It is truly an honor to be here, to be here together as a family … especially in light of the 40th anniversary of Prison Fellowship and the 25th anniversary of BreakPoint. You have given our family a great gift …
We remember those early years of Prison Fellowship. … My dad took [me and my brothers] into prisons. We saw things that we never dreamed we would see. The joy in that prison when the men praised God was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We could tell every time we went into a prison with our dad why he would say he loved to preach in prison more than any other place in the world.
There’s a Scripture that’s always been used with Prison Fellowship, from Isaiah: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.”
The first time I went back to Quantico Cemetery to see my dad’s grave site … I sat on the grass for the longest time. And then I saw it. Someone had placed a reed right up against my dad’s stone. And I picked that reed up. It was not bruised or broken. It was whole.
Our dad had a deep passion to raise up other Christian leaders, to speak into their lives, to encourage them, to develop them. And from that desire, the Colson Center was born. He wanted other people to understand the truth of Jesus Christ and how that impacts the way we see all of life, and how that impacts the way we live …
I used to love to sit at the breakfast table with my dad. The table, you couldn’t even see. It was covered with newspapers. Some of you know what that looked like with my dad. It was covered with newspapers and a yellow legal pad and his pen, and his black address book and his telephone and his 3x5 cards that would come in and out up his pocket with ideas.
It was like we would get caught in the backdraft of his energy. It was awesome, wasn’t it? But I loved to sit there in the morning, and sometimes he would read something to me from “Streams in the Desert” or something from the Bible. He was such an encourager to me in my own life. My dad made me feel like nothing too terrible could ever happen in the world.
As many accomplishments as our dad had, he was fully present for us and the family, hopping on a plane or on the phone when there was any kind of a need, or even when there wasn’t. He loved being with his family and we loved being with him.
Something happened to my dad when my son Max [came around] — some of you know I have a really awesome son. Max is 25, with autism. Nobody could get my dad to clear his schedule. Nobody could get my dad to stop working — except Max. When we would come for a week, the phone calls stopped, writing stopped, the staff had a vacation. I think there were parties in the office because ‘Max and Emily are there.’
But it was glorious because we just had time together. My dad would get down on the floor and play trains and Legos with Max. He played a hiding game and hide under the bed to surprise Max because it just gave Max such joy. He spent a whole day one day just side-by-side with Max, teaching him how to wax a car. I’m not sure who had a better time. Their relationship deepened my dad’s understanding of the sanctity of human life.
A few years back, as you heard President Bush say, we went to the Oval Office with my dad and [wife] Patty. It was really exciting for our dad to receive a 2008 Presidential Citizens Medal. It was great. It was so exciting. We got in there, waiting to go into the Oval Office, and we walked in the Roosevelt Room. And as soon as we walk in, Dad pointed to a chair and he said, “That’s my seat.” He said, “That’s where I sat every morning in the White House for briefings.” He said, “That’s where we sat when we thought the decisions we were making would change the world.”
Well, it turns out God changed our dad’s heart when the decision he made was for Christ. None of this was easy or comfortable or convenient. But our dad was obedient to the call of Christ, and he would not have done it any other way.
And like his hero, William Wilberforce, God accomplished great things through Chuck Colson. He lived, he lives in a strong, steady pulse of life in Christ.
Someone said to me this morning, we can finally give Chuck Colson the award he never would’ve accepted. You know he would have fought against this. But I think there’s one way he would have readily accepted … It would honor our dad greatly to share the recognition of this award with … volunteers, friends, co-laborers in Christ, those who will stand on the truth of Christ …
Those who persevere for the sake of the Gospel, those who are obedient to the call of Christ, those who know that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, you are Chuck Colson’s legacy.
And may we say, with the Apostle Paul, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. And as our dad would encourage us, remain at your posts and do your duty. God bless you, and thank you.
• Emily Colson is a speaker and author of “Dancing with Max: A Mother and Son Who Broke Free” (Zondervan, 2010). This is an excerpt from her April 9 remarks to the 2016 Wilberforce Award Dinner, which honored her father, Charles W. “Chuck” Colson.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.