15 December 2017

Chuck Colson, Nixon’s Man to God’s Man

Chuck Colson not only reached the world through his intellect, but touched thousands through practical outreach to prisoners and their families. Chuck Colson died on Saturday, 21st April 2012, after a short illness resulting from a brain haemorrhage. He was 80 years old.

Born in Boston on October 16, 1931 – a child of the great depression, Colson went on to graduate from Brown University and earned a law degree from George Washington University. He also served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and eventually landed a job at the White House during the Nixon administration. But that’s when Colson’s promising career took an ominous turn. He was soon caught up in the Watergate scandal, as President Nixon’s infamous hatchet man. In the midst of that turmoil in 1973, Colson became a Christian after reading the book, “Mere Christianity” by evangelical author C.S. Lewis.

Colson was indicted in 1974 for Watergate related charges. When news of his conversion leaked to the press, the Boston Globe reported, “If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.” Colson admitted he was guilty of political “dirty tricks” and was willing to do almost anything for the cause of his president and his party. “I was stripped of everything – public enemy number one and thrown into a prison,” Colson said of the scandal in an interview with “The 700 Club.” He served seven months at Maxwell Prison in Alabama.

As Colson walked into freedom, he promised fellow inmates he would never forget those behind bars. “I thank God now that I went through it because I carry with it a heavy burden for the men and women who are in prison,” he told CBN’s Pat Robertson.

That burden led Colson to establish Prison Fellowship, an international ministry working in more than 100 countries, committed to prison reform and prisoner rehabilitation.

“With the prison population exploding and with the crime rate just soaring, we’re not dealing with the root causes of crime,” Colson once said of his ministry. “We’re just putting men in cages. We’re treating them like animals, and we expect them to come back and be rehabilitated.” “There’s one way and that’s when a man turns his life over to Jesus Christ,” he added.

In the Foreword to Prison Fellowship Northern Ireland’s recent new publication, ‘Bringing Hope Behind Bars’, Chuck Colson wrote, “In 1983, in the midst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, delegates representing almost every denomination from across the globe gathered for Prison Fellowship International’s first convocation in Belfast. I must admit, I had my reservations about the venue. As the delegates began to assemble at Queen’s University in the city, however, I knew there was no better place to display our unity in Christ and the power of the gospel to heal and reconcile even the bitterest of enemies. Now, nearly thirty years later, Prison Fellowship Northern Ireland remains a shining beacon of hope and reconciliation of prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families to their Saviour, their communities and to each other.”

Colson also became a prolific commentator on popular culture, writing more than 30 books and selling more than 5 million copies. In his books, he often stressed the importance of a Christian worldview. “It won’t do for us to just sit around in our sanctuaries, entertain ourselves, sing our ‘happy clappies’ and feel good about ourselves,” Colson said. “This is a time for the church to engage the world, and it has to be done through the church.”

In the end, the only thing that mattered to Colson was having a right relationship with Jesus Christ and ministering the grace he received with as many people as possible.

“I live everyday to the fullest because I live it for Christ,” he said of his purpose. “And no matter what I do today … I’m

going to do something to advance the kingdom of God.”

“Does that make you fulfilled?” Colson asked. “You bet it does, and it gives you joy about living.”