In honor of Campus Crusade for Christ’s 60th anniversary this year, we hope that the stories captured here over the next few months will not only remind us of what God has done in the past, but encourage us to trust God and ask Him for more, so that—as Bill Bright used to say—“the best is yet to come.”
Leading up to Bill and Vonette Bright establishing Campus Crusade for Christ on the campus of the University of California, Bill was a businessman who owned a candy shop. Vonette was a teacher. The newlyweds were very involved in their church. Through their church, the Brights would go with and even lead groups of young men and women to visit jails, skid row missions and hospitals.
While doing such, Bill noticed something: They had to wait their turn at these places because manyotherchurcheswerevisitingthepeopleinsuchfacilitiesaswell.“Itoccurredtome,”he said, “that there were no waiting lines to reach college students or the top executives of the city.”
Then, one night while studying for a Hebrew exam in seminary, Bill explained that God gave him a vision to help reach the world for Christ and help fulfill the Great Commission in his lifetime.
He believed his call from God was to start by reaching the leaders of college campuses in the United States and later the world.
When Bill told Vonette his ideas, she was excited to be married to a man who wanted to change the world for Christ. But how to start, they wondered?
His slogan became “Reach the campus for Christ today—reach the world for Christ tomorrow.”
Bill decided to leave seminary, even though he was close to graduating. He wanted to pursue his dream.
They invited several trusted friends and mentors, such as Henrietta Mears, their Sunday School teacher, and Billy Graham, the famous evangelist, to be on the board of this new ministry.
Then they started looking for college students who stood out as leaders at the University of California in Los Angeles.
They met with women at the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house. There, Bill told the young women about his encounter with Jesus. More than half of the 60 ladies present expressed an interest in receiving Christ.
The Brights hosted a follow-up meeting at their house the next evening. They encouraged the young women to invite their friends. Top athletes and musicians attended, and also the editor of the school paper.
Soon more than 250 UCLA students—including the student body president—attended subsequent meetings.
The fulfillment of Bill Bright’s vision had begun, and thus, Campus Crusade for Christ was started.