Since we announced the sad passing of Rev. David Wilkerson, ANS continues to receive many messages from our readers on how he influenced their lives.
Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City, founder of the Teen Challenge ministry, president of World Challenge Inc., and co-author of the well-known book “The Cross and the Switchblade” (as well as many others), was killed April 27 in a car accident.
Wilkerson, 79, died after his car slammed into a tractor-trailer on a highway about 95 miles southeast of Dallas. His wife, of 57 years, Gwen, was also injured but is expected to recover in an East Texas Hospital.
CBN News reported that Wilkerson was driving east on U.S. 175 in Texas, and moved into the opposite lane where a tractor trailer was driving westbound. The truck driver saw the car and tried to move out of the way, but still collided with the pastor’s car head on, according to Public Safety Trooper Eric Long.
Yvonne Trimble wrote that she and her husband Joel have been missionaries in Haiti since 1975. She said Wilkerson had a feeding program there when they were young destitute missionaries trying to preach the gospel.
Trimble said, “Wilkerson allowed us to use his flat bed truck that delivered food for distribution, as a platform for our evangelistic crusade ministry. We traveled all over the island setting up sound equipment, even a movie screen to show the Jesus film in Creole. Literally tens of thousands of Haitians heard the gospel because of David Wilkerson’s generosity to us junior missionaries.”
Trimble added, “David Wilkerson was a genuine uncompromising prophet of God who never minced words and moved men to repentance. It was a privilege to know him and receive his help in Haiti.”
Rebecca Ng’ang’a , a lecturer in the department of communication in a Christian university, said she was inspired by Wilkerson.
Ng’ang’a said a number of years ago she read many of Wilkerson’s books, beginning with “The Cross and the Switchblade.”
She said, “ His call, and work with children who were misplaced, his understanding of drugs and their impact and his sound teaching of God’s Word have been a great treasure to .. the many (who) I have taught and continue to teach.”
Ng’ang’a added, “On the one hand, I am so sorry to hear about his transition from this life while I was still hoping he would visit Kenya again. On the other hand I am glad that one who served God’s purposes in his time … has rested and truly gone home. I am thankful that somehow God gave me an opportunity to shake his hand.”
David Patterson wrote on a blog tribute, “I last spoke to Brother Dave early in the year when I was deep in the dark valley of cancer and its treatment. We talked by phone for ten or fifteen minutes, and his words were so encouraging to me. He seemed to sense that I was struggling to fully trust, and as we concluded the call I can still hear him say, ‘You can trust Him, David. You can trust all His promises, all of them.’”
Patterson added, “Thank you, Brother Dave, for showing us how to live as men and women of God. You showed us how ‘to serve our own generation by the will of God.’ Your legacy lives on, and we have and will continue to be enriched by your example of faithfully serving.”
Pastors Barry and Julie Horton wrote that they were sad to hear of Wilkerson’s death. They said as young pastors they devoured his early newsletters.
They wrote, “We found such encouragement through them, such wisdom and direction, such a sense of knowing this man through his newsletters, they seemed to speak just to us! We learned so much through them – you could ‘hear’ David’s heart – such a passion for the lost.”
The Hortons said they were also blessed by both the book and the DVD of “The Cross and The Switchblade.”
They added, “A few years ago when David was in Melbourne for a conference with his son we just knew that we had to be there. We were SO blessed by their ministry – it was all that we anticipated, and more.”
The Hortons concluded, “We purpose to pray for David’s wife and family at this very difficult time, but know that through David’s life and witness for Jesus many lives have been touched and changed – just like Nicki Cruz.”
Cathy Hoxie wrote that her husband, Allan Jump, worked with David at the Brooklyn, New York Teen Challenge Center from 1968 to 1970. She said Allan was called into the ministry at the age of 20 when Wilkerson said at a large youth rally in Anaheim, California, “I feel there is someone here who is supposed to go back with me to New York.”
Hoxie wrote, “It turned out to be Allan. Through David’s provision he was able to fly to New York that summer. There he worked with the men at the center and participated in rallies with David and other staff members on the streets of New York. They would preach from a special van, outfitted with speakers, drawing crowds of listeners from the neighborhood.”
Hoxie said they married in Dec. 1968, and she returned with him to New York where they lived at the Teen Challenge Center and later became the traveling representatives of the ministry.
She added, “This was the beginning stages of Allan’s ministry. He was given opportunities to preach and teach. He went on to participate in several ministries, teach at several Teen Challenge centers and pastor several churches leading many to Christ until his death in 1997.”
Hoxie concluded, “Because of those early days at Teen Challenge I have continued with the desire to help those caught in the drug trap. I participate in prison ministry in Northern California and have taught at the Teen Challenge center in Oakland.”
Marion Barrett said Wilkerson’s books had played a significant part in her life. She said she has read a number, all of them inspiring, but his book “The Vision” made a lasting impact. In this book, she said, Wilkerson encouraged all of his readers to be debt free.
Barrett said, “I immediately paid off the small mortgage on my house to prepare for the recession that was to come. Since that time in the early 70’s I am happy to say I have been mortgage-free on every house since then. What a wonderful and profound statement that was that totally convinced me to ‘clear off all debts.’ I am ever grateful to David Wilkerson. Over the years, I have shared this story with many of my friends and family. Most of them are wishing they had done the same.”