Sorry to learn this morning of the passing yesterday of Times Square Church pastor David Wilkerson, also the founder of Teen Challenge. David and his wife Gwen were involved in a head-on car crash with a tractor trailer. He was 79.
Charisma magazine has the story here, which also recalls the beginning of the ministry:
On February 9, 1958, David Wilkerson felt the Spirit prompting him to spend late evenings praying rather than watching the Late Show. Wilkerson obeyed. At the time he was pastoring a rural Assemblies of God in Pennsylvania.
“Two weeks and two days later, during his late night time of prayer, he felt prompted to pick up the February 24, 1958, edition of Life magazine,” Wood explains. “On pages 30-31, he wept as he looked at an ink sketching of seven members of the Dragon Gang on trial for killing 15-year-old polio victim, Michael Farmer. He felt the Spirit say to him, ‘Go and help those boys’.”
Although Wilkerson had never been to New York City, 350 miles away, Wilkerson found himself three days later in a courtroom where the gang members were on trial. As Wood recalls it, the judge tossed Wilkerson out of the courtroom, but photographers captured his photo and he was later recognized by gang members as he witnessed on the street.
“That late night time of prayer opened up the ministry David Wilkerson founded, Teen Challenge,” Wood says. “He obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit and every day approximately 24,000 men and women are experiencing the saving and delivering power of Jesus Christ from life-controlling issues in Teen Challenge Centers all around the world.”
The impact of Teen Challenge for me was personally measured each time someone asked me, “Are you related to David Wilkerson;” and I would then inform them of the difference between Wilkinson and Wilkerson. But I was always glad to do this, since it meant people were aware of the dramatic Teen Challenge story, as outlined in the book and movie, The Cross and The Switchblade. David would have been 80 in just two weeks.
HT: Jon at Word & Spirit