This man, who the news media seemed to so enjoy reminding us began as Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” and a part of the Watergate conspiracy for which he went to prison after pleading guilty to “obstruction of justice,” became one of the greatest testimonials to the power of redemption.
In a turn-around often compared to that of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, Chuck Colson became as powerful in his defense of and compassion for the prisoner and the marginalized as he had once been single-minded in his political objectives. Instead of flexing the muscle of the powerful, he became the tireless advocate for the powerless.
Not only did he make good on his promise to his fellow prisoners to not forget them, he started Prison Fellowship, which changed the lives and direction of thousands of prisoners in 113 countries. He enlisted families across America to “adopt” and bring the message of hope to the children of prisoners in the tangible form of gifts at Christmas through the Angel Tree program. He founded and established the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview to train, inform and equip believers to change their communities of influence because of their Christ-centered worldview.
To us, Chuck was a deep and dear personal friend. He was a rational yet passionate voice encouraging serious Christ-followers at events like Praise Gathering for Believers, which we sponsored and hosted for 31 years. He was a leader of great personal integrity in a world where integrity is in short supply. In our opinion, he stands tall in a rare company of apologists for the faith including C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, A.W. Tozer, J.I. Packer, Evangeline Carmichael, Dorothy Day, Watchman Nee and Elton Trueblood.
We will miss our friend. This world will miss his clear voice. But the impact he made and the army of believers he made stronger by his insights will go on. Out of this legacy, may the gospel of Jesus Christ find its own strong voice in the new century and beyond.