Chuck Colson was a skilled practitioner of hardball politics who rose to the highest levels of American politics as a trusted adviser to Richard Nixon. But nothing he achieved there would compare to what he accomplished as an evangelical leader and founder of the global ministry Prison Fellowship. Chuck’s life was the embodiment of the truism found in Scripture that what the enemy means for evil, God can turn for good. He demonstrated in his own life that, with Christ, there is always hope for a better future for us all, a future free from bitterness or regret. Through his ministry, Chuck brought hope and the Gospel to millions languishing in prisons all over the world. His acceptance speech upon receiving the Templeton Prize in 1993 remains one of the most moving and eloquent defenses of the transformative power of the Gospel I have ever read. Chuck was also an influential figure in the larger culture, a behind-the-scenes player in the rising political aspirations of evangelicals and an important interlocutor in Catholic-evangelical dialogue and cooperation. Chuck’s social and theological views were firm, but he expressed them with civility, dignity, grace, and a respect for others with whom he disagreed, something which is all too often missing in our civic discourse.
The first book I read after I came to Christ (other than the Bible) was Chuck’s Watergate memoir, Born Again. The book and Chuck’s testimony had a major impact on me and millions of others. Along with the passing of D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell in recent years, Chuck’s death marks the passing of a remarkable generation of leaders who ushered evangelicals from political and cultural exile into the mainstream of American life. Beyond that, he was a brilliant and good man who used his talents, energy, and intelligence to touch others with the love of God. It was a life well lived, and he will be greatly missed.
— Ralph E. Reed Jr. is president of Century Strategies and the former head of the Christian Coalition.
ALAN E. SEARS
Chuck Colson was a friend to me, to Alliance Defense Fund, and to countless other leaders. He encouraged, pushed, and stood with us.
He “pushed us” is really an understatement. With Chuck’s gift at rhetoric he would call you, outline his idea, ask for your reaction, and before you knew it he would so thoroughly tie you into agreement that by the time he asked you to put your name onto the document, be part of the effort, or devote your time and resources to the mission, there was no possibility of declining. You would smile, say “yes,” and do it. Everyone would, because Chuck never asked anything for himself. He asked from his love of the Gospel, for America, and for the cause of liberty.
No one but Chuck could have assembled the Manhattan Declaration drafters. I sat in the room in utter amazement at who was at my table and what unity he had forged before serious editing began.
My last conversation with him was from a hotel room in Houston the afternoon before he was stricken. And I left that call once again saying “yes,” agreeing to devote some significant effort and resources to yet another project he proposed. Our nation will greatly miss this good man’s drive.
— Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund.