Prison Inmate of 30 Years Is Saddleback Church’s Newest Ministry Leader

In a true story of redemption, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in southern California is welcoming their newest minister—a prison inmate of 30 years—to their team. Danny Duchene, who was sentenced to prison at the age of 19 for killing two men, read Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life (which seems to be a favorite among inmates these days) while in prison and reached out to the pastor. Duchene told the Saddleback congregation:

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 baptized inside the prison campus. Saddleback’s Celebrate Recovery program 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. 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.

Duchene started the Sierra Christian Center during his time in the Sierra Prison. Warren and Saddleback Church have been supporting the Sierra Christian Center, and Warren has since been an advocate for Duchene’s release. “I trust him…and we are extremely grateful,” Warren said during Duchene’s welcome ceremony. “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.” Duchene will be Saddleback Church’s leader of Mercy Ministry, a ministry to prisoners.

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