Former Prison Inmate Appointed by Rick Warren as Pastor at Saddleback Church

Pastor Rick Warren
Pastor Rick Warren

Rick Warren appointed former prison inmate Danny Duchene as pastor over Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He will lead the Mercy Ministry, a program that ministers to those that are incarcerated.
Duchene was nearly 20 years into his double life sentence when he first encountered Pastor Rick Warren, through his bestselling book “The Purpose Driven Life”.

Duchene shared his story during the commissioning ceremony, which was a part of the church’s “The Miracle of Mercy” Campaign.

“My life was out of control. I robbed, and stole, and hurt others because I chose to please myself,” he said. “I was reckless and never worried  about getting caught for my crimes, and I certainly didn’t consider the consequences to others. I was only thinking of myself. All this came to a crisis when I was part of a crime in which two men were killed.”

Duchene was charged with a double life sentence at the age of 19.

Duchene says that during that time in his life he hit rock bottom but that God in his mercy sent Christians to share the Gospel message.

“At first, this Good News seemed over my head. It seemed unbelievable and too good to be true that God loved me and that wanted to show me mercy all I had done to hurt others”, he shared. “From growing up, I honestly didn’t know how to trust.

In 2003, Duchene read Warren’s best seller and it changed his life. Warren’s second book “Purpose Driven Church”, also inspired Duchene and other inmates to start  “Sierra Christian Center”, a small nondenominational church at the California’s Sierra Prison.

Saddleback Church quickly got behind a correctional recovery program called Celebrate Recovery after the small ministry doubled in attendance, reports Baptist Press.

In the past 13 years, thousands of lives have been changed and prisons across America have followed Sierra’s example.

“I trust him…and we are extremely grateful,” said Warren during the commissioning ceremony.

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Talia Wise

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