By On March 31st, 2014

Rick and Kay Warren Establish Mental Health Ministry

A year ago, Rick and Kay Warren’s lives were torn apart when their son Matthew died from a self-inflicted gunshot. Rick, pastor of Saddleback Church, still finds himself in tears daily. He still searches for answers, and spends his evenings journaling and trying to understand God’s purpose in allowing Matthew to suffer with mental illness for 27 years.

Rick Warren in 2006 Source: Steve Jurvetson

Rick Warren in 2006
Source: Steve Jurvetson

But, while many would allow themselves to be dragged down by loss and confusion, Rick and Kay Warren have focused on turning the negative into something positive. Rick told the Huffington Post recently that he frequently prays that something good can come out of such a tragedy, and on Friday the Warrens announced plans to make sure that happens.

Just eight days shy of the one year anniversary of their son’s death, the Warrens announced a new chapter of their ministry, which has previously used their influence to be one of the nation’s most potent forces in addressing alcohol addictions, drug abuse, orphan care, and HIV/AIDS.

The new chapter begins with The Conference on the Church and Mental Health, a daylong event which will be broadcast online, and has gathered over 3,000 registrations and features a lineup consisting of pastors, academics, and psychiatrists all hoping to grapple with the stigma of mental illness and suicide in the church.

“In God’s garden of grace, even a broken tree bears fruit,” Warren said in his interview with The Huffington Post, reflecting on a journal entry he wrote when Matthew was alive that’s taken on new meaning after his death. “We knew that even with the massive pain we were going through, we would have to use it to help others.”

The conference is just the start. Saddleback church has teamed with Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County for a long-term campaign hoping to spread the mental illness conversation to churches across the country.

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