Many of you will have heard the tragic news that Matthew Warren, the 27 year old son of Rick and Kay Warren, took his life last week after a struggle with depression which started when he was a young boy. I've never met Rick Warren (although I've been deeply influenced by his writing), but I did have the privilege of spending a couple of hours with his wife Kay when she spoke at a conference we hosted a few years ago. What always strikes me when I meet these 'famous' Christians is that although they are amazing people with ministries which have touched the lives of millions of people, they are also very real people who face the same same struggles and heartbreaks as the rest of us. Kay was no different, and my heart so goes out to her, to Rick and the whole of their family at this time. Please join me in praying for them, and also for other families in our community who have lost children and will understand what the Warrens are going through in a way I can only begin to imagine.
Two other things have been on my mind since all this happened. First of all the reality of people living with mental health issues, and what that means for them and those seeking to support them. Sadly the church has often been one of the last places where you would want to be open about struggling with your mental health, with a suspicion that this shouldn't happen to Christians, that you must be demonised or in some other way a sub standard Christian. We must break that, and make the church a safe place to be honest and open about our struggles, and of those close to us. I applaud those heroes in Kerith who keep going whilst living with all sorts of mental health illnesses. We have so much to learn, but part of us being a peachy community is being willing to learn about how to love, help and pray for people and their families - let us all continue on that journey with a renewed compassion and sense of purpose.
Secondly I've been deeply saddened by the Christians who have seen this as an opportunity to attack the Warrens. I don't have words to express what I feel about people who claim to follow Jesus, yet because they disagree with something Rick has written or said, or how they perceive his theology or his church, would take a moment like this to say some unbelievably hurtful things about Rick and his family. I couldn't imagine a much better expression of a coconut community, people full of what they perceive to be truth but without an ounce of grace. With regard to this I'd encourage you to read two blogs by people I admire greatly, Beth Moore and Mark Driscoll, who have expressed all this far better than I could ever hope to. Please take a moment to read what they've written.
Finally let's remember that Jesus walks with us in all of this. I'm reminded of what I said on Easter Sunday, that after his resurrection Jesus went first to Mary Magdalene, to comfort her and minister to her in her sorrow and anguish - he still does the same today.