Monday, April 23, 2012

More on Chuck Colson

We blogged yesterday about the sad death of former Nixon aide Charles "Chuck" Colson, who after a dramatic conversion to Christianity went on to devote his life to prisoners around the globe.

We came across this tribute to Colson today, and reckon that it merits publication in its entirety; check this out:

Chuck Colson: Goodbye, Friend and Hero

By Will Nance , CP Guest Contributor

As a young 20-something, I had the unique experience of working at Prison Fellowship and serving as an aide to Chuck Colson. Over the next few years, Chuck became my friend as well as my hero. Chuck called me his chief-of-staff – which meant bag carrier, travel agent, office manager, radio producer and chauffer. It also meant airport restaurant table mate, prayer partner, fellow globetrotter, and companion in prisons all over the planet. He took me along on overnights in governor's mansions, breakfasts with senators, dinners with billionaires and death row Bible studies.

Everybody knows that Chuck was a brilliant thinker and visionary. He was truly one of the premier Christian leaders of our age. However, Chuck was my boss and I loved his passion, his fast pace and his tremendous sense of humor. Every great leader has a few quirks – Chuck was no different. While driving him around, I learned to just follow his instructions as he knew the perfect driving route from any point to any other point. Just accept the fact that Chuck loves practical jokes and that you are going to be the bunt of many of them. Don't waste ministry money. Chuck would run us ragged trying to find him the absolute cheapest airline ticket even if it meant inconvenient connections through small Midwestern cities. And never be late – anywhere – especially to the airport. Sometimes he would be so early he'd take the earlier flight.

I learned a few things very clearly. Chuck loved prisoners. Chuck loved his family. Chuck loved Patty. And Chuck loved Jesus. He was completely and utterly sold out. No one could every question his motives as Chuck gave every cent from speaking fees and book royalties to Prison Fellowship.

As I reflect, I am so thankful that I had the honor and privilege of becoming friends with this truly remarkable individual. Like no one else, Chuck had an amazing ability to spend the morning with the very least of these – prisoners rejected by their families and outcast by society, and then spend the afternoon with the president all the while feeling completely comfortable with both. I often watched in amazement as Chuck would walk into the darkest of prisons and greet a group of inmates. It was not uncommon to see a prisoner, hardened by a life of violence and depravity, dissolve into tears thanking Chuck for sending Christmas gifts to his children through Angel Tree and expressing his new found faith in Jesus. On a trip to Ecuador visiting a dilapidated, disease infested prison, Chuck dismissed the warden's warning of immanent danger and marched into the yard to give the Good News to the crowd. Over 100 inmates, covered with open sores and filth, all huddled around Chuck and listened to every word. He stayed to shake every last hand.

The last time I saw Chuck was about a year ago when he and Patty had lunch with my wife, Penny and I. We recounted funny stories of trips to Greece and Scotland and prison visits in Russia. To no surprise, with no retirement in sight, Chuck was focused like a laser on advancing the Kingdom through yet another worthy project.

As we all feel his loss and the tremendous hole that is left in our lives, let us remember his words – "Remain at your posts and do your duty – for the glory of God and His kingdom" and honor him by striving to live up to his charge.

Chuck Colson was indeed a remarkable man. The world is a sadder place for his passing, but a better place for his life of service to the unlovely.

9 comments:

SHG said...

Everybody knows that Chuck was a brilliant thinker and visionary. He was truly one of the premier Christian leaders of our age.

Sorry, but this cannot be allowed to stand undisputed.

Chuck Colson was a selfish amoral coward who was a key active participant in one of the darkest episodes of America's democracy. He was just another in a long line of American political thugs who suddenly see the light just after they're charged with corruption while in the highest offices of government.

Colson was the sort of man who so wished to follow the teachings of Christ that he advised one president to firebomb the Brookings Institution and another to pre-emptively declare war on and invade Iraq, and so loved the truth that when put on the witness stand his first act was to claim Fifth Amendment protection.

The thought of Colson being offered to the world as some sort of moral role model makes me want to puke. In the words of Ben Bradlee, "As far as I'm concerned (Colson has) no standing in the morality debate."

Keeping Stock said...

@ SHG; I respect your right to hold views on Colson that differ from mine. But get your facts right. He became a Christian some time before he admitted the criminal charges against him. He was advised by his lawyers to plead not guitly but chose not to follow that advice because he wanted to do what was right. He has done enormous good through the ministry he founded, and has been an agent for change in thousands of lives. Most commentators, even the most cyncial do not dispute the genuineness of his conversion. And yes; he held strong views on certain issues, which is his perogative. You seem to be claiming that he is not entitled to his views, whilst you are entitled to yours; see the disconnect?

Anonymous said...

SHG, there is a day coming when the dead shall rise and the books are opened. You will be there along with every man Jack and woman Jill that inhabited the planet. Save your comments on Chuck Colson until after the judge's.

SHG said...

@ Keeping Stock:

"But get your facts right. He became a Christian some time before he admitted the criminal charges against him."

Exactly. He was a nasty man who did nasty things for nasty people, but that's OK because he accepted Jesus shortly before getting arrested.

"He was advised by his lawyers to plead not guitly but chose not to follow that advice because he wanted to do what was right"

He was advised by his lawyers to hide behind the Fifth Amendment regarding the charges connected to his involvement in the Watergate conspiracy, which he did. He then pled guilty to a lesser unrelated charge of obstruction of justice through defaming defendant Ellsberg in an attempt to turn the jury against him. Seven whole months in jail, what a martyr.

I'm not mentioning, of course, the way Colson came forward to accept blame and offer penitence for the crimes that were confirmed by evidence that only came to light AFTER the court case was concluded. The reason I'm not mentioning it is because it didn't happen. "New evidence? Sorry, I've got Jesus now. Bygones."

Views? Entitled to them or not, mine are that Colson was a selfish amoral coward in this world, and a superstitious crazy for believing in another.

@ Anonymous:

Riiiiiiight. Speaking of superstitious crazies...

mark said...

Oh dear KS, you really should get out a bit.


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/04/21/chuck-colson-dies-at-80/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/02/14/charles-colson-still-repeating-a-lie-he-knows-is-a-lie/

http://www.yuricareport.com/Impeachment/ColsonOnDeepThroat.html

Keeping Stock said...

Exactly. He was a nasty man who did nasty things for nasty people, but that's OK because he accepted Jesus shortly before getting arrested.

History is full of nasty men and women whose lives have been changed for good after becoming followers of Jesus SHG. I gratefully count myself amongst that number.

It's called grace; we don't deserve it, but God extends it to us anyway. As Bono once said in an interview "I don't just believe in grace; I'm depending on it.".

Michael said...

Jesus forgave the sins of a woman about to be executed. He forgave Peter, who fled when Jesus was arrested and denied knowing him. Even forgave Paul, who persecuted Christians.

A central message of Christianity is that it's not what you have done that God cares about, it's what you are going to do. Colson may have done wrong, but he faced up to it and then used his redemption to do the work of God - much like Paul.

Keeping Stock said...

Cheers for that Michael; expressed far more eloquently than I was able. And the comparison between Colson and Saul/Paul is right on the money.

Keeping Stock said...

@ Mark - I've read widely about Colson in recent days. It's odd but not unexpected that to most media, he's still the "evil genius" of Watergate than a redeemed and humbled man who acted on God's calling on his life to transform the lives of thousands of society's misfits and throwaways.