Mrs 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. Â Iâ€™ve been poking around trying to figure out how to share a piece of her with you on this one side of paper and itâ€™s not easy! Iâ€™m hoping youâ€™ll see that sheâ€™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. Â Here are a few excerpts from an article in Christianity Today. Â You can access the article at tinyurl.com/vonettebright
One sticking point in their relationship: Although Vonette had grown up in church, she wasnâ€™t serious about her faith. She felt Bill was too serious. â€œI decided Bill had become a religious fanatic and that somehow he must be rescued from this fanaticism,â€ Vonette later wrote. â€œAt 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.â€
[Later on at a retreat] â€œIt 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 Godâ€™s kingdom.Â
They launched Campus Crusade at UCLA in 1951, with the idea that they could help â€œwin the campus today, win the world tomorrow.â€ Today the organization reports having more than 25,000 staff members and 300,000 volunteers working in 173 countries.
Vonetteâ€™s ministry focused especially on prayer. â€œThe greatest contribution that Iâ€™ve made had to be this call to prayer when there were so few leaders mobilizing people to pray,â€ she told CT in 1997. â€œYour single-minded focus on the power of intercessory prayer has been both an encouragement to my life and a model for the church,â€ 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 sheâ€™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 Bikerâ€™s Association even led the procession at her funeral). Youâ€™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. Â We also invite you to join us at the Paneraâ€™s at 4179 Tamiami Trl S, Venice, FL 34293 between 2-4pm Saturday the 6th. Â With time being short, we still want to see you if you can come!