Looking at all that Bill Bright has accomplished, it is hard to dispute his assertion that God was the power behind it. As he tells it:
"About the midnight hour, one night in the final semester of my senior year in seminary, I was studying for a Greek exam with Hugh Brom, a classmate. We were seated at a desk in our living room. There was nothing unusual about the setting or the circumstances...Suddenly, without warning or without indication of what was going to happen, I sensed the presence of God in a way I had never known before...Though it could not have lasted more than a few seconds, I suddenly had the overwhelming impression that the Lord had unfolded a scroll of instructions of what I was to do with my life."
One of the instructions he received was to drop out of seminary. Although so close to the finish, he obeyed what he took to be God's leading. Later he could write that it was indeed the right move: as a layman he was able to touch lives that he could never have touched if they had thought of him as an ordained preacher.
Over the next few weeks, Bill and his wife Vonette began a work among intellectuals in Los Angeles, California. In 1951 they founded Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelism and discipleship ministry which by 1992 had some 30,000 full-time staff and trained volunteers serving in 138 countries around the world. Thousands of students converted to Christ through the influence of that organization.
In 1965, he scribbled the first draft of what became one of the most widely used tracts of our era, the Four Spiritual Laws. His organization also is behind the Jesus Film Project. The Jesus film has been translated into hundreds of languages and shown to millions world wide, leading to innumerable conversions.
Who was the man behind this work? Bill was born on this day, October 19, 1921 on a farm five miles from Coweta, Oklahoma (a small town near Tulsa). He and Vonette grew up there. Although shy, Bill was a good student who won a Future Farmers of America oration contest in high school. At Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, he was president of the student body, edited the yearbook, and students and faculty chose him as the outstanding graduate. However, he was not a Christian.
He moved to Los Angeles and opened a catering business. In 1945, he attended a Presbyterian service and realized that he needed Christ as the focus of his life. Later, Vonette also accepted Christ in her life, after almost breaking her engagement to Bill for his "fanaticism." The two wrote a contract, promising to spend their lives in whatever way God wished.
Shortly after that, the young couple were able to begin work among Los Angeles students following a number of circumstances that Bill described as miraculous.
- Bright, Bill. Come Help Change the World. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1970.
- "The Life of Bill Bright." Campus Crusade for Christ. htp://www.billbright.com/timeline.htm
- Quebedeaux, Richard. I Found it! The story of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade. San Francisco : Harper & Row, c1979.
Last updated June, 2007.