Last night as I was scrolling through my list of emails and messages one came up that stopped me cold. In the late hours of Wednesday afternoon Pastor David Wilkerson was involved in a tragic accident in which he lost his life. All I could do was bow my head and blink back the tears. It just didn’t seem right that such a great man would see his life end in such a way.
As a young man I remember reading The Cross and The Switchblade with bated breath. Each page read like an adventure novel as the characters came dancing across the pages. The action was non-stop and gripped my imagination. The kicker was that it was all real.
David Wilkerson stepped onto the mean streets of NYC as an inexperienced preacher and became one of God’s mighty men. His impact on the City of New York can only be measured in eternal terms. God put a call on him that took him to the lowest of the low and yet many of those have become great men and women for the Lord.
Even today, as a pastor, I have personally sent people through one of the ministries that grew from him, Teen Challenge. This ministry, which he started on the streets of New York for the broken and the addicted, has spread across the globe. The countless numbers of people who have found hope, freedom and salvation at a Teen Challenge is staggering. Not to mention the success rates of the centers blow away secular approaches to addiction.
To top it off Times Square Church is one of the great American churches. Located in mid-town Manhattan this church has had a world changing impact. Pastor Wilkerson’s messages from the pulpit of Times Square Church have blessed so many.
Several years ago I had the privilege of being in a meeting in which David Wilkerson spoke. I had read many of his writings and had always been struck by the tenacity with which he held to righteousness. I was stunned to sit and listen to him apologize and repent that morning for his lack of grace. Of all the writings and messages I had ever read or heard his positions where always theologically correct – yet here in what where the later years of ministry God was still teaching him about grace.
I hold that morning close to my heart today. This man who accomplished so much for the Lord could have sat back on his accomplishments or even kept the lesson he was learning private but he did neither. Instead he humbly stood before a group of people who collectively had not done as much as he and humbled himself. Now that’s greatness.
So I say goodbye to a hero. Many thousands of words will be spoken in the days to come. To that symphony of cheers I add my voice. Well done you faithful servant of the Lord may you enjoy your eternal reward!