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Pastor Rick Warren’s delivers first sermon since his Son’s Death

By Dan Wooding, ASSIST News Service. July 28, 2013

Vow to Remove Stigma of Mental Illness, Begin Six-Part Series on “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through”

LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS) – On Saturday, July 27, Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” delivered his first sermon since the April 5 passing of his son Matthew, who struggled with mental illness.

Kay and Rick Warren receive flowers

Pastor Warren’s wife Kay joined him in sharing a message titled “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through.”

According to a news release, more than 10,000 attended two Saturday evening worship services at the Saddleback Church Lake Forest, Calif., campus to hear the Warrens, with an additional 6,500 watching live online. It was the first time Pastor Warren had preached in 16 weeks, the longest he has ever been away from the pulpit. The congregation greeted the Warrens to a standing ovation.

Matthew Warren

Pastor Warren opened the service with a word of thanks to his staff, local pastors and his family for their love and support over the last few months. “We intend to spend the rest of our lives comforting others with the comfort we’ve been given,” he said.

Warren then continued by sharing the three things that gave he and Kay stability during their grief. First, life doesn’t make sense, but we can have peace because God is with us and loves us. Secondly, everything on earth is broken, but we can have joy because we know God has a greater plan. And third, we know that life is a battle, but we can have hope because we know there is more to the story.

“For 27 years I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness … it didn’t make sense why this prayer wasn’t being answered,” he said. “When you go through a difficult time, you automatically start to try and find an answer. But explanations never comfort. You don’t need explanations; you need the presence of God.”

Kay Warren also shared about her struggle with continuing to choose joy even in grief, a topic of which she wrote about in her book, “Choose Joy,” released in 2012. “What do you do when hope doesn’t turn out the way you think it will? You rebuild your hope,” she said.

Pastor Warren concluded the service by committing to remove the stigma of mental illness.

Dan Wooding with Rick Warren after interviewing him at NRB 2013
earlier this year

“Any other part of the body, you can have it hurt and there is no shame in it,” Rick Warren said. “If your brain doesn’t work right, why do you have stigma? It’s just another organ in your body.”

The Warrens, who have worked the last decade to remove the stigma of HIV/AIDS, said they are now called to remove the stigma of mental illness.

“If you struggle with a broken brain, you should be no more ashamed than someone with a broken arm,” said Pastor Warren. “It’s not a sin to take meds. It’s not a sin to get help. You don’t need to be ashamed.

The Warrens shared Saturday’s message again in three services on Sunday, July 28, at 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. PT.

Over the next six weeks, Pastor Warren will continue the “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” sermon series by focusing on the six stages of grief – shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and service.

Founded in 1980 by the Warrens, Saddleback Church is located in Orange County, Calif. With an average weekly attendance of 22,000, it is one of the largest churches in America. For more information, visit or contact Kristin Cole at or  615-289-6701.

Dan Wooding, 72, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 49 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 192 countries. Dan recently received two top media awards — the “Passion for the Persecuted” award from Open Doors US, and as one of the top “Newsmakers of 2011” from Plain Truth magazine. He is the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is “Caped Crusader: Rick Wakeman in the 1970s.” To order a copy, go to: Caped Crusader – Amazon

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