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Miners Transformed (Chuck Colson)

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Miners Transformed (Chuck Colson)

Post  Admin on Thu 21 Oct 2010, 3:11 pm

Miners Transformed
Change at Last, or Lasting Change?

October 20, 2010 Chuck Colson
They are images that will last with people the world over for a long
time: The joyful rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. The different men,
some crossing themselves, kneeling in prayer, praising God, embracing
their loved ones.
Who could not be moved? My wife, Patty, as long as she watched, counted
aloud "15", "16", and so on as the men emerged from the ground. One
billion people around the world were glued to their televisions.
Many of the men have claimed that their near-death experience brought
them nearer to God. That being trapped in the mine changed them for the
A CNN reporter called me, asking, would the change last, however? Would
those men who promised to reform their lives have the wherewithal to
keep their word?
Well, I can only speak from experience. I dedicated my life to Christ
during a time of great stress-Watergate and the collapse of the Nixon
presidency. But I believe my faith in Christ is stronger today than it
was when I first turned to him. I experienced God's love and
forgiveness. And I've never, ever wanted to turn back.
And over the course of 30-plus years of prison ministry, I've seen
hundreds and thousands of men and women, who, once they embraced the
Gospel, never turned back, either.
Have there been those who did not "stand their ground" and returned to
the lives they led before prison? Sure, there have. But these have been
the exceptions to the rule.
And independent studies of Prison Fellowship's work have borne this out.
Prison Fellowship's InnerChange Freedom Initiative, for example,
dramatically reduced recidivism among participants who finished the
program. Only 8 percent of them returned to prison within two years of
their release. And that's compared to 20+ percent of a comparison group
in Texas who did not participate in IFI. The national reincarceration
rate is 51 percent after three years.
The CNN reporter then asked me why is it that people always wait until
they get into serious trouble before they turn to God. Well, that's an
easy answer. Most people whistle their way through life oblivious to the
reality that their earthly life hangs by a thread.
These miners were no different than anybody else. When they went to work
that fateful morning, they never thought that before the day would end,
the mine would collapse, and they'd be entombed in darkness for the next
17 days without any contact with the outside world. They stared death in
the face. And like many who have reached the moment of ultimate crisis,
they realized that they were not in control of their own destiny. And
many of them realized for the first time that they never were in the
first place. So they turned to the One who held their fate in His hands.
Now no doubt many of these men will face real trials in the days and
months ahead: post-traumatic stress, and the temptations that come from
becoming instant celebrities. They need our prayers.
But they've also given a wonderful gift to the Church. Their experience
is a living parable. And I unpack that glorious, challenging parable in
this week's Two Minute Warning.
I urge you, go to www.ColsonCenter.org, click on the Two Minute Warning,
and learn what the Church can and ought to learn from the ordeal and
dramatic rescue of the 33 Chilean miners.

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