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David Wilkerson, RIP

Today came the sad news that Dave Wilkerson has passed away. The short press release said that it was sudden and unexpected.

Dave influenced a lot of people, including me. When he came out with The Cross and the Switchblade, it was the first time that I heard of the Cross’s power to change lives here and now, and not merely provide for the hereafter as I had been taught. When I later reached the crisis in my life that would deliver me to God’s doorstep, that message became essential to my survival.

Years later, when I was left bruised and bleeding by my first local church, I spent a season commuting down to Wilkerson’s Times Square Church. The preaching was world class, but more importantly, the Lord met me there in a very real and tangible way at a time when I desperately needed His affirmation.

One Sunday I invited a friend down to church with me. Between services, as we walked around midtown Manhattan, we were talking about family issues. I had been sensing that the Lord was calling me out of an unhealthy family situation, and as we spoke I felt led to set out a marker. I told her that if in the evening service Wilkerson would mention the incident in which Moses instructed the Israelites to strap on a sword and run though the sinning camp, each one killing his brother, companion and neighbor (Ex 32.27), then I would know that the Lord was indeed calling me to come out to freedom.

The sermon that night had nothing to do with family or ungodly soul ties. I had almost put away my challenge to God, when suddenly Dave turned away from his prepared notes and ran a sidebar on how following Christ was more important than any human relationship, including family. This was, he said, the same God who told Moses to have the people run through the crowd and kill their own brothers. Wilkerson then returned to his prepared notes and continued on. It was an amazing moment.

Another time, the backup worship leader was leading us in worship. It was good worship, but nothing more. But at the end he simply would not quit pressing in on Heaven’s gates. We kept praising and praising, and suddenly the Spirit began to fall. At some point I fell still, and I became aware of dozens of people behind me praising in tongues. Then, to my amazement, they were all praising in tongues in unison. It probably was a miracle of hearing, similar to what happened on the first Pentecost. A rush of the Holy Spirit came over me, and I felt embraced by Father’s love.

After several months, my season at Times Square Church was over, but I always have remained thankful for the work Dave raised up, and that God met me there so powerfully at a time when I really needed it.

To this day I have subscribed to Dave’s daily devotional, and I have found it filled with deep insights that only someone deeply in love with God, and fully seasoned in both life and the Word, could give out.

Dave ran a golden race, and will receive his reward. He will be missed. Well done, faithful servant.

Update: Here’s Dave’s last devotional, When All Means Fail, and it’s one of his best. Must reading. And here’s an article on his death. He was driving and swerved into the oncoming lane. His wife Gwen was in the car, and is currently in critical condition.

And here’s Part 2 of Nicky Cruz’s testimony:

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  1. May 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks Paul for sharing your experience. David Wilkerson is a powerful example of a man who responded to God’s call and was victorious over the many obstacles the evil one planted and left in his way.

    In the 70’s I recall reading how he was shocked the day he read about the young drug gang of boys who beat up and killed a young polio victim under a bridge and he found himself sobbing over what he read. But more shocking even than that was what he heard in his heart – go and help those boys in New York.

    I was a young teacher and in our theology classes ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ was one of the required books on the list of student readings. It generated much discussion (to put it mildly) and I’ll always remember his affect on my students as well as on myself. Thank you to Pastor Wilkerson, you were an inspiration.

    May the Eternal Light shining from the face of Christ shine upon you and may you rest in the eternal peace of God.

    “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6 – 7

    blessings
    Doreen

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