Chuck Colson’s Burning Passion
Chuck believed that his most important legacy, more than any organization or his many books, would be people. That’s why he started what he called the Centurions Program, something that continues today under a different name, the Colson Fellows program.
Sir Isaac Newton, in a letter written in 1675 to fellow scientist Robert Hooke, wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Chuck Colson was one of those giants for many of us, and it is our privilege to steward his legacy at the Colson Center.
In fact, Chuck believed that his most important legacy, more than any organization or his many books, would be people. That’s why he started what he called the Centurions Program, something that continues today under a different name, the Colson Fellows program. Here’s Chuck Colson, in his own words, on the important vision he had for this program:
I have a burning passion—it’s the first item on my prayer list every day—and that’s to see a movement of Christians raised up from the churches to defend truth in the marketplace of ideas and to live out the Gospel. Nothing less than this kind of an awakening can possibly save our quickly deteriorating culture. That’s why I’m now spending all of my time working at BreakPoint and the Colson Center. One of my major projects is developing Christian leaders who can understand and defend a biblical view of all of life. We call this the Centurions Program.
For the past six years we have brought 100 of the best and brightest into this year-long teaching effort, to study under some of the best minds in the Christian world. It’s demanding: We read books together, view movies, and critique them; do a lot of teaching online; and have three residencies during the year in Lansdowne, Virginia, near our offices.
Our Centurion graduates are like the Marines or the Navy Seals who are on the front lines of the next wave of leaders. Can this work?
Just two weeks ago I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a rally on behalf of the Manhattan Declaration. It was organized by the Catholic Archbishop of New Mexico, Michael Sheehan, and a former congressman named Bill Redmond, who is a Centurion graduate. You can imagine my thrill when I walked into the convention center to see 1,600 participants. And they were on fire!
They were there to learn biblical worldview, to learn how to defend the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty, to learn how to become activists! There were representatives from across the denominational spectrum: Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Assemblies of God, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics. The Church had come together. And all of this was organized by one gutsy archbishop and one Centurion graduate. They in fact have built a powerful network across the state of New Mexico. So yes, it can be done.
And our Centurions are doing a whole variety of important tasks across the spectrum. Like Jon Blankmeyer, who founded a safe home for girls rescued from forced prostitution. Josue Delgado, a hospital chaplain who teaches emergency medical technicians on how to build stronger marriages. Kathy Peele, who founded a group to help mothers under distress, and so many more. By the time they are certified, Centurions know how to write, discuss, and teach Christian worldview in all sorts of settings.
They know how to create God-honoring culture through the arts, media, literature, and business. They’re able to debate ethical challenges with medical professionals, advocate human rights, and develop tomorrow’s leaders by raising children grounded in biblical values. In short, they learn to defend truth in an age in which many believe such a thing does not exist.
Look, folks, the reason the Church today is having so little impact is too many Christians view their faith only in terms of a personal relationship with Jesus. But Christianity does not stop with salvation; that’s only the beginning. We’ve got to learn how to present our worldview in a winsome way. And if we don’t do this, it simply dooms our churches to isolation and irrelevance—just when our culture desperately needs the hope of the Gospel more than ever.
After Chuck’s death in 2012, the program he started as the Centurions Program was renamed the Colson Fellows program. I think Chuck would be ecstatic that, this year, over 750 Christians from across the country, and even around the world, have been studying worldview, theology, and culture in the Colson Fellows program, and are currently planning to apply what they’ve learned in the time and place God has called them.
If you desire to make a similar impact in your community for Christ, consider studying with the Colson Fellows program next year. With over 60 regional cohorts around the country, there is likely a cohort in your region. If not, there are online cohorts offered as well. Either way, you’ll find a deeper understanding of truth and be better equipped to live out your faith in this cultural moment in whatever calling and vocation God has put before you. For more information, visit www.colsonfellows.org.
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