"Mr. Moore, my name is Charles Colson, and I work for a ministry called Prison Fellowship."
Thus began one of the most important relationships of my life. It ended all too soon, when, like Enoch, Chuck was suddenly summoned home.
I had just come home from work and was catching the news before dinner when the phone rang. Our daughter, Ashley, answered, and came into the den to say it was for me. "Hello?" I ventured, and then came Chuck's reply.
He introduced himself as though he had no reason to expect that I should know who he was. That same humility characterized Chuck though all the 25 years I knew him, during which we worked together on a wide range of projects.
Chuck was a man of eminent good will and compassion, as witness the way he devoted his life to the last, the lost, and the least among us. He loved prison inmates not just because he had been one of them, but because he saw something in them few bothered to observe:
They are made in the image and likeness of God.
God's call to Chuck to work with prisoners is in many ways of parable of the Gospel itself, and of its promise to bring redemption and renewal to even the most lawless, downcast, and defeated person -- or society.
Chuck understood that unless a society is grounded in the truth of the Gospel and divine Law -- the works of the Law being written on the hearts of all men (Rom. 2.14, 15) -- there is no possibility of justice, no hope that compassion can prevail, and no abiding way to work for good will among men. From this conviction sprang his devotion to Christian worldview and to training leaders to build the Church in the years to come.
I will miss Chuck. From that first call, when he asked me to come by his office for an interview, to the night, now almost three weeks ago, I wheeled him off the platform to the waiting EMTs, I counted him as a friend, and he treated me like one. While I'm sure my contribution was never as important or significant as he always insisted it was, it was a great privilege and a source of deep satisfaction and joy to be in his company and be drawn along in the slipstream of the breakneck pace at which he sought the Kingdom and righteousness of God.
Chuck walked with God. And then God took him.
Thanks be to God.
(Cross-posted at The Fellowship of Ailbe.)