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Bill Bright: Remembering Dad

Seventeen years ago today, my dad, Bill Bright, finished his race at the age of 81. I miss him greatly.

I still marvel at was his single-mindedness on helping to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. He never deviated. He never allowed anything to hijack that calling. He bled unbridled passion when it came to giving every person on earth an opportunity to know God personally. But that passion came with a price.

Every time he left home for the airport the Enemy would whisper in his ear, “Bill, you will never see your family again.” But because he had embraced God’s call on his life, he went anyway, trusting God with his family, albeit with many tears.

Dad was intentional about his lifestyle as well, never wanting to create barriers which might cause someone to reject Christ. When a group of businessmen offered to give Campus Crusade a plane in order to reduce the incredible wear and tear on his body (he traveled 80% of the time for 50 years) he turned it down because he felt it might cause many to question his motivation for being in ministry thereby undermining his effectiveness as a messenger of the gospel. Whenever friends sent limousines to pick him up at the airport he would slink down in the backseat, afraid someone might see and be turned off to the gospel. For fifty years he flew economy class routinely declining free upgrades to first class. It is why he never owned a home. He didn’t even own the car he drove. His focus was always on the lost. He made every decision in light of the proclamation of the gospel.

Our family was affected by his passion for the lost as well. When we vacationed I would often turn around to find my dad lagging behind, talking with yet another person about how they could know God personally. Once, I got frustrated with him during a vacation at the beach for making us wait while he talked with one more person about Jesus. I asked, “Don’t you think that for just a few days you could refrain from talking with everyone along the way about Jesus?” He paused for about one second, and then softly said, “No, I can’t.”

Please don’t misunderstand, his single-minded focus did not mean he disregarded societal ills. He fasted one day a week for years and gave the money he saved to help feed the poor, but he never allowed his deep compassion for the poor to supplant God’s primary call. He often thundered at the dinner table that he wanted to go chain himself to the columns outside the Supreme Court until Roe V. Wade was overturned, but instead he remained focused on the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. He built bridges across the racial divide despite incredible opposition, but he never wavered from his primary mission of helping reach the world for Jesus Christ. Not even good causes could distract him from his primary calling.

Now my dad, my mother and my brother have all gone on ahead. It’s remarkably sobering; I’m the only one left on earth of the family in which I grew up. I am acutely aware that my time is coming soon enough. Until then I still have a race to run. What will I do with my remaining days, months or years? Will I focus on the symptoms of a broken view of God (abortion, racism, same-sex-marriage, poverty) or will I single-mindedly focus on making God Himself the primary issue? I know what Bill Bright would do.

©2020 Brad Bright

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