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Saddleback Church Welcomes Prison Inmate of 30 Years as New Ministry Leader

Veronica Neffinger | iBelieve Contributor | Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Saddleback Church Welcomes Prison Inmate of 30 Years as New Ministry Leader

A former prisoner who spent more than 30 years behind bars has become Saddleback Church’s leader of Mercy Ministry, a ministry to prisoners.

Saddleback Church was founded by Pastor Rick Warren who wrote The Purpose Driven Life. Christian Today reports that Danny Duchene, who was sentenced to prison at the age of 19 for killing two men, read Warren’s book while in prison and reached out to the pastor.

“In prison, I read Pastor Rick's bestseller Purpose Driven Life, and wrote to him. The prison soon started buzzing with cell groups to study the book. Inmates were baptised inside the prison campus. Saddleback's Celebrate Recovery programme began in the prison, and gave an opportunity to prisoners to have support to now do the right thing for the first time in their lives," Duchene said. 

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

Duchane started the Sierra Christian Center, a small nondenominational church at California’s Sierra Prison where he was incarcerated.

Warren and Saddleback Church have been supporting the Sierra Christian Center, and Warren has since been an advocate for Duchene’s release, based on evidence of his transformed life and the amazing success of his ministry.

I trust him...and we are extremely grateful," Warren stated during the ceremony to install Duchene as leader of Mercy Ministry at Saddleback.

"You cannot be what God wants you to be on your own,” Duchene said in response to his new role. “You need support, you need a small group. I'm sure my life would have been very different if I had the support of a godly small group as a teenager."

Publication date: April 5, 2016