The renowned Christian evangelist leaves behind a legacy of changed lives.
Contributed By Glynisia Yeo
Legendary evangelist David Wilkerson died on April 27, just three weeks before his 80th birthday, in a fatal head-on collision with an oncoming tractor-trailer rig in East Texas, USA. He was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt. His wife, Gwendolyn Wilkerson, was airlifted to a local hospital and is expected to recover.
Wilkerson was best known for his work among the street gangs in New York City. In 1958, he reached out to gang members relentlessly with the love of God despite being repeatedly beaten, ridiculed and threatened. Wilkerson eventually became instrumental in the dramatic conversion of Nicky Cruz, leader of the Mau Maus, one of the most dangerous gangs in NYC then.
Wilkerson’s book, The Cross & The Switchblade, became a bestseller for its unsanitized account of his work in the world of gangs and drugs. It was later adapted into a movie. Today, the fruit of Wilkerson’s ministry lies in Cruz, who is now a preacher who helps others find the true freedom he discovered in Jesus Christ.
Another lasting legacy of Wilkerson’s is the non-profit organization, Teen Challenge. The organization helps individuals trying to break away from their drug or alcohol addictions through centers across the globe. In the 1980s, Wilkerson founded Times Square Church in downtown Manhattan that has grown into an 8,000-member congregation today.
The Church may have lost a hero of faith but Wilkerson’s legacy lives on as countless lives have been impacted through his unflinching obedience to God for half a century.