By Emily Jones
Aug 27, 2018
Note from Pastor Kevin Lea: I know nothing of this pastor, his church, family, or life. But I can join with millions of others in grieving for those who are affected by Pastor Andrew’s suicide. In this handout I have included: the news article from CBN, Pastor Jack Hibbs’ (Calvary Chapel Chino Hills) thoughts that he posted on his facebook page when he heard of a “man down”, and a letter posted by Andrew’s wife, Kayla, describing what she would say to Andrew if she could.
I am not endorsing all that is said here, especially as it pertains to Kayla’s letter (written in a time of unimaginable grief), but I think all of us can let the Holy Spirit speak to our heart about the what ifs in our own lives as we ponder what these people have written.
On a personal level, I would also like to make clear that I am thankful to Jesus for the opportunity and privilege to serve the church (Jesus’ sheep) in these last days before His return. It is true that the calling of Pastor is not always a bed of roses, and sometimes brings great emotional suffering for various reasons that the sheep seldom realize or understand. However, these things are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall soon follow this life, when all the tears are wiped away by our precious Savior (Romans 8:18-19, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, Revelation 21:3-4).
Do love and pray for your pastor and his family, whoever that may be, now or in the future. You will regret not doing so as you mature in your walk with Jesus, or when he is no longer around. The same can be said about your spouse, children, fellow believer in your church, work place, etc. (Philemon 4-7)
A California church is grieving after their pastor committed suicide over the weekend.
Inland Hills Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein died in the hospital Saturday after trying taking his own life Friday. The pastor left behind three young children and his wife.
“Last night, the love of my life, the father of my children and the pastor of our incredible church took his last breath and went to be with Jesus,” his wife Kayla wrote on her Instagram.
She said Stoecklein suffered from depression and anxiety.
“It wasn’t the miracle I was hoping for but he is now in heaven with his dad,” she said. “He was an amazing husband, he truly made me better, made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, and he loved me so deeply.”
“Please pray for me and the boys. I don’t know how I am going to face this, I am completely heartbroken, lost, and empty. Never in a million years would I have imagined this would be the end of his story,” Stoecklein continued.
She also encouraged anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts to get help immediately.
Stoecklein’s death has received a lot of attention online, including from fellow pastors who say they too struggle with mental health.
“I don’t know Pastor Andrew and I’m not familiar with this church,” Scott Graham, Pastor at Real Life Church of Kankakee, Illinois wrote on Facebook. “I’m sorry that he felt this way. Pastoring is hard and very lonely at times. It’s hard to have genuine friends that you can be honest to without fear of being judged. My family and my church will be lifting up Inland Hills Church and Pastor Andrew’s family.”
Christ Church of Orlando Lead Pastor Paul Valo weighed in on his Facebook page.
“Depression is real and pastors are not exempt or defective who experience it,” he said. “In this generation, pastors are expected to be business savvy, Instagram quotable preaching celebrities, fully accessible, deeply spiritual, not too young, not too old, and if a pastor doesn’t quite measure up to someone’s expectation at any given moment, they are given a two out of five star rating on Google. Wow! We have reduced the ministry to star ratings on Google! Let me recommend that you pray for your pastor and support your church faithfully! You’ll probably never realize what they walk through privately. ”
Another pastor said he is praying for everyone Stoecklein leaves behind.
“I do not know this church, it’s constituents, or pastor; however, I am a Christian, a Pastor, husband, and father…my prayer, condolences, and love go out to the family left, the church left, and the close friends – all who tried to assist this heart – I wish I could just hold you all. I can’t, but God is,” said Jeff Burrell, lead pastor at Kilough Church.
Funeral plans have yet to be announced.
Thoughts from Pastor Jack Hibbs about Stoecklein’s Suicide
August 25, 2018
“MAN DOWN” – – are a couple of words that no one ever wants to hear. Very few Christians will understand what I’m about to say, not because they can’t, but because they’re not a pastor. Last night I received word (which has now been made public) that one of our local senior pastors attempted suicide and is now on life support.
Many are in the ministry and many are in the pulpit, but for those men who are called to be a pastor, they are called to an impossible task. For all of us, life is hard enough, but if you are a pastor who is called to care for the souls of others – that load can oftentimes feel unbearable.
Pastors are required to maintain the spiritual health and well-being of themselves, their wives and children and those of the flock that the Lord has given them. This, by design is hard. Yet the Lord is faithful and will never yoke us to anything that He will not supply the power for.
Even Paul himself had many times reached the place of deep discouragement and had often requested prayer. In this day of overwhelming complexity and pressure, how much more ought the flock to be praying hard for those who “rule over them for their own soul’s sake”? Pastors have been divinely called to live for others, but that comes at a great cost as we are often tempted in areas that others are not exposed to.
Satan hates pastors and he never stops his attacks. If the Christian survives daily by God’s grace, a pastor’s life requires even greater grace. Remember, pastors are sheep as well and are in need of love and prayerful support. In this day and age, few pastors make it to the end. Many leave the ministry due to the fact that they can’t make ends meet. Others leave because the price the family must pay is just too much. Many fall to pornography and sexual scandal, oddly enough, not for the desire for sex, but out of loneliness. It’s been said to pastors: “Whether you are criticized or glorified, know this, you are not as bad as they say you are and you are not as great as they say you are.”
Dear flock, wherever you may be, I want to encourage you to be a blessing to “those who must give account for your souls in the day of Jesus Christ”. If you would pray for your pastor more than criticize him, it will be better for you in the end. If he is called, then you should feel safe under his authority. If he is called you should be spiritually growing and becoming more and more healthy in your walk with Jesus.
Please pray earnestly for this particular man, his family, his wife, his little boys and his flock. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Pastor’s Wife Pens Heartbreaking Public Message After His Suicide: ‘These Are the Words I Would Say to Him’
August 28, 2018
To My Andrew,
It’s only been 3 days. Nothing can take away the suffocating pain I feel now you are gone. I miss every part of you, I see you everywhere. I replay the events of that fateful day over and over again in my mind wishing I could have done things differently. Wishing I could have held your hand one more time and prayed over you and told you how much I love you, how much I believe in you, and how God’s got this too.
You were right all along, I truly didn’t understand the depths of your depression and anxiety. I didn’t understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were. The pain, the fear, and the turmoil you must have been dealing with every single day is unimaginable. The enemy knew what an amazing man you were. The enemy knew God had huge plans for your life. The enemy saw how God was using your gifts, abilities, and unique teaching style to reach thousands of lives for Him. The enemy hated it and he pursued you incessantly. Taunting you and torturing you in ways that you were unable to express to anyone.
Andrew I want to tell you from the depths of my heart and my pain I am so sorry.
I am so sorry you were so scared,
I am so sorry you felt so alone,
I am so sorry you felt misunderstood,
I am so sorry you felt betrayed and deeply hurt by the words and actions of others,
I am so sorry you were fighting a dark spiritual war virtually alone,
I am so sorry you were unable to fully get the help and support you needed.
I wish I had one more chance to hold you and cry with you and encourage you. I wish you could see the outpouring of love from people all over the world who have been impacted by your story. I wish you could hold your boys one more time and tell them goodbye. I wish we could go on one more trip together, just the two of us. I am not ready to say goodbye. I am so madly and deeply in love with you.
Every part of me longs to be with you. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t function and I feel so lost without you. You were my life. I was so proud to be your wife Andrew. I was so proud to sit in the front row and watch you in your sweet spot on stage. I was always so amazed by you, every single day. You could do anything you set your mind to! You were handy, you made every home we lived in look beautiful inside and out. You were creative, you were funny, you were thoughtful, you were passionate, you had vision, you had charisma, and you were so special. You are irreplaceable Andrew. There will never be another man like you.
I want to tell you that I am never going to stop fighting for you. I will continue to tell our community and our world what an amazing man you were. Your name will be honored and you will be remembered as a hero. You fought the good fight, and I can only imagine the incredible place God had prepared for you when you walked through the gates of heaven.
I can only imagine what it must have felt like to see your dad again, healthy and strong. I can only imagine how much joy you must feel now that you are truly free. I wish I could be there with you, celebrating on the streets of gold. But for now, I will continue to live for you. I will raise our boys to be men of God, just like you were. Your name will live on in a powerful way. Your story has the power to save lives, change lives, and transform the way the Church supports pastors.
I love you so much and I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life. When I think of you I will smile, knowing that I will see you again one day. Thank you for 10 wonderful years together. Thank you for giving me the gift of three beautiful blue eyed boys who all resemble you. Thank you for choosing me, for believing in me, and for showing me how to live fearlessly.
Until we meet again I will cling to my Father in heaven. He will carry me through every second, every minute, every hour of every day. I read a verse this morning and I know God is reminding me that even now, in the midst of my deepest pain that He has got this.
“Because you are close to me and always available my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.” Psalm 16:8 The Passion Translation (TPT)
With all my heart and all my love,
Posted on 28 August, 2018