God’s Super Salesman

It was just about the worst possible setting for a screening of a motion picture. Thousands of refugees from Mozambique had recently escaped into South Africa. Among the squalid camps, a missionary had formed a church. One evening the missionary invited a mission team to show the Campus Crusade for Christ film Jesus. One thousand ragged refugees arrived, crowding past witch doctors dancing and howling in outrage. As the film played out on the white sheet that served as a viewing screen, a translator interpreted the story about the carpenter's son who died on the cross. But screening was never finished. As the resurrection scene unfolded, all 1,000 viewers crying, singing, and cheering, prayed to receive Christ. This is just one story, and there are thousands?of the tremendous influence Campus Crusade founder Bill Bright has had on the world. The 1979 Jesus film has been seen by 750 million people in 342 languages, bringing millions to Christ. But this film is just the tip of the evangelical iceberg for Bill Bright. Bill just won the 1996 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion?$1,000,000, the world's largest prize, which Bill characteristically turned over to Campus Crusade for Christ. I was one of those who nominated him, because as a previous recipient of the Templeton Prize, I felt there was no one else more deserving than Bill Bright. First of all, Bill is probably the greatest Christian visionary alive today. He has a tremendous desire to evangelize the entire world by the year 2000, and doesn’t let anything stop him. Second, I've always appreciated Bill's unselfishness. He's on the road more than half the year, going anywhere, anytime to help the ministry of Campus Crusade. I know what a toll that takes. I came to appreciate Bill even more when we were taking a lot of flack for signing the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document. I worked with him closely through the ECT escapades, and Bill stood his ground courageously. As Bill put it, "My goal is to evangelize and I will stick with my convictions no matter what heat I take." And he added: "I don't ever want to have it on my conscience that I had an opportunity to evangelize, and closed doors [instead]." But what has struck me the most about Bill?and what I believe is the secret to his great success?is his openness to prayer, fasting, and repentance. Not long ago Campus Crusade had a tremendous experience when Bill's whole staff came together, and people came forward by the hundreds to repent. It was a real cleansing for Campus Crusade, the kind of thing I'd love to happen with Prison Fellowship or any organization. In fact, Bill is so convinced of the power of prayer and fasting that he plans to use his Templeton Prize to educate church leaders about the spiritual benefits of these disciplines. Bill paraphrases Philippians 2:13 as "What God calls you to do, he gives you the ability [to do]." Bill himself has taken his own God-given ability to extraordinary levels. In pursuing his great vision, this servant of God has given himself sacrificially to a ministry that God has richly blessed. One that has led to salvation for millions.


Chuck Colson


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