Vonette Bright, who along with her husband, Bill Bright, founded Campus Crusade for Christ and built it into one of the country’s largest evangelical organizations, died Dec. 23 in Orlando. She was 89.

The cause was complications from leukemia, the organization, now officially known as Cru, said in a statement.

Before their marriage in 1948, Mrs. Bright said she was put off by the fervor of her fiance’s recent religious conversion.

“I decided Bill had become a religious fanatic and that somehow he must be rescued from this fanaticism,” she wrote in a personal statement on the Cru website. “He knew he could not marry me until there was a change in my spiritual life.”

Instead, she overcame her doubts and soon adopted her husband’s born-again beliefs, which guided their personal and professional lives for decades.

In 1951, her husband gave up a lucrative career running a gourmet candy business and together they launched Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of California at Los Angeles. The goal was to connect with college students in campus settings and to instill a lifelong practice of Christianity.

Although not as well known as Billy Graham or Oral Roberts, the Brights were among the country’s most successful evangelists and built Campus Crusade into what was often called the largest Christian ministry in the world.

Now based in Orlando, Cru (it was renamed in 2011) has annual revenues of more than $500 million and, according to Forbes magazine, is one of the country’s 25 largest charitable organizations. It has about 27,000 employees, reaches about 190 countries and has chapters on thousands of college campuses worldwide.

The Brights also created dozens of spinoff ministries, including Athletes in Action and other groups geared toward business executives, military personnel and prisoners. Mrs. Bright was particularly active in developing groups focused on women and families, such as Women Today International and FamilyLife. The latter group calls for women to take a subservient role to men in marriage.

With her husband, Mrs. Bright also co-founded the Alliance Defending Freedom, which provides pro bono legal support to conservative Christian causes, such as opposition to same-sex marriage and to mandatory insurance coverage of contraceptive devices.

Over the years, Bill Bright became increasingly outspoken and politically engaged, often railing against the New Deal, feminism, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, evolutionary theory and other things he felt were influenced by left-wing, anti-Christian ideals.

Mrs. Bright, on the other hand, adopted a less provocative stance and seldom spoke out on social issues. She wrote several inspirational books and founded a nationally syndicated radio show, “Women Today,” on which she often appeared. Outgoing and articulate, Mrs. Bright was a frequent speaker at evangelical gatherings and held a leadership role with the Cru organization until her death.

Vonette Zachary was born July 2, 1926, in Coweta, Okla., which was also the home town of her husband, who was five years older. Her father was a farmer and small-business owner.

She received a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Texas Woman’s University in 1948 and was a teacher in Los Angeles for several years before she and her husband began their ministry. Campus Crusade for Christ was based for years in Arrowhead Springs, Calif., before moving to Orlando in the 1990s.

Early in their marriage, Mrs. Bright said, she and her husband signed what they called a “slave contract” to devote their lives to the service of God.

“Being a slave of Jesus Christ is what serving faith is all about,” she wrote in her 2010 book “In His Hands.” “A slave has no personal rights, no desires to build his own kingdom; he or she is always seeking to work for the master’s benefit.”

Bill Bright died in 2003. Survivors include two sons; a brother; a sister; and four grandchildren.

Mrs. Bright and her husband were key lobbyists behind the establishment of the National Day of Prayer, and she chaired the National Day of Prayer Task Force for several years.

“I believe prayer is the greatest privilege and most revolutionary power available to the Christian,” she said, “and God’s word promises us its effectiveness.”