Glowing tributes at service for Latin America’s beloved Christian broadcaster

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By Mark Ellis

flowers surround portrait

Family and friends gathered to pay tribute to Hermano Pablo (Paul Finkenbinder), the veteran broadcaster who led thousands to faith in Christ through his crusades and radio and television programs.

Paul’s joyous homecoming was January 27, 2012 at age 90. His memorial service, February 4th at Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, California, told the story of a man of  authenticity, who behaved the same publicly as he did privately, and treated servers waiting on his table with the same concern as heads of state.

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“He was the outstanding hero of my life,” said Pastor Danny de Leon, of  Templo Calvario. “I will never forget my times with him – they are dear to my heart.”

Granddaughter Jenny Kaneaster spoke about Paul’s priorities. “He cared more about people than material things,” she said. “What everyone saw at home was the same as he was publicly.”

Rev. Norm Mydske, with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, recalled traveling through Latin America with Paul. “He was a tremendous preacher whose skills were unequaled,” he noted. “Thousands came to Christ through the crusades.”

“What he was in the pulpit was what he was on Monday morning,” he continued. “He was totally and completely transparent. He didn’t have a dishonest bone in his body.”

His optimistic outlook on life touched Rev. John Bueno, the former executive director of the Assemblies of God. “One day I saw Paul and asked, ‘How are you?’

“If I was feeling any better I would levitate,” Paul replied.

Bueno reflected on the fact that Paul “levitated the other day,” when he went into the presence of the Lord he loved.

“There was no veil over his heart,” Bueno recalled. “Everything was out there. What a blessing to see into the depths of his heart.”

Rev. Scott Rachels, the lead pastor at Newport Mesa Christian Center, said he personally felt the measure of Paul’s love. “Like Jesus, he

Hermano Pablo

was able to love away from the crowds, at the personal level.” While Paul may have been a “rock star” in Latin America, he gave himself to service and involvement in his church.

The man who succeeded Paul at Hermano Pablo Ministries, Dr. Charles Ray Stewart, spoke about the challenge of following a legend. “I could never fill his shoes, but I can follow his footsteps,” he said.

Stewart translated one of Paul’s programs, entitled “Don’t Believe It,” recorded in 1968, when Paul was 46 years-old.

“Some day you will hear the news that Hermano Pablo has died,” Paul said in the broadcast. “All of us have to die. When that happens, don’t believe it.”

“It isn’t that someone has lied to you,” he continued. “In fact, my heart will have stopped beating. But my soul will be more alive than ever.”

Another one of Paul’s notable broadcasts, “My Aunt Eva’s Mansion,” told the story of Paul’s visit with his aunt and uncle in 1951, as she struggled with the advanced stages of cancer, which had spread throughout her body.

“One day I asked my uncle how she was able to cope so well with such an illness. ‘It’s as if she lives in another world, Pablo,’ he answered me. ‘She is seriously ill, and has constant pain, but never complains when we’re alone. Instead, what she has is a very vibrant and genuine hope.’

“So I asked him, ‘Is is that she believes she’s going to be healed?’

“Oh, no!” he answered me. ‘On the contrary, she knows that she’s going to die. Her hope consists in the other life. She’s kind of anxious to die: like someone who’s going on vacation, and can’t wait because it’s almost time to leave.’”

As Paul’s visit came to an end and he said goodbye to his aunt and uncle, suddenly Aunt Eva asked if she could sing.

“I have my mansion on the other side of the river,” she sang, “and my Jesus is waiting for me expectantly. So I’m not sad, although I keep suffering. Because I know that I’ll soon have my reward.”

Six months later, Aunt Eva departed for the dwelling place prepared for her. “My aunt died – that is she left, because for a person with such vibrant faith, it’s not a matter of dying, but of moving from one place to another.”

“We don’t have to be afraid of death,” Paul concluded. “On the contrary, we can wait for it expectantly. When Christ is in our hearts, and we are truly redeemed by Him, death is a step that leads to eternal life. Receive Christ as your Savior.”

The family has requested that donations in memory of Paul be given to: Hermano Pablo Ministries, PO Box 100, Costa Mesa, CA 92628

Do you want to know God personally? Consider these four steps to eternal life…