Campus Crusade for Christ International founder and president Bill Bright is the 1996 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, the world's largest annual award, valued at $1,070,000. Investor John Templeton, 83, awards the prize "to a living person who has shown extraordinary originality in advancing humankind's understanding of God and/or spirituality."
Bright, 74, began Campus Crusade (CC) 45 years ago with his wife, Vonette, at the University of California at Los Angeles. CC trains college students to share their faith in one-on-one settings. Bright targeted athletes, fraternity and sorority members, student body officers, and other campus leaders as his original disciples.
On hearing the news, D. James Kennedy, who started Evangelism Explosion in 1962, told CT, "Bill is an example to multitudes of faithful perseverance in his efforts to fulfill the Great Commission and to continually proclaim the gospel."
The movement has spread to 650 U.S. university campuses and 470 colleges overseas. CC, now based in Orlando, Florida, has grown to nearly 13,000 full-time workers and more than 101,000 trained volunteer staff in 165 countries. With an annual budget of $270 million, it is the top income-generating evangelical ministry in the country.
Lately, Bright has focused on organizing fasting and prayer conferences, which he sees as a precursor to worldwide revival. "I'm not off on a kick," Bright told CT. "Prayer is our highest calling, and when it's combined with fasting there's a spiritual nuclear power." He says he plans to use the Templeton money "to educate leaders of the church worldwide to the spiritual benefits of fasting and prayer." A four-member committee will supervise a separate prize fund account.
In accepting the award March 6, Bright acknowledged being materialistic until he and his wife became Christians in 1951. "We made a decision to relinquish all our rights, all our possessions, everything we would ever own." The Brights' CC yearly salary is $43,402, and he has not accepted royalties for the 50 books he has written.
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