Iris Scheel was a missionary in Kenya with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada for the 51 years. She was a leader in Christian education and curriculum development in Kenya.
Iris Marie Scheel whose nickname is “Scheeli” was a Canadian by birth whose grandparents immigrated to Canada from Germany in the 1890s. Born on May 30, 1925, she was the eighth of eleven children born to Ernest and Martha Ullary Scheel in the town of Arnprior, western Ontario.
Her parents were godly and active in Arnprior Pentecostal church as she grew up. She was saved and spirit-filled when she was nine years old in a Sunday evening service in 1935. Iris felt called as a young child to be a missionary.
She went to Primary School and High School in Arnprior and later to a Teacher’s College in Ottawa, graduating in 1948. While teaching in Toronto, she felt God’s call afresh, resigned from teaching and went to a Bible College (CBC) operated by the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri. During her two years there, she applied to serve in Kenya. As a result, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) Missions Department in Toronto commissioned her and sent her to Kenya as a licensed Ministerial Missionary. In Kenya she learned to speak Kiswahili and Kimaragoli.
In 1954 Iris opened the Goibei Girls High School in Kenya and in 1958 she started the first Youth Camp of All Kenya Churches. In 1960 Scheel handed over the leadership of the Goibei Girls High School but continued working as Christian Education (CED) Director training leaders in Childrens’ Ministries in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania from 1960 to 1978. In the 1970s she started Christian Ambasadors In Mission (CAIM) Outreaches, an outreach organization for young people in East Africa.
Iris returned to CBC on several occasions and graduated with a B.A. in Missiology in 1960, a B.A. in Religious Education in 1972 and an M.A. in Christian Education in 1977.
In 1970, Iris started the Christian Education Center at Goibei Mission station, built in memory of her younger brother Arden Scheel, who died of brain cancer in 1969. The building project included a new Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church, a large open air amphitheater, and a Christian Education Training Center. In May 1982, when the ministry of education challenged the Protestant Churches’ Educational Association to prepare an in-service program for Christian Religious Education (CRE), Iris founded Christian Religious Education Awareness of Teachers (CREATE) of which she was the director. Since the government had no facilities, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Kenya, offered the Goibei Christian Education Center for this purpose. CREATE teaches Christian curriculum development and has a teacher training program which integrates Christian studies into all classes. To date, over 2500 teachers have graduated from CREATE in 46 classes.
As the CRE Advisor for the Pentecostal Assemblies of God from 1970 to 1982 and CRE National Panel member, Iris designed curriculum for Christian Education and textbooks for Protestant instruction in Kenyan Primary and Secondary schools. In addition, she taught on a part-time basis at the Pentecostal Bible College, Nyang’ori, Kisumu from 1958 to 1993.
In 1980, Iris started the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Missions Department in collaboration with the General Executive and in 1981 she became the director of the first School of Missions in Goibei. After doing surveys of unreached people in Kenya from 1981 to 1989, local missionaries (14 families in all) were deployed in these areas, in particular, northeastern Kenya among Muslim tribal groups.
Scheel received a Doctor of Ministries Degree (D.Min.) from Canada Christian College School of Graduate Studies. She passed away peacefully in the Grove Nursing Home in her home town of Arnprior on Monday, July 14, 2014. She was in her 90th year.
G. Gloria Kullbeck, What God Hath Wrought: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, 1958.
Gerald Morrison, The Resources Magazine, PAOC Canada, 1997.
H. L. Caleb Muduya, The Urgency of the Hour, Nairobi, Kenya, 1998.
A. Erna Peters, The Contributions to Education by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, 1970, 141-142.
Anki Sandqvist, The Pentecostal Testimony - Canada, July 1993: 6-7, 23-25.
Robert Skinner, The Pentecostal Testimony - Canada July 1993: 4-5.
Ottawa Citizen, online. Obituary at www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?pid=171733841#sthash.7nRr3BDt.dpuf. Accessed April 10, 2017.
Additional reading: Iris Scheel, Christian Ambassador’s Handbook, Evangel Publishing House.
——–, “Step by Step Lulagoli Grammar,” unpublished, approved by the Lulagoli Orthography Committee.
This story, submitted in 2000, was researched by Dr. Francis Manana, Professor of Evangelism and Missions and DACB Liaison Coordinator, Pan African Christian College, Nairobi, Kenya. It was updated in 2017 by DACB Project Manager Michele Sigg.