I suppose it’s part of getting old but I do check the obituaries most weeks. Today I read of the sudden death yesterday of David Wilkerson, author of the bestselling book ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ and founder of Teen Challenge. He was killed in a road accident in Texas. He was 79.
I can remember being taken as a child to hear him speak but I was too young to take anything in. In his book, Wilkerson told the story of his work as a young pastor among the violent gangs of New York and one gang in particular, the ‘Mau Maus’. God used Wilkerson to do incredible things among the Mau Maus, a number of them gave their lives to Christ including the gang leader Nicky Cruz.
I was also privileged to hear Nicky Cruz speak in the early 1980s. He told his own story, also a bestselling book called ‘Run Baby Run’, of how as a young gang leader he met what he described as a country pastor with big glasses, David Wilkerson. Cruz was so incensed with Wilkerson’s message, that Jesus loved him, that he twice beat Wilkerson up. On the second occasion, Cruz described how Wilkerson, whilst lying bloodied on the floor with broken glasses, said to Cruz, ‘you can cut me up into little pieces if you like but every piece will tell you that Jesus loves you and he always will’.
Wilkerson believed that no one can kill love and that God is love. Love certainly triumphed in the life of Nicky Cruz as he responded to that love in repentance and faith. He is still telling people today of the love of God.
On the day of his death, Wilkerson posted on his blog.
“To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights—and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, “I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident. It was no failure on your part. Hold fast. Let me embrace you in your hour of pain.”
Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.”
Paul puts things better than I ever could;
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Lord, thank you for David Wilkerson and your message of love. We pray for his wife Gwen, their children and grandchildren, may they know your powerful love in their lives at this time.
Lord help us to walk in your love, to see people as you see them, to love as you love.