The Rev. David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and author of the well-known book The Cross and the Switchblade (with John and Elizabeth Sherrill), was killed today (Wednesday, April 27, 2011), in a car accident, according to a source close to CBN News. He was 79.
CBN is reporting 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.
“It’s unclear what caused Wilkerson to veer into the other lane. His wife Gwen was also involved in the crash and rushed to the hospital, along with the truck driver,” said the CBN News story.
Wilkerson posted a blog dated April 27 — the day of his death. In the post, titled “When All Means Fail,” he encouraged those facing difficulty to “hold fast” and stand strong in faith.
“To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights, and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, ‘I am with you,’” Wilkerson wrote.
“Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail-his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.”
CBN News went on to say that word of the accident began to spread Wednesday night on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and Christians are urged prayer for Mrs. Wilkerson who’s in critical condition.
|Cover of his best-selling book|
Wilkerson’s cousin Rich confirmed the death on Twitter.
“It is confirmed my dear cousin David Wilkerson lost his life in a tragic car accident this afternoon. Prayers r needed at this time,” he tweeted.
Rev. Wilkerson spent the early part of his ministry reaching out to gang members and drug addicts in New York, as told in his bestselling book The Cross and the Switchblade.
In 1971, he started World Challenge, Inc. as an umbrella for his crusades, conferences, evangelism and other ministry. The Times Square Church was founded under the group in 1987.
Wilkerson also founded Teen Challenge, a Christian outreach program for troubled young people.
“Please remember the Wilkerson family in your prayers as our founder, Rev. David Wilkerson, went to be with the Lord this evening,” Teen Challenge told Twitter followers.
The Times Square Church is now led by Pastor Carter Conlon and has more than 8,000 members.
In a message posted on the church website, Pastor Conlon wrote: “It is with deepest of sadness that we have to inform you of the sudden passing of Reverend David Wilkerson, our founding pastor.
“As the details of the family’s wishes are made known we will relay them to you on this website.
“There will be a memorial service at Times Square Church at a date yet to be determined. It will be streamed live to give an opportunity for all to participate.
“Pastor David Wilkerson’s was a life fully given for the glory of God and souls of men. He was greatly loved and he will be greatly missed.
“Our prayers are with the family and we as a church body are committed to standing with them at this time of sorrow.”
He is survived by his wife, four children and 11 grandchildren.
On a personal note, I have met with David Wilkerson on two occasions, once in Birmingham, England, and later in Texas where I interviewed him after being introduced to him by John Sherrill. I will be doing a follow up story on both of these meetings. If you knew David Wilkerson, or have comments you would like to make about his life and how it affected you, please send your messages to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a little background on yourself. I will then use as many of them as I can in my story.