Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lord, You Are Our Dwelling Place

Cory Rintala My good friend, Cory Rintala, has had amazing opportunities this week to get some press for the church he shepherds up in the northwoods of Minnesota. This church in Ray, Minnesota is about as far north as you can get in Minnesota and still be in the United States (just 20 miles southeast of International Falls). I mean when there's only 4.6 people per square mile in the county, you've gotta imagine that outreach activies must be pretty difficult logistically! These press opportunities that he got this week could have also gave him the chance to stand in the spotlight and ask for help and put the attention on himself. But Cory wouldn't do that. Instead, Cory gave the glory to God and testifies with the Apostle Paul, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."

On Wednesday morning this last week when his friend took this picture, Cory didn't envision the kind of press he was about to get the next morning.

Cory went to bed Wednesday night to the soothing sounds of rain with occasional thunder and lightning. He had no idea what God had in store for him in the days to come. You see, the press that he got this week is not the kind of press you hope to get! Granted, this press was not disparaging press about him or his church, but it's still not the kind of thing you look forward to going through.

Someone driving by around midnight saw the building engulfed in flames. They knocked on the door of Matt Hartzler who contacted the fire department. Matt caught this amazing picture of the fire:

The fire utterly destroyed the building. Everything the church owned, files, furniture, computers, projector, hymnals, pews, books, curriculum, etc. all was consumed. Cory had just moved a good majority of his library into the church office. No one could've imagined.

The next day, Cory's friend captured this image of Cory in front of the building:

In talking with Cory, I could tell that he was under a great deal of stress, but yet I could tell even then that God's grace was working in him and was going to use him mightily in this situation.

Of course, the incident caught the attention of the press. The Star Tribune in Minneapolis posted a brief article about the fire, but the International Falls' Daily Journal provided much more information. The first of Cory's statement's to the Journal that caught my attention was this:

"A church is its people, not the building," said the Rev. Cory Rintala who began serving the church in April 2006. "We will go forward with a hopeful rather than despairing attitude. Of course, we still sorrow."

What a great testimony. Jesus taught that the church He would build was going to be intangible: "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'" Way before this ever happened, Cory had his thoughts focused correctly when he put this verse up on their church website: Psalm 90:1 Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

The second testimony of Cory that really was fantastic was this:

"We all know and believe that God is in control through all events," said Rintala. "If we can trust him with our eternal destiny, we can trust him with our buildings."

So true, Cory. Thank you for your witness to God's grace and sovereignty! Please pray for Cory and all of the town. This Sunday they will be meeting in the old building which this church originally split from. Cory is hoping that this tragedy will provide opportunities to mend and for growth.


Jim Peet said...


If you could post an address, some might like to send a check to help out.


Jim Peet said...

I just talked with Cory. Here is the address:

Northwoods Bible Church
2119 Highway 217
Ray MN 56669

Paul Fuller said...

Thanks, Jim!