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Campus Crusade gets a new launching pad

  • Candice Atherton Women's Channel Editor
  • 1999 22 Oct
Campus Crusade gets a new launching pad
"What a great God we serve." That is the message resounding through the halls of the new campus and headquarters for Campus Crusade for Christ, dedicated Saturday at a grand opening ceremony.

In the ministrys endeavors to fulfill Gods Great Commission, they have seen 48 years of staggering expansion and life-changing commitments to Christ. With over 660,000 trained volunteers throughout the world, Campus Crusade has grown from its first campus outreach ministry on the UCLA campus to an umbrella organization making possible such projects as the Jesus Film Project, the most widely translated film in history -- 544 languages to date -- which has presented the message of Christ to over 2 billion people worldwide. But rather than reveling in their history, Campus Crusade is looking forward to the ways God will work in the future.

"As you see these facilities, you might think of them as just buildings. Theyre really a launching pad for the presentation of Jesus Christ," said Steve Douglass, Director of US Ministries for Campus Crusade. The new facilities include 285 acres of land, interactive walkways to tell the stories of each of Campus Crusades 68 ministries and projects, and will support a full-time staff of 20,514 with 663,612 trained volunteers serving 181 countries. "The Lake Hart campus will allow Campus Crusade for Christ to exercise the highest standards of stewardship by giving us room to grow, flexibility to reconfigure space as our needs change, freedom from unpredictable real-estate markets, and ultimately, lower occupancy costs for all components of the ministry," explained Ken Heckmann, the ministrys chief financial officer. With the ministrys annual budget of $368 million, a portion of the facilities $45 million construction has been underwritten through extraordinary gifts from donors with the remainder being funded through long term bonds. Future plans for the campus include a conference center, visitors center, strategic prayer center, retreat center, and a hotel.

While an outsiders first tendency may be to measure the extravagance of such a project by acreage and dollar values, the ministry is counting only its progress toward its goal of reaching the world for Christ. As the ministrys founders and directors for 48 years, Dr. Bill Bright and his wife, Vonette, are familiar with the commitment of scarce resources toward the growth of the ministry. Perhaps the new facilitys greatest extravagance is the faith required to act upon such a grand vision, and it is shared by the entire staff which works toward fulfilling the Great Commission.

Lake Harts architecture is striking and its halls are tastefully decorated, with attention paid to conservancy such as the modest cubicle configurations for the majority of staff and the single tree used for wood furnishings throughout the Presidents office and the boardroom. Perhaps the most striking element of the new campus is the constant activity that it supports, with a headquarters working on behalf of staff and volunteers in the field at a ratio of 1:911. They are characterized by their overwhelming dedication to the Lord they serve and fulfilling His plans even at the expense of their own. For example, the grand opening for the Lake Hart campus had been thoroughly planned, including expected attendance of 5000 and the performance of an 800-person choir. But hours before the kickoff, prayers were requested in support of the decision makers faced with the difficult call -- to cancel the event or proceed in spite of the approaching hurricane and an outdoor tent that collapsed despite the assurance of its manufacturers.

Campus Crusades leaders decided to scale back their plans and hold a more intimate dedication ceremony inside. A crowd of 1,300 found space along the Vision Walk and among cubicles. Dr. Bright ventured to praise God for the hurricane that had destroyed the outdoor tent, the possibility of outdoor pictures, and months worth of careful planning for a grand opening celebration. His staff frequently recalls the Dr. Bright way: "If its OK with you God, its OK with me." Not even a tripping of the new propertys fire alarm dulled the joyful thanks of those involved. "God had even grander plans than we did, it just wasnt what grand looked like to us," commented Beth Adams from the ministrys Office of Communications.

Campus Crusade has their priorities in order -- they only look back because doing so provides greater evidence of Gods blessing. Supplanting a historical focus with future accomplishments of their God-given goals, Campus Crusade is a ministry with a rich past that is looking forward to the impact it will have for God. As Vonette Bright points out, "Weve dreamed of having the world reached for Christ, and Id say weve believed it could be done. Between the cooperative efforts of Campus Crusade and other organizations throughout the world, I believe well see the world reached for Christ before the end of the year 2000."

Nancy DeMoss, whose family has been an integral part of the ministry and whose late husbands name was conferred upon a wing of the new facility, provided her own outlook for the ministry, "Campus Crusade is entering into the new millennium with greater vision than ever before. So this building does not represent a culmination of the ministry, but rather a new beginning."