One Member’s Mission
by Case Thorp, Associate Pastor of Mission & Evangelism | Reprinted from COLUMNS Magazine
One of my favorite memories of Vonette Bright is from a wedding. She stood, calmly calling the congregation to prayer, and finished with words I’ll never forget:
Lord, give Alissa and Matt enough challenges to keep them on their knees in humble prayer to You, but also give them enough joys and blessings to keep their hands lifted in praise of You.
The imagery of such a sight, the theological depth, the practical application, and the personal witness behind those words moved me deeply. They are a reflection of Vonette Bright’s ministry in this community and around the world.
This summer we will honor Mrs. Bright for her tremendous contribution to the Kingdom of God, her life’s work of ministry around the world, and for her weekly presence and support of the Lord’s work in our church.
In 1951, Bill and Vonette Bright pursued their passion for ministry by starting Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru in the U.S.) at the University of California, Los Angeles. What began as a vision to share Jesus with college students has since grown into one of the largest international Christian ministries in the world, reaching beyond students to serve inner cities, the military, athletes, political and business leaders, the entertainment industry, and families.
The Brights spent more than half a century building and leading Cru to its current size of more than 27,000 staff members and 225,000 volunteers working in 190 countries. Today the international headquarters for Cru is located in southeast Orlando. Our church benefits from the 30+ Cru members who call First Pres home, like Mrs. Bright.
Vonette earned her BA in home economics from Texas Women’s University and did graduate work in the field of education at the University of Southern California. She also taught in Los Angeles Schools before joining Bill full-time in Campus Crusade.
Over the years, Vonette’s commitment to prayer led to the founding of the National Prayer Committee, a group of prayer leaders seeking to unite Christians in prayer for spiritual awakening. In 1988, as chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, Vonette was successful in introducing legislation unanimously approved by both houses of Congress to designate the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer. Vonette currently serves as Chairman Emeritus of the National Prayer Committee.
Among her other work, Vonette has authored more than a dozen books, and in 1993, she launched Women Today International, a ministry to, and for, women. Currently she can be heard on Christian radio stations throughout the country sharing her heart and challenging women to take their next step of faith.
And while accomplishing all of these amazing feats for the kingdom she raised two sons and continues to enjoy her four grandchildren.
We are truly blessed to have such an experienced and humble missionary in our church. Over the years, I have continued to repeat her lovely and pragmatic prayer in each wedding I officiate. I want the couples I marry to have a similar image of marriage in their minds: a relationship that isn’t always perfect, but that is always growing toward the Perfect One, Jesus.
For the continued mission and influence of Vonette Bright on behalf of our Lord, thanks be to God.
Compiled by Case Thorp with material provided by Cru. Case is the Associate Pastor for Mission & Evangelism here at the church, and has a wealth of knowledge about the missionaries of this church family. To learn more about our mission partnerships, visit fpco.org/mission.