Danny Duchene, a double-lifer, was released after 32 years in prison at the request of Pastor Rick Warren
Danny Duchene was nearly 20 years into a double life sentence in California’s Sierra Prison when he first encountered Saddleback Church pastor, Rick Warren, through his bestselling book,The Purpose Driven Life.
The book not only changed Danny’s life, it resulted in a Saddleback-inspired “Purpose-Driven Church” started by inmates in the prison, and the adoption of Saddleback’s Celebrate Recovery program by the correctional institution as its official recovery program.
In the past 13 years, thousands of lives have been changed and prisons across America have followed Sierra’s example.
According to a news release, after 32 years in prison, Duchene was freed, partly in response to a letter sent by Pastor Rick Warren to the parole board asking that they do so in order to allow him to hire Duchene as a pastor at Saddleback Church.
During this past weekend, Danny Duchene was officially installed as Pastor of Saddleback Church’s Prison Ministry. He shared his 32-year spiritual journey behind bars as a part of Pastor Rick Warren’s message: “God Can Use Anybody.” The sermon is the second in a series of messages entitled, “The Miracle of Mercy.”
According to CBN News, Duchene said, “My life was out of control. I robbed and stole and hurt others because I chose to please myself. 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,” he went on to say.
Duchene was charged with a double life sentence at the age of 19. He stated 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.
“The Bible says in James 2:13 that mercy triumphs over judgment, and my life is an example of that truth,” Duchene said. “I now know that God has brought me from the inside out to proclaim that God’s mercy is the key to inner freedom.”
He added: “You cannot be what God wants you to be on your own. 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.”
Rick Warren said during the commissioning ceremony, “I trust him…and we are extremely grateful.”
The moving event was carried live at all of Saddleback’s 16 campuses throughout Southern California, Hong Kong, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and South Manila.