'An Urgent Calling'
By Chuck Colson
Why Christians Belong in Politics
At a medical clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Michael
Gerson, then a
senior policy adviser to President Bush, was asked if he wanted to meet
the patients. He was introduced to a girl who was waiting for the
her AIDS test. She told Gerson: “A few years ago, I would never have
a foreigner about AIDS. But now I know that even if I’m positive, it
That this is true—that
millions now have hope—is due, in no small measure to the willingness
Christians to get involved in politics and human rights
evangelical Christians working at the White House.
Gerson, who was once a
valued colleague of mine at Prison Fellowship, is the author of a book
titled Heroic Conservatism. In it, he describes
the tremendous good that is being done in Africa
among those afflicted with deadly diseases.
Take the modern-day plague of
AIDS. In November 2002, Gerson writes, the president’s senior staff was
gathered around a coffee table in the Oval Office, discussing a
billion plan to provide AIDS treatments to Africans on a massive scale.
reach two million people with lifesaving drugs, prevent seven million
infections, and provide care to 10 million victims and their orphans:
largest health initiative to combat a single disease in history.”
The president asked the
hard questions. It is a worthy goal, he said—but will it work? Policy
weighed in, describing an innovative model of drug delivery and the Uganda
which is based on Christian principles. But the keepers of the budget
strongly opposed. When Gerson’s turn to speak came, he said, “If we can
this, and we don’t, it will be a source of shame.” Six weeks later, I
the Roosevelt Room with other Christian leaders while President Bush
decision to go ahead.
Three years ago, Gerson saw
the results. At a Sisters of Charity orphanage in Addis Ababa, the
sisters were caring for 400
HIV-positive orphans. “Until a few years ago, every single child at
orphanage died before the age of . . . nine,” Gerson writes. “Now,
AIDS drugs, nearly every child lives, and the sisters have begun
job training when the orphans” grow up.
This is, Gerson writes, “An
honest-to-God miracle of science, repeated in hundreds of thousands of
across Africa—and Americans should be proud of
the part they have taken in it.”
Miracles like this might
not have happened if Christians withdrew from the political
in our secular society would love us to do and some Christian leaders
ought to do: stay out of the dirty world of politics, they say.
But for those who are called
to the political realm—like my hero, William Wilberforce—that would be
dereliction of duty. And I saw firsthand as part of a coalition
fighting for human
rights over recent years what a difference we can make.
“Because politics can
protect the weak in the cause of justice,” Gerson writes, “it can be a
profession. And because the oppression of the weak is an offense
image of God, politics is an urgent calling.”
Mike Gerson is right, and I
urge you to read his book, Heroic
Conservatism. You will learn more about what happens when
involved in politics. The fact is the lives of millions made in God’s