Charles Colson, who died on April 21 at 80, spent close to half his life atoning for sins. As the hatchet man and master of dirty tricks for Richard Nixon, Colson played a key role in Watergate, which would scar American democracy for years. The White House special counsel was one of the most hated Nixon loyalists in America. But at the height of Watergate, he converted to evangelical Christianity as he was headed for seven months in prison. He became proof for many Christians that there is redemption in this lifetime even for a man who has sinned greatly and been involved in great political evil — proof that the dark night of the soul can lead to a new dawn.
This text originally appeared in the May 07, 2012 issue of TIME magazine.
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