Remembering Vonette

vonette-portrait-largeMrs Vonette Bright, cofounder of Cru, passed away right before Christmas. To me it felt more like graduation day, the reward for a life very long and very well lived following Jesus.  I’ve been poking around trying to figure out how to share a piece of her with you on this one side of paper and it’s not easy! I’m hoping you’ll see that she’s just like you and me. What made her life exceptional was God working in her and Bill, and all of us can live like that with God, too.  Here are a few excerpts from an article in Christianity Today.  You can access the article at tinyurl.com/vonettebright

One sticking point in their relationship: Although Vonette had grown up in church, she wasn’t serious about her faith. She felt Bill was too serious. “I decided Bill had become a religious fanatic and that somehow he must be rescued from this fanaticism,” Vonette later wrote. “At the same time, Bill was beginning to think that perhaps I was not a Christian. He knew he could not marry me until there was a change in my spiritual life.”

[Later on at a retreat] “It was there that Henrietta Mears led me to the Lord,” The Brights married in December of 1948. Soon after the wedding, the Brights began to set a list of goals and priorities. Among those goals was a pledge to live holy lives and to become witnesses for Christ. They eventually wrote up what they called a contract with the Lord, where they surrendered their hopes for material gain and pledged themselves to God’s kingdom. 

bill-and-vonetteThey launched Campus Crusade at UCLA in 1951, with the idea that they could help “win the campus today, win the world tomorrow.” Today the organization reports having more than 25,000 staff members and 300,000 volunteers working in 173 countries.

Vonette’s ministry focused especially on prayer. “The greatest contribution that I’ve made had to be this call to prayer when there were so few leaders mobilizing people to pray,” she told CT in 1997. “Your single-minded focus on the power of intercessory prayer has been both an encouragement to my life and a model for the church,” Billy Graham told Vonette in a 2011 letter.

My personal memories of her are that she was a gracious, funny, kind woman who cared about the people of the world, loved Jesus, her husband and family, her staff family and she served us all, like when she’d dress up every Easter as Mother Goose to read to our children. Or when she got excited about going to a Harley Davidson store (really! The Christian Biker’s Association even led the procession at her funeral). You’re welcome to learn more about her life and ministry at vonettebright.cru.org.

Shifting gears here back to us, Karl and I will be in Venice attending the Christ United Methodist Missions Conference February 5-7.  We also invite you to join us at the Panera’s at 4179 Tamiami Trl S, Venice, FL 34293 between 2-4pm Saturday the 6th.  With time being short, we still want to see you if you can come!

Reasons to be Thankful!

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
– 1 Chronicles 16:8

In the spirit of the season, here are some of the many reasons we have to be thankful…

Liesl and I are thankful to have finished an online class in Apologetics (giving reasons for our faith).  We’ve learned so much about how to interact with and challenge the ideas that come against biblical Christianity.  We both enjoyed and recommend Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.  Keller deals with “defeater beliefs” that prevent people from believing in God and then provides positive reasons to believe.  The class also made us thankful for people who are gifted as philosophers – we are not!

I (Karl) am thankful for the challenge of starting a new job within Cru!  I have rejoined the headquarters Information Technology team (now called “Digital Products and Services”).  After a few reorganizations at headquarters, this is now the team that solves technology problems and creates tools for our ministries all around the world.

Cru is trusting God for 10 million Christ-centered, multiplying disciples by 2020.  If that’s going to happen, we also need to trust God for better systems to plan and keep track of what’s going on around the world.

We will remain in Indiana and continue to help out with the regional office here, but I will spend most of my time working remotely with an Orlando-based team.  The combination of working in a small office and supporting large, global systems really motivates me.

Of course, we are so thankful for you!  Your prayers and gifts keep us going.  It’s hard to believe that we have been in ministry for 24 and 22 years, and many of you have been with us the whole time.  Be encouraged!  God is building His kingdom and the gospel is changing lives.

India Update

Stone 2015Cru sent a band called “Stone” to India on September 29, and they should arrive back in the U.S. tomorrow. It was an exciting tour! Here are some reports from the field:

“Namaste everyone! That’s Malayalam for ‘What’s up!?’ We are excited to report that most of India showed up for our concert last night, including a die hard air guitarist who rushed the stage. Really though, we had a crowd of somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000, depending on who you ask (I estimate 2,000). It was an incredible show where we got to share the gospel.”

“As an aside, before we went on, there was an episcopal diocese inauguration… Anyway, several of the priests and even the bishop ended up doubling as our bouncers during the show. The air guitarist was taken down by the bishop when he tried to break though the barrier. It was…awesome! You can’t make this stuff up, people.”

stone2015-2Hear some of the feedback Stone got along the way:

“After the church show, a young woman ran up to me crying and said, ‘I have walked away from God and tonight I came back to him.’ …. Please pray for Anu, that she will become rooted and established in the Lord and walk intimately with Him.”

“Afterward, a guy came up to Seth and told him that he could relate to my testimony I shared during the show. Seth called me over and we asked him what he thought about what I shared about Jesus. He replied, ‘I think I need to change’. I then asked, ‘Did you pray with me to accept Christ into your life?’ He responded that he had indeed prayed!!!!! We got him connected with the staff there for follow up. Pray for this sweet brother!”

stone2015-3“We met a guy who shared with us that he got connected with Cru and has since joined staff, as a result of Gap Theory’s show here three years ago. We’ve actually had others share this with us in other cities we’ve been to (one guy claims it’s how he found his wife, too ☺). It’s awesome to think that God is not only bringing people into relationship with Himself through our ongoing partnership with India, but He’s using it for raising up laborers, too!”

Thank you for making it possible for us to serve these talented musicians who are taking the gospel around the world! And please pray that the new Christians in India will grow in their faith.

Fruitful Online Witness

EveryStudentIf there was a book or article that God used to draw
you to Himself, then naturally you want to share that with as many people as possible.

This is the story of Yared, from Ethiopia, who discovered God through the site EveryStudent.com.  As a new believer, he signed up for the 7-part email series called the “Spiritual Starter Kit” (which can be found on the companion site StartingWithGod.com).  It explains the basics of Christianity.

After that he signed up for the series “Skip the Stress” which helps people understand the Spirit-filled life and how to walk with God.  And the next series, which goes through the gospel of John to teach people more about Jesus and how to study the Bible.  And the final series “How to Talk About God”.

Yared had been sending occasional encouraging messages to Marilyn, who runs the web site.  He emailed, “My eyes are opened now through your lessons!!! I started to teach your lesson on whatsapp, to the new believer’s.  All glory belongs to God.  Thank you ‘go extra with jesus.  ~yared”

And later, “…this study and websites continue to bless many of life through me – reaching Muslims on whats app – I tell the truth around 700> people blessed through this.  I have now new believers around 33 – daily their numbers are increasing”

Marilyn was intrigued and contacted Yared to find out what he was doing.  He was using the WhatsApp messenger app on his phone to share the gospel with people all over the Middle East who speak his native language.  He would record himself reading some of the articles from EveryStudent.com and the email series to share them with people in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, UAE, and Libya.

Yared is now reaching nearly 1000 people!  Praise God!

Here’s a simple way that you can do something similar: check out EveryStudent.com.  If an article encourages you, share it on Facebook and ask your friends to give feedback.  You never know where God will lead the conversations!

Here’s a screencast of Marilyn telling the story:

Thank You Notes

Hey, Y’all! School has started already (we have an 8th grader now!) and we’re getting back into the swing of things here in Indy. Hope your transitions from summer to fall are going well, too!

I took over this letter because in two days, Karl got two amazing thank yous and so I’ve declared it “Thank YOU, Karl” Month.

facebook

ty

His servant heart is what I noticed about him first, too!  He’s been a great husband and father, leading by example and with kindness.  However, all these wonderful qualities couldn’t be shared with others full-time if it weren’t for all of you, so really, these are your thank yous, too!  By supporting this computer guy, you make a lot of different ministry opportunities happen. So this is our big thank you to YOU!