Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Living in a Grander Vision
Charles ‘Chuck’ Colson founded Prison Fellowship International as a result of his own breaking experience.
PETER was generally a successful fisherman and he never thought he would do anything other than live the life of wind and water and sudden storms – and sometimes large and profitable catches.
Why would he? The word ‘career’ had not been invented. Your occupation was your family’s occupation, and it wouldn’t change.
Until Jesus stepped into the boat. He presented Peter with a bigger vision for his life. It’s the same ‘grander vision’ He presents to each of us – finding those who are lost, serving those who are under-resourced and loving those who have been forgotten. Some of us do this out of a call to encourage and equip others; many of us do it in our assigned workplace mission field. All of us know that when Jesus steps into our boat, it rocks and becomes uncomfortable.
Chuck Colson you may remember as a generally successful person who became chief counsel to US president Nixon in the early 1970s. A high flyer, he held military and academic credentials, including a law degree. He also knew all the right people. It looked good – very good. But things aren’t always how they look. He wasn’t directly involved in the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation, but some peripheral activities put him in an Alabama prison for seven months. That took him from pinnacle to pit in no time at all.
Colson was an achiever and he looked for significance in all his achievements. Working alongside the US President at the age of 39 was, in one way, a great experience. However, he felt hollow and purposeless. His downfall led him to seek the real significance which he found in a new identity in Jesus. Freed, he devoted is life to help people out of the prison of their perspective of themselves, by introducing former inmates to the purpose, inclusion and hope that could be theirs.
His Grander Vision took him to other countries and their prisons. The story goes that an inmate of Mandalupa Prison in the Philippines had come to Christ through Colson’s Prison Fellowship International. PFI staff coached him and mentored him and helped him work up a simple, reproducible plan to help other inmates.
The staple of public transport in the Philippines is the pedicab which is like a bicycle with a sidecar. A scheme shared by a number of churches would put up a $120 loan for a newly-released inmate to purchase a pedicab – together with an introduction to the God who created them and wanted to give them hope and a future. The loan would be repaid from earnings, which kept a pool of finance available. For many of the users, it would be their first paid job.
On the day that Chuck visited PFI’s base in Manila, he was surprised to see 35 shiny new pedicabs lined up, with their owner – and families – lined up beside them. As he watched, a little girl ran up to one man and wrapped her arms round his leg. he had been an inmate, living in a small cell, with no vision of anything let alone a future. Now he had a job, steady income and the security of knowing the Lord. The little girl’s big brown eyes said it all. “Daddy, you’re home with us again!”
That was a powerful picture of transformation. It derived from Chuck Colson’s own pathway of ego crucifixion and personal transformation as Jesus stepped into his boat, rocked it a lot – and gave him a Grander Vision.