The Legacy of David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Reverend David Wilkerson, the author of The Cross and the Switchblade, as well as the founder of Teen Challenge, World Challenge Ministries and Times Square Church, was killed on Wednesday, April 27th in a head-on collision at Tyler, Texas. He died at the scene, while his wife was rushed to hospital where she remains under observation. He was 79.

A private funeral service held on May 2nd at Rose Heights Church of God, in Tyler, was attended by members of Wilkerson’s family and close friends, including evangelist Nicky Cruz. His body was laid to rest in Lindale, Texas. During the funeral service, a tribute video was shown to those who attended. To view this video, please click on: A Tribute to David Wilkerson.

Members of the church and the public will have the chance to pay their respects at a memorial service to be held at Times Square Church in Manhattan, New York City at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, May 14, 2011. There will be overflow locations once full capacity has been reached inside the church. The service will be streamed live beginning at 2:00 p.m. on the Times Square Church website. A simultaneous translation of the service will be available in 10 different languages via conference call lines, details of which will also be posted on the church’s live stream page.

Wilkerson left a lasting legacy through his evangelistic ministry which spanned four decades and included preaching, teaching and writing. He has authored over 30 books, but was well known for having written “The Cross and the Switchblade,” also made into a movie, which gave an account of his ministry among New York gang members and drug users. Over 50 million copies of the book have been sold and it has been translated into 30 languages. This led to the establishment of Teen Challenge which has continued to minister to those caught in addictions. Today, there are 233 Teen Challenge Centers in the United States and 1,187 total worldwide.

In 1987, David Wilkerson returned to “the crossroads of the world” to establish Times Square Church. Since then, he faithfully led this congregation, delivering powerful biblical messages that encourage righteous living and complete reliance on God.

With a strong burden to encourage and strengthen pastors throughout the world, Wilkerson has been traveling around the globe since 1999, holding conferences for Christian ministers. His last blog, posted on April 27th, ended with these words: “Stand fast in [God’s] Word. There is no other hope in this world.” See: “When All Means Fail.” David Wilkerson was living in Texas with his wife, and together they have four children and 11 grandchildren.

The Pentecostal Evangel is also working on an issue in tribute to David Wilkerson.

For an overview of David Wilkerson’s life and ministry, see:

Some additional posts regarding David Wilkerson can be found below:

David Wilkerson Today

Rev. David Wilkerson Killed in TX Car Crash (CBN News)

Times Square Church Founder David Wilkerson Dies in Accident (Christian Post)

David Wilkerson Killed in Car Crash (Charisma magazine)

Sudden passing of David Wilkerson (AG-NEWS)

Memorial service for David Wilkerson finalized (AG-NEWS)

“Call to Anguish” (David Wilkerson’s soul-stirring sermon on the necessity of anguish – to bear God’s heart, passion, and burden within our lives) posted on YouTube.

“Call to Anguish” (David Wilkerson’s soul-stirring sermon on the necessity of anguish – to bear God’s heart, passion, and burden within our lives) posted on YouTube.

“The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation” (A sermon given by David Wilkerson at an Assemblies of God Headquarters chapel service on March 10, 1998, now posted on AGTV).

A transcript of Wilkerson’s message on the Dangers of Accommodation in Enrichment Journal, Winter 1999.

“Teen challenge: 50 years of miracles” in Assemblies of God Heritage, 2008, p. 14.


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2 responses to “The Legacy of David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

  1. I respected David Wilkerson’s ministry especially in Teen Challenge but as with all of us “he knew in part and he prophesied in part.” I finally left the Assemblies of God because Wilkerson, like many significant Assemblies of God preachers could speak convincingly of the wrath of God but not the love of God. It was strange that they thundered at sinners whereas Jesus never did, except at the religious leaders who made the access to Kingdom of God depend on following all their little rules and regulations, very similar to Pentecostal holiness denominations. I guess that’s why I saw so many A/G kids from A/G highups homes when I was at an A/G liberal arts college in Springfield, MO that had no apparent interest in following God and so many moral failures among pastors and parishioners when they were put to the test. Rules keeping does not produce right behavior and right behavior is the not the goal of sanctification. Which do you think would be more comforting to your spouse: the fact that you would never be unfaithful because you would never break the rule against adultery or because you are so in love with her that you would never entertain the thought? Well, there are churches out there that preach the love of God so convincingly that they don’t have to scare people into salvation. I was in one of them for 12 years after I left the A/G. What was their secret? Pastors who were transparent about their struggles in following Jesus and taught us the “hows” of following rather than just preaching the “whats”. In that line, I would commend to you the works of Brennan Manning, the music of Rich Mullins, and the writings of Dallas Willard, especially The Divine Conspiracy.


    Brent Browning, Evangel College class of 1978

    • Diane

      BWB did you not read the book,”The Cross and the Switch Blade”? The preaching of how God loved Nicky Cruz is what brought him to Christ. Yet Nicky and all the other people had to also understand why God sent his Son to die for them. Because of their life of sin. They could not enter into a relationship with God until they confessed and repented of their sin. And also…if you saw a boat filled with people going down the river only to come to a waterfall in a few miles, would you not warn them of the danger that lies ahead? The wrath of God is real and he’ll fire is dangerous. You can’t just tell people about God’s love for them and let them go their merry way. The whole message has to be taught for people to understand and therefore turn around or be damned. A lot of people want to hear a ‘feel good sermon’ so they can continue on in their sin thinking ‘God loves me so He won’t let anyone harm come to me’. David Wilkerson could never be accused of this. He stuck strictly to the word of God. Check your own reasoning behind your thinking. God loves you but He will reject anyone who wants to continue in their sin.

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