Orlando, Fla.—Vonette Bright, cofounder of Campus Crusade for Christ and an internationally known leader in prayer and women’s ministry, died Dec. 23 from complications related to acute leukemia. She was 89.
Bright and her husband Bill, who died in 2003, launched Campus Crusade, now known in the U.S. as Cru, at UCLA in 1951. It has since grown into what news reports called the world’s largest Christian ministry, with 25,000 staff members and 300,000 volunteers working in 173 countries.
Vonette Bright also was instrumental in petitioning Congress and the president to designate the first Thursday of every May as National Day of Prayer. After Ronald Reagan signed legislation establishing the National Day of Prayer in 1988, Bright chaired the National Day of Prayer Task Force for nine years.
She authored more than a dozen books and in 1993 founded the women’s ministry Women Today International.
Southern Baptists who knew Bright included student and women’s ministry leader Diane Strack, former LifeWay Christian Resources President James Draper and Trinity International University President David Dockery.
Strack, wife of speaker and author Jay Strack, told Baptist Press Vonette Bright “wanted to impact the world with prayer and Scripture, never allowing herself to rest on the past, even though it was amazing.” The Stracks became friends with the Brights in the mid-1990s, when both couples moved to Orlando, Fla.
Draper and his wife Carol Ann told BP, “Vonette Bright will be greatly missed. We shared many events and times of fellowship and ministry with Bill and Vonette over the years. She was always by his side and he relied upon her counsel through the developing years of Campus Crusade for Christ. She was a dynamic leader with enormous influence. At the same time, she had a personal touch that was always an encouragement to all she came in contact with.”
Dockery, who served with Bright on the board of The King’s College in New York, told BP she was “an integral part” of Campus Crusade’s “magnificent ministry of evangelism and discipleship on college campuses across the country and around the world.”
Among those paying tribute to Bright on the Cru website were evangelist Billy Graham and women’s ministry leader Beth Moore.
“Vonette had a heart for the gospel and an extraordinary vision to reach people for Jesus Christ,” Graham said. “Her single-minded focus on the power of intercessory prayer has been both an encouragement to my life and a model for the church.” (BP)