Colson’s program slashed recidivism

By Barbara J. Ward
Dear Mr. Quiner,
    I just want to say thank you for your column (May 30th, Colson was a prodigal son who deserved our forgiveness) that I read in the Des Moines Register.  I felt heartsick and shocked after I read Kaul’s column (which I normally don’t read – but it was about Colson).
    I was a volunteer for 5 years in the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) prison program that Chuck Colson led in the correctional facility near Newton, IA.  I have heard him speak about past mistakes to inmates and to show them through his words and actions how we MUST forgive.
    He would tell them “Power corrupts men!”
    I taught men who were sometimes hostile, argumentative, etc. And yet after they spent time reading their bibles and listening to Christian people teach, something happened: their hearts began to change, all because of a program started by Mr. Colson.
    The inmates often talked about the “hope” this program gave them, more hope than they ever had.
    I saw that happen to many men (hard core criminals) over a 5-year period. That change came through Chuck Colson’s leadership; but of course he would give all the credit to Jesus Christ who changed him.
    I know that when we say the word “Jesus” some people shudder.  “God” is more politically correct.
    I know as a Christian woman that some would may judge me a bigot, a bible thumper, or worse.
    That’s okay with me.  I already know I’m a sinner just like Colson knew he was. So many Christian detractors don’t realize that an honest Christian is already aware of his or her sin.
    Studying the bible; going to church; trying to serve others in a good manner only means we want to change as Jesus would teach us to change.  That’s why he came here as a man to change us all: our hearts and our motives.
    Chuck Colson was aware of that and made a huge difference to so many lives.
    When our program was closed by a liberal group from Washington D.C. and a liberal judge, the staff in our IFI program told us that our program and the volunteers had helped keep 600 men out of prison for 3 to 5 full years after they had served their time.
    Our prison in Newton held 1,000 men.  No one ever talked about how much that program saved in taxpayer dollars. Instead, you only heard about a separation of church and state conflict. The recidivism rate in IFI was only 13 to 16% compared to 66% in the general prison population.
    As you can tell I’m not a writer, but a person with a heart for the late Chuck Colson. Chuck took a great responsibility upon himself in admitting his errors, repenting and then making a difference in a lot of people’s lives.
    It took a great man to do all of that.  I feel a great deal of pity for people who just simply don’t “get it.”  Ironically, I believe Chuck Colson would be the first person to forgive Donald Kaul’s ignorance. Perhaps Mr. Kaul is simply jealous of Colson who was a great intellect and so very eloquent when he spoke or wrote.
    Thank you again for your time and your most kind and understanding words about Chuck Colson.  It was so nice to see good things being said about a great man.  Perhaps you too are a great man, because you recognize who and what he did for all who are called “the least of these.”  God Bless!
Barbara J. Ward
Newton, Iowa
[Thanks to Barbara Ward for sharing her thoughts on the late Chuck Colson. Ms. Ward lives in Newton, IA, and has been married for 55 years to Bill. She is a mother and grandmother.]