Tag Archives: Teen Challenge

Don Wilkerson: Cofounder of Teen Challenge

President Gerald Ford (left) greets Don Wilkerson (right).

This Week in AG History — July 30, 1972

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, July 28, 2022

Don Wilkerson, who cofounded Teen Challenge with his brother David, has been actively involved with the ministry for almost 65 years. The well-known addiction recovery ministry was founded in 1958 by the two brothers, just after David Wilkerson began his monumental evangelism of gangs in New York City, which ended with a citywide crusade where several of the gang members were converted.

Teen Challenged opened the doors of its first facility in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960. Beginning in 1971, Don Wilkerson served as its executive director for 16 years. Don Wilkerson also served as executive director of Teen Challenge International for 26 years.

Among his other duties, Don was instrumental in developing the residential rehabilitation and discipleship program that has been a success in changing lives for many students of the Teen Challenge program. He helped develop the biblical curriculum that eventually became the standard teaching for the Teen Challenge program. The Brooklyn Teen Challenge Center became the inspiration and model for similar programs to be launched across the United States.

The Teen Challenge ministry rose to prominence with the publication of David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, in 1963. The book was released as a movie in 1970, and played in some 5,000 theaters across the United States.

In 1987 David and Don Wilkerson founded Times Square Church in Manhattan, New York City. After meeting in temporary quarters, the church leased the Mark Hellinger Theatre building on West 51st Street in 1989 and purchased that building two years later. In its new location the church has grown to a weekly attendance of 5,000.

In 1995, Don Wilkerson founded Global Teen Challenge and served as its executive director for 13 years (1995-2007). He helped to plant new Teen Challenge centers around the world and helped train leaders and workers. Global Teen Challenge now has 1,100 centers in 114 countries.

In June 2008 Don returned to lead the Brooklyn Teen Challenge Center in New York where Teen Challenge began over 60 years ago. His brother, David Wilkerson, passed away in a car accident in 2011. In 2018 the name for Teen Challenge USA was changed to Adult & Teen Challenge. Don is now retired from Brooklyn Teen Challenge and is president emeritus of Adult & Teen Challenge.

Don Wilkerson has authored and coauthored a number of books, including Bring Your Loved Ones to Christ, Called to the Other Side, A Coffee House Manual, Counseling by the Scriptures, The Cross is Still Mightier Than the Switchblade, Dear Graduate: Letters of Practical Advice from Don Wilkerson, Fast Track to Nowhere, The Gutter and the Ghetto, My Story: Confessions of a Hope Pusher, and Within a Yard of Hell.

Fifty years ago Don Wilkerson shared a testimony of a Teen Challenge resident named Joe who went to a scheduled court hearing and was sentenced to prison because of a previous crime he had committed. Joe had been in the Teen Challenge program in Brooklyn for two months, and it was assumed that the judge would allow him to stay in the program. Once the news reached them, all the staff and the young men in the program began to pray for Joe’s release. The court-assigned lawyer was Jewish, but he knew that Joe had accepted Jesus Christ and that it had made a difference in his life. He did not need to go to prison. The judge was unwilling to change his mind, so the lawyer took the case to a higher court. Everyone at the Teen Challenge Center continued to pray.

Four weeks after his sentencing, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear Joe’s case (and in the meantime he had won four cellmates to Christ). At the hearing, one of the Brooklyn staff members was allowed to approach the bench to explain the Teen Challenge program and what had happened to Joe. The judge listened carefully and decided to overrule the decision of the lower court. Joe was released to go back to Teen Challenge. Joe and everyone at the Teen Challenge Center believed God had answered their prayers.

Read “Miraculous Release” on page 24 of the July 30, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Supernatural Healing,” by Percy S. Brewster

• “The Faith That Brings Healing,” by Harvey McAlister

• “5 Biblical Methods of Healing,” by C.M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Photo: President Gerald Ford (left) greets Don Wilkerson (right).

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Andrae Crouch: The COGIC Minister Who Bridged the Racial Gap in Gospel Music

Andree Crouch

David Mainse (right) welcomes guest Andrae Crouch (left) to the Assemblies of God television program, Turning Point, in 1977.

This Week in AG History — May 22, 1977

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 May 2018

Andrae Edward Crouch (1942-2015) was a gospel singer, composer, music producer, and pastor of New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Los Angeles. As an 11-year-old preacher’s son, Crouch’s father asked him, “Andrae, if the Lord gives you the gift of music, will you use it?” Young Andrae replied, “Yeah, Daddy. I’ll play for the Lord.”

That week Crouch’s mother bought him a cardboard keyboard to learn some fingering techniques. According to a 1977 interview published in the Pentecostal Evangel, two weeks later his father called him to the church piano and said, “If you’re going to play, then play!” The song the church was singing was What A Friend We Have in Jesus and Andrae begin to hit different notes until he found one that sounded right. He remembered, “In our churches they sing in any key, you know, and just take off without a songbook. And there was, oh, it was just really a touch of God, and I knew that He had a plan for my life.”

Andrae and his twin sister, Sandra, spent their childhood singing in their father’s church and in community choirs, including one led by gospel musician, James Cleveland. When they were 14 years old, Andrae and Sandra were invited to Cleveland’s home for a barbeque. Andrae recalled looking up to Cleveland and thinking, I wish I could write a song. Watching the adults pour the large vat of barbeque sauce over the ribs, it reminded Andrae of the blood of Jesus and he begin to sing, “The blood that Jesus shed for me way back on Calvary, the blood that gives me strength from day to day, it will never lose its power.” Sandra wrote the words down but Andrae wasn’t happy with it and threw it in the trash. Sandra said, “Andrae, that was a good song!” She dug it out of the trash can, and kept it.

In 1965, Crouch was attending the annual COGIC conference when the speaker asked, “Is there anyone here that wants to be used of God?” Crouch responded to the altar call and after the service several young men came up to him and said, “Hey, we’ve heard you play at your dad’s church. Would you come over and play for us at Teen Challenge?” Upon learning that Teen Challenge was a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, Crouch tried to put them off by saying, “Maybe I’ll come over sometime.” They responded with, “Come by tonight.” Andrae went with them but had no desire to work with them. Yet on the way home he kept hearing an addict’s choir singing in his head. After a long prayer session, Crouch felt God telling him to sell the car he loved, quit his job, and go to Teen Challenge to start a traveling choir of former drug addicts.

Alongside his work with the choir at Teen Challenge and at his father’s church, Crouch starting singing locally with a group of friends who called themselves “The Disciples.” In 1969, Ralph Carmichael, a Pentecostal record producer, heard them and invited them to a session to record an album, Take the Message Everywhere. Thirteen years after Sandra pulled Andrae’s first attempt at songwriting out of the trash can, listeners heard on the airwaves the song, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.

Crouch soon left Teen Challenge and began traveling full time in music ministry, including an early engagement with a traveling evangelist who took him on a world tour just a few short years after his first album, giving a wide audience to the musician and songwriter whose popularity was burgeoning. By 1973, Crouch had recorded a live album at Carnegie Hall and in 1975 appeared with Billy Graham at a televised crusade in New Mexico.

The impact of Andrae Crouch’s influence on contemporary Christian music in the 1970s and forward is impossible to quantify. For the first time, mainstream Christian radio stations were playing music performed by a black man for white audiences on a large scale. Crouch’s concerts drew both black and white audiences at a time when most concerts were segregated whether by intention or not.

Today Crouch’s songs, such as Bless the Lord, O My Soul; My Tribute (To God Be the Glory); and Through It All can be found in most contemporary hymnals. Few musicians can say they had both the respect of evangelist Billy Graham and the respect of pop-icon Michael Jackson, whose public memorial service included Crouch’s choir singing his song, Soon and Very Soon.

When he died in 2015, he had won eight Grammy awards and had an Oscar nomination for his music on the movie, The Color Purple. Despite the fame and fortune, Andrae Crouch remained in the COGIC ministry and, along with his sister, Sandra, served as co-pastor of the church his father founded in Los Angeles. Broadly speaking, Andrae Crouch was one of the most widely influential Pentecostal ministers of the 20th century.

Read more about David Mainse’s interview with Andrae Crouch for Turning Point TV program on page 20 of the May 22, 1977, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “Just Waiting,” by Carolyn G. Tennant
• “Tooling Up for the Unfinished Task,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman
• “The Ex-Smuggler,” by Rachel Petersen, missionary to the Dominican Republic
And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Teen Challenge: Transforming the Lives of Drug and Alcohol Addicts Since 1958

Teen Challenge

Howard Foltz (left) and Dieter Bahr (right) standing in front of a Teen Challenge center in Europe

This Week in AG History — August 27, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 31 August 2017

Teen Challenge, among the world’s largest and most successful substance abuse recovery programs, grew out of an Assemblies of God minister’s burning desire to share Christ with troubled youth. The program’s origin with David Wilkerson in 1958 and its subsequent expansion around the world is a remarkable testimony to God’s life-changing power.

After reading a news article in the Feb. 24, 1958, issue of Life magazine which talked about a high-profile murder trial for members of a teen gang in New York, David Wilkerson, a young pastor in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, prayed about this situation. He felt a compelling burden to go to New York City and help those boys.

With the prayers of church members, and accompanied by his youth pastor, Wilkerson headed to New York City. He attempted to speak with the judge during the trial, but was thrown out of the courtroom. An embarrassing photo of him holding up a Bible was featured in the New York Daily News. Although his efforts seemed unfruitful, he learned that a number of gang members had been in the courtroom that day. The gang members figured if the cops didn’t like him, and the cops didn’t like them, they all were in the same boat.

The gang members began watching what Wilkerson did. He took advantage of this newfound popularity to preach the gospel both in street meetings and in crowded gang hideouts and heroin “shooting galleries.” Eventually he enlisted the aid of 65 Assemblies of God churches from New York and held a citywide rally for gang members and teens caught up in the gang culture. On the last night of the rally, members of the Mau Maus, Bishops, and several other gangs were in attendance. At the conclusion of the service, dozens of gang members came forward to accept Christ as Savior, including Nicky Cruz, a teen gang leader from Brooklyn.

From this small beginning, additional street rallies were held in New York City, and shelter was offered to young people in need. Evangelism, street meetings, and outreach to teens remained essential, but this new ministry also encompassed recovery from addiction, counseling, and training in practical life skills. This ministry, which is now known as Teen Challenge, focused not only on Christian conversion, but also on Christian discipleship.

In the early 1960s, Dave Wilkerson teamed up with John and Elizabeth Sherrill of Guideposts magazine to write the story behind Teen Challenge. The Cross and the Switchblade, published in 1963, gave the compelling story of David Wilkerson’s ministry to the gangs of New York City and the start of Teen Challenge. A popular movie of the same name was produced in 1970, which starred Pat Boone and Erik Estrada.

Teen Challenge centers sprang up in Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. Many of these new Teen Challenge ministries were pioneered by people who had read The Cross and the Switchblade or had visited another Teen Challenge ministry.

Teen Challenge, which is now a part of AG U.S. Missions, has garnered the attention of national leaders such as President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, and President George W. Bush.  President Reagan said, “Not only does Teen Challenge help our young people deal with their substance abuse, but it also gives our kids something to live for — a relationship with God, a healthy self-esteem, and a direction in their lives.”

Fifty years ago, in the Aug. 27, 1967, issue, the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the ongoing growth of the Teen Challenge ministry in an article titled, “Teen Challenge on the Move.” This article featured two new Teen Challenge centers located in Denver and Bayamon, Puerto Rico, as well as centers in Detroit, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston, and Dallas-Fort Worth. A dozen Teen Challenge centers had been established worldwide by 1967.

What began as an outreach by David Wilkerson to the gangs of New York City in 1958 has developed into one of the largest and most successful Christian treatment programs for individuals caught up in drugs, alcohol, and other life-controlling problems. In addition to 30 administrative offices and 227 Teen Challenge centers in the United States, Global Teen Challenge has been set up to assist with the development of new centers outside the U.S. In 2017, Global Teen Challenge is in 122 countries, representing 1,200 programs.

The specific challenges and methods have changed over the years, but Teen Challenge’s focus remains the same. Teen Challenge leaders recognize that preventing addiction and other life-controlling problems is a process, and Christ alone holds the key to prevention and cure.

Read “Teen Challenge on the Move,” on pages 16 and 17 of the Aug. 27, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Joy in Jerusalem”

• “The Lord’s Prayer” by G. Raymond Carlson

• “Good News Crusades in Nigeria”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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William W. Hays: From Addiction and Crime to Assemblies of God Prison Chaplain

Rev  W W  Hays

This Week in AG History — July 22, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 21 July 2016

William W. Hays (1927-2010) came from a family known for drunkenness and crime, and he lived up to his family’s poor reputation. Addictions and debauchery almost led William to an early grave, but God delivered him and called him into ministry. The ex-convict and former addict became a noted Assemblies of God prison chaplain and evangelist, devoting his life to helping others escape the living hell that he knew well. He shared his story in the July 22, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

William was raised during the Great Depression in an impoverished community along the Arkansas River near Fort Smith, Arkansas. Moonshine, violence, and prostitutes were a way of life in the community. William started drinking moonshine at age 5. He got into daily fistfights with other children and dropped out of school in the seventh grade. He and his brother, Benny, devoted much of their time to helping their father make whiskey.

William’s mother had died, and his father never took his children to church. The boys had few positive influences, and they lived to satisfy their destructive desires. By age 17, William was an alcoholic. “I lied, cheated, and committed crimes,” he recalled, in order “to get the money for another drink of alcohol.”

At age 17, William fell in love with a lovely young girl, Edith Mae, who had been raised in a Christian home. He was attracted to her “clean way of living.” After a whirlwind courtship, they married a few weeks later, on the condition that he would stop drinking. But he could only fight the urge to drink for a few days, and he again succumbed to what he later described as the “demon forces” of alcohol.

William had difficulty holding down a job and could not provide for his growing family. “I would leave my wife and children with nothing to eat,” he wrote, “and would awake from an intoxicated stupor to find myself hundreds of miles from home in some cheap joint or on Skid Row with the lowest characters.”

William’s wife, Edith Mae, spent much of the first 14 years of their marriage in tears and in prayer. She had six children in eight years, and William proved to be unstable. When he returned home from wandering, he would show tenderness to her and their children. But the next moment he might be wild and rash.

His life got even worse. William became addicted to morphine, and, at age 25, his body began to waste away. One more tragedy made life unbearable. His brother, Benny, who had been living in squalor with a prostitute, was murdered with a shotgun at close range. Seething with anger, he tried to find Benny’s killer, but was unsuccessful.

Hays mug shots

William W. Hays, mugshot

By age 31, William’s body was giving out. His nerves were shattered, his body was emaciated and addicted to alcohol and heroin, and his spirit was deadened to the world. He ended up in a state mental institution, where doctors gave him a few days to live.

William’s oldest daughter, Phyllis, called a Pentecostal Holiness Church preacher, Walter Brown, who came to his bedside. William, sensing this was his last chance, responded to Brown’s fervent prayers. “I began to cry to God for salvation,” he recounted. “Soon the tremendous load on my heart was lifted. I knew the power of the omnipotent God was working to set me free.”

Almost immediately, William’s condition began to improve. Brown helped to disciple William, teaching him how to follow Christ and to be a faithful husband and father. Brown warned him that he must take certain definite actions, or he would not experience lasting change. “You must study the Bible consistently and earnestly, and regularly attend a church,” he insisted. As William did this, he was able to overcome the temptations to return to his former addictions and lifestyle.

The new Christian felt compelled to share his testimony. He went to his former buddies on Skid Row, and they initially laughed at him. The road back to health was a struggle, but as William made progress, people took notice. When his former associates saw a lasting change in William’s life, they wanted to know more.

William read the Bible voraciously, hungry to know God. He sensed God’s call into the ministry and, in 1962, was ordained by the Assemblies of God. He pastored several churches, started rescue missions in Fort Smith and Oklahoma City, and then became director of the Teen Challenge center in Fort Worth, Texas. William felt a tug to prison chaplaincy, in part because his brother spent two stints in the Arkansas State Penitentiary, which was known as the “hell hole of the penal system.” He helped to lead a successful prison reform movement, which made prisons safer in Arkansas. He also engaged in chaplaincy work in dangerous prisons in Mexico. In his later years, he served as coordinator of prison and jail ministries for the Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God.

William W. Hays was an unlikely candidate to become a minister, much less a prison chaplain. But when God changed his life, his early years behind bars and on the wrong side of the law became an asset for his new calling.

Read William W. Hays’ testimony, “Delivered from Dope and Death,” on pages 8-9 of the July 22, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “All May Prophesy,” by Donald Gee

• “New Church for Navajos in California,” by L. E. Halvorson

• “No Birth Certificate,” by L. Nelson Bell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Review: U.S. Missions 75th Anniversary


U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2012.

The Assemblies of God USA has always been dedicated to the mission of God, domestic and abroad, since its founding in 1914. While Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) was created in 1919, it was not until 1937 that Assemblies of God U.S. Missions (AGUSM) was created to bring greater organization to home mission efforts. This full-color, lavishly-illustrated coffee table book celebrates the 75th anniversary of AGUSM. This volume provides an overview of the history of U.S. Missions, as well as its seven departments, and is a wonderful tribute and memoir to Assemblies of God U.S. missionaries and their efforts to reach America with the gospel, that none perish.

Chapter 1, “Highlights of 75 Years of U.S. Missions,” is an adapted and edited from A History of Home Missions of the Assemblies of God (1992) by Ruth Lyon.


In Chapter 2, Kirk Noonan provides an overview of Chaplaincy Ministries, which includes industrial/occupational chaplains, prison chaplains, and military/VA chaplains. The Chaplaincy Ministries Department was started in 1973. Noonan reports, “Chaplains minister to service personnel, prisoners, the sick, dying people in crisis and trauma, athletes, truckers, bikers, cowboys, law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, factory workers, retirees, people involved in human trafficking, politicians, etc. To put it simply, where there is someone in need, there is a chaplain” (p. 21).


Sarah Malcolm traces the history of Chi Alpha in chapter 3. Chi Alpha is the national ministry of the Assemblies of God USA to reach students, including over 700,000 international students, who are attending colleges and universities in the U.S. Founded in 1953, Chi Alpha is currently the fourth largest evangelical campus ministry in the U.S. Malcolm states, “Chi Alpha is not just a program, it is a culture of disciple making. The transformed students and committed missionaries of Chi Alpha are laying the ground work for the next generation of the Assemblies of God and its leaders” (p. 50).


Chapter 4, written by William Molenaar, explores the history of Intercultural Ministries. While intercultural ministries and evangelism have been a part of the Assemblies of God since its founding, the Home Missions Department was tasked with overseeing intercultural ministries in 1937. Later in 1945, the Intercultural Ministries Department was created within AGUSM. America’s multicultural past, present, and future creates both a great evangelistic challenge and a great evangelistic opportunity for the Assemblies of God USA. Molenaar focuses on five of the earliest and historic ministries: Jewish ministries, Native American ministry, ministry to the Blind, ministry to the Deaf, Alaskan ministry, and the various ethnic-language branches, districts and fellowships of the Assemblies of God USA.


Joshua R. Ziefle wrote Chapter 5, which covers the history of Missionary Church Planters and Developers (MCPD). Originally founded in 1947, MCPD is tasked with identifying, supporting and resourcing church planting and development missionaries appointed by U.S. Missions. Ziefle notes, “For almost a century, the Assemblies of God has been a leader in church planting. Early Pentecostals were visionaries and entrepreneurs, buoyed by a vision to save the world and anchored by a deep commitment to Christ and God’s Word” (p. 71).


Chapter 6 features a history of Teen Challenge International, U.S.A., written by David Batty, Ethan Campbell, and Patty Baker. The authors trace the inspiring story of David Wilkerson’s ministry in New York City to the global growth of the Teen Challenge. It is widely held that Teen Challenge is “one of the world’s largest and most successful drug recovery programs” (p. 89). Teen Challenge has been running over 50 years now with more than 1000 centers in 93 countries around the world.


William Molenaar wrote chapter 7 regarding the U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) Department. U.S. MAPS “is the ministry within Assemblies of God U.S. Missions that assists churches, schools and ministries by coordinating volunteers with construction and evangelism projects” (p. 99). MAPS originated in 1967 as an inter-departmental effort of the Assemblies of God National Office to mobilize laity to participate in the mission of God both home and abroad, and today has a thriving RV volunteer ministry.


Finally, Chapter 8, written by Kevin Dawson, traces the development of the Youth Alive Department. Dawson explains, “Youth Alive is a missionary movement dedicated to equipping and releasing students to reach the middle school and high school campuses of the United States” (p. 118). Youth Alive not only develops campus clubs, but it mobilizes young people to be missionaries to their schools. Today, Youth Alive is in 15 percent of the middle schools and high schools in the U.S.

Readers will enjoy reading the substantive histories of U.S. Missions, as well as browsing the historical photographs throughout the book. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center staff provided images and significant editorial assistance in the production of the book: William Molenaar authored two chapters, Glenn Gohr checked facts and citations, and Gohr and Darrin Rodgers provided extensive editorial work. Few books are both attractive and add to the body of scholarly literature. This book achieves both. U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry will be warmly received by both scholars and those who lived the history.  This commemorative volume should be added to your personal library and is also ideal for your coffee table, waiting room, or as a gift.

Hardcover, 128 pages. $25.00 retail. Order from: Gospel Publishing House.

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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: http://www.worldchallenge.org/about_david_wilkerson

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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Review: Teen Challenge history

Teen Challenge: 50 Years of Miracles, by David Batty and Ethan Campbell. Springfield, MO: Teen Challenge USA, 2008.

Since it first appeared forty-five years ago, The Cross and the Switchblade widely circulated as a book, movie, and comic in Pentecostal and evangelical circles and helped to spur the charismatic movement in mainline Protestant and Catholic churches. At a time when Americans were more concerned than ever about the rise of juvenile delinquency and crime, its author, David Wilkerson, testified to the power of the Christ over addiction, crime, and gang violence.

A handsome coffee table book, Teen Challenge: 50 Years of Miracles provides the rest of the story. David Batty and Ethan Campbell recount how Wilkerson, who had been praying for God’s direction, found himself drawn to the harrowing tale of the brutal murder of Michael Farmer, a handicapped teenager, by several members of the Egyptian Dragons. When it appeared in 1957, the news story shocked the nation and generated tremendous press coverage. To the searching Wilkerson, the plight of gang members appeared a call to action. He moved to New York, where he successfully developed connections with gang members. Batty and Campbell trace how Teen Challenge, the organization he founded, grew to an international organization of over 1000 Christian drug and alcohol treatment centers.

There are a few things the book does not do. It does not place Teen Challenge in the context of the history of the Assemblies of God, youth ministry, or the American conversation on juvenile delinquency. In content and tone, it is a celebration and not an analysis. This is not primarily a scholarly book.

However, what it does do, it does well. It is divided equally into three parts. The first chapter traces the growth of Teen Challenge as a local ministry to youth in Brooklyn during the 1960s. The chapter is broken into easily-read sections profiling important events and Teen Challenge participants. A rich collection of photographs and reproductions of documents tell the story even more powerfully than the text. Those interested in the religious literature of this decade will appreciate the many photographs of books and Teen Challenge promotional materials. The next two chapters trace the growth of Teen Challenge across the United States and globe. These sections follow the same format and focus almost entirely on contemporary personal testimony. Overall, this volume presents a well-organized visual feast and a spiritual chronicle that anyone concerned about the victims of addiction will appreciate.

Reviewed by Danielle DuBois Gottwig, Ph.D. candidate, University of Notre Dame

Hardcover, 199 pages, illustrated. $25.00 plus shipping. Order from Teen Challenge USA by phone (417-862-6969 ext. 212) or online (www.TeenChallengeUSA.com).

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2008 Heritage hot off the press

Heritage 2008

The 2008 annual edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine is hot off the press and will shortly be mailed to all credentialed Assemblies of God ministers. Additional copies may be ordered online or by phone: 877.840.5200 (toll free).

Download selected free articles from the 2008 edition from the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website. If you like what you read, consider ordering the entire 2008 edition of Heritage for yourself, or as a gift for your friends or relatives. We think you will agree that Heritage magazine is a keepsake!

The 2008 edition features the following articles:

Dr. Charles S. Price: His Life, Ministry and Influence
This Oxford-educated pastor became one of the most noteworthy Pentecostal evangelists of the twentieth century.

Teen Challenge: 50 Years of Miracles
What began as an outreach by David Wilkerson to the gangs of New York City has developed into one of the largest and most successful Christian drug-treatment programs.

Conflicted by the Spirit: The Religious Life of Elvis Presley
The “King of Rock ‘n Roll,” the most famous Assemblies of God Sunday school prospect from the 1950s, experienced an all-too public struggle between his religious upbringing and the temptations of the world.

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Review: Is There a God?

Is There a God

Is There a God?: The Life and Times of Frank Reynolds, by Frank Reynolds with Joan Kruger. Lenexa, KS: 3Cross Publishing, 2006.

Filled with anger after his father deserted his family in the midst of the 1930s Depression in rural New York, Frank Reynolds was determined to graduate from high school and go to college. He became an atheist early in life, was convinced success was in wealth and education, and graduated from Cornell University. However, after an extended period of research and reflection, he came to believe in God and accepted Christ. He immediately felt a call to the ministry, was ordained by the Assemblies of God, and became one of the early leaders in Teen Challenge, a Christian drug and alcohol treatment program. He ultimately served as the first National Representative for Teen Challenge. In Is There a God?, Reynolds shares his own faith-building story, which provides an insider’s perspective concerning the early years of Teen Challenge.

Paperback, 139 pages, illustrated. $12, plus $1.60 shipping. Order from: Frank Reynolds, 4626 S. Crescent Ave., Springfield, MO 65804.

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