Mission Statement: Defenders Media is an alliance of evangelistic ministries that offers a defense of the Christian worldview, delivers content in an attractive way through modern media, and honors God through its biblically centered belief and practice.
Our alliance currently includes the ministries of Risen Jesus, Veracity Hill, Belief Map, God Loves Mormons, The Library of Historical Apologetics, Epic Archeology, and Social Apologetics. Each ministry works to present a robust defense of the Christian worldview from a specific vantage point in apologetics. Our alliance supports the efforts of these ministries in various ways, whether in fundraising, website creation or management, securing speaking engagements, increasing the quality of their media and expanding the reach and impact of it.
The Defenders team brought on five Regional Associates at the beginning of 2017. These associates, who live across the United States, will aid in the efforts of our alliance to reach those nearest them with the truth of the Gospel through apologetics.
Kurt Jaros is the Executive Director of Defenders Media and host of the Veracity Hill podcast. He is currently a Ph.D. student studying the doctrine of Original Sin in the writings of monks from southern France in the 5th and 6th century. He holds two Masters degrees in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, and Systematic Theology, from King’s College London. He also blogs at Values & Capitalism a project of the American Enterprise Institute. He likes systematic and historical theology, philosophy of religion, and issues in Christian pop culture. His theological interests include theological anthropology, hamartiology, soteriology, divine providence, and other issues in Christian pop culture. Additionally, he enjoys political philosophy, economics, American political history and campaigns. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago with his lovely wife and two daughters.
Social Media Management Associate
Michael Chardavoyne is a Social Media Management Associate. He works on a number of Defenders Media’s social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter. He hold a certificate in apologetics from the RZIM Academy and hopes to continue his education in Marketing and Apologetics. Michael is a husband, full time care-giver, avid book reader, and lover of apologetics. His primary ministry is caring for his wife Sarah, who has experienced a decline in health over the past several years. Since medical professionals urged the necessity of full time care, he spends his days with challenging lows, and successful joys as he works to improve Sarah’s health.
Beth Bakker is an administrative volunteer for Defenders Media. She has been a full-time mom for the past 14 years and was a counselor and drug abuse prevention educator prior to that. Beth developed a passion for studying apologetics and Christian worldview about 10 years ago while reading “How Now Shall We Live” by the late Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. After years of self-study in apologetics and theology and doing a little bit of everything at her home church, Beth has recently begun pursuing her Master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Western Seminary. Ultimately she hopes to work in apologetics with high school and college students. Beth lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, daughter, and son and has a deep love of Star Wars.
Digital Editor & Multimedia Specialist
Chris Yiesla is a Digital Editor and the Multimedia Specialist for Defenders Media. He has been editing films for over 15 years and has worked on 7 feature-length films and over 30 short/independent films during his career. He has a great desire for understanding the deeper truths of God and communicating them to those around him. He holds both a Bachelors and Associates in his field of Film and a certificate in Christian Apologetics; using both sets of skills regularly on Facebook and Youtube to share his passion and faith with his peers. Yiesla resides and works in the Chicagoland area after moving there in 2012 to pursue ministry, When not busy on these fronts, he enjoys exploring the lands of Hyrule and Skyrim in his living room.
Michaela provides social media management and marketing consulting to Defenders Media on a volunteer basis. She holds a Masters in Apologetics from Biola University and is particularly interested in issues surrounding why God allows evil and suffering, and Christian cults. She is passionate about creating a vibrant home-life and finds caring for her two small children most fulfilling. She also works part-time from home as a freelance social media specialist and enjoys traveling, baking, and gardening. Yes, she is Kurt’s wife.
Blake Giunta is the founder of BeliefMap.org, an encyclopedic resource aiming to provide users with academically respected points and counterpoints in debates over life’s big questions. He has been studying philosophy and apologetics as an enthusiast for over a decade. Blake has read and catalogued the arguments of 23 academic books on the historical case for Jesus’s resurrection (only a fraction of which are uploaded to BeliefMap). He has done something similar with countless books on God’s existence, and has participated in thousands of discussions on these topics along his way, even debating pop-level atheists like Dan Barker and Matt Dillahunty. Although he is a Texas state champion wrestler, he most enjoys beating people at Starcraft and Ping Pong.
President, Risen Jesus
Dr. Licona is the President of Risen Jesus and Professor of New Testament at Houston Baptist University. He is the author or co-author of 6 books, and is one of the world’s leading scholars on the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. He has spoken on more than 50 university campuses, was interviewed by Lee Strobel in The Case for Christ & The Case for the Real Jesus, and has participated in a number of formal debates against biblical critics such as the renowned Bart Ehrman. Mike is a prolific scholar, having published an exhaustive and comprehensive argument for the historical resurrection of Jesus. He has faced intellectual and spiritual battles from non-Christians on the historical Jesus and even believers who have misguidedly questioned his devotion to the truth of the Bible. He is well respected in the academic and apologetic ministry communities.
Director, Library of Historical Apologetics
Dr. Timothy McGrew is the Director of the Library of Historical Apologetics. He is Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He hold a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University (1992). He has published in numerous journals including Mind,The Monist, Analysis, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and Philosophia Christi. His most recent publications include “Evidence” in The Routledge Companion to Epistemology, a co-authored anthology in The Philosophy of Science, and co-authored (with his wife, Lydia) an article on the argument from miracles in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.
He specializes in theory of knowledge, logic, probability theory, and the history and philosophy of science. He is an avid chess player and enjoys the great hymns of the faith. Tim has been married to Lydia for 28 years and they have three children, all of whom play chess.
Ritch Sandford is the founder of GodLovesMormons.com. He and his wife, Laura, are church-planters from Chicago’s western suburbs. Before moving to Utah, Ritch served as a Pastor at The Compass Church in Naperville, Illinois, for seven years. It was there that God gave them an ever-growing passion for evangelism and Christian ministry. In the fall of 2012, they clearly felt God calling them to move to the most beautiful state in the U.S. to plant a church. In September of 2013, the Sandfords packed up the mini-van, and headed west! They now live in South Jordan, Utah with their three kiddos, where Ritch is the Lead Pastor of The Mission Church and Founder of GodLovesMormons.com, an outreach ministry to their Mormon neighbors.
Regional Associate – North Carolina
Ted is freelance teacher, writer, researcher and founder of EpicArchaeology.org. For over a decade, Ted has been a speaker on Christian apologetics as well as Biblical Archaeology across North America & internationally. He is the former Executive and Teaching Director of CrossExamined.org. Ted has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including the History Channel’s TV miniseries – “Mankind: The Story of All of Us,” as well as CNN’s recent documentary on the historical resurrection of Jesus, “Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery.” In addition, Ted has served as adjunct professor of apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary as well as Charlotte Bible College & Seminary, where he has taught for over a decade. Ted has a B.A. in Anthropology & Archaeology from the Cobb Institute of Archaeology at Mississippi State University. As an undergraduate Ted worked as a research lab assistant on Phase III (1992-1999) of the Lahav Research Project from Tel Halif, organized by Dr. Joe D. Seger of the Cobb Institute and assisted by the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, and from the Joe Alon Center for Regional and Folklore Studies at Kibbutz Lahav. Ted has an M.A. in Christian apologetics with a concentration in philosophy from Southern Evangelical Seminary, where he served as graduate research assistant to Dr. Norman Geisler. Ted participated in the 2014 excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir (Biblical city of Ai) with ABR (Associate for Biblical Research), where he is a professional associate & researcher. In his free time Ted enjoys writing, mountain biking, kayaking and outdoor activities.
Regional Associate – New Mexico
Seth is a senior at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico, where he studies social work and religion. He gained an interest in apologetics during a crisis of faith in high school. That crisis eventually brought him to the work of scholars like Dr. William Lane Craig, Dr. Michael Licona, and others. Through the experience, his desire to learn more of the ‘whys’ surrounding Christianity was bolstered. He now leads the young adult ministry at Central Baptist Church in Clovis, New Mexico, where he has the opportunity to teach apologetics and emphasize its importance to the next generation of Christians. This coming Spring, he will be teaching an introduction to apologetics class at the campus’ Baptist Student Union. During his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and reading philosophy.
Regional Associate – Western Michigan
Mia aspires to embody the Renaissance woman in our time. In addition to acting as Regional Associate in Western Michigan for Defenders Media, she is also the Research Assistant at the Library of Historical Apologetics and serves as Research Assistant for the Special Divine Action Project under Dr. Timothy McGrew. Mia has a broad range of freelance writing under her belt, and previously served at the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, where she spear-headed the foundation’s program design and implementation in Western Michigan, directed the Epilepsy Today Conferences, and was instrumental in grant acquisition and community outreach. Her experience is enhanced by a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Calvin College, a Master’s degree in advanced generalist social work from Grand Valley State University, and a degree in Biblical Studies from the International School of Ministry. Mia lives with her family in Michigan and devours books.
Regional Associate – Connecticut
Richard Porter is apologetics ministry leader at Calvary Church of West Hartford in Connecticut and a Chapter Director with Ratio Christi. Richard has studied apologetics for over a decade. Prior to his conversion, apologetics was a huge part of what God used to reel him in to the faith. From the popular works of Lee Strobel to the more academic defenses of Christianity by William Lane Craig, apologetics has always caught his eye. He has a passion for equipping Christians to defend the faith and hopes to one day be in full-time ministry. He also has aspirations to pursue an academic career of his own if the Lord permits. In his spare time Richard enjoys exploring New Testament studies and analytic philosophy. In addition to his intellectual pursuits, Richard also enjoys kettlebell and martial arts training – particularly Brazilian and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. He also has two sons that are being trained as young apologists and martial artists.
Regional Associate – Vermont
Zak Schmoll is currently a PhD student studying Humanities at Faulkner University. He holds a Master of Arts in Apologetics from Houston Baptist University and a pair of Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration and Statistics from the University of Vermont. He is the founder of Entering the Public Square, a blog founded on the sincere belief that every Christian should understand the importance of discussing Christianity in the marketplace of ideas. Because Christianity claims to be a comprehensive worldview, Zak writes about everything from sports to politics to literature to economics. He works as an insurance underwriter by day in Vermont and plays power soccer, the fastest-growing adaptive sport for power wheelchair users.