Saturday, 30 April 2011

Remembering David Wilkerson: A Godly Preacher Has Passed Away

David Wilkerson (1931-2011). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

David served the purposes of God in his generation, then he died” (Acts 13:36). This is how Gary Wilkerson introduced the death of his father David Wilkerson in a blog post.

On Wednesday, April 27th, David Wilkerson’s earthly life came to an end in a traffic accident. He died instantly in a head-on collision with a truck in Texas. His wife Gwen, who was with him in the car, was injured but is expected to recover fully from her injuries.

David Wilkerson (1931-2011) hardly needs an introduction. Millions of people have read his books, especially The Cross and the Switchblade that has become a Christian classic.

Rev. Wilkerson passed away just a month before his 80th birthday.

Wilkerson emphasised God’s love and holiness both in his personal life and his preaching. Love for the lost caused him as a young preacher to venture among drug addicts and gangsters in New York to live out the gospel.

Nicky Cruz, a gang leader seething with hate and anger, threatened to kill him, but as the book Run Baby Run shows, the cross overcame the switchblade.

David Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge ministry became the most effective way of reaching and rehabilitating drug addicts and alcoholics due to its “Jesus factor”.

God’s holiness made him speak against the excesses of what came to be known as the prosperity gospel and against some weird manifestations of the charismatic movement. He for instance warned his church members not to attend meetings in which Rodney Howard-Browne of the “holy laughter” fame was speaking.

In 1987 David Wilkerson founded Times Square Church in New York and served as its pastor until 2002. The over 8000-member Manhattan church also gives aid to the poorest of the poor both in America and elsewhere, for instance to orphans in South Africa and street children in Russia.

Wilkerson’s preaching focused on Christ and the cross.

In 1973 he saw a vision that was later published in book form. While Wilkerson repeatedly pointed out that he was not a prophet, he predicted many things, most of which have already been fulfilled:

· The Iron Curtain would fall
· Weird weather phenomena would become commonplace
· The global economy would crumble
· Homosexuality would gain popularity and acceptance to the degree that many denominations would begin to ordain homosexual priests
· Christians would be persecuted in the western world

Some of these predictions sounded too improbable in 1973, when people knew that the weather was getting cooler globally and the Iron Curtain would never come down.

In his last blog post David Wilkerson exhorted his readers: ”Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.”


Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. 2011. David Wilkerson Killed in Car Crash Christianity Today (27 April).

Wilkerson, David. 1974. The Vision. New York: Pyramid Communications.