The impact of Suicide, even within our churches today!
Reports have emerged that Pastor Bill Lenz who was founder and longtime senior pastor of Christ the Rock Community Church in Harrison, WI died Monday by committing Suicide. Bill was a strong advocate within the Christian community for Suicide Prevention, and along with his brother created Life Promotions, that ministers and teaches folks about Suicide Prevention and how to recover from those thoughts.
Reports that I have read have stated that Pastor Lenz reported suffering with Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Depression for about three months, and his staff and board responded by providing support and encouragement including giving him time to seek counseling and treatment. However, the depression became overwhelming and on Monday, he chose to take his own life. My prayers are with his family, friends, staff, and members of his church. Having provided Suicide Prevention training to staff members at churches and other organizations I am not sure what could have been done differently, and I will never point fingers. I have concluded the one key that will help is providing a RAFT for Suicide Prevention! Every staff member in every church needs to be trained in Suicide Prevention; there are dozens of appropriate trainings out there both Christian based and secular.
Sadly, I can already hear the theology debate “Is he in Heaven or Hell?” After 38 years of ministry and working in the counseling field for 25 of those years my answer is always the same! “God knows the individuals heart at the moment he stepped into eternity, and I’m not God.”
I am going to be blunt, willing and ready for the critics when they come. I’m so tired of these egotistic, legalistic, self-proclaimed theologians and pastors that can without hesitation say this person is in hell because they made a bad choice in the moment of depression.
Suicide is a horrible tragedy that is sweeping the country. However, there are things we can do both before for the individual makes that choice, and after the fact for the survivors!
Before the events: We can provide a RAFT for Suicide Prevention when we suspect something is going on!
· Reach out to them
· Ask them the tough question (Are you thinking about killing yourself?)
· Focus on solutions
· Transfer them to additional help
After the event: What do we do for the Survivors?
· Be supportive and encouraging!
· Focus only on the good points of the individuals life
· Pray with them for their own peace of mind
· Assure them that God knew their heart!
In conclusion to this thought!
Having been around great Christian believers with more faith than I can ever imagine, knowing their testimony and their BATTLE with Depression and Anxiety I realize that this is not an isolated instance. This can happen in my church, to my friends, and what is even scarier in the right circumstances it could happen to me. If you are struggling today, please find your friends, family, and professionals that can provide that RAFT!
The original post I read at Christian Post today 12/8/17 …https://www.christianpost.com/news/bill-lenz-pastor-who-dedicated-ministry-to-suicide-prevention-takes-own-life-209137/