Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Real Deal


This past Saturday Charles Colson died at the age of 80. Some of you may remember him as President Nixon’s “hatchet man” in the Watergate scandal. Some of you may remember him as the founder of Prison Fellowship, a ministry he began in 1976 after being released from prison. Or someone of you may be too young to remember him at all. What I remember of him is that he was the real deal.
I haven’t met too many celebrity types in my lifetime, but I did met Mr. Colson Easter weekend, 2007. I was invited to join him and several others on his annual tradition of spending Easter with inmates. It was a women’s prison in Ohio in which a busload of us were deposited at the check-in site, searched and escorted to the cafeteria to eat lunch with inmates. We went from table to table meeting and greeting and inviting the women to worship service.
In the prison gym in front of several hundred inmates, I watched the once Chief of Staff to the President of the United States humble himself before his audience. As he professed his faith and redemption through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I witnessed an entire room of hard, broken hearts soften. For over 39 nine years his message never wavered.
I had three brief conversations with Mr. Colson that weekend. He agreed to write the foreword to my book, Man From Macedonia, that is “if you don’t write like a fourth-grader” he said. The pressure was on. But what I remember most is that during those conversations, he never took his eyes off me. He talked directly to me, like I was the only one in the room and the only one that mattered… and he did that with everyone he greeted.
Charles once said, "I shudder to think of what I'd been if I had not gone to prison. Lying on the rotten floor of a cell, you know it's not prosperity or pleasure that's important, but the maturing of the soul."

Patty, you and your family are in my prayers.

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