By Mark Canady, District Representative, Western District
The church building in Hillside, Oregon, was never going to last! Just days ago, the Hillside Bible Church fire destroyed the building.
A Historic Building
Don’t get me wrong! It was an amazing building, built through the hard labor of men and women in the early 1880’s and finished in 1884. Many people had worked on and cared for the building for 134 years.
Many years ago, someone stole the red church bell from the belfry as a college prank; several years later, someone discovered and returned it. For the past 19 years the building has been cared for like no other time in its history as Village Missionaries Tim and Bonnie Goold have served there. Yes, the building has been cared for, but–more than that–the Church body has been loved on, lives built into, people saved by the grand and glorious Gospel, God’s Word preached and taught and the growth has been amazing!
Hillside Church Fire Strikes
But the building wasn’t going to last. It could not survive the fire.
As District Representatives for Village Missions, we found this to be one of our harder trips to take. A board member from Hillside Bible Church called to let us know that their Pastor desperately needed his Pastor.
I’ve known Tim since we were both young boys. Our folks both served as Village Missionaries in communities not too far apart. I do not recall Tim ever more broken or crushed. When we first arrived, we could only hug each other and cry. Then, as time passed, we listened, cried some more and prayed together.
Discoveries After Hillside Church Fire
I stood by the fading flames and smoke of the fire that consumed the building that housed Hillside Bible Church for 134 years. One man approached me and said, “I attended Vacation Bible School here when I was 9 years old…I think in 1950.”
Another man approached me and said, “This building has many memories. Our family settled up there on the hill in 1883.” His family had watched this church building being built.
But the building was never going to last. It couldn’t. It was built of wood and stubble, nails and drywall, hand hewn lumber and even some iron work. None of this could survive the fire that started on June 9, 2018.
The building didn’t last, but the church has!
As the fire was dying down, I noticed a group of firemen deliberately trying recover something from the ashes. It looked as if they felt something needed to be saved from the destructive flames. Firefighters will understand this common action. Like the beams from the Twin Towers that had formed a cross, firefighters often search for something that represents hope.
These firemen were trying to recover the old church bell. This church bell has always been painted red. No one could remember it being any other color, but the fire burnt away all of coats of red paint and the words “Jesus Lives” were revealed. These words may have been hidden under the paint for 134 years.
Recovering from the Hillside Bible Church Fire
The building didn’t last, but the Church has! The morning after the fire the Hillside Bible Church website posted:
“As many of you may already know, our building has nearly burnt down today, 06/09/2018. We are truly blessed that no one was injured or in the building at the time. Even though our building has gone, our church family is still alive and well and are very excited to see what God has in store for us. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good! For His mercy endures forever. ~ Psalms 136:1”
This was the verse of the week posted on the church sign, before the fire. It was true before the fire and is still true after the flames!
Jesus said, “…I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18b)