OUR FOUNDER, CHUCK COLSON
Charles “Chuck” Colson, President Richard M. Nixon's White House counsel and hatchet man, served time in a federal prison camp for a Watergate-related crime. After his incarceration, Chuck felt led by God to honor a promise he made to remember his fellow prisoners and their families. That promise grew into Prison Fellowship® and the world's largest family of prison ministries.
The Legacy of Chuck Colson
The story of our founder is a testimony to God’s grace and mercy.
As a new Christian, Chuck Colson voluntarily pled guilty to obstruction of justice in 1974 and served seven months in Alabama’s Maxwell Prison for his part in the Watergate scandal.
In his best-selling memoir, Born Again, Chuck wrote, “I found myself increasingly drawn to the idea that God had put me in prison for a purpose and that I should do something for those I had left behind.”
Colson emerged from prison with a new mission: mobilizing the Christian church to minister to prisoners.
In 1976, he founded Prison Fellowship, which is now the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform. In recognition of his work among prisoners, Colson received the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1993.
Chuck Colson passed away April 21, 2012. His legacy continues, however, in the work of Prison Fellowship and in the lives of the many people his ministry has touched.
After a career in hardball politics, Chuck Colson emerged as one of the most influential evangelical leaders of the past half century, devoting his life to ministering to prisoners and sharing the Gospel’s message of love and hope to millions.
"In Matthew 25, Jesus says, ‘I was in prison, and you visited me.’ He calls upon His followers to minister to those who are behind bars. In other words, we will be judged in part by the way we treat those who are in prison. The fact that a man has committed a crime, and is paying the price, does not mean that he forfeits his God-given dignity."
—Chuck Colson (Justice Report 1977, ‘High-Voltage Humiliation’)
"For more than 35 years, Chuck Colson, a former prisoner himself … had a tremendous ministry reaching into prisons and jails with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I get to heaven and see Chuck again, I believe I will see many, many people there whose lives have been transformed because of the message he shared with them. … I counted a privilege to have called him friend."
-The Rev. Billy Graham, Evangelist
"Chuck was truly a brilliant visionary, a man who understood human frailties and wanted to bring Christ’s love and compassion into the lives of the downtrodden. His life exemplified the admonition for all of us contained in Micah 6: 'to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.' "
- Norman A. Carlson, Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons (Ret.)