Although much negativity has been associated these past years with mainstream christrianity, some of which is deserving (sadly so), I thought this man was an example of a true spiritual pioneer who really lived what he believed. I don't agree with some of his beliefs, but I see a beautiful person who did much on the streets of New York City to reach out to the spiritually blind and unfortunate teenagers. Not very many people in this type of work these days do it for unselfish reasons, most do it for glory-gain and a self righteousness that suffocates their efforts. I remember watching his movie and really couldn't believe anyone would be crazy enough to go to the nastiest places in the darkest section of NYC to send the true gospel of love and compassion to people. His was a real spirituality, not a cold, religious dogma that drives many so-called ministers today. No wonder people are so against christianity, and against organizations that don't truly understand what their own beliefs really are all about. I just wanted to share this article in the hopes that some may know that there are/were some real ministers deserving of the name. What a courageous man, and to be able to have a story like this in this country. I wish I could've lived his life. I remember as a young teenager idolizing him as my personal hero; many thought it was stupid, but I'll never understand how or why people don't realize the tremendous price some pay to help others. It takes great humility and love to do the things this man did.
Rev. David Wilkerson Dies at 79; Started Times Square Church
By MARGALIT FOX Published: April 28, 2011
The Rev. David Wilkerson, an evangelical minister and author who founded the Times Square Church to minister to the downtrodden in one of Manhattan’s seedier precincts, but whose later writings included apocalyptic predictions for New York City and beyond, died on Wednesday in an automobile accident in Texas. He was 79 and lived near Tyler, Tex. Mr. Wilkerson’s car veered into oncoming traffic on a highway near Cuney, about 110 miles southeast of Dallas, and was hit by a tractor-trailer, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety told The Associated Press. His wife, Gwendolyn, was seriously injured but is expected to recover, Mr. Wilkerson’s brother, the Rev. Donald Wilkerson, said on Thursday. David Wilkerson was known to a broad readership through his many books. His most famous, “The Cross and the Switchblade” (1963), chronicled his ministry among gang members in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where he had arrived as a young preacher in the late 1950s. Written with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, the book has sold tens of millions of copies and has been translated into more than 30 languages, according to its current publisher, Chosen Books. “The Cross and the Switchblade” was made into a feature film of that name, released in 1970. It starred Pat Boone as Mr. Wilkerson and Erik Estrada, in his first film appearance, as a member of his flock. Mr. Wilkerson was also widely known for his work with teenage drug addicts. He was the founder of what is now Teen Challenge International, begun in Brooklyn in 1958.
Mr. Wilkerson founded the Times Square Church in 1987. Originally in Town Hall on West 43rd Street, it now occupies the former Mark Hellinger Theater, an ornate palace of lavish moldings and draperies at 217 West 51st Street, near Broadway. The Times Square Church is a nondenominational Protestant church whose worship style draws on the Pentecostal tradition. .
After his ordination in 1952, Mr. Wilkerson took a pulpit in Philipsburg, in central Pennsylvania. In 1958, he read in Life magazine about a group of teenagers, members of the Egyptian Dragons gang, then on trial in New York for murder. As he later said in interviews, the article impelled him to go to New York to help the gang members. There he entered the courtroom and, with the trial in progress, asked the judge for permission to speak with the defendants about their salvation. The judge ejected him. Not long afterward, Mr. Wilkerson settled in New York and began working with young addicts and juvenile delinquents in Brooklyn, assisted by his brother Donald. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Wilkerson began his church in Times Square, then one of the city’s most notorious neighborhoods. “It was the summer of 1986, right after basketball star Len Bias died,” Mr. Wilkerson told The New York Times in 1988. “I was walking down 42nd Street and people were selling drugs, saying, ‘I’ve got the stuff that killed Len Bias.’ It broke me down. Things had reached such a low. I felt something had to be done.”
In 2009, in a post on his blog, David Wilkerson Today, Mr. Wilkerson wrote: “An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen. It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble — even the godliest among us.” The post goes on to warn of coming “riots and fires in cities worldwide.”