Tuesday, May 3, 2011

David Wilkerson: May 19, 1931 to April 27, 2011

Google page on David Wilkerson.

I remember reading The Cross and the Switchblade very early in my Christian life, the story of David Wilkerson's obedient response to God's calling to the teenage gangs in New York City in the late 1950s. I think it may have spoiled me with the expectation that there must be many such obedient Christian leaders as David Wilkerson, Christians who spend hours with God and hear and obey. I then went on to his book Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth about his prophecy of disaster coming to New York City. I always considered him a true man of God even after I gave up on the charismatic movement which is related to the Pentecostalism of which he was a part. He never fell for the deceptions in that movement.

Last week he was killed in a car crash at the age of 79. Here are some stories about that and about his life:

The report from Christianity Today.

A video tribute to his life at one of his websites.

Report from Charisma magazine..

The report in The Wall Street Journal.

The Rev. David Wilkerson created the longest-running show on Broadway, an 8,000-strong Pentecostal church dedicated to saving New York City's drug addicts and prostitutes.

Mr. Wilkerson, who died Wednesday at age 79, was founder of World Challenge, a nondenominational Christian ministry that has worked in more than 50 countries, with a special emphasis on young people.

Mr. Wilkerson's car veered into oncoming traffic in East Texas and collided head-on with a tractor-trailer, police said. He was not wearing a seat belt. His wife, Gwendolyn, was injured in the accident.

In 1963, Mr. Wilkerson published "The Cross and the Switchblade," an autobiographical account of working with teenage gang members in New York.

The book sold 15 million copies, his church claims, and in 1969 was made into a movie starring Pat Boone as Mr. Wilkerson and Erik Estrada as troubled gang leader Nicky Cruz.

After kicking drugs via Mr. Wilkerson's cold-turkey, scripture-reading method, Mr. Cruz went on to become a Pentecostal minister himself, often preaching in Eastern Europe.

Teen Challenge, Mr. Wilkerson's antidrug organization, runs nearly 1,200 drug centers, 233 of them in the U.S.