Tessa Afshar

Tessa writes historical fiction set in the biblical era. “God is invested in redeeming your life. He has set His affections on you and desires to heal your heart, forgive your failures and renew your hope,” Tessa says. “I write books that try to capture these truths.” Her published books include the 2014 Christy Award winner in Historical Romance, Harvest of Gold, and the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award winner in Bible Study, The Way Home: God’s Invitation to New Beginnings on the book of Ruth.

Of MAI’s work, Tessa says, “I love that MAI helps writers and publishers in the hard places of the world. I think there might be someone like a C.S. Lewis writing somewhere in the world whose work no one will ever get to see because of lack of opportunity. MAI tries to change that.”

Tessa’s book tip: “C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia helped me tremendously as a new Christian. I felt a deeper emotional connection with Jesus through these stories.”

Dan Balow

Dan works as a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency and as director of the Write to Publish conference. He’s taken part in two LittWorld conferences and a training week in Ghana with MAI Director of Publisher Development Ramon Rocha.

“Joining the Board was an easy decision since I have such a high regard for the work of MAI,” Dan says.

Working with authors and publishers every day, Dan has observed one common thing: They all learn from rejection or failure. “Publishing is very difficult and subjective, so being patient, courageous and strong is an absolute. God will teach things through the process.”

Dan’s book tip: “The first Christian book I read after accepting Christ in 1974 was Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips. It made a great impression on me right from the beginning.”

Rose Birenge

The first thing Rose says about herself is, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.” She has been serving with Biblica Global Bible Ministry (formerly known as the International Bible Society) for over 20 years in marketing, outreach, publishing and partnerships. “When I was called to serve on the board, I agreed because I knew I was serving with people who have similar loves—for Jesus Christ and for books,” Rose says. “My prayer, dream and desire is for people all over the world to have access to life-transforming content that is biblical and contextual. What gives me most satisfaction is seeing new books, new publishing houses and other publishing initiatives started.”

Rose is also Chair of MAI-Africa, established after LittWorld 2012 in Nairobi.

Rose’s book tip:What’s so Amazing about Grace by Philip Yancey, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers and God Chasers by Tommy Tenney. My first life-changing read was when I was about 11, Run Baby Run, the story of Nicky Cruz. The impression it made is still with me to this day.”

Richard Crespo

Richard is spending his retirement volunteering with community service agencies and serving at church. “I was thrilled to be invited to serve on the MAI Board because of its vision for enabling local authors and publishers to produce Christian literature,” Richard says. “This was the same philosophy that I used in my work.”

Before retiring, Richard’s work involved 30 years of leading community health programs at the Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia USA, and 15 years of developing international community health programs—including in South America, where current MAI President John Maust visited to write about the growth of the church in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Richard’s book tip: “Books that have influenced my walk with Jesus are from contemplative authors such as Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton, and Bob Benson.”

Dan Elliott

Dan is Editorial Director at Tyndale House Publishers, one of the largest independently-owned Christian publishers in the world, where he has worked since 1985.

“When I was invited to join the MAI Board in 2003, I saw the opportunity to provide oversight for an organization I had grown to appreciate over the previous several years while serving as an editorial trainer,” Dan says. This included LittWorld 2018, MAI’s global publishing conference in Singapore, where Dan and six staff from Tyndale served by emceeing, leading workshops and providing one-on-one consultations.

As MAI Board Chair, Dan particularly enjoys interacting with MAI staff, international and regional board members, and participants at LittWorld and other MAI events.

Dan’s book tip: “Over many years I have appreciated the writings of C.S. Lewis. I recently read Reflections on the Psalms and am grateful for his thoughtful comments.”

Beng Alba-Jones

Beng is Secretary of the Board and works as a freelance writer, editor and translator for various organizations including CBN Asia, Christianity Today and OMF Literature. “I have always believed in the work of MAI since I, with twenty others, took part in the Philippine Editorial Seminar in 2001,” Beng says. She has since equipped others as an MAI trainer for editors.

“MAI fulfills the unique role of being a mentor to Christian publishing professionals. It can connect a struggling new writer with a seasoned, bestselling author—and both come out of the experience inspired, encouraged, and refreshed with renewed zeal to serve God. This is what fuels me to be a part of MAI. I am helping to build God’s Kingdom, praying and doing my best to make these significant connections happen.”

Beng’s book tip:Fanny Crosby: Writer of 8,000 Songs by Sandy Dengler was given to me by my high school Sunday school teacher. It was my first time to read about a person who made an important contribution to Christianity through writing.”

José Carlos leads the Christian organization Comix35 Next Gen, which produces comics and illustrated books to share the gospel and trains others to do so effectively. He attended LittWorld for the first time in Kenya in 2012 and has since been involved in MAI’s training events.

“MAI is a wonderful organization that provides high-quality training for editorial purposes with a Bible-based mission and vision,” José Carlos says. Of MAI’s webinar library by trainers around the globe in English, French and Spanish, he says, “These free sessions are a great resource. I thank God for all the donors who have made MAI’s ministry possible for more than three decades.”

José Carlos leads MAI’s Spanish-language webinar and training planning team, which is working toward forming an MAI-Latin America Board. This team will host the first LittWorld to take place in a Spanish-speaking country in 2024.

José Carlos’s book tip:Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose by Geoff and Janet Benge inspired me to keep trusting God amid difficult situations and to keep sharing the gospel.”

Casey Helmick

Casey is President of Terra Firma Audio, a division of Content Capital, which seeks to examine every angle of author brand to determine the best path forward for their content. Casey has 10 years of media and marketing experience with stints in both nonprofit and for-profit industries, almost exclusively focused on developing financially-successful content strategy.

“I joined the MAI Board to lend my expertise in content creation and distribution to all who MAI serves around the world,” Casey says. His specialties include: podcasting, branded content, digital strategy, innovation, content strategy, digital product development, public speaking and consulting.

Casey’s book tip: “I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan—anything from his catalog but I am currently reading his Space Trilogy series.”

Jeffrey Kvistad

Bank supervision has been Jeffrey’s entire career, including four years at the Central Bank of Kuwait. He currently works as a Lead Large Bank Examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

With a love for cross-cultural experiences and ministry, Jeffrey was introduced to MAI by Board Vice-Chair Anna Piro when they both served on a class reunion committee.

“MAI’s need for an additional board member with financial expertise and MAI’s mission of helping global Christians become published authors was a perfect match for me!” Jeffrey says. “I know the power of the written word to create and strengthen faith in Christ.”

Jeffrey’s book tip: “While it would be hard for me to pick one book, besides the Bible, that has influenced me most in my faith journey, I can list several favorite authors: Martin Luther, Matthew Henry, C.S. Lewis, Greg Bahnsen and Patrick Henry Reardon.”

Bernice Lee

Bernice is Managing Director of Graceworks, a publishing and training consultancy in Singapore. She joined the MAI Board upon taking on the role of Chair of MAI-Asia. “I had tasted the amazing camaraderie and Christ-led, empowering focus of MAI’s ministry—where leaders are truly servants of those they seek to encourage. It is an egoless ecosystem, so very countercultural,” Bernice says. Prior to Graceworks, Bernice managed the publishing program for Armour Publishing, a local Christian publishing company that she co-founded.

“If you’re reading this, it’s not by chance,” Bernice says. “Use your gift—whether in writing, editing, designing, marketing, teaching—to shine a light in the growing darkness.”

Bernice’s book tip:Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. I was so inspired by his tenacious faith and realized what a gift such books could be in the hands of those who need encouragement and who crave knowledge of the God who saves.”

Jay serves on the MAI Board as Treasurer and has retired from a career in finance and philanthropy.

“I joined the board to continue the legacy of my wife, who had a career in Christian publishing and served on the MAI Board for several years,” Jay says. “I enjoy the collegial interaction with other Christian professionals and also being able to use my financial expertise to advance Christ’s Kingdom.”

Jay’s book tip: “Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and Gordon T. Smith’s Courage and Calling.

John Maust

After becoming President of MAI in 1998, John joined the international Board. “I often say that serving with MAI is like discovering buried treasure; that is, we have the rare privilege of helping global writers to unearth and publish amazing stories of God’s work that would not otherwise have been told,” John says. Before MAI, he was assistant news editor of Christianity Today and spent four years in Peru as a missionary journalist.

“You never know what might happen at a writer’s workshop,” John says. “My future wife, Elsa, and I first met at one in Lima, Peru, nearly 40 years ago—and the rest is history.”

John’s book tip: “A book valuable to my Christian growth years ago in university was Edge of Adventure: An Experiment in Faith, by Keith Miller and Bruce Larson.”

Anna Piro

“I once described myself as ‘someone who creatively organizes chaos,’” Anna says. “Self-employed graphic designer would be the official description.” For Anna, serving with MAI as Vice Chair means being part of a ministry where people are being reached with the gospel in ways that make sense to them.

“MAI’s work builds and strengthens community by training publishers, writers, and editors to creatively produce content for their own people in their own language,” Anna says. “All of this content is centered around Jesus.”

Anna’s book tip: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together makes the point that fellowship of Christians is found in the words of Jesus Christ. Prayer, worship, everyday work and relationships—we are built for this life of community.”

Christine Sloat

Christine is a fiction writer and freelance editor. She also serves on the vestry for the Church of the Savior in Wheaton, Illinois USA. During her college days, Christine was an intern with MAI.

“I loved the ways I saw MAI encouraging Christian writers and publishers all over the world,” she says. “As a writer and editor who grew up in Latin America (moving between Peru, Chile, and Panama), MAI was a natural fit! The invitation to join the Board felt like a way to connect more deeply with the work of MAI, and I was honored to be able to accept. I’ve loved getting to know some of the incredible people who are part of the MAI world, especially other board members, talented writers from all over the world, and publishers who are inspiring for their faithful labor of love.” Christine is the author of The Means That Make Us Strangers, winner of The Christy Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2020.

Christine’s book tip: “Of the many books that have helped shape my faith, Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved stands out as one that has impacted me deeply. What a great reminder of God’s tenderness toward us!”

Rodney Shepherd

Rodney serves with MAI as an international board member and as Chair of MAI-Europe. Having retired from a career in printing, marketing and publishing, Rodney is also a church elder at Kidlington Baptist and chairman of a Local Community Association near Oxford, England.

“As a publisher, my desire and passion has always been to share our knowledge and experience to enable others to promote Christian publishing and authorship in other regions of the world,” he says. “It was this sense of calling to give away to others our talents that God had given us, that first attracted me to Bob Reekie sharing his vision for creating such an organization.” Rodney went on to join MAI’s Board during our founding year in 1985, and served as Chair from 1988-2004.

Rodney’s book tip: “A ‘wakeup call’ for me many years ago was when reading The Call to Conversion by Jim Wallace. It was a stark reminder to me that whilst my faith is always very personal it can never be private as a follower of Jesus Christ in today’s broken world.”



Contact MAI-Africa

[email protected]

PO Box 30446-00100
Nairobi, Kenya

Rose Birenge
Biblica Africa, Kenya

Lekan Otufodunrin 
Media Consultant, Nigeria

Joan Campbell
Media and Communications
Author, South Africa

Ardon Kirimi Barine
Publisher, Kenya

Kingston Ogango Ombisa
Alpha International, Kenya

Lawrence Jato Darmani
Publisher and Author, Ghana

Kabore Joanna Ilboudo
ACTS, Burkina Faso


Contact MAI-Asia

[email protected]

36 Kismis Green

Singapore 596267

Bernice Lee
Graceworks Private Limited, Singapore

Aaron Lee
Regulatory & ethics lawyer, bi-vocational pastor and writer, Singapore

Emily Mei Ling Lim
Author, Singapore

Yna Reyes
OMF Literature, Inc., Philippines

Owen Salter
Editor and Writer, Australia

Wong Siew Li
The Iclif Leadership and Governance Centre, Malaysia

MAI-Europe board of trustees

Contact MAI-Europe

Phone: int’l code + 1865 02750

MAI-Europe Office
c/o Rodney Shepherd
21 Mill Street
Old Kidlington, Oxfordshire 0XE
Tel/Fax +44(0) 1865-848337
[email protected]

Rodney Shepherd
Publishing and Marketing Consultant

Anna Shirochenskaya
Publishing Director, Triad Christian Publishing

Borislava van Braam van Vloten
Communications Consultant, Editor and Writing Coach

Sam Richardson
CEO, SPCK Publishing

Daniela Benevelli
Publishing Manager

Robert Clark
International Publishing Consultant

Alexandr Flek
Publisher, Biblion

Alice Philip

Janet Wilson

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