A Brave Man is Dead

One of my heroes died last week at age 80. Compassionate, smart, dedicated Christian, visionary, prison reformer, writer, courageous, tough, ex-Marine, hatchet man, yeah—and convicted felon. Chuck Colson.
A tough guy in the Nixon Administration who accepted Christ as Savior before he went to prison, he proved his conversion was real by founding and devoting the rest of his life to Prison Fellowship. PF recruits volunteers to visit those in prison in response to the command of Jesus, conduct Bible studies behind prison walls, and help ex-cons find jobs after their release so they won’t return to crime and jail.

Recidivism of ex-cons without PF is around 65%. Colson worked aggressively to change that and was largely successful.
Unfortunately, upon his death, the media devoted most of their coverage to Colson’s BC (before Christ) days instead of the last 37 years of his life. He was determined to help inmates get a new start once they served their time. Without question, Jesus got hold of Chuck Colson, the White House special counsel under Nixon. Colson showed he was transformed by a higher power and not by his own efforts. First, though, he had to descend to the depths. Convicted of obstruction of justice, he served seven months in the federal prison which was a former Army post. I remember it as Fort Holabird, Army Intelligence School, but this is about Chuck Colson, not me.
In 1983, Colson established Justice Fellowship, a Christian-based criminal justice reform group. Through Justice Fellowship, Colson became a leading prison reformer, taking positions one doesn’t usually associate with Republicans. He criticized the death penalty, mostly for being unequally applied (though he believed in it for rare cases). He opposed the incarceration of nonviolent, non-dangerous offenders, believing restitution was a more redemptive approach for both perpetrator and victim.
He also founded Angel Tree, which collects gifts for inmates’ kids at Christmas. You can imagine how those kids feel around Christmastime. Our church has participated in that worthy effort for several years.
All of Chuck Colson’s speaking fees and book royalties went to Prison Fellowship Ministries. He warned against attaching a heavenly kingdom to political agendas. Pretty sound advice. He also urged Christians to think and act more like Jesus. Which is what we should be doing, anyway.

I urge you to go to Prison Fellowship’s website. You’ll be impressed; might even shed a tear. Colson finished strong. Would that we all could say that.


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Feared Classes, Risking change/changing the risk and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Brave Man is Dead

  1. Beth Vice says:

    Thank you, Sam, for highlighting the good things Chuck did after he was born again. I was privileged to hear him a couple of times and his intelligence, humility, and passion were impressive. He allowed God to use his failings to reach many for Christ.

  2. Frank Yates says:

    Leave it to the news media to focus on dirt.

    • samuelehall says:

      Very true, Frank. The media has abrogated much of its responsibility to inform. Sensationalism, celebrities, and demagoguery are primary, it seems, but that’s a reflection of our culture. If we demanded better … I’m not sure how we the people could pull it off.

  3. Lloyd Lowry says:

    I counted eight Colson books in my library. Second only to that other Chuck — Swindoll. One of the truly great Christian thinkers, who also put his faith into practice. His passing leaves a huge vacuum in evangelical intellectual discourse, at least here on earth.

  4. Doris Minard says:

    A nice piece on a noteworthy Christian with some new information about his lifie and activities.

  5. This is great, Sam. I feel just as you do. I’ve read several obits about Chuck and have been close to tears. He did what we all should do, and American Christianity has lost one of its true heroes. Who, now, will stand in the gap? I’m going to try and I know you already are. Thanks for sharing.

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