He was 94.
On Thursday, January 10, Tom Phillips passed away at the age of 94. Tom was a successful engineer and businessman, as well as the longtime president of Raytheon Co., but to the Colson family, he was a friend and mentor. In his memoir Born Again, Prison Fellowship® founder Charles Colson recounts how Tom led him to the Lord, a watershed moment that would redefine not just Colson's life, but the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
Upon hearing the news of Tom's passing, Patty Colson issued the following statement reflecting on how much her friend meant to her and her late husband:
It's almost impossible to adequately describe my emotions when I heard that my friend Tom Phillips had gone home to the Lord. My first reaction, of course, was sadness that he is no longer with us. But then I couldn't help but think of Tom entering into the presence of the Lord, and then reuniting with his wife Gert, and my beloved husband, Chuck Colson—and that gave me such comfort and joy.
That night back in 1973, when he met with Chuck and shared the Gospel with him changed Chuck's life forever. And it changed my life and the lives of countless thousands if not millions of people around the world. Yes, I believe that God would have found another way to reach Chuck if Tom hadn't been with Chuck that night, and that Chuck still would have gone on to start Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center. But the fact of the matter is that it was Tom Phillips—a man of great achievement and yet extraordinary humility and kindness—who responded to God's call and led my dear Chuck to the Lord.
I will be forever grateful to God for Tom Phillips. I know that as I write this, Tom is basking in the presence of Christ, praising God with all the choirs of angels and saints.
Charles and Patty Colson
A POWERFUL LEGACY
Because of Tom's obedience, a legacy of faith and reconciliation persists in the Colson family as Chuck's children and grandchildren have chosen to follow Christ. In a powerful tribute for Breakpoint.org, Emily Colson writes,
"Tom, I want to thank you. … You were obedient to Christ and shared your faith with my dad. And because of that, thousands of lives were changed. But, Tom, this is personal. My life was changed, too. … When my dad gave his life to Christ, it gave me my dad back. … And then, I gave my life to Christ. And then, my son gave his life to Christ."
God used a friendship to change one life, and from that came a ministry that changed thousands. As we mourn the loss of Tom, we rejoice that he has entered eternity with his Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
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