ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–God miraculously called out a young man named Bill Bright in 1945, and it was through the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry he later started that Bob and Cheryl Reccord also responded to God’s redeeming love.
Bob Reccord, now president of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, spoke as part of Bright’s 81st birthday celebration during the Oct. 18-19 “Historic Worldcast Celebration” — an Internet-based streaming video conference designed to see the gospel preached simultaneously around the world.
The event was sponsored by Global Pastors Network, a Campus Crusade ministry launched this year that offers online video and audio training resources for pastors worldwide.
Reccord’s address came just before a gospel message by Bright, a conference highlight organizers expected to be heard in 121 countries.
Preaching from chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel, Reccord told of the “one storyline with three chapters” that includes the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son.
The “lost sheep,” he said, was Bright himself, who as an agnostic young man had traveled from his home in Oklahoma to “get lost in the crowd” of Los Angeles. His first night there, however, he wound up meeting Dawson Trotman, the founder of the evangelical discipleship organization The Navigators and attended a party for prominent evangelist Charles Fuller. Through their influence, Bright responded to the gospel of Christ and subsequently founded Campus Crusade in 1951.
“There is no place where you can drift from him that [God] doesn’t find you right where you are,” Reccord said. “… Bill Bright became a sheep who through passive indifference had drifted, and the shepherd brought him home.”
The parable of the lost coin related to Cheryl Reccord, who as a student at Indiana University felt there was something more to a relationship with God than she had found in the church where she grew up.
“She knew that what she had found in the church did not meet the hunger of her soul,” Reccord said. “And on that campus she said, ‘God, you’ve got six weeks, and if I don’t find what I’ve already found I’m quitting the search.'”
But after talking for an hour and a half about Jesus Christ with a young man involved in Campus Crusade, she accepted Christ — and later became involved in the organization herself. By definition, that meant becoming a committed soul-winner.
“Campus Crusade said, ‘If you’re following Jesus, you’re going to be fishing, and if you’re not fishing, you’re not fully following Jesus,'” Reccord said. “So she didn’t know any better than to think that if you knew Jesus you ought to give him away to somebody. And three weeks later my wife flew back to her home in Detroit, Mich., and led her closest friend to Jesus Christ.”
The parable of the prodigal son described Reccord’s own path before a young man named Norm insisted on telling him about God’s love.
Norm had what Reccord thought at the time was a “stupid little booklet” that he wanted to read to him — Bright’s well-known gospel tract “The Four Spiritual Laws.”
Because of his dogged determination to share Christ, everyone in the dorm — also at Indiana University — had learned to run when Norm was coming, Reccord said. But one day Reccord’s attempt to hide in a closet ended when shelves came crashing down around him.
“I’ll never forget it,” Reccord said, relating Norm’s words as he found him, “‘Even in the closet, Bob, you can’t run from the love of God.’ He told me about a seeking God who was looking for lost sons. And he said, ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.'”
Not long after that — at about 2 a.m. after a party — Reccord remembered something else Norm had said, “God loves you right where you are, but he loves you way too much to let you stay there.” And he gave his life to Christ.
Reccord titled his message, “The Five Most Important Words in Life,” referring to the phrase from John 3:16 “God so loved the world.” In each of the parables, and in his life and the lives of his wife and Bright — God had demonstrated that love miraculously.
“God kept looking for each of us until he found us and brought us home,” Reccord said. Speaking directly to Bright and his wife, Vonette, he said, “In the words of Ray Boltz in his song, thank you for giving to the Lord — because I’m a life that was changed.”
For more information on the Global Pastors Network, visit www.globalpastorsnework .org.