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. 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.
They 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!