I met Paul and Annie Kienel in 1988 at the legendary Southern California Teacher Convention held at the Anaheim Convention Center. I greaty admired him because of his writings in Christian School Comment, which I translated to Spanish for my fellow teachers at the national member school in Guatemala (Instituto Evangélico América Latina) where my wife Sheny and I served as Bible teachers. He and the founder of our school (Virgil Zapata) were classmates at Bob Jones University. Later we learned that when the school was late in renewing membership, Paul paid out of his own pocket for its membership fee. He did the same thing for the Juan Bueno schools in El Salvador, another classmate at BJU.
Later in 1990 I was invited to serve as regional director of the first ACSI global office after the call of Phil Renicks. As Executive Director, Paul gave his blessing to this risky move to open an ACSI office overseas. He came to speak at our convention and dared to hold board and executive staff meetings in 1993 for the first time outside of North America, bringing over 70 board members, regional and executive directors and their spouses to Antigua Guatemala.
In that occasion, Paul and John Schimmer stayed at our home a few days after to develop a "missionary project". They built and installed, with their own hands and very rudimentary tools, the wood doors for a rural elementary school, fixing several wood desks as well.
Just as others, I give witness of Paul's gift of encouragement and his peculiar sense of humor. I'm going to miss being lifted up by his words and minutes later be knocked down by a funny stroke of reality check about me.
I am privileged to have found a place to serve at an organization that Paul Kienel co-founded and shaped during its early years. Let's commit to be faithful to the vision that inspired him to bring us all together. We will honor his legacy by continue serving the worthy cause of Christian school education around the world!
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