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Our Leadership

F. Eric & Julie Von Barnau Sythoff


Eric serves as the founder and president of Passion Center for Children, and his wife, Julie, serves as office manager. Eric and Julie have been married for over 40 years and have been blessed with seven children and five grandchildren. They committed their lives to Christ while serving in the military, and since then, the Lord has allowed them to serve Him as missionaries and church planters on three continents! Their hearts’ desire is to continue to be used by God to bring Him glory and to expand His Kingdom.

Pilira Chibwana


Pilira W. Chibwana serves as the National Director for Passion Center for Children in Malawi. Along with our founder, he helped start the Passion Center for Children in 2004.  

As National Director, Pilira oversees and executes all aspects of the Passion Center ministry in Malawi. This includes working closely with the President to execute the vision and mission of the Passion Center, providing guidance and leadership to the Executive Director, and serving on the Board of Directors to guide the overall ministry. He also serves as the Senior Pastor at Mulunguzi Community Church, where Passion Center for Children's first site is located. Pilira and his wife Omega have two sons, Caleb and Wati. 

Saul Mateyu


Saul Mateyu serves as the Executive Director for Passion Center for Children in Malawi. He joined the Passion Center staff in June 2016, first as the Assistant Passion Center for Pastors (PCP) Coordinator and Youth Pastor for Mulunguzi Community Church, where he continues to serve today alongside his role as our Executive Director.   

As Executive Director, Saul is responsible for the effective implementation and administration of all Passion Center operations. Saul and his wife Naomi have one daughter, Tsogolo Samantha. 

Gabe Valencia


Gabe joined the Passion Center for Children board in 2014. Prior to 2012, he had never heard of Malawi. A friend from another ministry invited him on an exploratory trip. He was unable to attend in 2012, however, later that year, another friend told him about good work happening in the same area of Malawi. In Gabe's words, "Coincidence? I think not." He joined Pastor Eric Sythoff on a journey across the globe that continues to capture his heart and change his perspective. 

Since 1998, Gabe has served as the Executive Director of Mile High Pines Ministries, which includes multiple campuses in the mountains of Southern California. He and his wife Rosemary have been married for 40 years and have five adult children and 16 grandchildren.

Kent Byer


Kent has been associated with the Passion Center for Children since 2004 when he traveled with an early team to help lay the groundwork for the ministry. He is currently a middle school teacher in Riverside, CA, and serves as an assistant pastor at Crest Community Church. He is married to Kelly and has four grown children and one grandson.  

Dave Kirkey


Since 2010, Dave has had the joy of traveling to Malawi five times, and each time he can’t wait to go back again. The “Warm Heart of Africa” has a way of calling you back! He shared, “Assisting both the Malawi and U.S. organizations with their accounting and finance operations has truly been a blessing and evidence of how the body of Christ has many parts, each with their own important purpose. Serving on the board and seeing the growth of the Passion Center and the impact it has had on Zomba and the surrounding villages is a wonderful blessing and opportunity to follow the command in James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

In the U.S., Dave has served as President of Kirkey & Co., Inc. CPAs and Kirkey & Co. Financial Advisors, Inc. since 1995. In addition to the Passion Center Board, he also serves as the Board Treasurer for the Malawi Talent Fund and Stand for Truth. He and his wife, Stacey, attend Northside Baptist Church in Westerville, Ohio.

Teresa Potts


Teresa joined the Passion Center for Children board in November of 2020. She has been a supporter of the ministry since she and her husband, Bob, took their first mission trip to Malawi in 2010. After 38 years as a CPA, Teresa retired in March of 2020 as a finance leader in a Fortune 50 company.  

Teresa currently serves as an at-large board member and on the Finance Committee of the board for the Passion Center. She also volunteers at her local pregnancy center and at her church. Her passion is for people to know the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and for them to find healing, wholeness, and the purpose He has for their lives. Teresa and Bob have walked with the Lord throughout their 30 plus years of marriage and make their home in Dublin, Ohio.

Keith Beasinger


Keith joined the Passion Center for Children Board in May 2021. He is a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones in Tacoma, Washington, and has served as director and chairman of the Pierce County Prayer Breakfast since 2008. He and his wife have been married for over 30 years and have four children, three boys and a girl. Keith has also coached multiple high school, middle school, and club soccer teams.

Billy Wood


Billy Wood serves as the International Passion Center for Pastors (PCP) Director for Passion Center for Children. He was first involved with the Passion Center as a ministry partner with Pastor Mark Trotter in 2015 and joined the Passion Center team in 2021. 

As Passion Center for Pastors (PCP) Director, Billy works closely with Abusa Pilira to oversee all aspects of the PCP ministry, including recruiting and leading the pastoral teaching teams, coordinating conferences, developing curriculum, and strengthening and expanding the PCP ministry. Billy is the lead pastor at ONE Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA, and has been in ministry since 1994. He and his wife Shannon have been married for over 30 years, and they have been blessed with 6 children and 8 grandchildren. 


Dr. Sandy Robinson


Sandra Robinson, Ph.D. serves as the Master Trainer and International Training Coordinator for the Champions Club Organization. For over 34 years she served as an educator, administrator, and school psychologist in the public school system. She has been the Director of Special Education in two different districts. She has taught teacher preparation courses at California State University, Riverside. Dr. Sandy has trained educators, administrators, and parents in the areas of positive behavior techniques (including crisis intervention), teaching and learning strategies, resilience training in the face of trauma and other mental health challenges, and Special Education law, policies, and procedures. 


Dr. Sandy wrote the first full-scale curriculum for Champions Club with Pastor Craig Johnson in 2014. She also co-authored the Champions Curriculum Home Edition in 2016. She has been married to Rob Robinson, the love of her life, for over 32 years. They have two amazing daughters. Both daughters are committed to helping Champions of all ages identify their God-given purpose and fulfill it. Rob and Sandy have two grandchildren.

Dr. Sharon Christman


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