How could a politician who was known as Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” come to Christ?
That was the question many found themselves asking when Charles Colson announced he had given his life to Jesus.
But God was simply using Colson’s transformation to prove that He was all-powerful and all-merciful.
Here’s Charles Colson’s story.
Charles “Chuck” Colson grew up in what he called a “nominally” Christian home, but he never read the Bible or sought to understand who Jesus was or why He was important.
As a young man, Colson quickly became interested in the field of politics.
He volunteered on several political campaigns before studying history and law in college, and then served in the army for several years.
Once his time in the army was up, Colson founded his own law firm, Colson & Morin, which quickly gained attention from the political community in Washington, D.C.
After eight years of practicing law, Colson left the firm to join Richard Nixon’s presidential administration.
Although he was still in his 30s, Colson had already achieved incredible success and notoriety. He was on track for greatness – and he was just getting started.
As a member of the Nixon administration, Colson served as a liaison between the President and special interest groups, but also did much more behind the scenes. He proved himself to be highly intelligent and, in the words of many reporters, “ruthless” in his service to the President.
Colson himself admitted, “I was valuable to the President because I was willing…to get things done,” no matter what it took.
He soon gained a reputation in Washington as Nixon’s “hit man” or “hatchet man.”
This nickname was confirmed when Colson authored an infamous memo known as “Nixon’s Enemies List,” which listed Nixon’s various political opponents.
Many reporters and politicians in Washington took aim at Colson, calling him an “evil genius.”
Throughout the early 1970s, Colson worked behind the scenes of the Nixon administration, orchestrating and covering-up political misfires as necessary.
In March of 1974, however, he was indicted for conspiring to cover up the infamous Watergate burglaries.
The threat of arrest was a wake-up call for Colson. The life he had built was crumbling around him, and his sins were being exposed for all to see.
A close friend, Thomas Phillips, took the opportunity to share his Christian testimony with Colson. Sharing from the Bible and C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity, Phillips offered Colson a vision of hope far beyond the political sphere.
“The anointing of his message was so powerful that I broke down while sitting in my car in Thomas’s driveway,” Colson remembered. It was at that moment that he invited Christ into his life as Lord and Savior.
As the news of the Watergate scandal spread around the country, Colson’s sudden conversion was seen by many as a ploy to reduce his sentence.
But it was evident that Colson was truly changed.
Colson’s newfound faith would inevitably impact his actions in the Watergate trials. “I found torn between my desire to be truthful and my desire to avoid conviction on charges of which I believed myself innocent,” he confessed.
As a new Christian, Colson humbly accepted a prison sentence as part of the punishment for his wrongdoings. He spent seven months in an Alabama prison and continued to serve as a witness to bring the truth about Watergate to light.
During his time in prison, Colson’s faith grew and matured, and when he was released, he set his sights on working for Christ.
“I had become increasingly aware of what I saw as injustices done to prisoners… and shortcomings in their rehabilitation,” Colson said. “I became convinced that I was being called by God to develop a ministry to prisoners.”
In 1976, he founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to serving prisoners and their families. He knew from experience the importance of giving prisoners access to Bible studies, mentoring programs, and practical assistance when transitioning back to ordinary life.
Colson also became active as a Christian apologist and advocate, founding the Colson Center for Christian Worldview as a way to encourage and provide resources for “a movement of Christians committed to living and defending the Christian worldview.”
To that end, Colson authored several books, including the memoir Born Again, Loving God, and How Now Shall We Live? His testimony has proved over and over that God’s mercy has the power to reach anyone, no matter their background or walk of life!
After decades of service to Christ on earth, Chuck Colson passed away in 2012 due to a brain hemorrhage. His testimony continues to inspire Christians all over the world.
Praise God for His mercy!