Faith-Based Initiatives

This is for evangelical Christians (and the nation) a historic week. For the first time, a sitting president has declared as national policy the goal of involving faith-based and community organizations in solving the nation's social problems. On Monday this week, President Bush invited religious leaders to the White House to unveil his plan for promoting "faith-based solutions." The priority he has given it is symbolized by the fact that it's only the second initiative proposed in his presidency, and he has devoted this week to gaining public support. During the meeting, Bush recognized Prison Fellowship and told about InnerChange, the prison we run in Texas, which he approved three years ago as governor. Truly, it's a remarkable success story. As I reported to the President, of the eighty inmates who've completed the program, only three are back in custody -- a recidivism rate under five percent, compared to a national average between forty and sixty percent. Eighty percent of all those who've been released from InnerChange have jobs and Christian mentors, and they're welcomed in churches -- showing how strong a deterrent to crime Christian conversion can be. President Bush will make this happen, because he keeps his word. In Texas, he cut through the bureaucratic red tape and gave us the backing we needed, allowing InnerChange to become a showcase for faith-based ministry. I sat at the same table with rabbis, imams, and Christians of every denomination. I've never seen a more enthusiastic group. Some at the table had opposed Bush in November, but all of them pledged their support to this program. The President has appointed John DiIulio -- a brilliant social scientist, and a former member of the board of Prison Fellowship -- to head the office. Faith-based solutions have been DiIulio's passion for years, and he'll be aided by two strong evangelicals with on-the-ground experience. This is an idea whose time has come, and it's going to work. The President realizes there will be controversy. Barry Lynn, of American United for the Separation of Church and State (whom I debated on Larry King Live Monday night), said, "George Bush believes religious conversion is the answer to every problem. He has every right to believe that, but he doesn't have the right to use taxpayer money to convert others." Lynn also called Christians bigots. Well, arguments like these, which are false, are merely exploiting the hostility toward religion from recent court cases. And, they're trying to stop social progress by preventing communities from doing the things that really work. Christians have got to learn how to counter these arguments and to make the case for faith-based ministry. Stay tuned; in future BreakPoints we will provide you with ammunition. And even more important, we've got to respond to the challenge the President has given us. We need to get out of our comfort zones and get involved. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, mentoring programs for kids, and ministries like Angel Tree and other volunteer programs pioneered by Prison Fellowship. These provide us countless opportunities to put our faith to work. Make sure to visit our website for a list of faith- based ministries at: . And if you call us here at BreakPoint (1-800-995-8777), we'll send you a powerful Wall Street Journal article about the prison in Texas that we run. What an opportunity! We now have a president who's fighting for us. And it's up to us to show the world the difference the gospel makes! ========== Touch the future of the Kingdom of God by making a commitment to a planned gift. Prison Fellowship has trained planned giving professionals to help you be a good steward of the blessings God has given to you. Please call us toll-free at 1-877-PFM-GIVE, or email us at <> for more information. ==========


Chuck Colson



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