Evil Hatchet Man.
Every one of these words was once used to describe the character of Chuck Colson, a Nixon Presidential aide who became one of the first to go to prison after the Watergate scandal broke and President Nixon was forced out of office. Back when the political game was won using cheap shots and dirty plays (I know, I’m talking about it as if it’s in the past…), Chuck Colson led the pack in the use of shrewd tactics.
But then, something happened.
Yes, he got caught and for many years people dismissed the change in him as nothing more than one more trick. But it wasn’t true. Nearly four decades of relentless and tireless work for prisoners revealed that Chuck Colson had truly been changed from the inside out.
Chuck Colson knew prisoners because he had lived with them. He had been one. What does a man who experiences literal chains do when he is released back to freedom?
“I could never, ever have left prison and accomplished what has been accomplished but for God doing it through me,” Chuck once said. In 1993 he is quoted as saying, “I shudder to think of what I’d been if I had not gone to prison. Lying on the rotten floor of a cell, you know it’s not prosperity or pleasure that’s important, but the maturing of the soul.”
Thank God for second chances. And third. And fourth.
Our past does not have to define who we are today. Redemption is sweet and offered to all. For 36 years, Chuck Colson faithfully carried out the simple command of loving “the least of these.” His ministry, Prison Fellowship Ministry, fought relentlessly for prisoners who, just like himself, needed someone to give them a second chance. He developed work-release programs, marriage seminars, training for prisoners to help mainstream them back into society when they got out.
Chuck Colson was a champion for the outcast of society and in so doing, he changed the course of how prisons are run and prisoners are treated, not just here in America, but around the world as well.
Why do we complicate the message of Christ? Why do we water it down, twist and contort it into to something that is in no way recognizable or appealing to others?
That’s all it is. Love people and love them well. Love them not because you have to, but because you want to. Love them when they are unlovable. Loving people doesn’t have to be so scary, but sometimes it will be hard. Love anyway. The poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden and, yes, the ones who have brought harm – they need love.
Sometimes love has to be a choice – not a feeling. As our pastor said yesterday, “Sometimes you have to do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.” Sometimes love is hard. But to give yourself over to loving the unlovable?
My husband spent a year under Chuck Colson’s leadership as part of his Centurian’s Program. Colson changed my husband. He helped shape him into the man and thinker that he is today. I am indebted to Chuck Colson for the way that he developed my husband into a leader who is quick to listen and slow to speak.
Chuck Colson was a man with a second chance and he didn’t waste a minute in using that second chance to change lives. What will you do with your second chance?
“We grieve that our brother, our founder, our inspiration is no longer with us. But we rejoice that Chuck is with Jesus, we rejoice as we reflect on his life and legacy and that we could be a part of that, and we rejoice when we think of all the redeemed in heaven who will greet him and thank him for the role he played in their salvation.” Jim Liske, Chief Executive Prison Fellowship Ministries
These are just a few of the words used to describe Chuck Colson in the days following his passing . Second Chances…
Here is a great article on Chuck Colson.