30-year-old Lead Pastor, Andrew Stoecklein of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, died by suicide on Saturday, August 25. According to The Christian Post, an announcement made by the church stated that Stoecklein had been battling with depression and anxiety.
An announcement posted to Facebook by the church on Sunday said, "Inland Hills Church grieves with heavy hearts as our Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein was welcomed into Heaven on Saturday night after battling depression and anxiety. It's not the outcome we hoped and prayed for, and today we grieve as a church family."
The announcement went on to say, "In his time leading Inland Hills, Andrew reached so many with his warm wit, passionate heart for God, and teaching that always, always pointed others to Jesus. The loving husband, father, son, and friend that he was will continue to inspire us in leading others into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ,"
On Friday the church posted on their Facebook page asking for prayers for Stoecklein saying, "IHC Family and friends, please pray for our lead pastor, Andrew Stoecklein. He tried to take his own life Friday morning, and is now in the hospital on life support. We love and serve a God of miracles, and we ask you to press in and respond in prayer and in faith. #godsgotthis."
Andrew Stoecklein had only recently returned to preaching at Inland Hills on Aug. 12 after taking a four month summer sabbatical to get better.
On his first Sunday back Stoecklein spoke fondly of his wife saying “it is not easy to be a pastor’s wife.” Stoecklein continued saying, “She sees all of the behind the scenes and especially through this journey that’s been really difficult. I have not been a very fun and easy person to live with."
Stoecklein’s wife Kayla joined him on stage for the sermon. She explained in the sermon that the last 7 years of their marriage could all be summed up by one word, “unexpected.” The pair experienced the death of the late pastor’s father and his own recent health complications.
Kayla Stoecklein continued saying, "You guys, he loves this place so much. He didn't want to stop. He would have kept on going, going and going and going. It probably would have cost him his life. That's how much he loves this place."
"During this season of rest," she said, "I've asked him over and over. Are you sure? You don't have to be a pastor. You could go be whatever you want to be. You could go live wherever we wanna live we could go to Texas and buy a big house."
She continued, “But every time I tried to talk him out of it he reminded me that he’s committed to his calling and he feels so strongly and passionately that this is what he was created to do.”
“I can’t disagree with him,” she said in agreement.
In the churches announcement about the pastor's passing, they encouraged others who are hurting to reach out for help.
The statement read, "In this tragedy, we encourage anyone who is hurting emotionally to ask for help. If you or anyone else is struggling, the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is a potentially life-saving resource.”
The announcement ended saying, "May we be a beacon of hope for the community, to rescue the hurting and honor the God that Andrew served so well. Andrew, we love you. And we always will. #godsgotthis #inlandhills.”
Andrew Stoecklein leaves behind his wife, Kayla, and their three sons.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Aaron Burden