My very first job out of college was working for Chuck Colson. He had just been released from prison and was starting a prison ministry. I was his first “research assistant/travel companion.” Chuck had been humbled and broken by his experience in prison and vowed when he left never to forget those he left behind. And he did not. Despite job offers that would have paid him seven figures after prison, he turned them all down to start Prison Fellowship Ministries.
Chuck took seriously the admonition of Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them.” I traveled with him as we visited state and federal prisons throughout the country. Observing Chuck speak in prison chapels and visiting with inmates on death row was a remarkable experience. Any elitism he had from his patrician upbringing or Nixon White House days was gone. He cared about the inmates, about the conditions they lived in, and about their plight — and they knew it. They were often big, burly, tattooed men of every race and background. Chuck hugged them all.
I saw him do this often — away from the TV cameras and the media — and it was always quite moving.
Many of the obits about Chuck have highlighted that he was Nixon’s “hatchet man” and “dirty-tricks specialist.” Too little has been said about the man who spent the better part of his life, post-Watergate, caring “for the least of these.”
— Michael Cromartie is vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
JANICE SHAW CROUSE
Evangelical Christianity has lost one of its most authentic believers. Chuck Colson spent his post–White House years living out his repentance by serving the “least of these” in American society: prisoners and other vulnerable populations. He devoted countless hours to witnessing the transformative power of believing in Jesus Christ. Over the last 30 years he has also been one of evangelicalism’s most incisive and effective writers, with some 30 books and thousands of recorded speeches. His thoughts and Christian witness will continue to have profound influence for the one whom he called “Savior and Lord.” It was my privilege to be named “Woman of the Year” alongside him as “Man of the Year” in 2009 and to have him seek me out to express appreciation for my contribution to the “Christian Worldview” conference on the day that he went to the hospital. Those are two personal memories that I will treasure; I am also inspired by the example of one transformed life lived totally for Christ and His Kingdom.
— Janice Shaw Crouse is senior fellow at Concerned Women for America‘s Beverly LaHaye Institute.