The Chuck Colson Ministry
Learn about the Chuck Colson ministry and how Chuck Colson went from involvment in the Watergate scandal to find a new purpose in life through his Christian faith.
Chuck Colson is thankful he went to prison. No, the former Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon isn't thankful the political scandal happened or for his involvement. He is happy, however, he found a new purpose in life through his Christian faith, and he wants other prisoners to find the same purpose. He even sells a tape online, "Thank God for Watergate."
On his website Colson recalled that in his position with Nixon he was one of the most powerful men in the country. He helped President Nixon win re-election.
"A few months later I was in prison," Colson recalled, remembering that the event helped him evaluate the need for a change in his life. "There was more than a little skepticism in Washington when I announced that I had become a Christian. But I wasn't bitter."
Colson said he didn't believe he had to convince those who didn't believe his life had changed. He just had to carry out the task he believed God wanted him to--let prisoners know their lives could be different.
In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship. The ministry has a variety of programs to share the faith with prisoners and teaches church leaders and laymen to do the same. Prison Fellowship is always seeking voluteers to help in the ministry.
Prison Fellowship has Operation Starting Line, which seeks to share the Christian gospel with every prisoner in America; Angel Tree, which ministers to the families of prisoners; Koinonia House, which provides 15 months of Biblical discipleship and Christian family living and, in Texas, Innerchange Freedom Iniative.
The Intiative, which was requested by the state, is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week ministry which seeks to teach Biblical principles to qualifying prisoners who are 18-24 months away from release. It also teaches churches how to minister to prisoners and families and continues working with the prisoners 6-12 months after their release. Only prisoners who have volunteered are in the program.
Some of the programs have made a difference, even if they aren't always received well by every prisoner.
"One thing that always impresses me is the complete waste of lives I find behind bars," former prisoner Brian Bookheart said, recalling he once saw a former New York Giants football player in prison.
Bookheart said at some events prisoners would scream to try to distract people from hearing the message at events of Operation Starting Line. They may also boo. Bookheart, noted however, after an event some of the same prisoners would come up and thank the sponsors for being there. He noted one prisoner who used the worst profanities later "knelt down on his knees...prayed and cried uncontrollably."
There was a program at Riker's Island, New York in June, which ministered to 14,500 prisoners in 15 facilities. There will also be programs in Missouri in September and Virginia in October. The programs have been scheduled at Riker's Island for three years. At one time there were 1,500 stabbings at the facilities annually, and now there are less than 100. New York Corrections officers attribute the decrease at least in part to Operation Starting Line.
Colson also teaches churches, political leaders, journalists and law enforcement officials how Biblical principles in a prisoner's life could change things and about restitution. He also teaches churches to reach out to the victims of crimes and sells books for that purpose.
Operation Angel Tree provides gifts to families of prisoners at Christmas.
As a part of his daily radio show, "Breakpoint," Colson also comments on moral and other issues of the day, such as abortion, animal lovers taking legal action to give legal rights to apes and others.
Chuck Colson believes a person's life can change even if he has made many mistakes. He hopes many prisoners will discover that as well.