Heaven Gains; We’ve Lost a Giant

22 Apr

By Charlie Butts, One News Now

Chuck Colson, known worldwide for founding Prison Fellowship and several other ministry outreaches, has gone home to be with the Lord.

On March 31, the 80-year-old Colson had surgery for a pool of blood on the surface of his brain. In the days following surgery, he seemed to improve slightly each day but took a turn for the worse late Tuesday (April 17). Family members were called to his bedside. He passed away Saturday afternoon shortly after 3:00 p.m. (Eastern) at a northern Virginia hospital.

In a statement from Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship, says while he, the family, and numerous others grieve the loss, “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.”

Liske tells OneNewsNow the world has lost one of the most eloquent and influential voices in evangelicalism today.

“Chuck was an individual who spoke with great authority about the grace of God,” Liske shares. “Chuck truly believed in this interchange and tension between truth and grace, and that you needed the most of both continually — because he had experienced incredible transformation in his [own] life.”

Colson was special counsel to President Richard M. Nixon from 1969 to 1973. After pleading guilty for his role in the Watergate scandal, he served seven months in prison — becoming a Christian while serving his sentence. Out of that experience, Colson founded Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

“Chuck modeled and believed to the core of his being in the transformational power of the gospel,” Liske adds. “And he believed that the local church was God’s ‘Plan A’ in developing a movement of local churches across the country to carry the mantel of the gospel.”

The afternoon before he became ill, Colson hosted 53 Christian leaders from around the country and challenged them to understand the transformational power of the gospel in individuals’ lives and the lives of organizations — and that they “would be the movement that Jesus so desired.” Liske says Colson was the “champion who held that flag very high.”

Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, describes Colson as “one of the really unique characters that ever crosses the stage of human history.”
“You couldn’t meet him and not know that you’re … meeting one of the most interesting characters around,” Paige tells OneNewsNow. “And of course, he was a classic case of a brilliant man who made serious mistakes. But out of that serious mistake he found the Lord and righted his ship in the middle of the ocean and sailed off to the most stellar victories that anybody could ever have.”

The seminary president believes Colson never forgot the prisoners he served time with.

“And of course so many prisoners who really had no future life have come to have a future as a result of the ministry of Chuck Colson,” notes Patterson, “and to say nothing of individuals outside of the prisons whose lives crossed his and whose lives were pretty well messed up but found a way. He was just a remarkable person in his faithfulness to Christ.”

American Family Association (AFA) president Tim Wildmon notes that in the decades following conversion to Christianity, Colson became one of the “generals” in the Christian Community.

“His writings, his organizational skills that he had in putting groups together, his apologetics, defending the faith capabilities,” Wildmon lists. “I mean, he had a lot going for him — and he means so much to the Christian community in America. He’s going to be very missed.”

Wildmon says he is heartened knowing that Colson is now in heaven. He adds that Colson’s Prison Fellowship ministry will continue to impact lives as his legacy to not only America, but other countries where it was set up. And Wildmon notes that Colson’s radio program Breakpoint will continue on American Family Radio, the radio network operated by AFA.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council tells OneNewsNow that over the last decade at FRC, Colson became his friend and mentor.

“And just as I’ve seen him, he is kind of the statesman theologian of our time and as a Francis Schaeffer [type of person] helping us know how to take the Word of God and apply it to our lives,” he offers. “And there’s no question that he will be sorely missed.”

According to Perkins, Colson challenged Christian America to be salt and light to everyone, including the down and out — a challenge the FRC president says remains today.

“I think the challenge from Chuck Colson will be to continue to live out our faith in an authentic way where we are meeting the needs of those around us — physical, spiritual, emotional needs — but also holding up a standard of righteousness and truth,” he adds.

Colson is survived by his wife of more than 45 years, Patty, and three children. Funeral arrangements are pending. Cards may be sent to Prison Fellowship Ministries, 44180 Riverside Parkway, Lansdowne, VA 20176.

 

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