“David served the purposes of God in his generation, then he died” (Acts 13:36).
With these words, Gary Wilkerson began his tribute to his father, the much beloved and highly respected David Ray Wilkerson. David went to be with the Lord during a car crash on Wednesday April 27. 79 year old David was driving himself and had his wife of 57 years, Gwen by his side Mercifully, Gwen survived the accident..
A common expression used to describe brother Dave is his “unlimited faith”. He believed God could change the lives of gang members and transform the most desperate drug addicts. He believed that a dynamic church could be launched in the heart of Times Square, New York City (perhaps the very centre of the world’s depravity). He believed he could be a man who loved his wife and children well. And from clear evidences, including testimonies from friends and family, all these he did creditably with the help of the Holy Spirit.
According to Gary, “Dad was not one for fanfare, acclaim or ceremony. He turned down invitations to meet with world leaders yet would give everything he owned to support a poor orphan or a widow in distress…. He preached with uncompromising passion and relentless grace. He wrote with amazing insight, clarity and conviction. He ran his race well and when his work was done, he was called home.”
According to Dave’s close friend and New York Times reporter, McCandlish Phillips, “His method was an absolute model of simplicity, directness and total non-sophistication—he just went out on the streets and mixed with the kids and reasoned with them face-to-face, often quoting the Bible—and it worked.”
Outcomes of his faith and spirit-led boldness include the Teen Challenge ministry, a Christ-centered drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. The ministry became well known though the book The Cross and the Switchblade, which has sold over 50 million copies and been translated into 30 languages. The ministry has grown to more than 1,000 centers in the United States and 80 other countries. David Wilkerson was in Nigeria for a pastoral visit a few years ago.
According to Carter Conlon, Senior Pastor of the Church at Times Square “I get tremendous personal comfort from the thought of Brother Dave dancing around the throne of God.”. Son Gary echoed similar sentiments when he wrote: I don’t think my father would have retired well. I don’t think he was one to sit in a rocking chair and reminisce about times past. I believe that Jesus, knowing this, graciously called him home.
David was born on May 19 1931 to a line of devoted Pentecostal preachers. His body was laid to rest in Lindale, Texas on May 2, 2011. During the funeral service, attended by members of Wilkerson's family and close friends, including evangelist Nicky Cruz. a tribute video was shown to those who attended. The video may be viewed on http://pleasepassthebread.org/2011/05/02/a-tribute-to-david-wilkerson/