This article originally appeared in the June 9, 1972 issue of Christianity Today.
"As the head of a large, international movement I am involved with thousands of others in a `conspiracy to overthrow the world.' Each year we train tens of thousands of high school and college students from more than half of the major countries of the world in the art of revolution, and daily these `revolutionists' are at work around the globe, spreading our philosophy and strengthening rind broadening our influence."
These words come not from a Communist party chairman but from Bill Bright, founder and president of the growing Campus Crusade for Christ organization. The revolution he mentions is a spiritual one, for Bright and his workers are out to evangelize the world by 1980.
It is no empty vow. Crusade's full-time staff now numbers more than 3,000, up from 250 ten years ago. And already hundreds of thousands of persons worldwide can trace their spiritual ancestry to Crusade. (Crusade grew out of a ministry Bright and his wife beamed to University of Los Angeles students in 1951 when he was a businessman-turned-seminarian.)
Crusade is no longer confined to campus. More than 100,000 laymen are trained each year in lay institutes, says Bright. These range from small interchurch groups to large denominational gatherings. Special divisions work with pastors, missionaries. blacks, American Indians, Spanish—peaking people, and military personnel.
Nor is crusade confined any longer to America. Its international staffers work in more than fifty countries. Fewer than 100 of these workers are Americans; over 400 are nationals. (Most of the national leaders were converted and recruited while they were college students here. Some are former Communists.) Many will be on hand for Crusade's Explo 72 evangelism congress this month in Dallas.
In addition to its main multi-milliondollar headquarters at Arrowhead Springs on the slopes above San Bernardino, California, Crusade operates centers in Manila, London, Switzerland, and Mexico.
Bright and his administrators are tuned to goals, and they devise strategy accordingly, country by country. But whether it's America or another nation and students or church members under consideration the entire operation boils down to a simple concept: train Christians to share their faith with their peers -then press for a decision, lead them into the filling of the Spirit, enroll them in follow-up, and turn then into reproducers. This, Bright believes, is the fastest way to fulfill the so-called Great Commission of Christ. It is also, he is convinced, the best hope for changing the world for the better.
Although the international aspect of Crusade's ministry is only a few years old, impressive results are being reported. Here is a recent sampling:
South Korea. According to many South Korean leaders, their nation is in the midst of a revival greater than the famed outpouring of 1907. And Crusade is in the thick of it, led by national director Joon Gon Kim. Last August Crusade drew 10,000 persons (6,000 were high school and collegeage young people) to leadership training sessions at Taejon. They witnessed personally to 42,000, and 16,000 prayed to receive Christ. The newly trained leaders went back home and passed on their training to thousands of others. In less than two months, leaders say, 180,OOO.were taught how to give their faith away.
At Kongju, Teachers College nine professors and 150 students accepted Christ. The principal at Samchuk high school led fifty of his pupils to Christ-and into the church he attends. More than 3,000 primary school teachers evangelized in homes. Kim preached to 1,600 army commanders and on another occasion to 14,000 troops, with many decisions reported. Three collegians led half their classmates in the engineering department to Christ. The accounts of conversions, changed lives, transformed homes, and revived churches are endless.
Mexico. Fifty Crusade "action groups" of college students are functioning weekly on campuses. At least 2,000 reportedly received Christ during a "campus invasion" at the 110,000student National University in Mexico City, and nearly that many registered decisions in a similar outreach at the 65,000-student National Polytechnic University where Christian students were allowed to speak in 220 classroom meetings.
France. The Forerunners, a traveling Crusade music group, opened the way at a university in Orleans. Half of the large audience asked for follow-up interviews, and "discovery groups" were formed in all six residence halls.
Colombia. Crusade's activists are under attack by Communists, but leaders expect to have 2,000 students in weekly meetings in Cali soon.
Brazil. During a leadership institute workers practiced their new methodology on campuses and beaches and from door-to-door, and reported that half of those they spoke with made decisions.
Indonesia. In a high school class on religion in Djakarta, a Crusade-trained student wielded his "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet (it's in dozens of languages) and all 112 of his classmates said they wanted to accept Christ.
Pakistan. Leader Kundan Massey says there is "tremendous fruit" just now among Moslems and Hindus (workers make them renounce other gods), and that many educated persons are turning to Christ. The liberal-oriented West Pakistan Christian Council representing more than 500 churches has asked him to conduct schools of evangelism for all its pastors, and these are under way. An Anglican priest led his congregation through the Four Laws at a Sunday worship service and dozens of members walked forward to pray to receive Christ. Similar happenings—and accounts of personal renewal—were reported by other clergymen.
Finland. New staffer Lassi Kontula, a divinity student, says there are more young Christians in his land than ever -"and they are more active than ever before." There has been opposition from Communists, but 150 Crusade action groups continue to hold forth on every campus in Helsinki.
To complement the ministry abroad, Crusade three years ago launched a ministry to reach the 150,000 international students in this country. "These are the cream of the crop, the future leaders of their countries," explained Massey. "Yet 80 per cent return to their lands without hearing the Gospel here." Indeed, until now more of them have probably returned as Communists than as Christians, say many observers.
About fifty Crusade staffers have enlisted so far to work with international students. Meanwhile, Crusade's lay contacts are being urged to open their homes to touring internationals. Bright and other leaders are convinced that nationals must bear the prime responsibility for reaching their respective nations with the Gospel.
Amid the blessings are some headaches too. Crusade's current budget is about $2 million. An administrative aide says that must be hiked next year to $5 million in order to keep abreast of goals—and to $200 million by 1980. So far staffers have had to raise their own support (ranging from $285 monthly for a single rookie to about $950 for a veteran with four children, with housing and auto allowances extra), but the Arrowhead Springs property still carries a hefty mortgage, there is plenty of overhead, and the foreign work must be staked until it is self-supporting (Australia and Canada have reached that status; Korea is nearing it). Yet Bright believes God will continue to supply all needs.
Some staffers grouse about the tight regimen imposed by headquarters, but Bright insists it will take discipline to do the job right.
There are detractors too. Liberal critics complain that Crusade's message is too narrow and its methods too rash. Some cite a lack of social consciousness. And several theologians say more theological content is needed.
But, backers defend, who else is doing as effective a job? They say the average Crusade staffer is a sharp, socially-aware student of Scripture who believes that evangelism must precede any lasting social impact. And as for aggressively sharing the faith, he is only carrying out a task given him by Christ—a task that will last at least until 1980.
This article originally appeared in the June 9, 1972 issue of Christianity Today.
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Bill Bright's Benediction | "As long as I have breath, I will praise and serve the Lord," the evangelist wrote earlier this month.
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CT Classic: 'I'm Only Doing What God Told Me to Do' | The founder of Campus Crusade for Christ talks about America's moral disintegration, Christians in politics, and his hopes for the "greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the world."