World famous megachurch pastor Rick Warren's son Matthew has tragically committed suicide, according to an email sent by Warren to staff at the famous Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
Warren, who is famed for his writing the best-seller The Purpose Driven Life, has expressed his sadness over the death of his 27-year-old son, who has long suffered from mental illness.
Warren wrote in the email:
Over the past 33 years we've been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I've been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.
No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.
You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He'd then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.
But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.
Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I'll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said " Dad, I know I'm going to heaven. Why can't I just die and end this pain?" but he kept going for another decade.
Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.
Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life has sold over 30 million copies around the world, making him a New York Times bestselling author.
Since the announcement of his son's death, Warren has received an outpouring of love and support on his Facebook page.
"Praying for strength for you and your family Pastor Rick. Your precious Matthew is at peace now in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. We love you!" one user wrote.
Another user wrote: "We grieve with you as your church family."