that first year of college is–especially for TCKs. Most of us manage to survive somehow.

      I’d love to hear more of what you’ve been up to for the last-almost 20 years (hard to believe.) Send me an e-mail if you feel up to it.

      Hope you get back to RCI.

  30. Mands81 says:

    Hi Ben.Excited to have found your website.I have left a few comments already.Sorry if there are any repeat comments,still feeling my way around and sometimes I don’t see my comments posted.Thanx for sharing your thoughts and opinions.Proudly brown south African

  31. Ben says:

    Thanks for all your comments, Mandy. It’s great to have you here.

  32. Baraza says:

    Impressive. Just checking, did u c the link I sent to ur email.

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