The life of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein was remembered Saturday, September 8, 2018 at Cal Baptist University in Riverside, California. There is only one way to summarize the message of the funeral: There is reason to grieve, but also reason to hope.
The Stoecklein family clung to the phrase “God’s got this” as their patriarch, David Stoecklein, passed away from leukemia three short years ago. Now, as they said goodbye to Andrew, the Stoecklein’s oldest son, they are clinging to it still.
The service included memories of Andrew, his favorite worship songs, and a whole lot of encouragement.
The Most Powerful Moment of the Andrew Stoecklein Funeral
Arguably the most powerful moment of the service was spoken by Andrew himself. A clip was shown of him preaching at Inland Hills Church, the church his father and mother founded in Chino Hills, California. Andrew was speaking about the passage 1 Thessalonians 4:13, which reads:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
Andrew explains that the writers of the letter want people to know that they don’t have to grieve as if there is no hope. He said the verse was comforting to him when his father passed away. Now, others in his family are drawing comfort from it. You can watch the powerful clip below (watch 50:55-52:20)
Members of Andrew’s immediate family shared about who he was and what he meant to them. They painted a picture of a loving older brother, a devoted husband and father, a loyal son, and more than anything, a gifted man with so much potential. Andrew’s younger brother summed up their feelings standing there before hundreds people who either knew Andrew personally or had only just learned about him. “We stand up here broken, but we still say God’s got this,” Austin Stoecklein said.
Family Members Addressed Andrew’s Mental Illness
Andrew’s suicide attempt took them all by surprise. Andrew’s mother, Carol, used the phrase “so sudden” repeatedly. Kayla, Andrew’s wife, wrote in a blog post “It all happened so fast. You were just diagnosed in April with Depression and in August you are gone? We didn’t have enough time!”
In the service, Kayla appealed to those struggling with mental illness to talk to someone about it.
“If there is one encouragement I can leave you with today it’s don’t give up. If you are struggling, tell someone, tell them everything, don’t worry about them judging you for it. The enemy wants you to feel isolated, the enemy wants you to feel unloved and worthless. I am here to tell you that you are loved and valued more than you could ever imagine and God has a great plan for your life no matter who you are, no matter your past, God’s Got you, God’s Got This, and God can do impossible things,” Kayla said.
“I am so proud of him,” Carol said when it was her turn to speak. And, she emphasized, she will continue being proud of him in so many ways. She, too, talked about the illness that was “so sudden, so excruciating, so permanent.” Carol believes they could have found a solution for Andrew’s depression if they had had more time. “We feel like we could have figured it out; we could have got there, and yet this happened,” she said.
There are so many different kinds of mental illness, she pointed out. There is much we don’t know and it is “so overwhelming and so confusing.” Then she appealed to the church when she said, “We need to work on this more together.”