A California church is grieving after their pastor committed suicide over the weekend.
Inland Hills Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein died Saturday after taking his own life. 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.
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. It wasn’t the miracle I was hoping for but he is now in heaven with his dad, free of pain, free of depression and anxiety. . 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. We fit so well together, we were one. He was an amazing daddy, his three boys are going to miss him so much. He had such a unique and special relationship with each of them. He was an incredibly gifted teacher, communicator, and pastor. He was special, one of a kind and will be missed by thousands of people all around the world. . 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. . If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please tell someone. Please make sure you’re not alone, and please call a friend or family member before you make that irreversible decision. You are loved and valued more than you know! #godsgotthis
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 savey, 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.