I was born three years after the Watergate scandal. For me, as for many of his younger staff members, the Chuck Colson of that era was a sort of mythical figure. We had all heard of him, of course, but there was virtually no trace of him left in the man we worked with — aside from the “maniacal energy” that stayed with him all his life. At 80 he would charge through the workday, leaving 20- and 30-somethings stumbling exhausted in his wake.
But the Chuck Colson we knew was the Colson of Born Again
, of Prison Fellowship Ministries
and BreakPoint Radio
— a man driven by a deep love for God, brimming over with ideas about how to preach the gospel, help the poor and marginalized, and reform the culture. And a man who was endlessly generous and encouraging to a young writer.
Yet we were all aware that the Colson of our time grew out of that other Colson. Chuck himself never tried to hide this; none of his critics was harder on him than he was on himself. It was his own story of wrongdoing and redemption that sparked his desire to help others find what he had found. Very rarely have I ever met a person so completely honest about who he was, and so insistent that his Redeemer get every bit of the credit for the change in him and for all the good that he did afterwards. A life transformed through Christ was his testimony, and will be his legacy.
— Gina Dalfonzo recently celebrated her tenth anniversary working for BreakPoint, Chuck Colson’s worldview ministry.
FR. RAYMOND J. DE SOUZA
Chuck Colson was a Christian disciple, apostle, and evangelist. His life’s work was the proclamation of the Gospel, but his work drew attention to an urgent public-policy problem. Americans in general, and conservatives in particular, have a blind spot when it comes to criminal justice and the prison system. Neither is worthy of American ideals, nor even the basics of fundamental justice. Those ground up by the depredations of the system are often innocent, but even the guilty do not deserve to be demeaned as little more than human debris. Chuck Colson’s own experience and Christian faith taught him that human dignity must be respected at all times, that the guilty have the capacity for conversion, and that the incarcerated are precisely those of whom Jesus spoke as the “least of these” in whom the face of Christ appears in our midst. Following Matthew 25, there are many Christians who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick. Visiting the imprisoned has fewer subscribers. Chuck Colson took the Scripture seriously and did as Jesus commanded. And when visiting those in prison, he gave them the pearl of great price — his faith in Jesus Christ.
— Father Raymond J. de Souza is a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, a columnist for the National Post, and a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.