A widow has posted a touching tribute on social media this week, just days after her husband, a Southern California pastor, reportedly took his own life — a tragedy that has shaken his church community.
Andrew Stoecklein, 30, lead pastor of the Inland Hills Church in Chino, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, had recently returned to his church duties after time away to deal with depression and anxiety, the Christian Post reported.
Chino police said they were called to the church last Friday after Stoecklein made a suicide attempt inside the church, the Post reported. The pastor eventually succeeded in taking his own life the next day, the report said, but police would not disclose the specifics of what happened.
The pastor’s death shocked members of the police department because several officers were members of his church, Tamrin Olden, crime prevention supervisor with the Chino Police Department, told the Post.
“He truly made me better, made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, and he loved me so deeply.”
Earlier this week, Kayla Stoecklein posted her tribute to her husband, who was the father of three boys.
“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,” she wrote. ” … he is now in heaven with his dad, free pain, free of depression and anxiety.”
Stoecklein’s father died from cancer in 2015, the Post reported.
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
A post shared by Kayla Stoecklein
Fernando Garzon, a clinical psychologist, told CBN News about the pressures pastors could face.
“Pastors have a real challenge in a sense that they give so much to so many people,” he said, “and many times the standard of behavior and conduct for pastors is so much higher that they feel isolated.”
Other members of the church also posted online messages after learning of the pastor’s death.
“Andrew was an amazing pastor and even better father, husband and friend,” congregant Shakella Washington wrote on the church’s Facebook page. “He adored his wife and his boys. He loved his church family.”
The church has created a GoFundMe page for the pastor’s family.