Wendy Helleman

Wendy and her husband, Adrian, were GSC’s first scholars! They have served with Global Scholars Canada since 1995, and Wendy has taught about 2,000 students during her tenure. She has taught on 15 campuses in 7 different countries in her life, including Russia, Nigeria, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Ukraine as a GSC scholar. Most of her classes focus on Philosophy or Early Christianity. Wendy also authored 5 books and was the editor for 3 more. Browse her books on Wendy’s page in our website library. Wendy continues to publish, fundraise for the Gambian Scholarship program, and mentor graduate students as both she and Adrian have transitioned to part-time service with GSC back home in Canada.


Russia, Nigeria, Tanzania, The Gambia & Ukraine

  1. RUSSIA – St. Petersburg & Moscow – 1995-2002

Click here to read a 16-page account of the Helleman’s first year in Moscow

  • Moscow State University – Heroes, Saints and Martyrs; Sophia as Lady Wisdom, and other courses introducing students to philosophical terminology in English
  • Moscow Christian School of Psychology – Early Christian Thought; courses in English at various levels
  • St. Petersburg – Creation, Evil and Utopia: ancient pagan and Christian perspectives

“One of the best classes I taught Philosophy in English at Moscow State University. They worked on the various possible articles for translation on the Russian Idea. Here we were trying to choose the best of the options.”

2. NIGERIA – Jos & Ogbomosho – 2003 – 2008

  • University of Nigeria in Jos, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy – Courses (graduate and undergraduate): New Testament Greek, History of Early Christianity, Philosophy of Religion, The Impact of Science on Awareness of God
  • Theological College of Northern Nigeria – Basic Works of St. Augustine (graduate)
  • Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary – Intertestamentary Language and Literature (graduate), Seminar on Research Writing
  • St. Augustine’s Major Seminary – History of Ancient Philosophy

2005 – Early Christianity class

2007 –  Ancient Philosophy class at St. Augustine Major Seminary in Jos, Nigeria (photo taken by Henk van Andel, former GSC Executive Director)

“An undergraduate class in NT Greek in session in our office. We were assigned an office in the corner of the building – excellent, because there was adequate light even when the power was off.”

“Consultation with one of the student representatives in our office at the University of Jos. A strike was threatening, so we were discussing information and materials that could be passed along to the other students in the class in case of disruption to normal schedules.”

3. TANZANIA – Mwanza – 2009

  • St. Augustine University – Introduction to Philosophy

4. THE GAMBIA – Kololi – 2010 & 2012

  • Gambia Theological Institute – The Apostolic Fathers, Introduction to the New Testament, Augustine as African Church Leader

Gambia Christian Council – the first time we taught at the Gambia Theological Institute -pastoral preparation course in Kololi we were teaching at the Gambia Christian Council building (2010), and still had high hopes for their cooperation to get the program in Christian Studies established at the university. That would take more than a few years to accomplish!”

5. UKRAINE – Zaporizhzhia – 2016

  • Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary – Early Christianity AD 1-500: History and Important Authors (graduate)

Wendy has also mentored 8 Doctoral students and 15 Masters students during her teaching years.

“This photo was taken in the week before Rebecca defended her doctoral thesis on violence against women. We went over the critical details to prepare her for oral defence.”

Photo take when Henk [former GSC Executive Director] and Vicky van Andel visited us December 2007. We invited a number of the University of Jos graduate students to meet with them in our living room; prominent among them are Rebecca and her husband.”


Click here to browse Wendy’s books on our website library:

Click to link to a free download of Wendy Helleman, “A Christian Worldview as the Key to Teaching in a Non Christian University” below: https://www.academia.edu/43339696/A_Christian_Worldview_as_the_Key_to_Teaching_in_a_Non_Christian_University20200614_116700_9hy74p


The Russian Idea

“During the second year at Moscow State University (teaching philosophy in English) we realized the relevance of resurgent attention to the “Russian Idea”, focused on renewed integration of the Orthodox church and theology with state issues. We collected some 20 good articles from journals and newspapers and asked our students to summarize these and work on an English translation. This really challenged them, for regular assignments went from English to their own language, Russian. The project intrigued our MGU colleagues and generated many interesting discussions. In the final stages we got professional translators to check the translations; our own Russian was pretty good by that time, but we did not trust ourselves for publication of the material. It also took time to find a publisher, but finally Slavica accepted a group of essays, and The Russian Idea: In Search of a New Identity appeared in 2004; we presented a copy to the department when we visited in the summer of 2005.”

2002 – Wendy is speaking at a seminar on the Russian Idea, co-sponsored by the Russian American Christian University and the People’s Friendship University.

Wendy & Adrian at Moscow State University with colleague Genia Pertsev.

Red Square Moscow, with St. Basil in the background, during one of the last years we were in Russia; St. Basil is now under renovation and quite unaccessible. It remains the iconic church at the Moscow Kremlin.”

Magdalyn Aboh Defense

“Some time after arriving at the University of Jos (2002) a colleague mentioned a post-graduate student whose supervisor for doctoral work, Technological Changes and their Effects on Belief in God: the Tiv Experience, had retired and dropped the project. I agreed to help when asked, but discovered significant weaknesses in development of the argument, and (English) expression, and recommended serious rewriting. When unable to make sense of her written work, I found a Master’s student with good command of English to help her rephrase what she had written. Since the thesis subject matter overlapped with a course I was teaching (Science and Awareness of God), I risked the situation by asking her to take a class, and was happy to note her command of the material in oral expression. So, we pushed on; by October 2005 she defended the work and received the right to a well-earned doctor’s title.”

GTU Graduation in February 2020

“Although officially retired from teaching assignments in Africa (2009), we had little hesitation in responding to Prof. Glen Taylor’s request in May 2010 to help start a Christian Studies program newly approved by the Humanities Dept. at the University of the Gambia. Traveling to the Gambia that fall, we quickly discovered that before we would actually be teaching students, approval of the several bishops of the Gambia Christian Council was needed. When even in 2015 the matter had not been resolved, the dean affirmed university protection for the program, and warned us that if we did not start that year, we could forget about starting at all. At that point we (Hellemans) introduced Dr. Layne Turner of Global Scholars to initiate the program. Some 18 students enrolled that fall, all highly committed, for we have had almost 100% retention. And this past February we had the happy task of helping them celebrate their Bachelor degrees! To God be the glory!”


“Here in Toronto the last years we have continued involvement with the Light House, a community-oriented Christian ministry, helping with the food bank, and presently serving on the board. For some years we have hosted a Bible Study group (based on our First CRC Toronto congregation), meeting about twice a month; and we initiated a Book Reading club, a great source of inspiration and fun.”

Wendy & Adrian have 3 children, living in all parts of the world!

Wendy earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy (1980) and a Drs. in Patristics and Ancient Philosophy (1973) at the Free University in Amsterdam, an M.A. in Classical Languages at the University of Toronto in 1971, and an A.B. in Philosophy and Classical Languages at Calvin College in 1967.

“In terms of hobbies, I have always enjoyed swimming. I love singing, joining a choir when possible, and enjoy listening to classical/choral music. I also love a good novel, especially a historical novel, and have recently gotten into mystery writers like P.D. James and Ellis Peters.”

Wendy was featured in Faith Today magazine’s Tribute to Women in Leadership issue in February, 2020.

The article was written by GSC’s Executive Director, Peter Schuurman:

Dr. Wendy Helleman – Professor Pioneer and Global Scholar

Dr. Wendy Helleman is a specialist in the early church fathers and their Greek philosophical contemporaries.

Much more than a researcher of ancient texts, she and her husband, Dr. Adrian Helleman, registered Christian Studies International (a charity based out of Toronto) in 1995. Its purpose was to redistribute the wealth of Canadian Christian academics worldwide. They then flew through the newly opened Iron Curtain to teach philosophy and theology in Moscow, sharing their Christian worldview through their teaching, research, and writing.

Their efforts and example opened a pathway for other Canadian Christian professors to follow suit around the world, including countries like China, Nigeria, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone. The Hellemans taught for three decades – in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Tanzania, Nigeria, and The Gambia.

Sadly, the Executive Director of CSI died suddenly in 2013, and Wendy rose to the occasion to become Interim Executive Director for one year. She continues to work tirelessly to promote the mission of what is now called Global Scholars Canada, and for student bursaries across the globe. These students are being equipped to lead in the churches and academies of their nations.

Now semi-retired, Dr. Helleman recently co-published Early Christianity: A Textbook for African Students. Written with her African colleague, the book comes with a Christian perspective deliberately accommodating to African beginnings, Muslim perspectives, women’s roles, and the persecuted church. This is significant for the inter-faith, gendered landscape of African universities today.

Dr. Helleman is a professor pioneer, a global scholar, and a visionary Christian leader who continues to find fresh opportunities for transnational mission.