Sudden death of David Wilkerson

David Wilkerson Tribute

(courtesy World Challenge)

By Spencer D Gear

My friend and Christian colleague, Aeron Morgan, posted this information on his website: [1]

Today, Thursday 28 April 2011, here in Australia we have received the sad news of the sudden and tragic death of our dear Brother David Wilkerson, a beloved, humble and faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. The following web-link will take you to a fuller report, put out so promptly by Charisma magazine, of the fatal accident.

This will be a tremendous shock and loss to our fellow believers at Times Square, but believe that God will graciously undertake for Pastor Carter Conlan as he now has the task of guiding the saints there through this hour of sorrow and immense loss. The added painful news is that Brother Wilkerson’s wife, Gwendolyn, was with him in the car and is in hospital with injuries which are reported to be critical.

I am sure that YOU will join the many thousands around the world in prayer for Sister Wilkerson and the family in their bereavement and that she will be fully recovered from her injuries. Pray also for the dear saints at Times Square Church, that God will comfort their saddened hearts, losing an outstanding champion for truth and holiness. We salute the memory of such a dedicated servant of Christ. We are the poorer for his passing, but we cannot question God’s goodness and wisdom, committing the things we don’t understand to HIM “who doeth all things well.” Many of us have been privileged to visit Times Square Church, tremendously impressed with what God has wrought there. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

The Pentecostal world in particular will miss such a needed voice for God in these days of compromise and worldliness, and that faithful prophetic call back to the “old paths” our brother was known for. May God visit us in this late hour prior to the coming of our Lord Jesus. David Wilkerson longed for such a move of God’s Holy Spirit, not only across his beloved America, but in the nations of our world at this troublesome time. Let’s be part of the remnant that will manifest something of the same godliness and passion as our dear brother, together bear something of the burden he shouldered for so long – for without question: IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD.

You can read further details on the Charisma magazine website, “David Wilkerson killed in car crash“. The Christian Broadcasting Network has also reported the tragedy in, “Rev. David Wilkerson killed in TX car crash”. Christianity Today reported the sad news in, “David Wilkerson killed in car crash“. Beliefnet reported that “Famed New York City street preacher, author David Wilkerson killed in car crash“.

This Associated Press (USA Today) news item, “Times Square church founder dies in Texas crash”, stated that David Wilkerson was not wearing a seat belt in the car that crashed, when the USA requires the wearing of seat belts:

Wilkerson was not wearing a seat-belt at the time of the crash, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. His wife, Gwendolyn, was also in the car and was wearing a seat-belt, Mange said. She was taken to a hospital, where she was in stable condition with cuts and bruises, Mange said.

I have a particular affinity with Teen Challenge as I was part of its training ministry in drug rehabilitation in Canberra, Australia, for a couple of years in the early 1990s and in the early 1970s I engaged in ministry from a Teen Challenge coffee shop with the needy on the streets of The Valley, Brisbane.

David Wilkerson will be remembered for his pioneering work in Christian drug rehabilitation that was described in his seminal publication, The Cross and the Switchblade. Its story became the film, The Cross and the Switchblade that starred Pat Boone as David Wilkerson.

Image may contain: one or more people, night, suit and close-up
(Courtesy David Wilkerson, Facebook)

Here is what he wrote in his very last blog, “David Wilkerson Today” of 27 April 2011, the very day he died:

To believe when all means fail is exceedingly pleasing to God and is most acceptable. Jesus said to Thomas, “You have believed because you have seen, but blessed are those that do believe and have not seen” (John 20:29).

Blessed are those who believe when there is no evidence of an answer to prayer—who trust beyond hope when all means have failed.

Someone has come to the place of hopelessness—the end of hope—the end of all means. A loved one is facing death and doctors give no hope. Death seems inevitable. Hope is gone. The miracle prayed for is not happening.

That is when Satan’s hordes come to attack your mind with fear, anger, overwhelming questions: “Where is your God now? You prayed until you had no tears left. You fasted. You stood on promises. You trusted.”

Blasphemous thoughts will be injected into your mind: “Prayer failed. Faith failed. Don’t quit on God—just do not trust him anymore. It doesn’t pay!”

Even questioning God’s existence will be injected into your mind. These have been the devices of Satan for centuries. Some of the godliest men and women who ever lived were under such demonic attacks.

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 (my emphasis).

Australian Christian cultural apologist, Bill Muehlenberg, has written this fitting tribute to David Wilkerson, “David Wilkerson RIP”.

Messages from David Wilkerson

1.   A Call to Anguish, by David Wilkerson

23 August 2009

This message is a partially transcribed excerpt from an original message spoken by David Wilkerson.  The full message is titled: “A Call to Anguish.”  and can be downloaded from”

And I look at the whole religious scene today and all I see are the inventions and ministries of man and flesh.  It’s mostly powerless.  It has no impact on the world.  And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church, rather than the church impacting the world.  I see the music taking over the house of God.  I see entertainment taking over the house of God.  An obsession with entertainment in God’s house.  A hatred of correction and a hatred of reproof.  Nobody wants to hear it any more.  Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God?

Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry? It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age.  You don’t hear it.  Anguish means extreme pain and distress.  The emotions so stirred that it becomes painful.  Acute deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you.  Anguish.  Deep pain.  Deep sorrow.  The agony of God’s heart.

We’ve held on to our religious rhetoric and our revival talk but we’ve become so passive.  All true passion is born out of anguish.  All true passion for Christ comes out of a baptism of anguish.  You search the scripture and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation… He would share His own anguish for what God saw happening to His church and to His people.  And He would find a praying man and take that man and literally baptize him in anguish.  You find it in the book of Nehemiah.  Jerusalem is in ruins.  How is God going to deal with this?  How is God going to restore the ruin?  Now folks, look at me… Nehemiah was not a preacher, he was a career man.  But this was a praying man.

And God found a man who would not just have a flash of emotion.  Not just some great sudden burst of concern and then let it die.  He said: “No.  I broke down and I wept and I mourned and I fasted.  And then I began to pray night and day.  Why didn’t these other men… why didn’t they have an answer?  Why didn’t God use them in restoration?  Why didn’t they have a word?  Because there was no sign of anguish.  No weeping.  Not a word of prayer.  It’s all ruin.

Does it matter to you today? Does it matter to you at all that God’s spiritual Jerusalem, the church, is now married to the world?  That there is such a coldness sweeping the land?  Closer than that… does it matter about the Jerusalem that is in our own hearts?  The sign of ruin that’s slowly draining spiritual power and passion.  Blind to lukewarmness, blind to the mixture that’s creeping in.  That’s all the devil wants to do is to get the fight out of you and kill it.  So you won’t labor in prayers anymore, you won’t weep before God anymore.  You can sit and watch television and your family go to hell.

Let me ask  you… is what I just said convicting to you at all?  There is a great difference between anguish and concern. Concern is something that begins to interest you.  You take an interest in a project or a cause or a concern or a need.  And I want to tell you something.  I’ve learned over all my years… of 50 years of preaching.  If it is not born in anguish, if it had not been born of the Holy Spirit.  Where what you saw and heard of the ruin that drove you to your knees, took you down into a baptism of anguish where you began to pray and seek God.  I know now.  Oh my God do I know it.  Until I am in agony.  Until I have been anguished over it…  And all our projects, all our ministries, everything we do… Where are the Sunday school teachers that weep over kids they know are not hearing and are going to hell?

You see, a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish. You see, if you set your heart to pray, God’s going to come and start sharing His heart with you.  Your heart begins to cry out:  “Oh God, Your name is being blasphemed.  The Holy Spirit is being mocked.  The enemy is out trying to destroy the testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and something has to be done.”

There is going to be no renewal, no revival, no awakening, until we are willing to let Him once again break us.  Folks, it’s getting late, and it’s getting serious.  Please don’t tell me… don’t tell me you’re  concerned when you’re spending  ours in front of internet or television.  Come on.  Lord, there are some that need to get to this alter and confess: “I am not what I was, I am not where I am supposed to be.  God I don’t have Your heart or Your burden.  I wanted it easy.  I just wanted to be happy.  But Lord, true joy comes out of anguish.”  There’s nothing of the flesh that will give you joy.  I don’t care how much money, I don’t care what kind of new house, there is absolutely nothing physical that can give you joy.  It’s only what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey and take on His heart.

Build the walls around your family. Build the walls around your own heart.  It will make you strong and impregnable against the enemy.  God, that’s what we desire.

This kind of statement gets near the heart of the passion of our late brother in Christ, David. May God so move upon us that His Holy Spirit so ignites our passion for the lost and unlovely that we will move in a ministry of compassion, but with the boldness of a Christ-infused passion.

2.   An Urgent Message

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world.


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—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written,

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3).

God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations. He is destroying the secular foundations.

The prophet Jeremiah pleaded with wicked Israel, “God is fashioning a calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh, turn back each of you from your evil way, and reform your ways and deeds. But they will say, It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:11-12).

In Psalm 11:6, David warns, “Upon the wicked he will rain snares (coals of fire)…fire…burning wind…will be the portion of their cup.” Why? David answered, “Because the Lord is righteous” (v. 7). This is a righteous judgment—just as in the judgments of Sodom and in Noah’s generation.

First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.

As for our spiritual reaction, we have but two options. This is outlined in Psalm 11. We “flee like a bird to a mountain.” Or, as David says, “He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven—his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men” (v. 4). “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1).

I will say to my soul: No need to run…no need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose.

God bless and keep you,

In Christ,


The amazing thing about David Wilkerson and the people he inspired (I am one of them) was that he loved the unlovely and ministered at street level with them.

In the 1970s, I was on the streets of downtown Brisbane, running a coffee shop with some other workers, and ministering to the junkies and prostitutes. Why? David alerted me to the need and God moved upon my heart.

That’s an amazing statement he made on his blog, “David Wilkerson Today”, on the very day he entered the presence of the Lord.

Yes, like me, he was a frail man with failings. I wish he had not made that false prophesy about New York City in 2009. But have a guess what? Even with God’s Word before me in written form, I can make errors of interpretation as a fallible human being. The redeemed on this earth are not perfect. That time is still ahead of us in our elevation to glory.

Overall, I judge David Wilkerson to be a humble man of God with a vision that took effect in the lives of those who needed the Saviour.

3.  Message to the USA after September 11 attack

After the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City, David Wilkerson wrote, “The towers have fallen but we missed the message.

Part of that message reads:

Here Is the Message I Believe God Is Trumpeting in Our Calamities.

Deep in my spirit, I hear the Lord saying, “I’ve prospered you above all nations. Yet, for years you’ve persisted in worshipping idols of gold and silver. I’ve endured your shameless sensuality, your mockery of holy things, your shedding of innocent blood, your tireless efforts to remove me from your society. Now time is running out for you.

“I’ve sent you prophet after prophet, watchman after watchman. You’ve been warned again and again. Yet still you won’t open your eyes to your wicked ways. Now I’ve stricken you, in hopes of saving you. I want to heal your land, to destroy your enemies, to bring you back into my blessing. But you don’t have eyes to see it.”

If God wouldn’t spare other nations that have outlawed him, why would he spare America? He’ll judge us even as he judged Sodom, Rome, Greece and every other culture that has turned its back on him.

On “David Wilkerson Today”, David’s son, Gary Wilkerson, has written this tribute to his Dad:

Friday, April 29, 2011

by Gary Wilkerson

“David served the purposes of God in his generation, then he died” (Acts 13:36).
On Wednesday afternoon my father, David Wilkerson, passed away in a car accident. We grieve the loss of a beloved father, a faithful husband and a holy man of God. My mother, Gwen, his wife of 57 years, was in the car also, but we are told she will recover fully.

Dad’s 60-plus years of ministry have impacted the lives of those closest to him and extended to millions around the world. Today we feel a personal loss, but at the same time we rejoice knowing Dad lived life to the fullest, obeying God with devotion and loving Jesus radically.
He was known for 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. He believed he could be a man who loved his wife and children well. And he did.

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.

Like King David of old, Dad served God’s purposes in his generation. 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.

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.

Dad’s last mission on earth was to be an advocate for the poorest of the poor—to provide relief and support for hungry children and widows and orphans. After founding Teen Challenge, World Challenge and Times Square Church, he sought to feed starving children in the most impoverished countries in the world. Today, Please Pass the Bread is saving the lives of thousands of children, through 56 outreaches in 8 countries.

Like King David of old, after having served God’s purpose, he died. I know if my father were able to encourage you with his words today, he would invite you to give your all to Jesus, to love God deeply and to give yourself away to the needs of others.

The works he began outlive him. We can all attest to his impacting us—not only in his preaching, writing and founding of world-changing ministries, but in his love, devotion, compassion and ability to stir our faith for greater works.

David Wilkerson, you have run the race with exceptional faithfulness to your Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. You are now blessed to be in His presence. To those who mourn, there is this message of hope: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15 ESV). Life and death depend on the sovereignty of God. There is no sudden, accidental death with God. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

For David’s wife, Gwen, and the family, they have this assurance from Jesus: “”Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

(David Wilkerson photo, courtesy, ‘David Wilkerson Today


[1] Since uploading this article in 2013, my friend, the godly Aeron Morgan, has entered his rest in Paradise & the citation is no longer available online at his homepage.

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 April 2020.