LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Former CEO of Union Rescue Mission, Reverend Andy Bales, is the 2024 recipient of Biola University’s Charles W. Colson Award for Conviction and Courage. Bales’ profound impact on Skid Row in Los Angeles and his compassion for those experiencing homelessness made him a clear choice as the recipient of the award, which will be presented to him in a ceremony on Thursday, March 21, 2024.

“We are proud to award the Rev. Andy Bales with this year’s Colson Award,” said Biola University President Barry H. Corey. “Andy Bales has demonstrated conviction and courage in a deeply practical and self-giving way across his nearly 20 years at Union Rescue Mission. He has stopped at nothing to serve, putting even his own health on the line, undaunted by the amputation of both his legs for health issues contracted in the line of duty. He has loved the most destitute and marginalized like Jesus, with the gift of presence, mercy and clear-eyed gospel truth.”

Named to honor the legacy of the Christian leader Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, recipients of the award are selected due to their embodiment of both conviction — a demonstrated commitment to the unshakable truths of Scripture and its application in all areas of life — and courage — a willingness to act on biblical convictions in a bold and yet compassionate manner, however challenging or unfashionable it may be today.

Bales served as the CEO of Union Rescue Mission (URM), which is the largest homeless shelter in the United States, for 18 years before stepping down from his position in late 2023. URM was founded by Lyman Stewart, one of Biola’s founders. During his time at URM, Bales contributed to the organization's development of new facilities for women, children and families that are experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. Bales has become one of the most influential leaders in the issues of homelessness and is recognized locally and nationally for his compassion and conviction toward serving those in vulnerable situations.

“Andy has held fast amidst opposition to his commitment to a faith-based approach to homeless ministry, believing that centering Christ is essential, and remained deeply respected by others in the field for this commitment, including the very people who opposed his approaches. I find this leader, now stepping down from the helm of a significant Los Angeles institution that shares a common founding with our institution, a profound inspiration and example for Biola University. We are grateful to join the multitude of leaders both local and national who have honored Andy Bales for his two decades of service to downtown Los Angeles,” said Corey.

News media is welcome to attend the ceremony. For more information and interviews, please contact Sarah Dougher, media relations specialist, at (310) 753-1193 (cell) or at

About the Charles W. Colson Award for Conviction and Courage: Biola University established the Charles W. Colson Award for Conviction and Courage in 2014. Named to honor the legacy of the Christian leader Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, the award is given to people who embody both conviction and courage. Chuck Colson lived a life of biblical conviction with the courage to advocate for truth even when it was difficult or unfashionable, one of the reasons for the creation of the award in his honor. Previous recipients include Joni Eareckson Tada, John M. Perkins, Luis Palau and Robert P. George.

About Biola University: Founded in 1908, Biola is committed to the mission of biblically centered education, scholarship and service — equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. With more than 5,000 students at its Southern California campus and around the world, Biola’s eight schools offer more than 250 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Recognized as the most comprehensive Christian university, ranked highest in North America for operationalizing its mission (OCIG) and ranked as one of the “Best National Universities” by U.S. News and World Report, Biola offers its students a premier educational and co-curricular experience. For more information, visit or call (562) 777-4061.