Defend the Truth. Live the Faith. Advance the Kingdom. These became the hallmarks of Chuck Colson’s life and ministry. The founder of Prison Fellowship passed away last Saturday at the age of eighty.
To my knowledge, he had no connection with speculative fiction, but he was staunchly engaged with faith. He came to Christ at the crisis point of his life — in the midst of the 1973 Watergate scandal. His involvement eventually sent him to prison when he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and received a 1-3 year jail sentence.
God used a variety of factors to draw Mr. Colson to Himself. For those of us who have been influenced by C. S. Lewis, it is gratifying to learn that he was one of those factors. Mr. Colson said in Mere Christianity he saw himself as the person steeped in pride that Lewis painted.
When Mr. Colson went to prison, he did so as a Christian. Later he said the experience was the best thing that happened to him because he found out what life was all about.
In the years that followed, Mr. Colson involved himself in a variety of ministries in addition to Prison Fellowship, including BreakPoint, a radio program offering Christian commentary to the news of the day, and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview — both Christian worldview ministries that seek “to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life.”
He also authored, solely or with other writers, more than thirty books — Born Again, his autobiography about coming to Christ, being his first. Other titles include How Now Shall We Live?, The Sky Is Not Falling: Living Fearlessly in These Turbulent Times , The Good Life, Loving God, and The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters.
Mr. Colson spoke at any number of venues as well, but he did not capitalize on his fame in order to get rich. Instead he donated his speaker fees and book royalties to ministries.
In 2008 he received the Presidential Citizens Medal for “his good heart and his compassionate efforts to renew a spirit of purpose in the lives of countless individuals.” Years earlier, on the Family Life Today radio program, he said he considered a life of ministry to be his duty, coming from a heart of gratitude for what his Savior had done for him.
Many tributes to his life are beginning to appear, from Christians and non-Christians alike. A man once notorious, his name synonymous with scandal and corruption, he is now known for his servant’s heart. As Pastor Chuck Swindoll quoted in his comments about Chuck Colson, he “fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith.”
I’m confident he’s already received his “well done, good and faithful servant,” the first of many rewards awaiting him in heaven.
What impact has Chuck Colson had on your life, your view of the world, your ministry?