Chuck Colson: A Job Well Done

Posted by Larry Miller on April 23, 2012 under How | Read the First Comment

“Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today with the death of Charles W. ‘Chuck’ Colson.” So reads the opening paragraph on the Prison Fellowship web site as much of the formerly main stream media only reminds us that he was a part of the Watergate conspiracy that brought down President Nixon. As with many of us who have been around a while, there are many aspects to our lives and both views of the man are true.

The last is not the complete story and the other came about because of it. He was a young and hungry hatchet man for the Nixon administration. Perhaps a stereotypical lawyer that no one really liked, but he got the job done. When a political executioner was needed, he performed the task with relish. His dedication to the success of the Nixon administration is what brought him to power and gave purpose to his life. Ultimately it led to his downfall – disbarment and imprisonment.

From frequent meetings in the oval office and sharply dressed adviser to the President, he fell prison garb and just one more number in the system. In his book, The Good Life, this once powerful and feared man wrote, “the most shattering thing about prison was the thought that I would never do anything significant with my life.” Even the harsh humiliation of prison did not quench his desire to accomplish something great. Like Victor Frankl who wrote about survival in a Nazi concentration camp, Colson looked for meaning… and he found it.

Sometimes we can only look up when we are flat on our backs. He did look up and saw his Creator who wasn’t finished with him yet. Chuck Colson has written several books about his experiences in prison and after and the point of this is not to relive the prison years, but show what can happen when one finds his true purpose in life… even if they have fouled up badly in the past. Sometimes it is because they have fouled up badly in the past.

What Colson found is something that it is easy for many of us to ignore. Those of us who believe in law and order strongly support the idea of putting criminals behind bars. It is where they belong. However, Chuck Colson recognized their humanity and dedicated his life to reaching out to prisoners and their families. Some of them had done some pretty terrible things, yet each one deserved a story of redemption like Colson experienced – and he did his best to let them know that no matter what they had done, they still could look to a Savior who would forgive them.

He took this concern a step further. He recognized that, as with a major illness, it is not just the prisoner, but the entire family that lives through the incarceration. His Prison Fellowship works with both the prisoners and their families. One of the most touching opportunities is to reach out to the children of prisoners at Christmas through the Angel Tree program. This is a way we can touch the lives of the “least of these” and provide gifts for children who don’t get too much.

We saw in the life of Chuck Colson a man who made the best of a bad situation. He looked beyond himself and saw the needs of those around him and dedicated his life to meeting those needs. He dedicated his life to looking after the ones society threw away and many lives were turned around. Children who could have thought no one cared about them, found out otherwise. Chuck Colson hands truly were the hands of God. He, who was despised and rejected, found redemption in prison and the world was better for it. He will be missed, but he will be be welcomed on the golden streets of his new abode.

For those who believe that faith without works is dead, we have the opportunity to help continue his work by volunteering or writing a check. Prison Fellowship does great work, but there is much more to be done, and one of the best ways to remember and honor the memory of this great man is to help keep his legacy alive. Check it out… if you can, write a check.

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  • Sandra said,

    His voice will be greatly missed; I’ve always liked his books, articles, etc. – God truly did “bring good out of the bad” in Chuck Colson’s life. He helped many with words and deeds. I pray his friends and family are comforted with the knowledge that he is now with the One he so willingly served.

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