David Ray Wilkerson (May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011) was an American Christian evangelist, best known for his book The
Cross and the Switchblade. He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen
Challenge, and founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York.
Wilkerson's widely distributed sermons, such as "A Call to
Anguish", are known for being direct and frank against apostasy and serious about making the commitment to obey Jesus'
teachings. He emphasized such Christian beliefs as God's holiness and righteousness, God's love toward humans and
especially Christian views of Jesus. Wilkerson tried to avoid categorizing Christians into distinct groups according to the denomination to which they belong.
Wilkerson was killed in a car crash in Texas on April 27, 2011.
David Wilkerson was born in 1931 in Indiana. He was the second son of a family of Pentecostal Christian
preachers, and he was raised in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, in a house "full
of Bibles". His paternal grandfather and his father, Kenneth, were ministers. According to Wilkerson's own testimony, he was baptized with the Holy Spirit at the age of eight.
Wilkerson began to preach when he was about fourteen. After high school, he entered the Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. The school was affiliated with the Assemblies
of God. In 1952 he was ordained as a minister.
Wilkerson married Gwen in 1953. He served as a pastor in small churches in Scottdale and Philipsburg in Pennsylvania, until he saw a photograph in Life Magazine in early 1958 of seven teenagers who were members of a gang in New York known as "Egyptian Kings". He later wrote that he felt the Holy
Spirit move him with compassion and was drawn to go to New York in order to preach to them. On his arrival, Wilkerson went to the court in which the teenagers were being prosecuted. He entered the room and asked the judge for permission to tell them
something, but the judge ejected him. Upon leaving, someone took a photo of Wilkerson, who then became known as the Bible
preacher "who had interrupted the gang trial". Soon after this, he began a street ministry to young drug addicts and gang members, which he continued into the 1960s. Later in 1958, he founded Teen Challenge, an evangelical Christian addiction recovery program in Brooklyn affiliated
with the Assemblies of God, with a network of Christian social and evangelizing work centers.
Wilkerson gained national recognition after he co-authored the book The Cross and the Switchblade in 1962 with John and Elizabeth Sherrill about his street ministry. The book became a best-seller,
with over 50 million copies in over thirty languages, and is included in Christianity Today's "Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals". In the book, Wilkerson tells of the conversion of
gang member Nicky Cruz, who later became an evangelist himself and wrote the autobiographical Run Baby Run. Nicky had been the leader of the "Mau
Maus" gang, and he and his friend Israel Narvaez became Christians after hearing Wilkerson preach. In 1970, The Cross and the Switchblade was turned into a Hollywoodmovie starring Pat Boone as Wilkerson and Erik
Estrada as Cruz.
In 1967, Wilkerson began Youth Crusades, an evangelistic ministry aimed at teenagers whom Wilkerson called "goodniks"—middle-class youth who were restless and bored. His goal was to prevent them from becoming heavily
involved with drugs, alcohol, or violence. Through this ministry, the CURE Corps (Collegiate Urban
Renewal Effort) was founded. In 1971, Wilkerson moved his ministry headquarters to Lindale, Texas. On September 22 he founded World Challenge, an organization seeking to promote and spread the Gospelthroughout the world.
Wilkerson claimed that in 1986, while walking down 42nd Street in New York City at midnight, the Holy Spirit called him to return to New York City and to raise up a ministry in Times
Square. He founded and became the pastor of Times Square Church, which
opened its doors in October 1987. The church first occupied rented auditoriums in Times Square (Town Hall and the Nederlander Theater), before moving to the historic Mark
Hellinger Theatre in 1989, in which it has operated ever since.
Wilkerson did not preach in the name of any specific denomination. Instead, he focused on biblical preaching with the aim of encouraging people to seek God through a personal and deeper knowledge of Jesus
Christ and the experience of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout his ministry, Wilkerson had contact with many other prominent
Christian ministers, including Leonard Ravenhill, who was his friend, and Ray Comfort,
whom Wilkerson met in 1992 after listening to a message called Hell's Best Kept Secret.
From the 1990s, Wilkerson
focused his efforts on encouraging pastors and their families throughout the world to "renew their passion for Christ".
Wilkerson and his wife Gwen moved to New York City at the inception of Times Square Church in 1987, and in 2006 began splitting their time
between New York and Texas. They had four children and eleven grandchildren.
Wilkerson claimed to have received a vision in 1973 regarding the future of the United States, subsequently published in a book called The Vision. Some of the subject areas of this prophecy were: "Worldwide recession caused
by economic confusion"; "Nature having labor pains"; "A flood of filth and a baptism of dirt in America"; "Rebellion in the home"; and "A persecution madness against truly Spirit filled Christians who love Jesus Christ".
On March 7, 2009 Wilkerson posted a message to his personal blog titled 'An Urgent Message' where
he re-stated an earlier prophecy he had made concerning New York city: "For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across
America will experience riots and blazing fires". Wilkerson indicated that this would be part of a "earth-shattering calamity" affecting the whole earth, brought on by the wrath of God in judgement against "the raging sins of America and the nations". Regarding
the timing of these events, he said: "I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off." 
On April 27, 2011, while driving east on US Route 175 in Texas, Wilkerson crossed into the westbound lane and collided head-on with a tractor trailer. He was pronounced dead at the scene, just over a month from his 80th birthday. His wife Gwen was injured.
Gwen Wilkerson died a year later, on July 5, 2012 from cancer, at the age of 81.
- End Times New Testament ISBN 978-0912376110
- Jesus Person Maturity Manual
- My Bible Speaks to Me
- Promises To Live By, ISBN 978-0830718870
- Wilkerson, David; Sherrill, John and Elizabeth Sherrill) (1962). The Cross and the Switchblade. Jove. ISBN 0-5150-9025-5.
- Twelve Angels from Hell (1965), ISBN 978-0551004238
- Born Old (1966) original title The Little People, ISBN 0-5510-1076-2
- I'm Not Mad
at God (1967), ISBN 978-0871232458
- Parents on Trial (1967)
- Hey, Preach . . . You're Comin' Through! (1968) ISBN 978-0891290643
- I've Given Up On Parents (1969), ISBN 978-0340108291
- Man, Have I Got Problems (1969) ISBN 978-0515046687
- Purple Violet Squish (1969), ISBN 978-0551000483
- Rebel's Bible (1970), ISBN 978-0551007512
- Get Your Hands Off My Throat (1971), ISBN 978-8472281332
- The Untapped Generation (with Don Wilkerson) (1971), ISBN 978-1135577704
- What Every Teenager
Should Know About Drugs (1971), ISBN 978-0551050679
- Jesus Person Pocket Promise Book (1972)
- The Jesus walk: Selected "why's" and "how-to's" for a closer walk with Christ (A Regal Jesus Person Maturity book) (1972), ISBN 978-0830701711
- Life on the Edge of Time (1972) ISBN 978-0800705534
- One Way To Where? (1972), ISBN 978-0830701698
- Pocket Promise Book (1972), ISBN 0-8307-0191-5
- This Is Loving? (1972), ISBN 978-0830701704
- When In Doubt, Faith It! (1972), ISBN 978-0830701681
- David Wilkerson Speaks Out (1973), ISBN 978-0871230911
- Jesus Christ Solid Rock: The Return Of Christ (with Kathryn Kuhlman, Hal Lindsey and W. A. Criswell)
- The Vision (1973), ISBN 0-515-03286-7.
- Beyond The Cross and the Switchblade (1974), ISBN 0-8912-9151-2
- Racing Toward Judgment (1976), ISBN 978-0800782764
- Wilkerson, David (1978). Sipping Saints. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 0-8007-8339-5.
- Suicide (1978), ISBN 978-0800786434
- Wilkerson, David (1980). Have You Felt Like Giving Up Lately?. David Wilkerson
Publications. ISBN 0-8007-8481-2.
- Victory Over Sin and Self (1980) Originally titled Two of Me, ISBN 978-0800784348
- Rock Bottom (pamphlet) (1981)
- Pocket Proverbs (1983), ISBN 0-8307-0893-6
- Set the Trumpet to thy Mouth (1985), ISBN 978-0883686409
- David Wilkerson Exhorts the Church (1991) ISBN 9780829703962
- Wilkerson, David (1992). Hungry For More of Jesus. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 978-0800792008.
- Revival on Broadway. 1996. ISBN 978-0966317206.
- Wilkerson, David (1998). America's Last Call, On the Brink of a Financial Holocaust. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 0-8836-8617-1.
- Wilkerson, David (1998). God's Plan to Protect His People in the Coming
Depression. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 978-0883686164.
- Wilkerson, David (2000). The New Covenant Unveiled. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 978-0966317237.
- Wilkerson, David (2001). Hallowed Be Thy Names. David Wilkerson
Publications. ISBN 0-9709326-0-X.
- Wilkerson, David (2001). Triumph Through Tragedy. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 978-0800793562.
- Wilkerson, David (2009). Dearly Beloved. David Wilkerson Publications. ISBN 0-9712187-4-9.
- ^ Jump up
to:a b c "Rev. David Wilkerson Killed in TX Car Crash". Christian
Broadcasting Network. April 28, 2011.
- Jump up^ "You Need The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit by David Wilkerson". Sermon Index. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
- Jump up^ "Kirk Estes - obituary". Celebratethewhole.net. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
- ^ Jump
up to:a b "Rev. David Wilkerson Dies at 79; Started Times Square Church". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
- ^ Jump up to:a b Wilkerson, David. ""The Cross and the Switchblade" More Details".
David Wilkerson Publications. Archived from the original on May 7, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
- Jump up^ "Interview:
Brother of Late David Wilkerson on His Life, Legacy". Christianpost.com. 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
- Jump up^ "History :: Teen Challenge USA". Archived from the originalon 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- Jump up^ "Teen Challenge's Proven Answer to the Drug Problem". Association of Christian Alcohol & Drug Counselors.
up^ "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals". Christianity
Today. October 6, 2006.
- Jump up^ "Times Square Church | About Us | David Wilkerson, Carter Conlon, Patrick Pierre, William Carrol, Teresa Conlon, Ben Crandall". Tscnyc.org. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
up^ You Need The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit (4:49-5:8)
- Jump up^ "Hell's
Best Kept Secret" (PDF). Livingwaters.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
- Jump up^ "What
You Need to Know about David Wilkerson's 'Urgent Message'". Christianity Today. March 16, 2009. Retrieved 2015-07-23.
- Jump up^ "Evangelist David Wilkerson, Times Square Church founder, dies in car crash". Pocono
Record. April 28, 2011.
- Jump up^ "Home". World Challenge. Retrieved 2013-09-01.