LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Megachurch pastor Rick Warren returned to the pulpit over the weekend to speak about how he coped with his son's suicide four months ago and to launch an initiative to combat the stigma of mental illness.
“It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it," Warren said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "But if your brain breaks down you’re supposed to keep it a secret.”
Warren and his wife Kay have said they plan to use proceeds from the sale of their son's house to fund a mental health ministry, Christianity Today reported.
CT cited a recent Orange County Register interview that said the mental health ministry would take inspiration from his Saddleback megachurch's HIV/AIDS initiative: "Ten years ago, God called Kay, and then me, to help remove the stigma attached to HIV & AIDS," Warren said. "Now, it looks like we're being called to help remove the stigma for a much bigger disease. 34 million people have HIV & AIDS but 400 million battle mental illness worldwide."
Warren's first sermon since his 27-year-old son Matthew died in April recounted details of the day the pastor and his wife discovered their son had taken his life.
"On the morning of April 5, both of them had a sense of foreboding that Matthew was not doing well," Time reported. "At 10 a.m., Rick was at the doctor’s office. He had just been diagnosed with double pneumonia, and so he decided to ask his brother-in-law to give the upcoming sermon, entitled, 'What to do on the worst day of your life.' At home, Kay put on her necklace that said, 'Choose joy.' Neither of them could shake the feeling that something was wrong, so the two of them went to Matthew’s house to check on him. His truck was in the driveway, but the house door was locked, and no one was answering. They wept together as they waited for the police to arrive. Then their worst fears were confirmed."
This past Sunday, Warren, dressed in a casual black T-shirt and jeans, took the stage at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with wife, Kay Warren, and was greeted with a long-standing ovation by the congregation, according to the Associated Press.
"I love you, too," a smiling Warren replied. "Have I told you lately that I love you?"
Time reported Sunday's sermon was the first in a six-week series entitled, “How to get through what you’re going through.” Warren will devote a message to the six stages of grief: shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and service.
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