A moving testimony here from Rob and Terri Stellrecht, whose 12-year-old boy Trent was killed in a youth group skiing accident last Friday. May God continue to give them much grace, and may he bring much gospel fruit from Trent’s short life and death.

On Friday February 18, 2011, God did the unthinkable in our life: He chose to take our 12-year-old son, Trent Lee Stellrecht, home in a skiing accident.

It is only considered “the unthinkable” because our plans are not God’s plans, and our ways are not God’s ways.

Before Trent was born we have entrusted the Lord with his life and have asked Him, above all else, to bring salvation to our son, to use him in a mighty way for God’s glory, and to let him dwell in heaven for eternity.

God only answered our prayers last Friday in a mightier way than we could have imagined, and we have been rejoicing in His good works and His mercies ever since.

Trent was a boy who truly lived. From the very beginning he did what he loved and enjoyed the gifts and skills that God gave him to the full. In his short life he saw much of this world, traveling as far as India, the Bahamas, and Missouri to his favorite destination of Bass Pro Shop for his golden birthday, as well as many camping trips. God instilled a love of hunting and fishing into Trent and a joy of the great outdoors. Since he was little all he wanted was to turn 12 to be able to go hunting. During his 12th year God allowed him to shoot two deer. Trent loved to cook, to pick on his siblings Alexis, Cole, Grace, and Micah, to protect his mother, to snuggle with his father, to be with his friends, especially his best friends Thomas and Samuel. Everything he was interested in he tried, even carving his own long bow and succeeding in taxidermy. In his short years he truly lived.

But as we are all destined to, Trent also died. On Friday, February 18, 2011, we said goodbye to our son as he left for a skiing trip with his friends. Gods says he knows the number of our days, that He has created each one, and that He will do what He pleases. For most of his life Trent struggled with his own sinfulness before God. He knew that he was not right before God, and nothing he could do would ever make up for the sins he committed to make him worthy to enter heaven. In the summer of 2010 God graciously chose to bring salvation to Trent through repentance and the saving grace of Christ Jesus. Trent’s life was transformed and we enjoyed the young fruit in his life as we watched God work.

It was with great peace and much rejoicing that we as his family have sent him off before us and accepted God’s perfect plan for Trent’s life. Our longing is that God would be glorified in what He has done to wake up many to the realization that we are not guaranteed any number of years in this world.

On Friday morning we had our son, on Friday afternoon he was gone.

God’s standards to enter his kingdom are high: He expects perfection. Trent was not perfect, not even close. God graciously provided His perfect son, Jesus Christ, as an atonement for our sinfulness and requires that we simply believe and acknowledge Him for it. God does the rest.

What we have asked nearly every person we have seen since Friday is “What if it had been you? Where would you be right now?” We diligently raised Trent up to know his sinful state and taught him what the Word of God says because we know the implications of denying Christ now, and God was gracious to answer our prayers and to save Him. Scripture says that the gospel will go forth with much sorrow and heartache. Please let Trent’s short life be a wake-up call to you. We are rejoicing in the sorrow because we know where our son is and that we will one day be with him again for eternity because of our own salvation.

God’s mercies are new every day, and His peace does surpass all understanding. God has been so gracious to us in these few days by blessing us first of all with His peace. The family and friends that have surrounded us and have lifted us up in prayer are amazing and another testimony to God’s goodness.

It is with great rejoicing that we release our son, Trent Lee Stellrecht, age 12, to our Heavenly Father. Dance before your King my son.

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29 thoughts on “How Do You Respond When Your 12-Year-Old Dies? “Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives””

  1. Doc B says:

    It is the greatest of ironies that every (Christian) parent’s worst fear and greatest joy are the same event: the entrance of a child into heaven.

    May God continue to bless you and your family as He is glorified in your lives by these events.

  2. Kara says:

    Thank you for this encouraging, heart-wrenching, beautiful post…

    Trent’s family–praising God for your faith and where your hearts are turning in the midst of this…
    For your younger kiddos–Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Children was helpful in answering our crew’s questions…as they tried to picture and understand Heaven when our daughter died.

    “Pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us”
    ~Psalm 62:8

  3. Amy Brown says:

    Truly youevidence joyin the suffering. Thank you for blessing me in your sharing.

  4. Heath Lloyd says:

    The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this gospel-focused memoir of your precious son. You have served our King well.

  6. Matt Beatty says:

    God is truly good to give such mercy and peace to parents in such a storm as this. May His name be forever praised.

  7. eric davis says:

    Wow. Just wow. What a great God. Thank you for shepherding me as a young parent.

  8. Leslie Blizzard says:

    This is a very powerful testamony of Faith and Gods Love. Gods will, Gods prefect timing.

  9. Jordan says:

    Thank you for this article, I wept when I read that last sentence “Dance before your king.” This was incredibly helpful to read before we met with our doctor today to learn that we’ve miscarried for a 2nd time.

    1. Tony Romano says:

      Peace to you from Jesus Christ, Jordan. I don’t presume to know how you feel, I just know that my wife and I have felt this hurt too. Please just be at peace.

  10. Shannon says:

    If this Article doesn’t touch your heart then I don’t know what will. I had to go give my seven month old daughter a hug and kiss and thank the Lord for the precious gift he has given my husband and I. Gods love and grace is above all and the strengh he gives us will never faulter if we continue to trust, love and believe in him!

  11. Jerry Scheumann says:

    My name is Jerry Scheumann, and I was the youth pastor to Trent Stellrecht (he had went with another youth group for the skiing trip).

    The funeral was today. Over 400 people showed up. Rob and Terri had an incredible attitude throughout the entire day. The set-up of the funeral was very unique, as they had the wake afterward rather than before. Their reasoning was that they wanted the gospel to be clearly presented so that the goodbyes would be filled with much hope.

    What was perhaps most incredible was that Rob and Terri spent 3 1/2 hours after the funeral standing and talking to others as people viewed Trent’s body then gave their condolenscenes to Rob and Terri. Remarkably, Rob and Terri were the ones doing the ministering. Phrases like, “Rejoice with us. This is God’s good and gracious plan” were often heard.

    And there is no denial or duplicity with Rob and Terri. My wife and I have had the privilege of being with them since last Friday. There are tears. Many tears. But there is so much hope in our Savior.

    Isn’t our God great? The sting of death is gone.

  12. Lydia says:

    Rob and Terri are a beautiful testimony to God’s goodness. I hope I can face the little trials in my life with 1/10 of this beauty and grace.

  13. Charlotte Schwarztrauber says:

    Robbie, Terri and Trent’s Brothers and Sisters,

    Our plans are not God’s plans! Many people would not understand this saying, but we, who are are part of the body of Christ do understand. The work of grieving is made easier knowing that your son is at home with the Lord.

    My heart goes out to you as a family and You are in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this difficult time. God Bless and Keep you!

  14. So sorry for your loss and encouraged by your faith…as a father of four, I can not imagine what you and your family are going through. Thankful that God’s plan and strength can be seen and felt.

  15. John Strohmeyer says:

    Peace that surpasses understanding. Trent is very much alive, you will be with him soon, and it will never end. Thanks for sharing your faith in God who is worthy.

  16. Sharon Gonyon says:

    I know of what you speak…my daughter (age 19) was murdered by her boyfriend in murder/suicide…This was 20+ years ago but I remember that day as yesterday. In the morning I wrote in my journal about if this would be my last day and what would I do with it…not knowing it would be my daughter’s last day. The story of my journey has been incredible, but I can say that I too have found the ability to forgive, accept, relase, and help others who deal with grief…thank you for sharing…and may the same peace and comfort be yours as God gave me…in Christ amen

  17. Diana King says:

    This story reminds me of my son Jesse. He died 1 3/4 years ago at the age of 28 in a diving accident. When he was a young boy he too loved hunting and fishing and creating. I thank God for every day of his short life. I know how the pain of this kind of loss feels and I pray for God to pour out His grace and mercy on this family as He did for me.

  18. greta says:

    May the Lord comfort you always, and bless you for sharing your personal family experiencde. I will pass it on to others, as I myself have a young teenager……………

  19. Patti says:

    Going home to God in His Heavenly home……… Is Our

  20. Thank for sharing your son’s story. Although I cannot identify with your pain and sorrow. I know our heavenly father can. I am thankful that you can find hope and peace through your loss. I pray daily for my children’s salvation and hope that I can see it come to fruition. Thank you for sharing your son’s testimony and for your testimony of God’s faithfulness. Will be in prayer for you and yor family.

  21. CC Hoehn says:

    My brother Andy was taken from this earth on Feb 24,2011.
    We don’t know God’s plan, I’m trying to come to terms with this sinceless accident. I daon’t blame God. I embrace is love to get me through. My brother was not perfect in any way, but I love him with all my heart. He is with God now and he is at peace.We don’t when our time will come, love everyday like its your last and always tell the people who love that you love them everyday.
    God bless.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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