On a crisp winter evening in early February, just outside Washington, D.C., Prison Fellowship celebrated its 25th year of ministry. The Gala Celebration felt like an Academy Awards ceremony for evangelicals. A Who's Who of Christian celebrities lent their enthusiastic support to Charles Colson, PF's founder and driving force, as well as to the ministry itself. Senate Chaplain Lloyd Oglivie opened with prayer. Kay Cole James, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, gave the introductions. Apologist Ravi Zacharias and Republican activists as diverse as Gary Bauer and Jack Kemp stood from their tables and offered praise for the good work of their host. President George W. Bush sent a letter. Pastor and radio speaker Alistair Begg captivated the audience with an exposition of Joshua 4, made more transporting by his Scottish lilt.
The celebration, in fact, had been going on all week in Washington. Men in pinstriped suits and women in blazers thronged the Washington Hilton for a three-day retreat replete with speakers, devotionals, and lots of caffeine. The evening before the Gala Celebration, at the Founder's Dinner, a more intimate PF gathering, another contingent of Who's Who personalities gathered to celebrate PF. Among many others, Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson stood and hailed the ministry of Charles Colson: "This is an exciting time in Washington. We're leaving tomorrow, going to a retreat with the President to plan the agenda for serving people through faith-based institutions." Prison Fellowship, said Hutchinson, is an excellent model of how biblical principles can be applied to "the world of injustice."
Meanwhile, 192 inmates from Cell Block E at the Newton Correctional Center gathered for "community." Just off ...1