We Are Messengers’ Darren Mulligan Testifies: ‘Jesus Ran into My Grave and Pulled Me Out’

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated May 02, 2024
We Are Messengers’ Darren Mulligan Testifies: ‘Jesus Ran into My Grave and Pulled Me Out’

The frontman from the award-winning Christian band We Are Messengers says his testimony is proof that Jesus can rescue anyone – even a rock band member who rejected God and spent countless nights sleeping with strangers and partying until he was unconscious. 

Darren Mulligan and his band We Are Messengers last month released their fourth album, Where the Joy Is, which testifies to the hope and joy he has had in Jesus since he became a Christian in his late 20s. A single from that album – God Be the Glory – is currently No. 14 on the Billboard Christian Airplay chart. In 2019, We Are Messengers won a K-LOVE Fan Award for Breakthrough Single of the Year (Maybe It’s OK).

Years ago, though, Mulligan was lost in life, he said. 

“I tried to fill that loneliness before Jesus with alcohol, promiscuity, and all kinds of things,” Mulligan told Crosswalk Headlines

A native of Ireland, Mulligan started drinking heavily in his teens and went to college where he studied philosophy and searched for answers in life. He didn’t find them. 

At age 19, he met Heidi, the woman who became his wife. He was in love, but he still wasn’t happy. He toured with his band while Heidi stayed home. 

“I played music for a long time when I was younger, heavy rock-and-roll bands and screamo bands and all this stuff. And I lived the life of promiscuity and alcohol dependency and violence.”

He grew angry when Heidi became a Christian. Eventually, though, she persuaded him to visit church with her. 

“Dead men can't raise themselves and blind men can't teach themselves to see – only Jesus does that,” he said. “So when I was 27, Jesus ran into my grave and pulled me out of it, and has changed my life.”

Once a Christian, Mulligan gave up music. 

“I sold all my instruments and everything, said I'd never play music again, because I associated [that] with everything [bad] that I had ever done,” he said. “And I had a long list of bad things I had done. And then a couple of years in, in our little local church where I came to know Jesus, they needed someone to play acoustic guitar. And I reticently said I would on a Sunday morning.”

A few weeks later, a friend asked if he could sing. Despite what one might expect, Mulligan had not sung in a band.  

“What happened after that weekend in 2011 or 2012 is we started going around little churches and community centers and halls across Ireland, telling people about Jesus,” Mulligan said. “And we were writing some songs and mostly doing covers. And it was beautiful. I never made a penny. We would pack the car up on the weekend, leave my kids with mom and dad and we'd go and just share Jesus. It was really sweet.” 

A prayer in 2014 changed the direction of his life. He was sitting outside his oldest son’s school one day that year when he told God, “I don't need music anymore. I just want you.” The next day, Warner Brothers from Nashville, Tenn., called and offered him a record deal, he said.

He moved his family to the U.S.

“I remember the day we arrived in Franklin, Tenn., to a tiny 700-square-foot apartment with three kids and four suitcases and [we were] sleeping on air mattresses. And I thought we'd made a massive mistake. And the next day I got up and I went to work. I wrote some songs, including Everything Comes Alive and Magnify – songs off that first record. And everything just started going like a hurricane.”

Mulligan hopes the band’s newest record helps Christians discover joy.

“Joy is so deeply embedded in my bones these days, that even in the hardest of nights when the monsters come, I'm alright and I’m OK, because I know the joy of the Lord is my strength and He's with me,” Mulligan told Crosswalk Headlines. “So the record is basically saying, ‘Life is terrible [and] life is beautiful’ – we talk about all those things. However, the joy of the Lord is what sustains us and allows us to keep on living and not just living, but He turns our mourning to laughter, our sorrow to joy and our feet towards dancing.”

“I want our music to help people move towards Jesus.”

Last year, Mulligan and his family moved back to his home country of Ireland to be closer to family and friends. We Are Messengers will tour this summer.

He credits his wife for his faith. When she could have left him, he said, she was patient.

“My wife has changed my world. Because just like Jesus, she didn't throw a stone. She put her arms around me, hugged me and kissed me, but also said, ‘Go and sin no more.’”

Photo credit: Courtesy We Are Messengers

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.