Easter Sunday service had a particularly special meaning for one church congregation in Medford. The New Life Apostolic Church held its first Easter service in their new building since their previous one burned down in August of 2012.
"Well I remember getting a call at 6:30 in the morning and it was just like, you think to yourself and say it can't be happening," New Life member, Julie Johnson said. "It was disheartening."
"I drove down and of course my heart was broken. I couldn't believe the building was on fire. I didn't know what we were going to do...I just had to pray," said New Life Head Pastor, Ron Schuenke. "All I know is at that moment, God told me that it was going to be alright and I felt good that night even before I left."
Fire crews declared the cause undetermined, but there is evidence of a lightning strike. The building was a total loss, but Schuenke said in his sermon Sunday, it was a blessing in disguise.
"There was a death of an old building, an old tabernacle. There was a burial when it got knocked down and there was a resurrection when we were receiving this building! Amen," he exclaimed.
"God isn't just a building, God is everywhere," said Johnson. "We the people, we are the church, we are the church."
Another member, Darrell Schillinger was involved in a lot of the clean up of the old church. He said they found scriptures inside the drywall of the only standing wall there. There was also a box of Pastor Schuenke's notes and other irreplaceable items untouched by the flames because of baptismal robes that fell over it during the blaze.
"His word tells us I will be with thee wherever thou goest. And we come through that and through the ash and rubbles like that, we have this awesome greatness," Schillinger said. "God, one of His promises is that He will be with us."
The new church was completed last May. Schuenke said it's a miracle they even have a church, as they spent absolutely nothing to rebuild it. Their insurance company, Church Mutual Insurance in Merrill, covered the building replacement. Their contractors, Legacy Builders located in Wausau said they would pay any difference not covered by insurance.
Schuenke said, since they were so blessed by all that happened, the church decided to only allow new things into the new building, everything down to the tools they use and the tool box those tools sit in. He said this New Life Church now has a new life of its own.
"Since we came into the building there's like a new life inside of our people that's just growing and exceeding," he said.
Service is held on Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. if you would like to join in their worship.
Below is their address and phone number:
824 E. Perkins St.
Medford, WI 54451
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