Diagnosed last fall with pulmonary fibrosis and already battlingprostate cancer, the co-founder of the 50-year-old ministry is editingbooks, preparing video presentations and making plans to foster thetraining of future Christian leaders through a university housed at NewYork's Empire State Building.
His illness has slowed his physical pace, but it has not diminishedhis faith, Bright said in a telephone interview from Arrowhead Springs,Campus Crusade's former headquarters in San Bernardino, Calif.
"I'm rejoicing and praising and giving thanks to the Lord because heis so wonderful," said Bright, 79. "I've learned that life and death arenot that much different and, you know, to be absent from the body is tobe present with the Lord so a Christian can't lose."
Bright's attitude has buoyed his staffers as they adjust to the factthat their longtime leader is ailing.
"His attitude is so consistent and refreshing that it's hard to besad around him," said Crawford Loritts, associate director of CampusCrusade USA.
Bright, the 1996 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress inReligion, is being honored this year by his fellow evangelicals.
TheEvangelical Christian Publishers Association is scheduled to give himits Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award in July. The NationalAssociation of Evangelicals chose him for its first-ever LifetimeMinistry Award earlier this month. Bishop Kevin Mannoia, NAEpresident, said Bright maintained his faithful focus when he informedhim that his health would not permit him to make the association'sannual meeting in Dallas.
"The amazing thing about Dr. Bright is that in whatever circumstancehe's in, he's always ready to pray, to be interested in the mission ofthe church and to literally verbalize the ongoing joy of his personalwalk with Christ," Mannoia said.
"I'm not just trying to be superspiritual," he said. "That'sChristianity. That's what the Bible teaches we should do. ... We playgames with God when we think we own anything. At best, we're stewards."
Bright said the $1.1 million Templeton prize money is still beingused around the world to promote fasting and prayer, a cause that becamehis focus after he observed his first 40-day fast in 1994. He hasspearheaded annual "Fasting & Prayer" conferences since then.
Bright has worked to encourage unity among Christians, bringingdenominations together for conferences.
"This idea of division is not of God," he said. "Criticism andfault-finding and anti-anything in the life of believers on the part ofanother is wrong."
The former owner of a confections business, Bright takes hisministry's focus on evangelism personally.
In a video presentation at the NAE meeting, friends and familymembers recalled how he would share his faith with everyone from taxicabdrivers to telephone callers.
"This isn't the wrong number," his son Brad recalled his fathertelling an unsuspecting caller to their home. "This is a divineappointment."
The evangelistic mission began to drive Bright soon after heconverted from a "happy pagan" to a Christian in 1945. In 1951, he andhis wife, Vonette, founded Campus Crusade for Christ to fulfill whatBright felt was a calling from God.
Once just a ministry at the University of California at Los Angeles,it has grown to include 22,000 full-time staffers and almost half amillion volunteers. Now based in Orlando, Fla., Crusade's U.S. andworldwide ministries include outreaches to diplomats, professors,executives, families, military personnel and athletes.
Given its broadened focus, Bright expects that sometime the ministrywill change its name.
"We've been developing a name called "Here's Life, World," he said."One day, we will transition. It's like Coca-Cola changing its name."
And like the soft drink company, Bright has used trademark items tohelp propel the ministry into the eyes of the general public -- acrossthe country and the globe.
"I'm a businessman, and marketing has had special fascination forme," he said.
He devised a little pamphlet titled "Have You Heard of the FourSpiritual Laws?", which explained how people can become Christians. Ithas now been printed more than 2.5 billion times in more than 200languages.
Inspired by God and filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, Bright conceived theidea of a movie about the life of Jesus. Thirty-three years in theplanning, the "Jesus" film now exists in 645 languages.