Most Inspiring Person of the Year 2005

 
FINALIST
Rick Warren 'Purpose Driven' pastor & activist

Rick Warren is clearly not in it for the money. His 2002 best-seller "The Purpose-Driven Life" has spent nearly 100 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List and sold more than 20 million copies. Yet Warren, 50, pastor of the mega Saddleback Baptist Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with a congregation of 16,000, has given away most of his royalties. Warren himself is leading a purpose-driven life.

He and wife Kay faithfully tithe their income. After receiving one royalty check totaling $9 million, Warren recalls thinking that he didn't need this kind of money--and what would God want him to do with it? He found part of his answer in 1 Corinthians 9. There he read a passage that spoke to him: If you want to serve God freely, you should give your money away.

"I added up all that the church had paid me over the past 25 years," Warren said in a recent Beliefnet interview, "and gave it all back."

Even with his salary refunded, Warren felt there was more he could be doing with his money. And in Psalm 72 he found a new calling--to serve widows and orphans. He remembers asking God for his forgiveness because "I can't think of the last time I thought about widows and orphans," he said.

Warren discovered his mission in Africa, where, he learned, there are 14 million children left orphaned, mostly from AIDS. He and Kay set up three foundations to help. Warren went to Mozambique, Malawi, and South Africa to train about 90,000 pastors for what he calls his "global ministry."

Most recently, Warren outlined his mission in greater detail. In April 2005 he pledged to take on global poverty and illiteracy in his five-part P.E.A.C.E. initiative (the acronym stands for plant churches, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation) in which small groups go to parts of the world that need help. 3000 groups thus far have answered to the call to go to areas from Rwanda to the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast.

And in June Warren got behind The ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History by sending out a call-to-action letter to Christian leaders nationwide to join him in working to end world hunger.

Given how many people Warren's book has already influenced, there's no doubt that when he is inspired to do something, he follows through--and millions benefit.

To learn more about the P.E.A.C.E. initiative, click here. To learn more about The ONE campaign, click here.

_Related Features
  • The Beliefnet Interview With Rick Warren
  • Rick Warren's Second Reformation
  • Your Life Is Not About You: Excerpt From "The Purpose-Driven Life"
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