Thursday, April 5, 2012

Prayers requested for Chuck Colson

LANSDOWNE, Va., April 4, 2012—Prison Fellowship Ministries issued the following update on the medical condition of its founder, Charles W. "Chuck" Colson:

Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, Justice Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, underwent surgery on Saturday morning to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. Colson became ill while speaking at the Wilberforce Weekend conference on Friday night.

His attending physician, a cerebrovascular neurosurgeon, reports that Colson suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage. On his arrival at the hospital, the neuroscience ICU stabilized him and took him to the operating room for evacuation of the blood clot in his brain.

Colson is listed in critical condition at this point but has shown some early signs of potential for recovery.

"We believe that we serve a mighty God - the 'Great Physician' - and are hoping and praying for Chuck's full recovery. When I visited him yesterday, I was encouraged to see that as we prayed, Chuck was responsive," said Prison Fellowship Ministries CEO Jim Liske.

"In the meantime, Easter is on the horizon. As many know, Chuck would rather be in prison on this sacred day than in a hospital or any other place on this Earth. He would want us to be praying just as fervently for Prison Fellowship's Easter events this weekend in prisons in San Diego and New York, that God would do an amazing work in the lives of the inmates to whom our organization has been called to serve," Liske added.

Further updates will be provided as new information is confirmed.

Additional information and an update via Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Christianity Today:
Charles Colson is recovering in critical condition after falling ill at a conference and undergoing surgery last week. The founder of Prison Fellowship had surgery on March 31 to remove a clot of blood on the surface of his brain after he had an intracerebral hemorrhage. On Thursday morning, his doctor said that Colson shows some encouraging signs.

"It's still very an hour-by-hour, day-by-day process as we're hoping his condition will improve," said Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. "It may be a longer process of recovery, but we're grateful that he is somewhat cognizant."

Colson had a pacemaker installed recently and had a recent fall, George said.

Colson was giving the opening address at his conference over the weekend when he buckled at the knees, said Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who spoke at the conference. Colson sat down to continue his introduction before he was put in a wheelchair and taken to a hospital across from Lansdowne Resort in Virginia.

The conference gathered evangelical and Catholic leaders to talk about the issues central to the Manhattan Declaration: marriage, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty.

"There were people there who would disagree on a plethora of issues but were gathering in relationship to Chuck," Rodriguez said. "It speaks accolades to the convening power that Chuck Colson has and the respect and affinity for him."

This year will be the first time in 34 years Colson will not spend Easter teaching and worshiping with inmates in a prison setting.

In 1973, Colson was indicted on Watergate-related criminal charges. After converting to Christianity and serving seven months in prison, he founded Prison Fellowship and published Born Again, becoming a prominent evangelical leader through his many ministries.

Colson faced a health scare in 1987 when he had surgery for stomach cancer and a painful recovery. He was in Georgetown University Hospital when he learned that former CIA director William Casey was in the room next to him. As Casey was on his deathbed, Colson pointed to a crucifix and asked if Casey knew what it meant. According to Jonathan Aitken's biography, Casey grunted in agreement. "Then you know it means that Christ died for your sins," Colson said. "It's important for you to know him personally at this time. Would you like to pray?" It was, Colson said later, "the real reason I was in that hospital."

During his recovery, Colson corresponded with Nixon, where he wrote, "It takes more than Watergate or a little cancer to hold me down. I'll be back stronger than ever."

Update: Eric Metaxas, who wrote biographies on and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, will take over for Colson on his daily radio program that airs every weekday on 1,200 outlets. Metaxas, who wrote for BreakPoint from 1997-1999, will begin on Tuesday and continue for at least a month while Colson recovers.

Colson showed signs of progress Thursday, officials from Prison Fellowship told CT. He can hear, process information and do commands given to him. “And that makes all the difference,” his attending physician said. Colson's daughter, Emily, said last evening when his doctors were visiting, Colson gave them a “thumbs up.” He continues to be listed in critical condition on Thursday afternoon.