Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Tribute to Bill Bright

Leslie Basham: When we go through times of suffering, there's something we need to remember. Here's the late Dr. Bill Bright.

Bill Bright: God uses adversity, heartache, sorrow, trials and tribulations to be a blessing, if we love Him, trust Him, obey Him.

When we heard that I was dying and no cure, we began to praise the Lord. First Thessalonians 5:18 "In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." We began to thank the Lord.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Wednesday, July 23.

Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Today, we want to honor the legacy of Dr. Bill Bright, a man who lived and died for the glory of God. Bill was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International.

His life and his ministry have made a monumental mark on millions of people around the world. He and his precious wife, Vonette, have been dear, life-long friends of my family and they've had an enormous impact on my life and on my walk with the Lord.

Three years ago, Bill was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is a terminal illness. As I've talked and prayed with Bill and Vonette numerous times since that diagnosis, I think the thing that has stood out most to me has been their steadfast determination to give thanks in all things, to praise the Lord in every circumstance and situation of life.

From time to time, I would call their home and Bill would answer the phone. I would say, "How are you doing, Bill?"

And without fail, he would respond, "I'm rejoicing in the Lord. God is so good."

This past Saturday evening, I received a call, letting me know that Bill had breathed his final breath here on earth and was in the presence of the Lord. Today and tomorrow, we're going to preempt our scheduled program to share a part of a conversation that I had with Bill and Vonette several months ago in their home.

At the time, Bill was on oxygen and they knew that apart from divine intervention, he would soon be with the Lord.

During that conversation, I asked Vonette how she was facing the reality of all that was going on. And here's what she had to say:

Vonette Bright: Nothing comes to us except through the hand of a loving Heavenly Father. God has known what it is that we need at this time of our lives and we're to serve Him. Our lives belong to Him.

And so we said, "Thank You." From the very moment that we learned that Bill had this difficulty, we have thanked Him that He would be honored and praised. Our whole purpose in life is to bring honor and glory to God.

When we learned that Bill definitely had Pulmonary Fibrosis (and knowing what the implications of that were), we got on our knees and began to pray "Lord, we want You to be honored through this illness."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you view what you're going through as suffering?

Bill Bright: No, I view it as one of the greatest blessings of my life--as a gift.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And you're holding in your hand"¦

Bill Bright: My oxygen tube, which I'm on 24 hours a day.

Why do I say that it's a gift? Well, whatever happens to me--good or bad--I know is filtered, as Vonette said, through the love of God. And whatever Satan may intend for evil, God allows only for our blessing and for His glory, if we love, trust and obey Him.

So, Vonette and I, as she mentioned, when we heard that I was dying and no cure, we began to praise the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." We began to thank the Lord.

In James 1 and Romans 5, we're told that we're to rejoice whenever there is adversity. And so, instead of our saying, "Oh, woe is us, why did you let this happen to us, Lord? We've tried to serve You all these years. We've tried to be faithful. And now, look what's happened. Why did You let us down?"

Vonette Bright: Well, I think to be that way in our lives would be ridiculous because"¦

Bill Bright: Blasphemy, it would be blasphemy.

Vonette Bright: "¦we have been blessed with good health; we've had lots of energy. We're blessed with the most fantastic staff you could possibly imagine. We have experienced such blessing upon our ministry.

Our children are anchored in the Lord. Both of our sons are in Christian work and their families are following the Lord. Just the success that God has allowed us to experience as a whole ministry.

Bill had talked from the very beginning about the fulfillment of the Great Commission, then gave us the Jesus film to be able to share with lots of different organizations and to see how we're so near finishing the Great Commission in our lifetime.

You know, it's time that we begin to wind down and begin to see God in a new way.

Bill Bright: I'm impressed with the fact that, (contrary to the perception that many Christians have--if you have problems, you're out of the will of God) God uses suffering; God uses all kinds of difficulties to bless us.

Now, "we can become bitter or we can become better," someone has said, when adversity comes, if we lose a loved one. But Jesus showed Vonette something very important I'd read hundreds of times, I'm sure, but I'd never seen it.

Vonette Bright: Soon after we learned that Bill had this problem and I was reading John 14, and that's one of my favorite chapters but I came across verse 28. And I've talked with a number of Christians, Christian leaders, about this and nobody had said they'd seen it in this way.

In this passage, it says that Jesus is telling His disciples that He's going to be leaving them and He's saying, "If you really love Me, you will be happy for Me." Another translation says, "You will be joyful for Me that I'm going to be with My Father."

And all of a sudden, I thought, This should be our attitude toward each other. We should be joyful that our loved ones are going to be with Jesus. And I'd have to say that that took some of the pain away.

A friend of mine, who had several months to know that her husband was dying with an incurable disease, when I went to see her, after her husband had passed away, I said, "Now tell me, we're alone, how are you really doing?"

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Yeah...

Vonette Bright: And she looked up to me with the most radiant smile and she's shorter than I am. And she said, "Vonette, I am so joyful that my husband is with the Lord. He's with Jesus. And he looked forward to that and I'm joyful about that."

And after I read this passage, I called her and I said, "I know where you got that. I know where you got your strength for this."

She said, "I've never even seen this passage.

In fact, you told us that when it had been confirmed that he definitely had an incurable disease and he'd been told he had six months to live, he said, 'Well, I can't lose. If I live, then I'm able to stay with my family. If I die, I go to be with the Lord. So which is better?'"

You know? It's just really wonderful whichever way. And to see the way in which my friend has lived through her grief. Now, of course, she misses her husband.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Sure.

Vonette Bright: But"¦

Bill Bright: Nine years have passed now and she still has the same attitude.

Vonette Bright: But she knows, too, that God has used her and that. A friend of mine used to say, "God never separates an entity that He doesn't have something special for the person left behind to do."

And so, I have every assurance that if I go before Bill does, God's going to take care of him or if he goes before I do, that God has something special for me to do as well. He's going to take care of me.

I don't know what I'm going to be like if Bill departs before I do. I can't promise you that I'm going to be admirable in every way because I know it's going to be only the grace of God.

It's His grace that I'm drawing on now and it'll be His grace that I draw on then. And I may end up being a basket case. But I trust, as I trust God, that He will be honored, through whatever He guides me to do; that I will be responsive.

In many ways, this is one of the sweetest times of our lives. We don't argue. There's nothing worth arguing about. There's not"¦

Bill Bright: We never have argued that much.

Vonette Bright: No, but we can be very picky about little tiny things and that, but we really, it's just, it's a very, very sweet time. And I consider it a privilege to care for Bill.

My prayer has been for years that God would let me live long enough to take care of him, as long as he lived. And I think it would be a little easier for me to survive than he. He doesn't agree with me on that one. But we are trusting Him every day.

And there are some times when I become rather anxious about him but, interestingly enough, any time that I ask him about"¦anytime when I'm having a little anxiety, he says, "This is just, this is a blessing. This is a blessing. Just thank the Lord for it."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That's Vonette Bright. This past Saturday evening her husband, Dr. Bill Bright, went home to be with the Lord. For over 50 years, Bill and Vonette Bright have demonstrated a passionate love for the Lord Jesus and a commitment to glorify God in life and in death.

By God's grace, Bill Bright died as he had lived. Less than a week before he died, I visited Bill one final time. He was wearing an oxygen mask, he was struggling to breathe, his speech was hard to understand but both he and Vonette talked over and over again about the goodness and the greatness of God.

How could this couple face what the world considers a tragedy with such peace and joy? I'll tell you how. Bill and Vonette Bright have spent their lives getting to know God.

Their understanding of the character of God has taken them through both the good and the hard times. That's exactly what will carry you and me through our hard times.

Dr. Bright has written a powerful little booklet on 13 attributes or character qualities of God. The booklet comes with a laminated card that you can keep in your pocket or your purse to remind you of the practical benefits of each of those attributes.

And as I read those benefits, I can just hear Dr. Bright saying these things. For example: Because God knows everything, I will go to Him with all my questions and concerns.

This little booklet and the laminated card that comes with it are a powerful tool that you can keep in your pocket or your purse to be a constant reminder to you of these foundational truths about God.

I hope that you'll contact us and ask for one.

Leslie Basham: Dr. Bright's booklet on the Attributes of God, along with the laminated card are available for a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just ask for the booklet on God. You can get more information by calling us at 1-800-569-5959 or visit

When you contact us, be sure to ask for a copy of our free newsletter. It includes a program schedule so you can see where we're headed in coming weeks.

We'll air a longer portion of Nancy's interview with Bill and Vonette Bright in the future and we hope you'll be looking out for that.

We'll spend one more day remembering the life of Dr. Bill Bright. We'll hear what he has to say about the hope of heaven on tomorrow's program. We hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.