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World News

'Heartbroken beyond belief': Family devastated following US megachurch pastor's suicide

The family of a megachurch pastor who died by suicide on Thursday have spoken out about their grief. Pastor Darrin Patrick of South Carolina's Seacost Church reportedly shot himself while at a gun range with a friend. He was 49. 

Patrick, who was the founder and former leader of Missouri-based "The Journey" church, had written several books and was a recognisable figure in the evagelical world. He was also a vice-president of the Acts 29 Network and a council member of The Gospel Coalition. In 2016, he was removed from his ministry position over "pastoral misconduct" and a "historical pattern of sin." He underwent an extensive restoration process and latterly became involved in helping other pastors deal with their emotional issues.

Yesterday, Darrin's wife Amie posted a message to his Instagram page, writing: "We will never be able to say thank you enough for the outpouring of support my family is receiving during this devastating time. We are heartbroken beyond belief, terribly confused, and missing Darrin in ways that feel unbearable. Your kind remembrances of him, photos, stories, and encouraging words are healing to our souls.

"Darrin was the rock of our family, the great love of my life, and a fiercely devoted father to our amazing children. He was a dynamic force of nature, deeply passionate and so, so fun. Mostly though, he loved God and people in ways that will challenge me for the rest of my days. And he loved me so well.... I learned so much about how God loves me through the ways that my husband saw me, knew me, and cared for me. We will be a mess for a good while, but we will be ok. We grieve deeply with unwavering hope that this world is not the end and that we will see our Darrin again. Please see Seacoast.org for more on Darrin and ways to support our family. Thank you."

Seacoast announced the the pastor's untimely passing with a message: “We are saddened to announce the sudden passing of Pastor Darrin Patrick.

"Darrin was a loved member of the Seacoast family, the teaching team, and pastoral staff and we are mourning his loss. Darrin had a gift for teaching the Word and a heart for encouraging other pastors. God allowed Seacoast to be a part of Darrin’s story in a time when he needed a family. He was a gift to us and we are thankful for the time the Lord gave him to us. His influence and impact cannot be measured. We are surrounding the Patrick family with our prayers and support during this time.”

The church confirmed Patrick's cause of death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound, writing: “Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected. On behalf of the family we would ask that their privacy be respected during this time.”

The Journey said it was "heartbroken at this devastating news," noting that Darrin "had an eternal impact on the lives of countless individuals at The Journey church and beyond".

It added: "Since the time The Journey was planted, God faithfully used Darrin, his life, and his ministry to impact others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Through the calling on Darrin’s life, there are thousands who know Jesus and thousands more who have been strengthened in their walk with the Lord because of Darrin’s ministry.

"For many of us who experienced deep transformation because of Darrin, his passing weighs very heavily and personally on our hearts. We can honestly say that we see Jesus more clearly, worship him more fully, and treasure His grace more deeply because of Darrin’s impact.

"Therefore, this day – and the days ahead – we grieve. We grieve the loss of our dear brother and founding pastor. We grieve the overwhelming pain felt and experienced by his family. We grieve because this is not how it’s supposed to be. 

"But alongside our grief, because Darrin was a son of God, we also hold onto hope. We grieve with hope because God promises to be near and to bring comfort to the brokenhearted. We grieve with hope because this painful, tragic moment is not the summation of the story we are in – for God promises to one day make all things right and new. 

"So let us commit to praying for Amie and their children. Let's commit to continuing to be the church as we seek to provide care and support to one another in our time of mourning. May we individually and collectively as The Journey church feel this loss deeply."

Following the death of California pastor Jarrid Wilson by suicide last year, Pastor Patrick wrote on Instagram: "Another pastor @jarridwilson committed suicide. Please pray for and encourage your pastors they always need it!"

In response to Derrin's death, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Pastor J.D. Greear, said he was "mourning the loss" of a "friend and fellow pastor."

"Darrin was such an encourager to me over the years. Sat at my table. Preached at our church," Greear added. "We know grief of Amie and family must seem unbearable. We love you and are praying for you."

If you've been affected by this story please call Premier Lifeline on 0300 111 0101.

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