"The choices we make change
the story of our life." ©

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


From the White House to Prison

DAY TWO — W. Terry Whalin, Writer/ Editor

God Allows U-Turns Guest Blogger

It’s one of the most startling U-Turns in the political arena. I’m talking about Chuck Colson who went to prison for his work in the Nixon White House. The story of his dramatic changed life has been captured in best-selling books like Born Again. From Chuck’s prison experience, he started a world-wide ministry known as Prison Fellowship.

In the early nineties, it was my privilege to write a children’s biography Chuck Colson which was part of the Today’s Heroes series (targeted to 8 to 12 year old readers). My book shows a completely different side of Chuck’s personality that I’ve not seen in any other book. Colson is a serious practical joker and some of this humor is weaved into this biography about his life. If you get a chance, I hope you will read it.

In today’s entry I want to give a brief story about a Chuck Colson U-Turn. In a couple of months, we will celebrate Good Friday and Easter. For many years, Chuck led a team of people into the prisons for these services. From his perspective, there is no better place on earth to celebrate the empty tombs than the dark tombs of prison. In 1982, for the fourth straight year, Chuck Colson led a small group of about twenty volunteers to the Indiana State Penitentiary in Terre Haute. He didn’t personally know all of the people in the group.

One of the people in particular Chuck wanted to see was a young black man on death row, James Brewer. Now from my book: “While waiting for his death sentence, James had grown seriously ill from a kidney disease. Even so, he had maintained a powerful witness about Jesus Christ to others on death row.

After Chuck’s visit with Brewer, the Prison Fellowship group sang, “Amazing Grace” and Chuck began moving everyone toward the exit. He was growing anxious about the time. At a nearby airstrip, a plane waited to fly Chuck into Indianapolis where he would see the Indiana governor. As he was about to shepherd everyone through the exit, he noticed one of the local volunteers still standing by the cell of James Brewer.

With one more glance at his watch—it was getting late—Chuck walked over and said to the short, white man standing close to the bars of Brewer’s cell, an open Bible in his hand, “I’m sorry, but we have to leave.”

The man looked up at Chuck, “Just give us another minute, please. This is important.”

His patience running thin after the long, tiring day, Chuck snapped, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t keep the governor waiting. We must go.”

The man responded softly, “I understand—but this is important. You see, I’m Judge Clement. I sentenced James Brewer to die. Now James is my brother, and we want a minute to pray together.”

Chuck stepped back, shocked and awed by what was happening before him. Suddenly, it didn’t matter whom he kept waiting. Here were two men, one with power and one powerless. One had sentenced the other to death. If they weren’t brothers in Christ, Brewer might have wanted to kill the judge for his sentence. Now, instead, they were praying together in love and joy.

Later the judge told Chuck, “Since I sentenced Brewer four years ago, I’ve been praying for him every day.”

As they walked out of the Indiana Penitentiary, his upcoming meeting with the governor seemed far less important than what he had just seen. Once again, firsthand, Chuck had watched the power of Christ tear down barriers and build a sense of love and caring between people who might otherwise have been filled with hate and bitterness. This is the real power, the power of Christ to change lives, Chuck thought. Compared to this, the power I had in the White House is nothing.”

Where do you find real power? I guarantee it’s not in something inside you.

This is Terry Whalin signing off for today. Tomorrow we’ll learn a U-Turn story from an African Prince.

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