Inland Hills Church in California lost its lead pastor Andrew Stoecklein after he took his own life. 

His wife, Kayla, shared the devastating loss on Instagram saying her husband struggled with depression and anxiety.

In the heartbreaking tribute, Kayla shares her pain, shock and how devastating the journey through her husband’s depression was.

She writes, “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,” she said. 

Kayla goes on to apologize to her husband for the time he spent suffering in silence and expresses how she wishes he were still here so she could pray over him and comfort him.

She writes, “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.”

Pastor Andrew’s suicide is bringing attention to all the pressure on men and women in ministry.

CBN News had a chance to speak with Fernando Garzon, a clinical psychologist, and professor with Regent University, to talk about the tragic situation and the realities facing pastors.

“Pastors have a real challenge in a sense that they give so much to so many people and many times the standard of behavior and conduct for pastors is so much higher that they feel isolated,” Garzon said. “Who does a pastor go to when they want to talk about different situations? Who does a pastor share his heart with?”

He continued, “It is really the loneliness, the isolation that can happen in the ministry is something important for all churches to be aware of.” 

Professor Garzon said that churches and the community can be helpful to pastors by giving them a place and opportunity to “fill up” and receive encouragement.

“Allow the pastor to have a set of people that the pastor can really unload his heart to and share his burdens with,” he said. “And just let the pastor know that you care for him. Pastors are always giving – they need that encouragement.”

He continued, “Give them vacations, support their families, give them time with their families and alone time. They need a space to be themselves and to refresh and restore.”

Pastor Andrew left behind his wife and their three young children. The family asks for prayers during this difficult time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, reach out to your local church or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Written by: Kayla Root
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