Another good family experiences tragedy…

Hunter FamilyPlease pray for Joel and Becky Hunter, their daughter in-law, grandchildren, and extended family. Pastor Hunter’s son Isaac was found dead on Tuesday of an apparent suicide. He leaves behind his wife and three children.

Our team had the opportunity to train at Northland on two separate occasions. I had the honor of meeting Pastor Hunter when I joined our team for an event at the church, and heard him teach on several occasions while traveling to Florida on vacation. His church developed a remarkable disability ministry thanks to the contributions of Laura Lee Wright and many others.

os-isaac-hunter-summit-church-scandal-20121129-001Isaac Hunter’s tragic death was the second such incident in the last nine months to impact the family of a senior leader from a church that champions the inclusion of kids and families with disabilities. Last April, Rick and Kay Warren from Saddleback Church experienced the loss of their son Matthew from suicide.

As was the case with the Warren family, we can be grateful that Isaac knew and loved Jesus. Here’s a passage from a statement from Northland’s worship pastor Vernon Rainwater…

By now you may have heard that Pastor Joel and Becky’s son Isaac Hunter died today. All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we’re feeling.

We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this … Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven (Romans 8:38-39).

I’m thinking the same thoughts I had following Matthew Warren’s death…

  • Growing up in a family with deep faith in God or professing faith in Christ is no guarantee of being spared of the pain and suffering of mental illness.
  • Suicide kills three times more 15-24 year olds than cancer, yet we don’t see football players wearing special gear or referees with pink flags drawing attention to the cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. among persons ages 10-24, and the second leading cause of death (behind only motor vehicle accidents) in 25-34 year olds. Kids and young adults die from mental illness, and sometimes the best psychiatrists and therapists can’t do much about it.
  • Given what we know about the lethality of mental illness in teens and young adults, it is absolutely essential for the church to make every possible effort to introduce those at risk to Jesus Christ and invite them to be part of a family of faith (like the community that exists at Northland and Saddleback). I’d pray that the people of Northland Church, along with the people of Summit Church (where Isaac at one time served on staff) …to honor Isaac’s memory by radically expanding their efforts to share the love of Christ with persons impacted by mental illness and their families.

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Key Ministry’s mission is to help churches reach families affected by disability by providing FREE resources to pastors, volunteers, and individuals who wish to create an inclusive ministry environment. For a sixty second summary of what Key Ministry does, watch the video below…

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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One Response to Another good family experiences tragedy…

  1. Ann Holmes says:

    Thanks for emphasizing this huge need for prayer and care, Steve! The fact that the Hunters are in “high profile” ministry makes their loss even more difficult. We will pray that God will keep them tucked very tightly in the shelter of His wings! (Ps. 91:4)

    Like

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