Bethany Speier » Blog

How Chuck’s life helped shape mine…

This part of my story is long… I thought I had written it in a previous blog, but when I searched through old posts, I couldn’t locate it… I just mentioned in the post below that my mentor and hero, Charles Colson passed away a few weeks ago…

I always marveled at his ability to tell stories and retain information relating to his past experiences, history and current events. He was like a walking file cabinet, quoting early church theologians to the latest article he had read in the New York Times. He genuinely loved people in need. After all – he did found one of the largest and most successful international prison ministries… He was also one of the youngest captains in the Marines, a successful lawyer and a confidant of President Nixon. So how did I come to know this man and end up studying under him for a year?

That’s the story I’d like to share with you…

It’s hard to believe that it was exactly 5 years ago today (May 28) that I started a 40 day “Daniel” fast with our church community to pray for repentance and healing in our nation. I was living downtown Tacoma with Hannah, Michelle and Jennalise and working for Parkland Chevrolet. I’d never done a 40-day fast before, but each week was filled with opportunity to pray with the church about the nation. We had heard we were joining several other churches and organizations in this fast and that it would culminate on 07/07/07 in Nashville at an all day event called, The Call.

Not too far into the fast, my friends and I made plans to be in Nashville for The Call and when it arrived, I never would have expected how much my life would change by the end of the evening. It was 12 hours of fasting and prayer with people gathered from across the nation. I had never heard of The Call or IHOP, but it was an amazing experience. We saw different races reconciling in forgiveness, a cry for God to move the hearts of college students, for abortion laws and the spirit of death to lose its grip over the US, a call to repentance and fear of God in our nation’s government, leaders and laws. It was a real personal awakening.

As the night concluded, an offering was called for… The gentleman exclaimed, that we could not come to an event like we had experienced and not desire to give back generously… Of course, we gave, but it was in this moment that I heard God call out to me personally. He said to me, “Bethany, you cannot live in this nation where I have given you so much freedom, opportunity and privilege and not rise up as a rightful citizen in this nation.” I still get chills thinking about it… Now, this should be news for those of you who knew me growing up. I never cared about anything relating to the news, politics, government, nada. My dad and roommate at Greenville loved Fox News and I could care less about Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. And this is embarrassing to admit, but up until 2007, I wasn’t even a registered voter (Yes, I was 25!)…

I left Nashville with His words soaking into my heart. I wasn’t sure what to do. I expressed my feelings and heart to my peers and decided I had to “start somewhere…” so… I googled the words, “God and government.” It seems silly when I think back to my initial response to God’s voice, but it’s all I could think of… AND boy am I grateful for the first link that popped up on the Google search page… It was a book by a man whose name I was not very familiar with. The book was appropriately titled, “God and Government,” and was written by Charles Colson. In all honesty, the only recollection I had of his name was a faint memory of seeing one of his books on my Grandpa Dennis’ bookshelf growing up…

Well, it was a great place for me to start… I gobbled up “God and Government” and was convinced I was going to move to attend The Call Institute to go deeper into this new found passion… Sadly, the next several months (late 07-08) which followed where filled with a fury and flurry of hurt, pain, anger and frustration from the church I was attending. My love for prayer, intercession and hope for revival in this nation were replaced with a desire to leave the church, stop prayer and give up on anything representing traditional church life. The following summer (08) I was consumed with reading books by authors who told me that as long as I loved Jesus, I was basically fine without anything else. I explored different perspectives on the government and even considered throwing it “all” and the baby out with the bathwater…

Despite these few months of emotional chaos and attempts at sorting out my pain and beliefs, Jesus kept reminding me of His calling. I read a book called unChristian by Gabe Lyons which confirmed all of my own feelings toward the church. The book is a compilation of research noting how many young people actually view the church – in hopes that the church will learn and change… I later came across another book and DVD series which featured both Gabe Lyons and that “man” who wrote “God and Government.” It was called, “The Faith.” Gabe is a “young guy” and I was intrigued by the prospect of him working with the “older generation.” It reminded me of a scripture I had so desperately prayed for of the “fathers turning their hearts toward their sons and vice versa.”

One day in early 2009, Ryan and I were browsing the book section at Goodwill and I found the autobiography of the “man who wrote God & Government.” I decided to pick it up and give it a shot… At this point, I wasn’t attending church but still loved Jesus. And I really had not pursued or even remembered much of what God spoke to me in 2007. I couldn’t put Born Again down. I was impressed by God’s pursuit of Chuck’s heart and Chuck’s final admittance to the pride which kept him from God. I was grateful for his desire to have his mind also fall in line with God’s truth… But it was a moment after Chuck’s conversion that God shook me awake from my shut down, angry, stupor. After Chuck returned to DC, he still faced a lot of raucous with everything going down surrounding Watergate. The thought of prison was on the horizon and his new found faith was well – still new… But he began attending weekly prayer meeting with many gentlemen who also loved Jesus and were committed to His purposes, prayer and true fellowship with one another. It was when I read these stories of reconciliation, acceptance, brotherhood and prayer that were taking place in our nation’s capitol that I broke. I remembered Jesus’ call on my life and this real burden he gave me for our nation and our government. I literally cried as I wondered to myself, “Maybe there is STILL prayer happening like this in our nation’s capitol.” The hope of my calling was renewed.

A few weeks later, Ryan and I were back at Goodwill and I bought a few more books by Chuck. I decided I’d take on the massive, “How Now Shall We Live?” first. Haha, I think I started it in March of 2009 and ended in September of 2009. Yes, it took me that long and I soaked in every story and every teaching. Now, if you haven’t read this book you should… And I promise it will change your life. It did mine. My entire understanding of Christianity was blown up to include far more than I had previously experienced. Chuck and Nancy Pearcy explained the four questions of every worldview – Where did we come from? What’s wrong with the world? Can it be fixed and what is our purpose? It was so fascinating. They described both the Christian way of seeing things as well as false (and failing) ways of answering those questions. The second half of the book goes on to explain part of our purpose as Christians – our “cultural mandate,” if you will. They share stories from every sector of life including education, healthcare, public life to art and science. It was so mind-blowing. I had no idea that God cared and desired his people to be in all of these areas. In so many words that I had heard from the church – the most important callings were in missions, prayer and ministry, but this understanding of Christianity was different… And as a result, I started caring about – what felt like – everything!!

It was during this time, I began investigating Breakpoint Radio and then heard about Chuck Colson’s Christian Worldview course called the Centurions. I kept it in the back of my mind, but thought I’d hold off a year… Now, I’m not sure what changed… I think it was the mid-term 2010 elections approaching the following year… And the off-hand thought, “I better hurry up and take this class – Chuck Colson is getting old!” that at the “last minute” literally late December 2009, I decided to apply for the 2010 Centurions class… Within a few days of submitting my application I was accepted…

Now, here’s the deal… I would love to share with you everything that I learned in Centurions, but that could be an entire post in and of itself… So I’ll spare you… for now. Here’s a brief summary – it was life changing. I read the Bible differently, I started investigating the “why” behind the “what” I believed as a Christian, I became rooted in the “four big questions” of life, I had the chance to read from ancient Christian writers who defended the faith with their lives and permeated every sphere of culture to bring His kingdom come, I mingled and fellowshipped with other Christians across the nation who were also “living out their faith,” I was blessed to be taught by some of the leading Christian thinkers and culture-makers in our nation. It was a year long course that changed the course of my life…

Following my “graduation” from Centurions in January 2011, I decided I needed to start living out my passions… I signed up to be a client advocate at CareNet Pregnancy Center in Tacoma and in March of 2011 was blessed to hear Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of WA speak at the CareNet banquet. He talked about Christian worldview and it being the basis for why we defend life. I remember the night of the banquet, heading straight for him after his speech to tell him I wanted to work for him. I shared about my experience with Centurions and my desire to learn and serve his organization… Little did I know that after a few months of working on a couple of projects – January 2012, I was traveling with Joseph several times to Olympia to document and help serve the efforts to defend traditional Marriage at our capitol… which brings me to the present… In February of this year, our governor signed into law a bill which redefines marriage from being between a man and a woman to two general persons… Soon after Joseph and a coalition of other organizations filed a Referendum 74 to allow the people to vote to approve or reject this law…

In April of this year, I was hired full-time to help serve the Preserve Marriage Washington campaign… I feel honored to give of my talents and time to defend this thing we call marriage here in our state. Even as I sit here and write this testimony – of God’s kindness, his call, the fact that He sees and truly has a purpose for our lives, I am blown away by His goodness. As Ryan and I were driving to Panera yesterday and praying, I couldn’t help but express how grateful I am to live for His purpose and His call on my life. I really cannot imagine living for my own happiness and pleasure… How unsatisfying it would be to end life knowing I only lived it for myself…

I am absolutely grateful for the life and ministry of Chuck Colson. As I finish up reading “part two” of his autobiography – Life Sentence… Now four years after reading Born Again and following his passing, I am still so blessed by his story. I have loved seeing his humility as he expresses his early years of walking with Jesus. I even appreciate Chuck’s immature zeal and passion – that Jesus used and overcame with His unfailing faithfulness and promise to fulfill His purposes. I am grateful that Chuck shared his life, his wisdom and experiences so freely with the body. I am grateful for his unceasing desire to do the will of the Father. For it was during a speech he was giving, that he fell quite ill back in March… In an interview with Fox News, he’s quoted saying “I don’t slow down because I figure the purpose of my living is to try to glorify God, any Christian should believe that and if I have talents and gifts I should use them. When I think about what Christ has done for me, I have no choice.” And I will forever admire his desire to continue learning. Chuck always had a legal pad in hand, a newspaper and a new book he was reading… I was amazed by his continual capacity for learning and teaching the truth…

When we attended Chuck’s memorial at the National Cathedral, I recounted the gift it was to have sat at the feet of Chuck Colson. And as I looked around the room, I was in awe and quite humbled to stand amidst such a great cloud of witnesses who have also been blessed by this man and are also pursuing their callings whole-heartedly.  A sweet foretaste of heaven.

And so, that’s where my story is… at least for today. The past several weeks I have sensed God telling me that “this is not the end.” I have no idea where He may be leading after the elections this November – or even prior to then for that matter… But I have a feeling He desires to continue using my gifts and talents in some sort of capacity within this sphere… And my response for now, is “Lord, have your way…”

Chuck, I miss you and I am forever grateful for your story and faithfulness to Jesus, your family and your calling…

Aunt SusieMay 29, 2012 - 1:29 pm

Bunner,

Have you ever thought of writing a book? You have a gift and maybe Jesus wants you to share your life with the world. Love to you. S.

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