Bill Bright: One Year Later, Legacy Lives On Through Campus Crusade for Christ

( [email protected] ) Jul 24, 2004 05:55 PM EDT

Thousands of people attended a two-and-a-half-hour service on July 21 to remember Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, who died last year, July 19, at the age of 81.

The nation’s top evangelical leaders Billy Graham, Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson and Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network all attended the memorial service.

The Reverend Franklin Graham read a letter from his father that said Bright's evangelistic zeal should inspire all Christians to fulfill Jesus' command to spread the Gospel everywhere by every possible means.

Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951 at University of California, Los Angeles. For 50 years, Bright served as the organization’s president until he learned that he had Pulmonary Fibrosis, an ailment afflicting the lungs, which led to his death. During July 2001, he handed over the reigns of Campus Crusade for Christ International over to his long-time associate Steve Douglass, who is now the organization’s current president.

Campus Crusade for Christ International is known to be one of the top five Christian ministries in the nation, employing 25,000 full-time staff and over 553,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. Campus Crusade first began as a campus ministry but now has expanded its fulfillment of the Great Commission to over 70 different ministries.

It is written that Bright was so motivated the Great Commission, Christ’s command to carry the gospel throughout the world, that in 1956 he wrote a booklet titled The Four Spiritual Laws, which explains four concepts that eventually helps an individual began a relationship with Christ. The first law tells listeners that God has a good plan for mankind. The fall of man, which thwarted the Will of God, is explained in the second Spiritual Law. For the third Spiritual Law, Bright explains that man can only restore his relationship with God through accepting Jesus Christ as an atoning Sacrifice for man’s sins while the fourth Spiritual Law explains how the individual can make a profession of faith and pray to receive Jesus into their lives. The Four Spiritual Laws has been printed in 200 languages and distributed to more than 2.5 billion people, making it the most widely disseminated religious booklet in history.

Another mainstay in the history of fulfilling the Great Commission was the JESUS film, which was commissioned by Bright in 1979. The film, which is availabe in 786 languages, is a feature-length documentary on the life of Christ. It has been shown to over 5.1 billion people in 234 countries and has been touted as one of the greatest evangelistic tools.

When his wife Vonette Bright was asked by Worldwide Challenge, the Campus Crusade magazine, what part of Bill Bright's legacy means the most to her now, she said, “I think that Bill's emphasis and grasp of the ministry of the Holy Spirit has been one of the greatest contributions to the cause of Christ-both his ability to apply it in his own life, and to put it into words for others to apply. Bill really lived what he professed in such a unique way. I've often said he wasn't perfect, but he wasn't imperfect for very long. Bill was just so consistent in his walk with God.”