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Do Your Giving While You’re Living

  • Linda Piepenbrink
  • May 8, 2024

Moody Bible Institute supporters Paul and Claire Hunter


For retired educators Paul Hunter and his wife, Claire Kurtgis-Hunter, Moody holds a special place in their heart—and in their estate planning—though they’ve never been to Moody Bible Institute.

Paul, 93, a former pastor and second-career teacher, discovered Moody Radio South Florida in the 1970s. On his drive home from teaching high school in Boca Raton, he always tuned into a program by Christian financial counselor Larry Burkett, whose biblical approach to handling money resonated with Paul.

“One thing he said that I use as a byword now: ‘If you’re givin’ while you’re livin’, then you’re knowing where it’s going,’” says Paul, who has given to Moody’s ministries ever since, even volunteering for Share at nearby WRMB.

Before becoming a teacher, Paul spent more than a decade pastoring and building churches, supplementing his ministry through various jobs, from factory work and selling insurance to selling dishes door to door. “I had two and three jobs most of my life,” he says.

Claire, 84, learned about Moody when she attended the first school founded by D. L. Moody—the Northfield School for Girls in Northfield, Massachusetts—from 1954 to ’58.

“I’ve always been very interested in anything Moody,” she says. “We always had Founder’s Day on campus and had daily chapel and Bible studies.”

In those days, all the girls had to work an hour a day. “That was part of Moody’s plan,” she says. “One summer I made 120 beds every day in the summer for the summer religious conferences.” She loved singing at annual sacred concerts in the same auditorium where Moody preached in the late 1800s.

Claire returned to teach at Northfield in 1967–68 before attending Oxford and teaching English, writing, and literature in various schools and universities.

“But I never heard the message of salvation until I was 33,” she says. Claire became a Christian after her dad’s secretary invited her young nieces to her church’s Awana program. They trusted Christ for salvation, and in a few years, she and her entire family received Christ as their Savior, including her six brothers.

Claire was the English Department chair at Westminster Academy, a Christian school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when she met Paul, who was a deacon at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and a widower. “Paul’s first wife, Elva, who passed away from cancer, had been in the choir at Coral Ridge with me,” Claire says. “She was an English teacher too!”

Claire was 50 years old when she and Paul married in November 1989 and bought a home in Boca Raton.

Paul and Claire shared a love for the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, where Claire had worked and Paul had also worked with his first wife and two children. In 1993 Paul and Claire were able to buy a foreclosed home in Nantucket on Mizzenmast Road, “with our very, very limited funds,” Claire says. “It was a miracle.” Paul named it “Mizzengift,” after “mizzen,” the third mast on a sailing ship, and “gift,” because they knew it was a gift from God.

The Hunters enjoyed the island vacation home for 29 years, showing hospitality to many guests each summer. But as it became harder to make the trek to Nantucket and manage two houses, they spoke with Doug Crisafulli, their Moody Stewardship representative. He asked them if they ever planned on selling the Nantucket house.

In 2022 they decided to sell the home, which had appreciated five or six times in value, and gift it to Moody. “Selling the house allowed us to set up a trust,” Claire says. With Doug’s assistance, they established the trust to provide six endowed scholarships for deserving undergraduate or graduate students who are pursuing Education, Pastoral Ministry, Aviation, TESOL, Communications, or Music. They created the Hunter “Mizzengift” Scholarship in their name.

The couple named the other scholarships after Paul’s daughter Suzanne, Claire’s aviator brother, Michael, her fellow teacher and friend Dorothy McQueen, and two Moody Stewardship reps over the years, Ken Senes and Doug Crisafulli. They’ll also bequeath their house in Boca Raton to Moody when they pass on.

“No second thoughts about the gift,” Paul says.

“Moody is inspiring because they are doing the things we want to do. Our desire is to help young people pursue work in missions, aviation, whatever it is for the Lord. And the Lord's making it possible.”

Claire agrees. “We are so thrilled that our investment is in living people who are dedicated to the Lord. That’s all we want. And because we were in education and ministry, we wanted to do that for students—especially those who are dedicating their lives in some fashion, with the gifts and talents that God has given to them, to His glory and to His purposes.”

About the Author

  • Linda Piepenbrink

Linda Piepenbrink is managing editor of Moody Alumni & Friends magazine and is a senior editor for Marketing Communications at Moody Bible Institute.